Before you buy a pellet grill, check if it has a PID controller. This is a built-in electronic feature that uses an advanced algorithm to accurately and safely control the cooking process based on your preferences you set. Most pellet grills today have PID so it is good to buy what the one that many people already enjoy.
There’s nothing like a melt-in-your-mouth, smoky brisket to earn you a place in the neighborhood’s cookout hall of fame. That amazing flavor doesn’t come fast, though, and it gets everything from its texture to its taste through a long, slow smoke. The seasoning is up to the cook, but even the best grill master is only as good as the smoker used to cook the meat. It goes without saying that the best smokers require a lot more finesse than most grills and finding one that fits your lifestyle, budget, and your turkey can be a bit of an adventure.
Luckily you can add on a Sear Box which attaches on to the side of your smoker and allows you to grill at temperatures up to 900°. If you find yourself grilling often, this makes an excellent addition, and turns this into a total do it all cooker.
Moreover, it has a BTU’s per hour of 25000 and it also comes with a stainless steel probe that let you detect the internal temperature and doneness of foods. It has a patented, drop down cleaning system that accumulates of the grease, fat and gunk without having you to disassemble the pellet grill at all.
Not only can you get just the right amount of smoke, you can get enormous amounts of food into it. The cooking area is huge, like side of pig big. This is a smoker grill for a serious smoker enthusiast or party lover. You could feed an army with it, making it just the thing for any kind of family get together. A big grill means lots of electricity and a longer time to warm up, so it is a smoker for just a quick sausage or two. The only downside to this grill is that the window to the grill can fog up. If that’s the only bad thing, it is a darn good grill.
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.
Many people have asked me if a charcoal smoker is the healthiest option. They feel that gas smokers are a much healthier option. To be honest, the health factor depends on your expertise. If you want to keep the meat away from getting burnt then you need to know what you are doing. I have written a post on this. Get the facts and then you can decide which smoker is healthier.
Pellet Hopper Storage: How these grills store pellets is an interesting way to differentiate between the products. Again, there is no right or wrong answer here but some people will be drawn towards certain storage features.
Pay attention as well to what temperatures your grill can heat up to. Most of pellet grills can maintain a temperature within 160-500 degrees F ( with much more expensive models is even 600 degrees F ). Why am I mentioning that? Because you have to think about what is the most popular grilling style for you. It will influence whether your pellet smoker will be a good choice for you.
Most of the pellet grills available on the market offer “temperature control” although the problems start when the weather changes. The temperature outside changes, the temperature inside the grill changes, the temperature inside the meat changes. All those factors are very important, as they have a significant impact on maintaining the right temperature inside the grill.
Hey Jeff! Great questions. If you’re looking for a solid built in pellet grill, I definitely recommend giving Memphis Grill a hard look. I really enjoyed the Pro Series grill I tested for this review. Just a really solid performing machine. Anything else like a kit and and brick etc would definitely be my back up plan rather than my primary focus.
They had the field to themselves for a few years, but the idea was too good to go unimitated, and with the digital age came the electronic controller that allowed Traegers and others to create a system that had a thermostat in the cooking chamber that would tell the fan and auger when to do their thing. Today there are more than a dozen manufacturers making increasingly sophisticated machines.
2016 was The Year of the Pellet Smoker and we hoped 2017 would be The Year of BBQ Technology. For some time many manufacturers have been wary of adding too much technology because electronic components are susceptible to failure under the harsh conditions imposed by outdoor cooking, and failure means customer complaints and tarnished reputations. Pellet smokers, digital thermometers and some electric smokers are the exception. We note increased offerings of remote control and monitoring in those three categories, with sophisticated aps that work from smart phones. Much to our ongoing consternation, however, gas grill manufacturers still have not stepped up to the plate with effective, affordable, thermostatically controlled grills. We’ve had the “luxury” of thermostatic temperature control in our gas fired kitchen ovens for decades. In our view it is way past time to bring it outside. As the performance, durability, and affordability of electronic components continues to improve, we hold out hope. Maybe next year.
I know, I know, no one likes to read the instruction manual, but even as an expert you see the advantages learning the specifics of your grill. Reading the manual is key. Generally, you should not use water to clean the pellet smokers, so keep your hose pipe far away. These smokers have digital controllers, a motorized auger, a fan and an igniter rod for the fire pot. These parts will get destroyed if they come into contact with water. You should gently dry scrub the dirt off these parts, making sure not to disassemble any parts. Cleaning the thermostat will also prove essential; otherwise, it may read temperatures inaccurately.
With heavy duty all terrain wheels this grill can easily be navigated in just about any outside situation. It also comes with a rust proof cover to ensure the grill is always protected no matter what the weather looks like.
