Pit Boss Sportsman 820 Wood Pellet Grill Review

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Pit Boss has added a new pellet grill to its inventory with the Sportsman series.

In the increasingly congested mid-range pellet grill market, the Sportsman 820 strives to strike a balance of pricing and performance.

In this review, we put the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 wood pellet grill through its paces to discover how well it lives up to its boasts.

Pit Boss provided me with this barbecue for free in exchange for an honest assessment. My views and opinions are all my own.

Pit Boss Sportsman 820 Overview & First Impressions

Pit Boss Sportsman 820 Wood Pellet Grill Review

I was wary about utilizing a pellet grill since I am a bit of a BBQ purist. It seemed like I was cheating the experience.

The fact is that pellet grills are here to stay and are becoming more popular, so it’s time to set my prejudices aside and discover what all the fuss is about.

Read on for my complete review of the Sportsman 820, or watch this video where I go over all the advantages and drawbacks.

Because the Sportsman grill series is intended for outdoor enthusiasts, I anticipated a tough, strong grill that could withstand being outdoors in all seasons.

The Pit Boss Sportsman 820 was certainly tough. The body and heat diverter plate are composed of solid steel and are rather substantial.

What piqued my interest, though, was the ability to set a temperature and go about my business. If this grill can be as precise as an oven, consider myself a pellet grill convert.

I’m ready to offer my expertise after finishing numerous cooks on this grill.

But first, here are the primary specifications for the Sportsman 820.

Pit Boss Sportsman 820 specifications

Cooking surface 849 sq in
Pellet hopper capacity 21lbs
Cooking temperature range 180-500°F
Shelves & storage Steel folding front shelf and steel side shelf with removable tray
Probes One meat probe included
Grate material Porcelain-coated cast iron
Sear capability Flame broiler design allows searing over an open fire
WiFi/App No
Warranty 5 Years
Price Check latest price at Pit Boss

With 849 square inches of cooking surface and the ability to cook at temperatures ranging from 180F to 500F, the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 wood pellet grill is likely to delight a wide range of customers.

If you have limited room yet want a huge smoker, consider the Sportsman vertical.

The Sportsman 820 model has a sliding plate flame broiler with an easy-access handle (more on this later), a 2-in-1 stainless steel side shelf with detachable tray, and a built-in spice rack linked to the 21lb. capacity pellet hopper.

There’s even a bottle opener on the hopper for those exceptionally hot summer days when a cool one is in order.

The LCD screen clearly displays your temperatures and cooking range, and the wide knobs make it simple to use and alter on the move.

The grill is made of heavy-gauge steel and looks to have long-term durability that will endure for years.

What I like:

  • With 829 square inches of cooking space, this barbecue can easily serve a crowd. Great for smoking large amounts of meat, such as several briskets or hog butts.
  • Grill grates made of porcelain-coated cast iron Not only do these grates hold and distribute heat as only cast iron can, but the porcelain coating makes them very simple to clean.
  • Simple pellet cleanup The hopper comes with a clean-out plate that enables you to empty it from the bottom rather than digging it out from the top.
  • Accessories and shelves are built in. The retractable side shelf and spice rack are useful extras. You don’t know you need them until you need them, and it comes with a bottle opener. That was always going to sway me.

What I don’t like:

  • a small scorching zone The heat diverter’s sliding plate may provide grate temperatures of 500F or more, however the real surface area for searing is right above the adjustable slots. This means that you can only sear just above the movable grate and not the whole cooking surface. One huge ribeye at a time, two New York strips, or two quarter pound burgers are examples of searing zone size.
  • It is difficult to move about. The Sportsman 820 is hefty, which is beneficial for heat retention and durability but makes it difficult to maneuver.
  • Diverter plate with a rounded edge The adjustable heat diverter plate is circular, which makes it difficult to fit a drip pan underneath your meal. All of the food drippings end up on the plate, where they burn and produce unpleasant smoke.
  • Temperature fluctuations Temperature variations of 30F-40F are common with pellet grills in general, and the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 is no exception. Keep track of your temperature and P setting to determine how long the auger feeds pellets into the heating chamber. This will assist to reduce large swings in either way. Understand your stove!

