When reviewing products for our Top 10 lists we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and look at the kinds of questions that you might ask when making a fairly costly purchase. If you haven’t made up your mind on electric vs pellet smokers, then you can read our Electric Smoker Reviews here.
There is also an included sear box that can reach up to 900° F so you can sear your meat to perfection. Once you are done grilling your steaks, burgers and chicken you can transfer them to the sear box so they can get the nice and crisp caramelized sear.
Although many people refer to pellet smokers as grills, they aren’t the best for cooking steaks, burgers or hot dogs. Because they use indirect heat, they’re typically best for smoking turkey, pork and other meats. For this type of cooking, however, they are some of the best options.
Pellet grills are versatile. You can barbecue, smoke, roast, grill (sort of–more on that below), and even bake or braise in a pellet grill. At BBQ University, we have used them to cook everything from crisp chicken wings to braised short ribs to smoked pork chile verde and crème brulee.
A. The brand of the pellet does not matter when cooking in a grill. The quality of the pellets matter. Most pellet smoker companies would recommend for a buyer to use pellets from their own models. This is because they want to insist on use of quality pellets and selling their products too. Though any good quality pellet can be used to cook in model of a pellet smoker and cooker.
Hey John! Thank you so much for your kind words. I try to do a good job here, and am pleased you are enjoying the site. Regarding electric smokers, I have friends who own them and love them. I’ll try to get a post out this summer on them. Folks seem to like Bradley smokers a good bit, so you might want to check them out. You can find a good selection of them on Amazon.com here.
This is a cute but capable kamado. It doesn’t skimp on the grill size, giving a full 314 inches of pure grillage under the hood, but it is still portable and light enough to wheel into position on a sunny day. The triple layered 22-gage stainless steel body, faultlessly covered with porcelain enamel, retains and emits heat evenly and efficiently, giving a beautiful, consistent grilling experience.
Comes with a 633 square inch main grilling surface, but also includes a 280 square inch removable upper cooking rack (total cooking area: 913 square inches). Includes a digital thermostat and gives you precise heat control from 170 Fahrenheit to 600 Fahrenheit (5 degree increments).
My first days on the Bull have been at or below 35 degrees with rain and wind , it didnt care . It stays true to temp and didnt burn more than 1/4 pellets in over 10 hour total run time . My Weber gas grill would had burned almost a tank and blown out in the wind trying to cook down low.
Green Mountain pellet smokers offer innovation and good quality as well as relatively low price points. The Daniel Boone model is the midsized version. It boasts an advanced digital touch-pad dual-probe controller and stainless steel grates and drip pan, and, with 13.5 inches of headroom, Daniel Boone can accommodate large turkeys and roasts. Although the WiFi option adds a hundred bucks to the bill, no other pellet smokers anywhere near GMG’s price range offer WiFi control. Download the GMG app to your smartphone or tablet for a point-to-point connection, enabling you to remotely turn Daniel Boone on and off; monitor and control the internal meat temp, cooking temp, and timer; and even store the time- and temperature-based profiles of your favorite recipes. (For example, you can set your Daniel Boone to “Tri-Tip Beef Roast” and have it start out cooking at 225°F until the internal meat temp hits 110°, then crank to 500° for browning until the meat registers 135°, then drop the temp to 150° to keep it warm.)
You might be wondering what the difference is between this grill and our runner-up pick. The Traeger Grills Tailgater is quite similar to the Traeger Lil Tex Elite (Which is our Runner-up pick), but it has lesser storage space, which is why it’s been called Traeger’s portable product.
Some grills you can wheel into place and just leave them, they aren’t designed to be portable. Others you can stick in the back of the truck and take to the park if you want. It is all worth considering. How are you going to use it? Do you want a big or small one? Different sizes are available. Small is portable but can only cook small meals and vies versa.
