In our latest tests for the Best Pellet Grill of 2023, the Pit Boss 820D3 was included. We compared five wood pellet grills priced under $599, pitting them against one other in over 20 different areas to see which one was the best deal.
The Pit Boss 820D3 is the subject of today’s discussion. Let’s begin with a look at the unit’s features.
Pit Boss Specifications for the 820 Wood Pellet Grill
Assembled Dimensions: 56.8″ X 52.1″ X D32.3″
Weight: 150.5 lbs
Cooking Height: 8.5 inches
Temperature Range of 180°F to 500°F
Cooking Space: main grate 592.8 square inches, secondary shelf 256.68 square inches, a total of 849.48 square inches of cooking surface
Hopper Capacity: 21 LB, hopper viewing window.
With its big hopper capacity and hopper viewing glass, this Pit Boss pellet grill allows me to easily keep an eye on the pellet level without having to open the hopper lid.
The overall cooking surface of the 820 D3 is 850 square inches, of which 593 square inches are on the main grate. If you remove the top rack, you’ll have 8 and a half inches of vertical space, more than enough for a complete chicken or turkey.
The controller’s primary dial allows you to pick temperatures ranging from Smoke (180 degrees), 180, 200, 225, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 475 degrees, and high (500 degrees).
Placing together the 820 Wood Pellet Grill
We assembled the Pit Boss with the aid of pals from The Lab, and Kevin, a buddy who constructed the Pit Boss, created the other units in our lineup of best pellet grills under $599. He stated it was a simple project to put together. All in all, it took roughly 90 minutes to get the machine up and running. The only time we required an extra set of hands was when we had to flip the grill on its side to put the legs together. It was a big assistance to have someone hold the grill firmly while the other person placed the legs on one by one.
Pit Boss Quality Construction
It’s important to consider a grill’s overall construction, including the materials used and the way they fit together. Pit Boss’ tagline is “Bigger, Hotter, Heavier,” and this model certainly lives up to that statement. We measured the door at 2.70mm and the grill body at 2.16mm using a digital caliper at The Lab. At this price point, it’s the heaviest metal grill lid and body we’ve ever seen.
There are porcelain-coated cast iron grates on the grill, as well as a hefty main grate. Porcelain finish makes them simple to clean and broad enough for an excellent sear.
The 820 comes with a folding front shelf, which is rare at this price range, as well. Because of its uniqueness at this price range, we particularly like the detachable tray side shelf.
The device has two wheels and two fixed legs, making it very stable and unable to move even in the strongest gusts.. To go around the patio with only two wheels, you’ll have to hoist a rather large grill, but if you’re just setting it up for the night, there’s no other barbecue out there like the Pit Boss wood pellet grill I know of.
Unlike gas grills, pellet grills aren’t built to prevent all of the smoke from escaping during a meal. A baffle-free open smoke stack allows fumes to escape freely. Even so, I like to know that the grill I’m purchasing has a good enough seal that smoke won’t seep out of every crack and crevice. Paper was used to test the seal around the 820’s door to determine whether it was possible to penetrate between the metal. The side of the door was difficult to pass through, but the bottom of the door was not. It seems that the door is airtight, with just a little amount of smoke leaking out at ignition.
Digital control system
This unit’s controller does not have Wifi or Bluetooth, and it does not seem to be a PID controller. But there’s something about non-PID digital temperature control boards with more temperature inconsistency that creates wonderful BBQ. The nicest bark and color on meat come from controls that allow minor temperature swings during a low and slow cook.
One meat probe is included with the Pit Boss 820D3 to help you keep track of how well the meat is cooking. In order to monitor two proteins at the same time, you’ll need to acquire an extra meat probe.
Using the Pit Boss 820D3 for Cooking
Low and Slow Smoking
Pit Boss 820D3 was used to cook a 9-pound pork butt (shoulder) seasoned with 50/50 salt and pepper. A spray bottle of water was used to mist the pork every hour until it reached the 5 1/2-hour mark. This is what it looked like at that moment.. With a lovely mahogany hue, it was the most visually appealing pork shoulder in our group of five grills.
Hot and Fast Cooking
A similar conclusion may be drawn from our hot and quick test. We cut the backbone out of a whole chicken and laid it out on a level surface so that it would roast evenly. At the 90-minute mark, we seasoned it with some Heath Riles Apple rub and preheated the grill to 350 degrees. The surface is a stunning shade of purple, and the interior is delicious and moist.
There was no way we could conclude our testing of the 820 without trying it out directly on the grill, so we bought some boneless skinless thighs of chicken and marinated them in Pit Boss Champion Chicken seasoning.
A distinctive feature of Pit Boss pellet grill was its Flame Broiler Lever, which allows you to switch between direct and indirect heat in a matter of seconds, depending on the heat diverter position. Only a few of the other pellet grills we examined were capable of producing direct heat.
With both the open flame access door and a pair of aluminum GrillGrates elevated rail system, I wanted to see how it performed. Chicken grilled on the GrillGrate system acquired a great sear from the flames, while chicken grilled on the fire pot got a nice grill mark.
There’s only a 4-inch cup of fire below the cooking surface to heat the whole grilling surface on all pellet grills, resulting in a tiny open fire access during grilling. Because the GrillGrate system operates 150 degrees hotter than the standard grill grates, I can cook over the whole grate even on a pellet grill and get those grill marks that make visitors go crazy.
As for how long it would take the Pit Boss to heat up from cold to 250 degrees for a smoking session, it only took 7 minutes and 55 seconds.
When the grill first fires up, we’ve seen that the temperature rises by 50-80 degrees. To avoid cooking with a hot grill, wait 10 minutes after starting it up before using it. The temperature will return to the predetermined level after that time.
Using thermometer, we timed how long the device would run on four pounds of pellets. Here’s what we observed when we put an air probe in the middle of the grill and another one within an inch of the internal thermometer.
During starting, you can notice the overshoot in temperature and some movement of the grill about the target temperature. This is a visual representation of what it would look like if the PID controller on this grill were missing. This method is fantastic for coloring meat because of the temperature swings.
You may read more about Pit Boss grills and their 820 D3 model by visiting their website. We found this to have the longest warranty of any grill we tested in this price range, so I thought I’d bring it up. The Pit Boss barbecue is constructed to last, and that tells me that the company has produced a great product.
What We Love About Pit Boss Grills 820D3
- The clever flame broiler lever allows me to instantly switch between direct and indirect heat. A lever motion is all that is needed to apply a reverse sear to a thicker piece of meat.
- This pellet grill’s detachable tray side shelf is a basic addition, but it’s an improvement over the others we’ve looked at recently.
- When it comes to cleaning, the porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grate is a heavyweight.
- The grill’s color and smoke taste blew the competitors out of the water. The food prepared on the Pit Boss was noticeably superior to that prepared on the other barbecues, both in appearance and flavor.
The Pit Boss Grills 820D3’s shortcomings
- It’s difficult to carry this pellet grill around since it’s so hefty.
- While the temperature range of 180 to 500 fits the range I would generally want of a pellet grill, I don’t like the pre-determined intervals from which I have to choose.. For example, this pellet grill doesn’t allow you to change the temperature to 275°, which is one of my favorite settings! (Is there a certain temperature that you prefer?)
The “best bark and color” award went to the Pit Boss 820D3 pellet grill in 2023. Even though it didn’t win in every category, as an outdoor chef, I consider this grill to be a winner in the ones that count the most. A terrific grill at a great price is what Pit Boss has to offer you this summer if you want to improve your smoking and grilling abilities even more.