I started with the BBQ Delights, then went to brands I could pick up at my local farm stores for about half the price, then moved into Cookin Pellets Perfect Mix. By far, these two (BBQ Delights and Cookin Pellets) are at the top of the list. I’ll be going back to the BBQ Delights (Pecan) for the superbowl, since I haven’t used them since I started smoking meats. My notes are not so good from when I started, but if memory serves me right, the biggest difference is that the Delights produced a lot of ash, where the Cookin Pellets did not, but I’ll know for sure in a week.
Most traditional grills and smokers would have you struggling to reach the desired temperature, but with this unit, that problem is long gone. All you have to do is set your temperature using its digital controls, and press a button to get it heated up.
We use our Traeger about twice a week. Every month or so, I simply remove the grate and the angled plate and do the deed with my garage vac. The whole operation takes about five minutes from disassembly to finish.
You can get anything from electric to charcoal in this price range and the variety of options is vast here. If you are a beginner with a lot of cash to spare then this range will offer everything that you need to fall in love with American Gourmet. Authentic BBQ with capacities that can cook above 8 stacks of ribs at once is what this price range offers.
Thanks for the great information and the research you did. I am a retail store owner in Boise, Idaho area and we sell a pellet grill smoker in our store. I would like to encourage to look at the Sawtooth Pellet Grill. It is made local here and is American Made. It is an excellent grill for the price with an awesome company backing it. You can find their website at sawtoothpelletgrills.com. Again thanks for the information and if you do another publication regarding pellet grills, I would love to see what your opinion of the Sawtooth would be 🙂
The computer controlled system maintains the smoker temperature with a high degree of precision so you don’t have to deal with fluctuations. With the optional (definitely a must) temperature probe you can put your meat in the smoker, set the desired target temperature and the FEC will take it from there. Once the target temperature is reached the smoker temperature will drop into a holding position until you are ready to remove your barbecue.
Thank you so much for the kind words! I think you would be very happy with a smaller pellet grill / smoker. The wording changes depending on how you are using the device. For instance, if you are cooking at low temperatures you will get a stronger smoke profile then if you burn a pellet smoker / grill at its higher temperature range. One thing you could do for steaks is cook them at the higher range thus being able to get a sear much like you would on a direct heated Grill service, for instance on your Weber. Another option would be to cook the steak in the reverse see your method, by bringing it up to temperature at a lower smoker setting and adding some smoke flavoring that way, then removing it and bringing the smoker up to its higher settings so you can finish off the steak with some of the effect you would achieve on direct flame. I normally do this by bringing the steaks up to about 15 degrees below where I want them to finish. Then, I finish them off at the higher temperature to where they are about 5 degrees below my target. This usually means a few minutes on each side but I use a Thermapen to be sure.
A smoker is designed to cook even the toughest cuts of meats at a low temperature over a longer period of time. It uses smoke to cook your meat and often maintains a temperature between 225 and 275 degrees, which allows it to break down tough connective tissue. As the fat on your meat melts, it keeps your food nice and moist so that it becomes more tender. It also gets a delicious smoky flavor that can’t really be mimicked with any other style of cooking.
why don’t pellet smokers have a drawer for sawdust like some of the propane units. It could slide in over the fire pot much like you mentioned for the mojobricks. Dampened sawdust still makes one of the best smudges.
It is certainly your requirement for the smoker to be automated. That is the case with Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe. It’s a smoker that thanks to its very good temperature control doesn’t require you to check if the temperature inside the grill is really okay. That way it allows for stress-free long meat smoking at a fixed low temperature.
Thanks Kevin. I am about to buy both a 5 burner gas grill and a smoker for a new bbq island. Rather than buy both, will one of these higher end pellet grills take the place of a traditional propane grill? I can apply the funds for the gas grill to a higher end pellet if it can really do double duty. It has to be able to cook burgers and dogs and steaks etc. Just like a gas grill though. Thoughts?
Excellent article, but I have an off beat question. What about cleanup and maintenance of the pellet smokers you have reviewed? Is anyone better or easier for ash cleanup? I have a friend who has Yoder and his only complaint is the amount of time and complexity of cleaning up the pellet ash. Thank you in advance.
