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Hi Craig, you are on the right track, the direct flame is a little limited with any pellet grill. A way to solve this is to employ grill gtates. Great heat retention and searing. Some active movement of proteins and veggies will be required if you want direct flames to impact them.
I have the larger Traeger smoker and have really liked it but not from the start. I had issues with the heating unit but the Traeger help people managed to get my “mechanical blondness” through this and all is well. The assistance center people at Traeger weres super supportive so I’m a loyal fan today. One thing I suggested to Traeger, and all who have a Traeger smoker, is to make the grill surface in two parts so it fits into a dishwasher. I cut my grill in half allowing it to fit in my dishwasher. Easy peasy to clean now!
The online research, the model comparisons, the pricing—choosing the right pellet grill can be challenging, so much so that, by the time you settle on a grill, choosing smoker pellets often becomes an afterthought. While some people simply default to the wood pellets sold by their pellet grill manufacturer, too many others settle for the cheapest pellets available. Because, really, how much difference can the pellets make? A lot, actually.
This pellet smoker and its humongous 20 inches by 15 inches or 300 square inches of grilling space is capable of holding 3 rib racks, 18 hotdogs, 4 chickens, or 12 burgers at the same time. This is also one of the most Affordable pellet smokers around. Its thermostat control is LED digital so that you can set it as easily as your microwave. Just press buttons and get the setting you want every time.
Is usually reserved for tender cuts of meat, that can be cooked at a high temperature relatively quickly. All meat contains animal fat, and it is inevitable that during grilling the fat will hit the fire and burn. A small number of harmful chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed. These substances are released into the air within the grill and can permeate any meat that is above the fire. Animal studies have shown that eating food containing these chemicals can increase the chances of getting cancer. To avoid contamination by these substances, it is best to prevent any flare-ups, where the flames rise and bathe the food on the grill, and to make sure the meat is not over charred. Meat that has been over charred does not only taste bad but is unhealthy.
So which pellet smoker is worth your hard-earned dough? This list is organized from lowest price to highest. Sorry for the sticker shock—even a low-priced pellet smoker will cost more than many grills, and our first selection lists at $410. These motorized, digitally controlled devices just plain cost more, but believe you me, they are worth it! And all of these selections have won the AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold or Silver Medal.
I will have to applaud GMG customer service who shipped the replacement parts to me at little or no cost for almost three years well past the warratny. I think they were considering offering me a job as an area service tech. As of the moment, the control panel is dying once more and I will not be replacing it again. This grill is headed to the bone yard finally, I’m done with it. Yaahoo!!!
Also, think through storage. If you buy a large, high quality smoker, you may end up with a unit that will never move again. High grade smokers are made of heaven duty steel, so a smoker with that sort of construction is going to require you and a crew of friends to get it shifted.
As you can see from our research report (check the link below), you can see we compared fully 49 features for charcoal smokers, and this one clearly wins, hands down. It is easy to use, easy to clean, stores nicely, has a convenient thermometer, has a cool look and feel to it, it is tough as hell and incredibly efficient. It can go on one load of charcoal for fully 8 hours. That’s going to be some intensely smoky stuff after 8 hours.
All in all I really love the RecTec for its warranty, ease of use, customer service and ability to get calls from the owner when you need help either late at night or on the weekends….weber customer service is good also, but it is just a matter of personal choice……$1500 is more than a “few hundred” more than the Yoder……thats $500…….that is a lot on money..IMHO……but again, its just a matter of what you like best in all the models……I prefer RecTec and the Weber as back up for the wife….
Pellet smokers are chosen by most home chefs because they use a unique system to indirectly cook all of their favorite meats. When you turn a pellet smoker on, you activate its igniter rod, and the rod starts to feed wood pellets into the unit’s firebox. This creates the smoke that you need to cook your favorite foods; it does this automatically, so you don’t have to spend time messing around with charcoal, wood or temperature settings.
My girlfriend’s dad was in love with his new smoker grill and so was I. Although I still wasn’t convinced this was perfect one for me. When I got home I did some research of my own. Here is what I found out. Decide for yourself if this is the ultimate smoker grill.
3 Position Controller – Often referred to as LMH controllers, the 3 position controller has only 3 temperature settings. Low which is around 225°F, medium which is around 325°F and high which is around 425°F.
Regarding your question about a decrease in smoke flavor when using the pellet grill / smoker, I do believe you will experience a little bit of a drop off. This said, many people find the flavor from pellet grills / movers to be adequate. If you require a stronger smoke profile, you can always use one of the tube smokers that sits inside of the cooking chamber.
It can run off a 12V with no problem so plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter. It also works 120AC so it’s perfect for home or camping, tailgating, hunting, house-boating, music festivals or anywhere you can take it!
Before buying, please note that most pellet smokers need access to electricity to run the digital controller, the auger that transports the pellets to the firebox, and the convection fan that circulates the air in the cooking chamber. These cookers can use a lot of pellets at high temps. At high temps there is little or no smoke, and at low temps smoke is unavoidable. So if you want to cook, say, a chicken breast low and slow to retain juices, but you don’t want any smoke flavor, you’re outta luck. If you want to torch a thin burger to get a crunchy crust and add a little smokiness, you’ll get great smoke flavor, but it is hard to get the crust. But if you want killer ribs, bacon, smoked salmon, etc., pellet burners are hard to beat for convenience and quality.