Great reviews. I have been lately looking into pellet poopers. I currently own a large Big Green Egg and a Pit Barrel Grill. My Egg has limited space. On the PBC (Pit Barrel Cooker) I can cook a ton of food as it uses hanging meat method. But it has zero temperature control on it. A set lower vent and that’s it. You have to adjust the lid to get the temps up. I have adjustable rings for my Egg that allows for increased capacity. Eggs are great smokers, grills and ovens. I do have a FireBoss temp controller for the Egg which will allow a set it and forget operations. Wifi controls also. With that being said, I am looking for increased capacity in my cooks. I was seriously considering a XL Primo Oval or a XL BGE. Then I found these pellet poopers. After reading this blog and other reviews I found some limitations. One the lack of smoke flavor. Now with my Egg I add chunks of wood into the lump for smoke flavor. Same with the PBC. The PBC has different smoke flavor as the fats and juices from the meat drip on the hot coals which ignite (according to PBC’s website) and produce a smokey flavor in the meat. I’ve read two ways to increase the smoke flavor in Pellet Poopers. One is to start at a lower temp for a few hours, then crank it up to cooking temps. Two is the smoke tubes or Mojo Bricks. My question is do these techniques work? One review on the smoking tube said that they really didn’t make that much of a difference. Another issue was for grilling and the lack of direct heat. Grill Grates would eliminate this concern correct? My understanding of Grill Grates is that they provide a way to direct grill in an indirect environment. That’s a limitation with both of my cookers. The Egg can Indirect or Direct grill. Not both. Yes I can remove the indirect piece and set up the Egg for direct grilling, but you risk burnt fingers even with welders mitts on. Wouldn’t the Grill Grates on a Pellet Pooper solve this problem? Allowing you to slow cook that steak to say 10 degrees shy of your temp range then sear it on the grill grate for the a couple of minutes on each side to get it to your desired temp range? Or go the other way, sear first for a few minutes per side then indirect cook it to the desired temp?
Not something we often mention, but we feel is relevant is Rec Tec’s customer service. Their service is exceptional, and not only in the grilling industry. When you call their office you speak to a staff member that owns a Rec Tec.
Mobility – For those who spend a lot of time camping I found the right pellet grill for a decent price. I know how important it is to easily pack the grill in the car and be on the way. There’s a small choice of portable pellet smokers, but I still found what I think is the right model.
The Webber Smokey Mountain is really an ideal and well made backyard smoker. The space of the cooking chamber allows large sized cooking without any issue, and the simple vertical design sends the smells and heat around the meat cut. The smoker also functions as a moist smoker with a water pan built in to add moisture to smoked meats.
The different types of smokers all have their pros and cons. If you are looking for an authentic barbecue taste, and a good smoky flavor, then using charcoal is a must. The drawback is that the charcoal can be dirty to handle, and cleaning up the ash afterward can also be messy. A charcoal smoker needs to be learned, and it will take a little while to understand how your smoker operates so you can get the temperature control perfect. The electric smoker takes away all the mess and hassle, and the worry from getting the temperature just right. However, a simple electric smoker will not be able to impart the subtle flavors you expect in high-quality barbecue. Propane gas smokers are the middle ground option, giving your food a better taste than from an electric smoker, with some of the convenience, and without the hassle of ash and learning temperature control.
You can make some pretty good meat on a regular charcoal grill, but you are going to need a smoker if you want to make the best ribs, turkey, pulled pork and other delicacies. Investing in a good smoker to get these amazing flavors in your food is a must if you like to cook outdoors — a smoker will last for years and will make outdoor cooking a breeze.
You can cook as many as chicken wings, bacon, hotdogs, and ribs as you can in just one moment! So if you are having an occasion and you want to lessen the hassle of cooking, you can cook all your burgers altogether without worrying about its quality.
We loved the remote. It is things like this that make modern grilling such a great experience. It is not just an on off either, it does everything you would want it to, and well. All the temperature controls work, the timer is incredibly useful and will save many a burned burger, turning the smoker on and off at a distance is hugely useful, especially when combined with the wood chip loading system, makes you get an unprecedented level of control over not just your smoky flavors but how you want your meat done (rare for me!).