One of the best things about the gas smokers is they are among the most economical smokers. This doesn’t mean that you will get an inferior product, but propane is an inexpensive fuel and the tanks are sold separately.
In some ways, it’s surprising that something so small could be the culprit behind so many problems on a hi-tech cooker like a pellet grill. Then again, pellets are your grill’s fuel and using bad pellets is like using subpar charcoal in a kamado, and it can cause the same problems—too much ash is produced, making it hard to hold a steady temperature and snuffing out the oxygen supply to the fire.
REC TEC Grills attempt to create the highest quality, most suitable, and most adaptable grill on the market. The REC TEC Mini integrates the equivalent high quality parts as one of their full sized models, but only in a lighter, smaller, and transportable bundle.
Some grills simply can’t be left outside. Due to their materials, they will rust after exposure to precipitation, harsh temperatures, or even humidity. Regular oiling can prevent a lot of that, but that’s another maintenance step that counts against the smoker overall. What’s more, if a BBQ smoker is not designed to be easily wheeled into a garage or shed, but it rusts easily, it loses both maintenance and ease of use consideration.
While the charcoal smoker needs some tending, and work to control the temperature, an electric smoker is virtually ‘plug and play.’ Just plug the electric smoker into a convenient power outlet, and you are ready to go. Electic smokers use elements inside the cabinet to heat wood chips to provide the smoke. A water bath makes sure the food inside does not dry out in the long smoking process. In most cases its a matter of dialing or using a push button to set the required temperature of the smoker, popping the food inside and then set it going. Generally, electric smokers cook faster than other methods, but they do not impart the same deep barbecue flavor you get with cooking with a flame in either a charcoal or propane fired smoker. If you live in an apartment and have no outside space, and want to eat barbecue, then some electric smokers will work indoors.
Cutting edge temperature Control – It achieves high temperature, looks after it, and the smoke achieves each side of the cooking zone. There are littler temperature increases so you can even heat on this thing.
It is great when it comes to smoking meat at low temperatures, regular grilling, baking or roasting. You can have problems, though, if you want to sear your meat, it requires much higher temperatures. Sadly, a regular pellet smoker cannot reach them. In that case look around for a pellet grill that comes with an additional sear box that is gas fueled and can heat up to 900 degrees F.
1) I lived not far from a company who produced and sold wood chips for smoking. They purchased logs from all over states and would grind these in to chips. I saw what and how they were grinding and how this wood was contained. If you purchased a box of apple chips, you’d get a mix of any and everything with a little apple mixed in. I watched the logs being cut with chain saws and grinders that would leak oil on the wood. I watched the birds sit on the chips and eat the bugs and the mold. Needless to say, not all companies are this way but one would never know because there is no real restrictions on this that I know of.
Nothing says “you are welcome to my home” than some delicious and succulent baby back ribs; some beer can whole chicken cooked your special spice mix, and some wood smoked salmon. There is no better way to wins the appreciation of your favorite people than cooking up some wood grilled steaks and baked potatoes. But there is a catch, there always is.
My budget range is $1200-$1500. The same as the cost of the XL Primo or BGE. I’ve looked at the Rec-Tec. They look like a great deal. I did notice that they were made in china. Also read they assemble them in Ga. I have concerns with the durability of the lower priced ones. I looked at the Fast Eddie PS 500 also. Now that one is cool. Those are the two I have looked at. The Yoders are getting above what I want to spend.
I can guarantee you, if a friend or family member has a smoker grill we’ve been there trying it out and getting their opinion on how it works. If the units are portable enough, we’ve been known to bring them to our place, where we personally smoke a brisket or grill a pork butt to get the first-hand experience. Let me share with you an experience I had doing exactly that.
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.
You should make sure the pellet smokerhas all the features you want. The control board is a feature used to input meat to the grill. Some pellet smokers though have an outdoor control board for meat probes. Some other important features include Wi-Fi capability, direct grilling option, secondary cooking racks and included probes. A computer, tab or mobile phone connectivity is also another important consideration because it helps with regulating heat.
The pellet smoker combines the flavor of charcoal, with the convenience of an electric smoker. The small pellets are made of hardwood sawdust, and when burned in the smoker impart a delicious smoky taste to any food being cooked. Like an electric smoker, the user can dial up the temperature required for the smoke, and let the smoker do the rest. Modern high-end machines provide a regular supply of pellets to be burned, and all the operator needs to do is make sure the smoker does not run out of pellets during the smoke. The flavor you get from a pellet smoker is not as rich and deep as from a charcoal smoker. However, it does have all the convenience of the electric type.
My girlfriend told me her dad had just purchased a gas smoker and he loves it. I followed the smell of smoke to the grill master himself. Her dad was checking on the meat and this was my chance to ask him about his new smoker grill.