The bottom line

So, was the Sportsman 820 enough to convert me to a pellet grill?

I must confess that being able to set the temperature and walk away was a welcome change.

Personally, I still like a richer smoke taste from my charcoal smoker. The temperature changes were a bit higher than I would have liked, but this is expected for a pellet smoker and does not seem to have a significant impact on the food you cook.

The Sportsman is a well-made, consumer-grade pellet grill that is ideal for the casual backyard griller who isn’t bothered with WiFi access.

Unboxing and assembling the Sportsman

Pit Boss packaging is no laughing matter. The Sportsman 820 came tied on a pallet and packaged in shipping plastic wrap through commercial freight. This was not going anywhere!

The box itself was meticulously designed, with molded foam sections encasing the grill’s steel elements.

This was all firmly wrapped to prevent the components from moving during transport. The outside box and the components within were both undamaged.

As you opened the package, the documentation was immediately accessible and took you through the unpacking and assembly process.

Assembly was basically placing the wheels on the legs and attaching the legs to the main chamber since the grill barrel came in one piece.

Overall, it took me around an hour to unpack and assemble the Sportsman 820 by myself.

Build quality and design

I was expecting thin-walled steel and sheet metal pieces, but when I took them out, I was pleasantly delighted.

The Sportsman 820 is built to last. The grill body, heat diverter plate, and legs are all made of thick gauge steel.

The grill came without any aesthetic or manufacturing issues.

The pieces fit together well when assembled. When moved, the grill does not shake or rattle.

For the price, solid build and high quality.

Pit Boss seems to be listening to customer comments and introducing some wonderful quality of life elements in terms of design.

When you open the door all the way, it has a stopper that keeps it from falling down. It would hurt if it fell on you since it is composed of 1.5mm thick steel.

A glass in the hopper allows you to keep track of your pellet levels, which is a good addition.

When you open the hopper, there is a safety barrier to prevent people from thrusting their hands down into the auger, but it also makes pushing pellets down further difficult if necessary.

This safety grate is detachable (unlike on other pellet grills), making it easy to clean out the hopper and get all of the pellets out.

There is a side table with a retractable tray that enables you to conveniently transport items and have mise en place as you walk to and from the kitchen cabinets or refrigerator for supplies.

With an integrated bottle opener and spice rack, the hopper itself sparkles. This is more than just a barbecue; it’s an outdoor culinary station.

Cooking on the Pit Boss Sportsman 820

I cooked a variety of foods, from smoking to searing, to put the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 through its paces, but I was particularly curious in how it performed for classic BBQ dinners.

Pellet grill makers usually emphasize flexibility, but I truly think of them as smokers with some grill and oven capacity.

Temperature fluctuations

The Pit Boss functioned as a thermostat-controlled wood-fired oven. However, the temperature fluctuates around the intended point, as it does with many other pellet grills.

This is because of the way the internal probe responds and activates the auger. When the temperature rises, the probe activates the auger, which feeds pellets into the firebox, but by the time the desired temperature is achieved, thermal momentum has already begun to grow and will continue to rise.

The same thing occurs on the other end. As the temperature drops, the momentum pushes it below the goal temperature before the probe can trigger the auger.

This didn’t seem to bother my chefs too much. The fluctuations weren’t too extreme, and they averaged out to roughly the temperature I was aiming for. 250F fluctuated between 220F and 295F at times.

I believe that a significant part of this is due to the amount of air and smoke that seeps out around the seals and door. Aftermarket gaskets are available to assist manage the temperature and keep hot air within the cooking chamber.

Having said that, the meals I prepared on the Sportsman 820 was all delicious. When compared to items cooked over wood and charcoal, the low and slow meals did not have as deep and hearty a smoky flavor.

Smoke Flavor

The smoke ring looked lovely, but the smoke taste was more muted than when I cooked with wood bits or complete logs. That is not a knock on pellet grills; it is just a matter of personal choice.

I utilized a mix of hickory and cherry wood pellets, all of which are completely natural. As the auger fed fresh pellets into the firebox, the smoke came in spurts and never lasted at a constant level.