Not all smokers rust, but their longevity relies more on the user’s maintenance habits than the smoker itself. A smoker kept in a sheltered area will not rust as quickly as one left on an exposed patio, and a smoker with a good cover will always outlast one left bare to the elements. Still, smokers, like cars, are made of metal, and they almost inevitably begin to rust sooner or later. The sooner or later depends on you.
I also was a certified KCBS judge but never judged at an event. Their judging system was flawed in my opinion because if you truly follow their system it is possible that them best tasting piece of meat might not win. In cutting horses (not a judge but read all the rules as I showed a fair amount back then) you were always supposed to judge the best overall horse to win. I asked about leaving a process to make sure the piece of meat you feel is best to win and was told absolutely not you have to judge presentation points, tender points & etc. and not place based on your opinion of the best piece of meat! Not that KCBS is a bad organization, it’s rules didn’t fit my thought process. Passed their class and got the t-shirt just never agreed, was always a spectator.
Since it’s a cast iron grill, this product takes some extra maintenance. With proper care and protection, however, the cast iron grill itself does well and lasts for a number of years. The downside is that the support structure doesn’t last as long as the grill itself, and the legs have a good chance of rusting out. The final, and most frustrating, part of this product is that the firebox costs extra, which should be expected from a cheaper model, but remains annoying.
Unlike previous models, the heating element is replaceable and reasonably simple to swap out if it breaks down. The smoker is designed for all skill levels, but it’s particularly great for beginners, since it removes the need to constantly monitor and adjust heat. Best of all, Masterbuilt is happy to work with customers, and they’re quick to offer solutions and replacement parts for faulty equipment.
The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill by Green Mountain Grills is a pellet smoker that comes complete with open-flame technology, 110v or 12v with adaptors (3 power options).Is this one of the best pellet smokers? It certainly has quite a lot going for it to make that claim. Like being WiFi-enabled, of all things.
With over 375 reviews, this product had an impressive review rate. On its first 22 days, it got its first 10 positive reviews. Ten days after, it got its 2nd set of 10 positive reviews, and its 3rd set of 10 positive reviews after seventeen days. Online reviews have shown that, just like us, customers have been satisfied with the overall performance of this smoker from Traeger.
An elegant, well-crafted ceramic cooker with solid construction. Most Kamado aficionados concede the best way to create different heat zones in round cookers is by moving foods closer to or further from the fire. This is typically accomplished using a variety of accessories that can be costly and awkward to use. However, in 2014 Kamado Joe introduced a unique multi-level grate and heat deflection system called “Divide and Conquer” that comes standard with this model. We appreciate KJ throwing this in as a package deal to offer their customers more value and versatility.
This is the smallest of the Traeger pellet grill series and this makes it an ideal choice for people who are going on vacation or camping because of its small and compact design. Even though it also comes with a number of features similar to the larger Traeger models, it features a rather small cooking surface which is less than 300sq inches. This, however, doesn’t mean that you won’t have some plenty of room to prepare your meats. It also comes with a digital thermostat so that you will have control over the temperature. Because it can be set to extremely low or high temperatures it can be an ideal pellet smoker for braising or slow cooking and also grilling and baking.
I have owned a Memphis Elite (built-in) for 16 months now. It is a very high quality product, and couldn’t be easier to use. The direct flame area is arguably a little small (effectively a bit smaller than 1 sq ft), but it does a great job. The temperature control is phenomenal, and includes a meat probe control that can put the grill into “hold” mode once the meat reaches the target internal temperature. A very happy owner here!
The second video comes from Big Jake BBQ and showcases the “cold smoking” feature the MAK Grills 2 Star General smoker has to offer. This is a great value add in my opinion, as it really steps up your game in terms of what you’re able to smoke. Cheese, nuts, cold smoked salmon… getting some ideas? I know I am!
