Camp Chef have quite a pedigree, they have been making really good, affordable and high-end grills and smokers for a quarter of a century, going from strength to strength. This is another of their great smokers, the 24″ Smoke Vault packs a serious punch for a remarkably decent sale price.
One Touch Non PID Controller- The One Touch Non PID controller gives you the ability to set the temperature using one touch buttons. The temperature can be set in 5° or 10° increments and there is an LCD display that shows the exact setting.
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.
As such, the Yoder YS640 is one of the more robust pellet smokers out there. The main body is constructed of 10 gauge metal. Yes, this means that it takes longer for it to come up to temperature, but once there – it holds temp far better that thinner walled cookers. You know you’re buying quality when your pellet smoker weighs in at 315 lbs.
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.
Of course, the grill is equipped with porcelain grates, which are easy to clean and don’t require maintenance like cast-iron grates for example. The downside is that the porcelain surface is delicate, so use soft brushes ( preferably buy a nylon brush ).
Below the $100 price range, you can get a low capacity smoker. A good small propane gas smoker can serve up to 4 or 5 people. You can get only basic features in this price range. These small smokers are basically popular for their portability.
Why this Mountain Cooker for Our Top Pick? We will give you a little of our reasoning before we start raving in the smoker grill reviews. It came top of our Top Ten Charcoal Smoker’s list for a reason: It is one fine, fine smoker.
I have found that using the upper shelf gets more airflow around the meat than the lower shelf. I asked the AmazingRibs.com science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder about the problem (he has a MAK 1 Star). He explained that smoke sticks to cool surfaces and wet surfaces, and the surface of meat warms and dries out after a few hours. When he wants more smoke flavor he uses a strong smoke wood like hickory or mesquite, he starts with cold meat, and then he keeps the meat moist by painting or misting it with apple juice or a mop like Lexington Dip or East Carolina Mop or Texas Mop Sauce. A awter pan can help because the water condenses on the cool meat and attracts smoke. Read his detailed research on the subject in my article on the Science of Wood and my article on Basting.
In four years of compiling and writing these reviews, we have looked at a lot of different smokers. We didn’t test all of them, some were clearly no good, others way too expensive or cheap to justify in this list. And none of the smoker grills 2018 we tested was perfect but there were some really impressive choices.
What your best BBQ smoker is made from, or what the best outdoor smokers are constructed with makes a big difference to both how well the smoker works and how long it will last. Stainless steel is good to look for, but also quality paint and enamelling prevent rust and look good. If there are plastic parts, are they cheap looking? If they are, they probably won’t last.
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.
As far as the choice of pellets… I’ve tried hickory, apple, cherry. mesquite, etc, etc, but found “Perfect Choice” cooking pellets to be economical and a nice choice for all of our needs. Besides, it’s not that convenient to change pellets in a pellet grill.
Hey Tom, first, thank you so much for reading the article and expressing your approval of it. It means a lot to me that the information posted on this site is useful for the people. To your question about pellet grills, yes. You must always use BBQ grilling pellets with these cookers. You cannot use raw wood with them. However, should you find yourself with access too hard woods like Hickory or maple, or fruit woods like apple, cherry, or peach – this is something that could be readily used in a charcoal smoker.
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.
All this said, I believe the girls you are looking at already will both provide you with long lasting grilling and smoking satisfaction. Honestly, when you get to a point where are your in the price range that you are in, it’s really hard to choose a bad option with pellet grills. The biggest Advantage you have over the ones you’re looking at and the Yoder models is that they are heavy built giving you excellent heat retention over your Cooks.
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.
There are several types of smokers across many different price ranges, so there is a smoker out there that is right for you. A smoker can cost as little as $50, and as much as $10,000, and they all do mainly the same thing, which is to cook meat to perfection giving it an aromatic smoky flavor that can’t be beat. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and are generally grouped by the type of fuel they use.
Barbecuing and grilling meats to the perfect temperature, texture and doneness is a skill that is acquired over years and years of practice. There is a lot that goes into making a good BBQ than just good seasoning and fresh meat, and any pit master will agree. There are just so many aspects you have to learn how to control: the temperature, the smoke, the placement, the ratios and so on. But you are lucky that this is new of yesterdays.
Keep them far from water, which is one of its greatest adversaries. The reason is that they are made with electronic parts, for example, a blower or fan, a computerized controller, and a mechanized wood screw.
One-Touch Non-PID Controller – Featuring a LCD display and one-touch buttons for setting the cooking temperature in 5° or 10° increments, these controllers allow you to more accurately set a desired cooking temperature. However, like multi-position controllers, they use fixed cycles for delivering pellets and so are limited in accuracy to +/-15–20°F. These controllers may have inputs for meat probes that monitor the internal temperature of food.
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It’s made from heavy gauge steel, feels very durable, and should last you for many, many years if you take good care of it and maintain it. One point of contention is that the hopper could be a bit bigger, some have said it holds around 10 pounds. That’s not horrible, and filling it isn’t some horrible task or anything, but it’s worth pointing out that it could stand to be a bit larger.
Most people recommend the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker for its affordability, despite its plethora of features including Open Flame Technology, which ensures that meats are thoroughly cooked. But what impressed us the most was its Sense-Mate feature. For a budget pick, we were surprised to see that it had some of the most advanced technologies that even the most high-end products use. There’s no denying that you’ll get more than what it’s priced at!
Its burn system is also digitally controlled and the cast iron grids are porcelain coated to boot to make them as durable as possible. The heat is exact and consistent plus it is fueled 100% by natural wood pellets, which means you’ll end up with a consistent burn every time with little ash residue afterwards.
The grill is plated with beautiful stainless steel that gives the grill a refined and impressive look. The huge cooking area includes 570 square inches of surface area. That’s enough to hold 20 burgers or 4 rib racks! It also contains a second warming rack and bottom shelf that provides the grill stability and extra storage. This version comes with a sear box that can reach temperature of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which caramelizes your food. There’s a cheaper version without a sear box that costs around $200 less if a sear box isn’t a necessity for you. Additionally, the legs are built with extreme thickness giving the grill a grounded base. The caster wheels add portability to the grill so you can find that perfect place in the backyard.
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.
I also love the automatic light feature – it eliminated the hassle I went through when lighting my previous grill, the Weber Kettle BBQ. The grill also comes with two meat probes, which allow you to prepare two different meals while monitoring the progress of both probes simultaneously.
Can you comment on the Camp Chef entry level pellet grill. I’m of limited funds but would like to purchase one of these type grills. I’ve been using an electric smoker and I personally don’t like the creosote taste I’m experiencing with it! So I guess my question is will I regret purchasing one of these “cheap” pellet grills?
A good pellet grill will grill, roast, and smoke. A wood pellet is a small, 1/4 inch diameter piece of hardwood and looks like a long pill. Because of their small size, wood pellets burn cleanly and quickly to a fine ash.