I couldn’t get the temperature high enough to remain at my desired 250F when I switched to the smoke option. My maximum temperature was 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you set the temperature to smoke, the P-setting comes into action. By changing the P-setting, you may feed more or less pellets into the hopper.

The default value is four, however the range is zero to seven. The lower the temperature, the greater the P-setting, but the danger of the flame going out.

The smoke setting’s temps are too low for brisket and hog butt, but they’d be ideal for smoking sausages or cured meats.

Setting and forgetting at 250F was really easy since I knew I wouldn’t have to reload logs or wood bits and the dish would still receive a little smoky taste.


The sliding plate flame broiler was fascinating. I didn’t believe I’d use it at first, but I wanted to see how the sear would function.

Direct heat above the firebox is enabled by opening the sliding plate. Camp Chef employs a similar overall design on their SmokePro SG barbecue.

I discovered that it did get hot enough to sear and cook a steak, but only just above those open grates.

You couldn’t fry a large number of steaks at the same time here. The only surface area that is hot enough to sear is just above the open slots of the flame broiler plate. Perhaps enough actual sear room for two strip steaks.

The sear capability is useful since it allows you to move from low and slow to high heat without using another piece of equipment. This skill would be useful in recipes that call for reverse searing.

Should you buy the Pit Boss Sportsman 820

If you want to get into the pellet grilling scene or simply want a handy cooking station, the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 is a good option.

If you want competition-level, higher-quality BBQ, you should definitely search elsewhere.

It outperforms its rivals in comparable price ranges while providing some extra features that make things even simpler for you.

Set-it-and-forget-it attributes are very enticing for weekend warriors as you dont have to wait and tend a fire the whole weekend so long as you mind the temperature swings. Youre free to get it going in the morning and have dinner ready after the kids soccer game.

When you turn it on to grill, the porcelain coated cast iron grates retain and evenly distribute heat to your meal, providing excellent grill marks and simple cleanup.

If you want to be even more efficient, place gaskets around the seams to keep smoke and hot air out. This will aid in the regulation of the internal temperature probe and conserve gasoline.

If you’re looking for a pellet grill, this should be at the top of your list.

You can buy it directly from Pit Boss.


Is the Pit Boss 820 WiFi?

How long does a Pit Boss 820 hopper last?

This hopper has a capacity of more than 40 pounds and a pellet purge that can endure for more than 24 hours. So, you can also read additional reviews to get more about pit boss pellet grills.

What is the smoke setting on pit boss sportsman 820?

80-100° C). Then, shut the cover and set the temperature to the appropriate level. – Starting the grill on the smoke setting prevents the firepot from being overwhelmed with pellets.(The temperature range for the smoke setting is 180-210° F.)

Can you use a Pit Boss like a regular grill?

A Pit Boss Pellet Grill can reach hot enough to grill and sear in addition to smoking and “low and slow” BBQ. And who doesn’t like a well-seared steak? As a result, Pit Boss Pellet Grills are regarded as 8 in 1 grills capable of providing every BBQ choice imaginable.

Can you use a Pit Boss pellet grill as a regular grill?

However, the pellet grill’s adaptability does not end there. These cookers may also be used for ordinary cooking, much like a gas grill. On weeknights, heat it up quickly and use it to make tasty burgers and dogs.

Can I control my Pit Boss from anywhere?

Simply connect your barbecue to the app using our exclusive barbecue ConnectTM technology to operate your Pit Boss from anywhere, at any time. All with a single button press – from anywhere!

Is WiFi worth it on pellet grill?

They are worthwhile if you like low and slow cooking (smoking), but if you want a nice sear on your meats, you’re wasting money since pellet grills can only reach temperatures of 450-500F.

What size is Pit Boss 820?

Dimensions when assembled: 58.2″L x 32.3″W x 52.2″H Weight: 157.4 lb. 45.7″L x 21.7″W x 24.4″H Boxed Dimensions: 163.1 lb.

Is it OK to leave pellets in Pit Boss?

Do: After using your grill, empty the hopper. If you leave unused pellets in your hopper, they will decay since they will be exposed to the elements of your outside environment. Most Pit Boss grills include a hopper clean-out function that enables for simple cleaning and changing of pellet flavors.

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