Are you catching on that there’s a bit of a “favorites play” going on with wood pellets? No selection of pellet grill reviews is complete without a little bias. I try to be objective here. See if you can catch on to which models I prefer!
If you’re bored with roasted turkey and want to do something different for the holidays or any time of year, a smoker is the perfect choice. It’s very easy to dry out a turkey when baking it or preparing it with other traditional methods, but a smoker will ensure that it’s so tender that all of the tasty turkey meat is falling off of the bone. Some seasonings will help produce a better flavor, but the overall smoke taste is sure to be enough to make your turkey unforgettable.
It will notify you of any system malfunction or low fuel situations. Turn it on or off from your phone, monitor temperatures from the built-in digital meat probes. You can even set up multi-stage cooking based on recipe profiles. For example, step one: low and slow until a certain temp. Step two: raise it up to crisp or brown any skin. Step three: the cool down. This is all done automatically, you don’t have to touch a thing. That’s about as set it and forget it as you can get.
Hey Greg! Sorry so long for my reply. Man, so cool about your Yoder! I’m sure you’ll love it. Everyone I talk to who owns one loves theirs. I agree 100 Percent on pellet quality and cook time. I’ve had luck cooking at lower initial temps and ramping up after the first couple of hour. I’ve also used the A-Maze-N Tube with success.
When it comes to outdoor cooking, versatility is more desirable than ever. People want to be able to use the same grill to smoke authentic BBQ ribs and sear the perfect steak. A quality smoker-grill combo should do both exceptionally well.
Interest in smoking continues to grow each year. We correctly predicted 2016 would be the year of the pellet smoker and were delighted to see showroom floors clearing more space for these convenient and effective devices. Not long ago, on the rare occasions average shoppers bumped into a pellet smoker, they were mystified by the perceived high prices and unfamiliar designs. “I don’t understand how it works or why it costs so much,” was a common refrain. Today, the tide has begun to turn as pellet smoker manufacturers are finally gaining ground in their backyard battles for market share. Now more brands and more models, with more features and lower prices are becoming readily available as word of mouth spreads that these once mysterious “grills” can be turned on and set to temp just like your indoor oven with one big difference: they burn wood (in the form of pellets) and produce delicious smoky BBQ that’s better than most restaurants. You’ll find several good options on our lists.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. – The joy of a smoker is that you can do a lot of different things with it. These versatile units can be used for all types of meat, vegetables and more. Experiment with different chips, different meats, different flavors and different temperatures and cooking times; this is a great way to come up with tasty recipes that are all your own.
Before you can get started, you will need to stock up on a few accessories. You will obviously need things like mitts, seasonings and other essentials that you would use while cooking on a regular grill, but you will also want to invest in a thermometer; this will help you keep your smoker at the right temperature and will allow you to check your food to ensure that it’s done. You will also need charcoal or pellets, lighter fluid and other essentials, depending on the type of smoker that you opt for. If you have an electric model, you won’t have to worry about any of these things.
Due to the shape and size, heat control can be tricky. Another problem comes from exposure to the elements and accumulated moisture. The barrel does not handle winters well, and the interior may lose its paint and develop rust, even if kept in a shelter.
Just putting a stamp on your info and recommendations. The Pro is definitely a Pro! Consistent, excellent temp control, juicy and great flavor. Smoke ring, some of my ribs are pink all the way through and dripping with juice. Smoke profile, good, not over powering. I have used 45# of hickory so far, 20# of cherry and a few pounds of apple and pecan. Have not tried anything but Lumberjack but that will be the next experiment. I have tried the smoke tube and it is ok. I was worried about getting an ash or bitter taste as the smoke is fairly heavy and a little acrid smelling if you let it burn from bottom to top. So I lay it down and light on my wife’s Weber gas grill side burner and get the whole thing burning good and then blow it out. If it smells acrid your meat will get some of that taste. Starting the tube this way it is still going an hour later.