Most owners are crazy about their pellet cookers, but some say the flavor is different than they are used to from charcoal and gas grills, and more than one has told me they do not like the flavor because it is too mild. They are a minority.
The better a pellet grill’s temperature range, the more it can do. Performance pellet grills have upper ranges of 500°F- 700°F, which is hot enough to get a great sear and fire-bake pizza. Many of those pellet grills also offer a direct grilling option that allows you to cook over an open flame in addition to cooking over indirect heat.
Remove the pellets from the feed hopper to stop them getting wet or being contaminated by any cleaning products you will use. Empty the ash from the burn cup. Some people line their burn cup with aluminum foil to make the cleaning process more manageable. An ash vacuum cleaner will also do the trick.
The Traeger Junior Elite is a compact unit that’s perfect for people who are just getting into pellet cooking; the unit is ideal for tailgating, small spaces and households that don’t have enough room for a large unit.
Hey Jimmy, thanks for commenting here about your experience. I’m sorry to hear your experience was less than optimal. I have only cooked on the Traeger pro models. I do know that it is good practice to vacuum out the burn pot after cooks of a few hours or more. Not sure this was where your problems were initiated. Did you contact Traeger support? If so, what was their response?
I was leary about getting a pellet grill as i have had great success with my propane box smoker. Did some research and went with the Rec-Tec 680. Absolutely love the thing. It actually fell off the trailer when i moved a few months back and still works like a charm, just has a little more character now! Highly recommend this set it and forget it pellet grill
I had a Traeger and I can say with all seriousness, they are crap. Nothing but problems. Paint peelling, electronics replaced 4 times, no heat management. I sold is yesterday, and lost my ass. Like the set it and forget feature, taste was OK, but quality was just dismal. Looking at either a cookshack or a fast eddy.
While the Camp Chef can get almost up to 500°F (hot enough to produce crispy skin on a chicken), it’s never going to compete with a dedicated grill for searing. This is something that all pellet smokers struggle with though.
Three stage controller – there are three options to choose from, smoke ( or low), medium and high. It’s an old and very poor controller. It only has three options to choose from, it’s very poor at maintaining temperature. It doesn’t take weather and other factors into account. The result is that the temperature inside the grill can significantly rise or drop without you knowing. Such solution makes it impossible to set a precise temperature and limits the cooking options.
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.
Couldnt you add a wood chips, small chunks, directly to the burn bowl before you start cooking? I get you cant feed it thtough the hopper, but it seems like there should be an opportunity to add directly to the bowl.
You can’t cook as hot or generate as much smoke – You won’t get quite as good a sear as you could with a charcoal grill. And you won’t get that dominate smokey flavor you would get with an offset stick burning smoker.
I purchased a Traeger Lil Tex 22 yesterday. I “grilled” a whole chicken. It overshot the temperature by nearly a hundred degrees which wasn’t a bad way to crisp up the bird but I was afraid it was going to melt itself down so I shut it down. I was up by 5 this morning to smoke a pork butt for pulled pork sandwiches. My wife’s family is coming over for dinner tonight and time being a concern I fired up the “smoker”. It snowed 12 inches last night so the next hour I was shoveling my walks. Imagine my surprise when I checked on the Traeger and it had shut itself off . The meat was colt to the touch. I read through the instructions to make sure I started it up correctly and I did. I removed the meat and restarted the smoker. It smoked for awhile then quit. The temperature never got above 140. I called Traeger technical support twice and each rep gave me a different answer as to why it wasn’t working. After 3.5 hours I gave up on the Traeger for a more conventional method. I purchased the Traeger for the the set and walk away feature. It let me down!! It is 34 degrees outside today so I will wait until it warms up to try again. Should it fail me again I will sell it for scrap! So far I am not impressed. My wood smoker takes time but it is reliable.
This four rack smoker is very easy to use. The unit holds a steady temperature well, although it can take quite a while to get up to temperature. Clean up is also super simple with the racks pulling out for easy cleaning.
Bake, braise, grill, smoke, and sear – all of these cooking techniques can be fully experienced by just using one unit of backyard cooker! Yes, you can definitely do different kinds of cooking to your pork, beef, fish, pizza, or pie by just using the Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill without burning charcoals and woods to start the cooking process.
Ease Of Use – Check if the unit is anything but difficult to setup and work. A few units are a breeze to gather, and you should simply to take after the manual of guidelines that accompany it. And after that, you ought to likewise discover how to work the grill and it ought to offer you easily of operation. For the most items I have evaluated here, they can be worked with the push of a catch, so they will let you simply set the clock and temperature and forget about it.