There are a number of electric smokers on our list, but this one sits at the top, despite its technical malfunctions. Since the manufacturers have had an opportunity to use previous failings to improve the shortcomings in the newer model, this smoker has a higher value than many other electric smokers. The customer service support also increases its value.
All this talk of carcinogens can be scary stuff, but it should not get you too alarmed. First off, these chemicals are not found in very high concentrations, and secondly very few of us are eating grilled or smoked meat for every meal. Enjoying a smoked pork shoulder or a grilled burger once in a while is not likely to increase your risk of contracting cancer by any measurable degree. However, if you are gravely concerned about making sure you eat as healthily as possible there as some simple things you can do to reduce this minimal risk even more.
This large grilling area lets you cook for a large family, for a party or a gathering and cook large pieces of food. Grill steaks, smoke large pieces of fish or roast pounds of poultry; you will save time and effort plus impress your guests with your great cooking skills.
The Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill stakes its claim as the best pellet grill with its functionality as a roaster that’s a bit easier to use than your average grill. However, it has issues with quality control, with customers complaining that they got a used grill instead of a brand new one. It also presents a bit of a learning curve.
With a massive 700 square inches of primary grilling space, this grill impressed us. Its size is large enough too cook for large groups of people. It features a Flame Broiler that uses slide-plates which allow for direct flame grilling, which means you get an even cast-iron cooking each time. If the 700 square inches isn’t enough, you can make use of the additional upper cooking rack space. The racks are made of porcelain-coated cast iron for optimum grilling as well as easier maintenance.

Most of other grills come with systems that maintain a selected temperature, it differs by up to 5 F degrees from the target temperature. To make it happen, the pellet auger has to provide a constant stream of pellets to the burner. The temperature is maintained but the consequence is smaller amount of smoke.
As smoking and grilling become more popular, increasingly there’s more crossover. The same person that enjoys smoking a pork butt for 10 hours on the weekend wants to be able to fire up steaks after work. In the past, that often meant owning multiple cookers: a traditional smoker to handle low-and-slow BBQ and a charcoal or gas grill for high-heat grilling. Not only does that get expensive, but it takes up valuable backyard real estate. More and more, however, people are looking for a single cooker, a smoker-grill combo that can handle both.
Where the Rec Tec outshines, or rather, outcooks other pellet grills, is their temperature control. The grills all come standard with a P.I.D. Controller (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) algorithm, the ‘secret’ to the grill maintaining its precise temperature.
It is recommended to compare and contrast specs of different pellet smokers in the store. One should also look at different reviews and researches and not be shy to ask about the quality of the pellet smoker they are wishing to have. A good pellet smoker store should have staff that are well equipped with information about pellet smoker and they should be able to advice their customers which grills are best for them having compared variety of the different models.
Another item is Traeger, which differs from Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 mostly in size ( the Texas Elite 34 model ).  A great choice if you want to have a real smoker that is also easy to use, big and worth its money. It is expensive when compared to competitive grills, but still worth the money.
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Rounding out our top 3 is the best pellet smoker that Camp Chef offers, when you factor in quality, price, size, and overall value. This is an excellent choice. If the Traeger, our 2nd top pick, is a bit too small and you’re looking for something with a few more features, that’s still within the same price range, you’ve found what will likely be ideal for you. Camp chef is a really solid brand, and it was one of the first pellet grills my Dad owned. We reviewed another camp chef grill in another article.
The MAK 1 Star General boasts our favorite digital controller: It’s highly programmable and easily accessed via the internet from anywhere in the world. Made entirely in the USA, the 1 Star General is solid-feeling, with a heavy-duty powder coat. The hood is a rolltop, meaning that, unlike a lot of its competitors, the 1 Star doesn’t need much rear clearance, and there’s plenty of room inside. The 1 Star includes a 214-square-inch slide-in upper rack, and an additional rack is offered as an option. Our only criticism: Not only is it built like a tank, it kinda looks like one, too.
This is a great hands-off smoker for those looking for great food with minimal work. Its flaws are small and easily remedied, and since it sits comfortably in the mid-price range, those little fixes are affordable.
For the outside of the smoker, you can use hot soapy water, with a spray cleaner for any painted or stainless steel surfaces. Allow at least 24 hours after cleaning before cooking, and make sure the pellet hopper is completely dry before reloading it.
If the metal is too thick, you will also use a lot of pellets. The walls of a thick-bodied smoker act as a “heat sink”. Heat is taken away from the cooking area and stored in the walls of the cooker. So, it will take a lot of pellets to get the cooking area up to the desired temperature. While thick walls are desirable for some types of cookers, they are not required in pellet smokers.