That probably has the biggest impact. Next, make sure you are using a good, quality hardwood pellet. I can tell you that you will notice a very large difference in the flavor profile between say a Traeger pellet vs. say one of Candy’s [BBQr’s Delight pellets]. — Read more on PelletSmoking.com
We carefully consulted our testing team, asked our volunteers and staff alike for their honest opinions, and argued a lot about what should be Our Pick. In the end, we came up with the best smoker reviews on the web.
Brought it home and set it on my prep table with the controller in a cubby hole with all intentions of building a cart for it later. So I have made a killer rib eye on it and tried to burn it down with a couple rib eyes cooking at 600 F. Gotta figure out a little better method of catching drippings as they will catch on fire and you have a runaway! But you can make a great rib eye. Ribs, every set has turned out awesome, everything from low and slow to a high temp cook process on them. Probably made 8 racks of great ribs. Wasn’t impressed with the hamburgers on it but will try again later. Made a pretty good brisket but used Rudy’s rub as I like their store sandwiches and I don’t have the method down. Next one will be back to salt and a touch of pepper. Chicken thighs (thighs are the perfect chicken part for Q, their rather uniform thickness makes getting them all consistent and cooked even a slam dunk) with a light coat of mustard and Tony Chachere’s lightly sprinkled is to die for. Simply squeeze them when they should be close and if the juice is clear, no pink or red they are perfect. If you cook the juice out, well they make decent tasting blotter paper 🙁 Pretty much killed a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving, good thing the wife made an over baked one too. It did make great gumbo though as does the blotter paper chicken if you ruin any thighs or the whatever chicken. Also have a pile of hot links I put on at 180 for 2 to 3 hours. They are great for reheat with sauerkraut and roasted pabs or in the gumbo. Hot links should be a staple, ha ha! Gotta try my great pulled pork on it and we do Prudhomme pizza sauce on a Brown Eyed Baker crust and this Pro should rock it!
This allows bypassing the relight feature in case of a power outage in your home. Power outages may not happen often but when it does, this feature can save the hot rod from any wear and tear. It proves that the manufacturers actually did a lot of homework when designing this unit.
In any case, bargain BBQ pellets are out there to be had. One tip is to search for B&B BBQ Pellets (seen above) if you have a local Academy Sports and Outdoors store in your area. Rumor has it that these “may” be re-branded BBQr’s Delight pellets offered at a much lower cost. In any case, it might be worth giving them a try.
The smokers we examined had many different primary materials, and although powdered and enameled steel were the most popular, they were far from the only options. While these different materials impact ease of maintenance, we didn’t judge the quality of any smoker’s construction based on the type of materials used. We’ll go deeper into maintenance issues below.
So, if you want to do a pellet smoker cook using 100 percent cherry wood pellets, you’re going to use more fuel than you would with a cherry/hardwood blend, and it’s going to cost you more as well on average.
We’ve long been advocates for pellet smokers and last year they finally started gaining significant ground. Of all the great smoker designs available, pellet smokers are easiest to use because they are thermostatically controlled just like your indoor kitchen stove. You just select a cooking temperature and a controller maintains it by feeding wood pellets to a fire pot as needed. Many now have WiFi capability that enables you to monitor and control your smoker from a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Price is still an issue that holds sales of pellet smokers back. They use electronics, motors and fans and just plain cost more to make than many other designs. But as popularity increases, so does competition and you now have more choices in designs, sizes, features and price ranges. Our list includes two excellent and innovative pellet smokers by Camp Chef and MAK. Both companies offer advanced features and Camp Chef just introduced an optional Sear Box that produces searing temps better than many gas grills.
As any pellet smoker knows, getting the temperature set right is crucial. It will all go wrong if you can’t get that right. The Camp Chef PG24 has a built-in digital thermometer and fully controllable temperature settings. Put it to the temperature you want on the screen and let it get on with it. No lifting the lid to peer at the pellets, letting out precious heat and smoke. It is all in hand, if the smoker detects it is getting too cold, it can feed itself more fuel. This is quality smoke made easy.