A pellet hopper is what you put your pellets in. The grill will automatically help itself from the hopper and use it to maintain the temperature you want it to. More heat requirement will use more pellet, and less heat will use less. What you need to make sure is that you have a good sized pellet hopper so that your grill can keep using from it and you do not have to keep refilling the hopper too often. There are pellet grills out there that are powerful and gentle enough to be cooking for hours, and sometimes overnight, all thanks to its large pellet hoppers that keep replenishing and refueling the fire all throughout.
The Pit Boss Grills 340 Wood Pellet Grill is a great grill with dial-in digital control and led read-out. Pellets are 100% natural hardwood. This grill has got an automatic start and cool down. It’s heavy duty with 16 gauge steel construction. It’s easy to assemble. It’s a little expensive. However, other grills are more expensive and seeing that I would recommend this to anyone.
Additionally, David Bouska of Butcher BBQ won the 2012 Las Vegas’s World Food Championships BBQ division. His first place overall victory propelled him into 2013. David cooks on a pellet smoker and he adds Mojobricks to his pellet smoker for that added touch of good smoke lovin flavor.
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.
Temperature – we’ll start from that since I believe that it is something we should pay attention from the start. This smoker is phenomenal at handling maintaining a fixed temperature. Forget about constantly monitoring the temperature, it’s completely unnecessary here. Just set the temperature and forget about control.
The Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill has 570 square of cook space so you can quickly and easily prepare food for a family of four or for a party of 50. You could literally feed the whole neighborhood with this grill if you had to.
Hey Bill! I think you’d be very happy with a Yoder pellet smoker. From a product and manufacturing standpoint, they’re great pellet smokers. If you’re looking at spending $1,700 and can perhaps go a little higher, you can then consider either a MAK grill or a Memphis Grill Pro Series. These are fantastic pieces of equipment. They are insulated at the point where the lid touches the body at closing, and provide superior convection cooking. Anytime you feel you want some extra smoke, you can always throw in an Amazn Pellet Tube or use a Mojo Cube. These will amp up your smoke profile in a manner you can predict and keep under control. I would NOT recommend adding anything foreign to your burn pot ever. Just keep things from the main pellet smoker function working as per the manufacturer’s design.
Pellet grills work in much the same way, albeit with the heat exchanger removed so that the smoke produced by the burning wood pellets bathes your food in its goodness and helps render the barbecue product you’re after.
Versatility – Cook and bake like on a regular grill or braise and sear meat at low temperatures for many hours. All of that is possible with this one grill, additionally the food is enriched with a wood-fired taste.
The Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grill will automatically light and heat to your pre-selected temperature with a simple press of a switch. When the Grill has reached its selected temperature, it will maintain this temperature throughout the cooking process. By using the accurate temperature control, you are capable to bake, sear, smoke, and grill your food. Subsequently, all of the heat originates from real wood, so you acquire the value of wood aroma.
The smoker also comes with a multi-fuel system, meaning that you can use propane, charcoal, and even add wood to the base layer of the smoking chamber to achieve the right smoke flavor. It comes with an aluminum veg basket and pot, plus its ridiculously easy to transport with cool touch handles.
I have used Bradley, Masterpiece, Green Egg, New Braunfels, Oklahoma Joe, Weber and now Traeger. So there is some experience in these comments. The “set it and forget” it is a misnomer and should not be used with Traeger (or any smoker/grill.) With Pellet Drive before you buy Read up on Er codes. The worst is when the fire pot fills up with pellets because the fire can’t keep up with the auger push and the whole cook is ruined or delayed. You have to pull everything out and basically start over while your expensive prime brisket is trying to be saved in the oven. Doesn’t matter what the weather is or wind conditions. Doesn’t matter if you stare at it and stir the hopper continuously. It will happen. Customer support at first was well you are at fault (didn’t leave the lid open on fireup for exactly 2 to 4 minutes or didn’t vacuum out the firepot between every cook) which is crazy. Finally, after so many calls over the past 6 months they are trying to make it right. Problem is, DO NOT believe the “set it and forget it.” That does not exist with any good cook. I have replaced the controller the fan and now getting a new probe. Do not waste your money. Unless someone out here in BBQ land can give me a recommendation on a product that won’t do this stay away from Pellet Drive?
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.