So that brings me to the one thing I have learned in all this that I basically read when I was getting started. One of the biggest keys is “Temperature Control”! If you want consistent food make sure you get that under control. It is the key to solid consistent food! Once you get your food consistent you can experiment with a lot of other things. But if you can’t get that down, you will always be looking for another magic bullet. The number one magic is temperature!
Thank you all for a great site and an informative discussion. I am a newbie to smoking and presently have a charcoal grill for when I have more time and a gas grill for a fast meal. Its time to replace my gas grill so I am looking at alternative options. Is a pellet grill overkill, or a timely expedition, if I want to grill a couple steaks or chicken breasts during week nights? I’d also be interested in smoking larger hunks of meat (and ribs!) less often, but am wondering if a pellet grill can cover both? How long does it take a pellet grill to get to temp (e.g. 450°)? With the indirect heat, can you get char marks on your meat? Thanks in advance for the info!
It’s not perfect, though. There are certain features left to be desired. For instance, this smoker doesn’t have a temperature probe as we’ve seen with some models. It’s not a deal breaker, it does come with a very accurate thermometer, but we have seen probes on units in this price range, so that’s left to be desired.
For example, many grills use and charge for collaborating with a software application on it. I, personally, think this is an absolutely silly feature to include on a pellet grill. Yes, it does start on and off from your phone and change temperatures while you are at Switzerland enjoying Swiss cheese on a lake, but really, is it even logical? I mean, pellet grills have already made the cooking experience as easy as a dream, the least you can do is set the temperature by the click of a button on the appliance yourself! You can’t possibly be that lazy!
As you experiment with your smoker, you are sure to come up with a few delicious recipes of your own. These tips can help you get started when first preparing your favorite meals in a smoker. Plus, you can check out the many cookbooks and cooking websites out there that offer tried-and-true smoker recipes that your family is sure to enjoy.
The construction and the elements – REC TEC  Pellet grill are an investment for years, safe from corroding. Most of competitive  grills look pretty on the outside and the manufacturers claim they are made of stainless steel. The truth is, only the outside part of the grill is stainless. The steel on the inside is different, and major parts are made of materials of poorer quality.
To be honest I have barely looked or researched for these high-tech grills. My main concern is the common people who want to pass a lovely weekend with their family members. For this smoker grills available within 700/800$ is worthy enough. For commercial use people may look for those high end smokers but for now I am happy with this.
Made of rugged 1/8″ thick aluminum, 20″ long, with four serious rivets, Meathead says his shows zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. He uses it on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, yiou can easily pick up a whole packer brisket.
Number two when cooking with charcoal (yes plain Kingsford is good stuff if you do it right, a lot of the cheaper brick and cheaper lump can put some weird twangs in your food) brick or lump can produce quality high temp steaks or slow & low bbq! To add some nice flavor add some wood, but do your homework! I think Clark ‘Smokey’ Hale has one of the best books ever for the grill and Q master, “The Great American Manual on Grilling and BBQ or something like that. Last I saw you can grab a used one on Amazon for a few cents and some shipping. The most prolific thing I read in there that so many miss, is burn your wood and your charcoal to where it is literally a coal of gray ash covered glowing ember. Do that and you will find a new flavor in your cooking! Problem is so many places think heavy smoke is great, as they are trying to imitate cold smoke flavors! They are not the same! All this talk I see here about, “I want heavy smoke flavor.” I can tell you if you burn your wood and your charcoal (and I feel even lump needs to be well on it’s way to gray ash covered or you get bitter smoke even though many say not necessary) to a red ember with gray ash covering 80 to 90% minimum preferably completely covered your flavor profile will change. Many supposedly good bbq restaurants I have been in serve something with a bitter or ash flavor, which I find much less enjoyable.
BBQr’s Delight pellets are made of 100% of the flavor of the wood that is indicated on the package. Jack Daniel’s Smoking Pellets are made from the used mellowing charcoal from the distillery, pulverized and mixed with sawdust then pelletized. Savory Herb is oak sawdust with leafy oregano, rosemary and thyme mixed in before pelletizing. The 14 flavors of the flavor pellet line are available online in one pound bags.
It has all the features you will find in the Camp Chef PG24DLX model. They include Ash cleanout system, Smart Smoke Technology and Grease management system. All these features make using the pellet grill and cleaning it significantly easier.
The Masterbuilt 20075315 Front Controller Smoker is Our Top Electric Smoker Pick because it combines the tremendous features and remarkable performance of a more expensive smoker but at a very low price. Not only is it affordable, it is a “set and forget” smoker grill that competes with much more expensive rivals.
But overall, out of these minor and manageable drawbacks, many customers were recommending this product because of its superb performance, distinctive features, and reasonable price. So if you want to save more time, money, and effort, this pellet grill cooker is the perfect choice that you should consider as early as now!
My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.
Hey Boyd, it’s really great hearing from you here. I am becoming a much bigger Traeger fan then I was in the past. They have done some excellent work of late on their Grill models. I really think they’re doing a lot of work too improve and restate their original value proposition. Their Pro Series models are excellent, and I believe that the directions the company is taking especially with getting back into the competition world will benefit both it and its customers… Like you… Long into the future.

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