This is how it all began. The traditional smokehouses of years gone by used hardwood to create the smoke, which cooked or cured the food. Not everyone has room for a custom-built smokehouse, so the hardwood log fueled smokers were some of the first backyard smokers. The hardest job in the world is temperature control with wood, as it has a tendency to flare and can burn very hot indeed. That is why for best results the wood is allowed to burn, and its the heat from the embers that is used to cook the meat. Needless to say, when you need a steady low temperature over an extended period of time, hardwood smokers are not the easiest to control, and it really needs an experienced smoke master to get the best from these types of smokers.
Multi-position and digital controllers ( LED display ) – a much better solution, but it does have its flaws. First a multi-position controller, then a digital controller that allows to set the temperature at intervals of +/- 25 degrees F. It’s a controller that also has poor responses to weather. A great advantage of a digital controller is that it allowed to implement other innovative solutions. It helped introduce such technologies as alerts, timer or better meat control.
Our trick is to look at the frequency of positive ratings on the web for any product, this one got a really high frequency, meaning a lot of people liked it in a short amount of time. A great indicator of reliability and quality, as well as good customer service. It got 10 positive reviews in the first 18 days, 10 more in 8 days, and 10 more in the following 16 days. That’s very positive for a charcoal burner.
Manufacturers advertise this piece of equipment as both a smoker and a grill, but it’s best to think of it as a superb indirect-heat convection smoker, not a grill. Most models just don’t do as good a job of searing a steak as a charcoal grill or even a gas grill with a sear burner can. You’ll sear steaks better on a $20 hibachi than on most pellet smokers.
Do not confuse a pellet grill for gas grills. Like the name suggests, a pellet grill obviously uses pellets for cooking its food. But do not doubt its competence with any other gas or convection appliances. It cooks just as well, if not better. And the secret to this are in its pellets. While pellets vary from brand to brand, the best ones have more wood and less binders like sawdust etc.
Pellet grills are available in a range of sizes for a variety of needs—everything from portable models for tailgating to extra large commercial units and built-in pellet grills for outdoor kitchens. When considering grill size, look at the cooking area as well as physical dimensions to choose one that fits your space and lifestyle.
Multi-Position Ortech Controller: This is the most common type of controller used in pellet grills. You select a temperature for the grill using either a dial or a digital touch pad. The controller then feeds pellets at a predetermined rate that should get the grill close to where you want it.
For a mid-range priced product, you get all the features you would need in a portable grill and smoker. Though it’s a portable pick, one of its great features (which also makes it worth the price) is its durable build. If you’re going to bring this grill with you on camping trips and hikes, you’re going to need it to be as sturdy as possible.
Because the burn pot is small, there is usually a hot spot directly over it. Some units have an optional perforated section above the burn pot so you can put the meat over direct flame, but the ones I’ve tested still do not sear properly. And there is no way to set up a 2-zone cooking system with a cool zone. As with most other grills and smokers, the differences between lower and upper racks is not huge, so think of it as one heckuva indirect heat convection smoker with precision temperature control.
Pellet smokers are fast proving to be more than just a fad. While some old timers claim they’re little more than an ‘expensive oven’ for more amateur to enthusiast smokers the convenience of use and quality of the food they produce can’t be past up on.
This mid-range smoker definitely relies a lot on hype to make a sale. That said, while it isn’t much to look at, it does seem to work extremely well during the first few seasons of use. Upkeep is the biggest concern. If you don’t have an extremely safe, dry place to store this big cooker, you’ll be throwing away a sizeable investment within the first year or two.
In 1982, Oregon’s Traeger Heating introduced a home heating system that burned wood pellets made from compressed sawdust, a by-product of local lumber milling. Since demand for these furnaces and wood pellets dropped off after winter, Traeger came up with a grill that would burn pellets and keep the business afloat over the summer months.
Pit Boss takes pride in their top-of-the-line cooking process. The Pit Boss 71700FB uses a fan-forced air accelerate to maintain the flame, achieving that flavorful smoky taste. Its flame broiler also has two cooking settings, direct and indirect, that elevate the food’s flavor while keeping excess grease away.
First, we are just like you. We love smoking and grilling. We were once novices like you, but now, through years of practice and research we are the genuine kings of the grill. We have our own favorites like the Camp Chef pellet grill and we want you to find your favorite too.
BBQ History BBQ Joints Beef Beverages Books Breakfast Chefs, Pitmasters, and Personalities Chicken Contest Desserts Flavors Fuels Gear General Grill Maintenance Grilling Techniques Holidays News & Information Pork Recipes Recipes & Techniques Ribs Seafood Tailgating The Grill Lab Tour Trends Vegetables World BBQ
Definitely the number one for me. Plenty of built-in features that are there to make the cooking process easier plus a big cooking surface. It’s a smoker that will give your food a really great smoked flavor.
Hey Tom! First, thank you so much for commenting on this article. I hope it’s proved useful to you and helping you make your pellet smoker buying decision. I took a look at the smokers you mentioned in your comment, and they appear to be similar in build to those made by Yoder. I can verify that Yoder does exceptionally good work with both the build quality and the heavy gauge steel Construction of their smokers. I don’t know much about the manufacturing practices of the smokers you mentioned. I do like the fact that their controller automatically dropped down to a warming temperature after your food reaches the programmed temperature setting. That’s a feature that I’ve only seen in higher-priced pellet grills like the Memphis Pro Series that I talk about in this article. However, more grills are starting to utilize this in the programming aspect of their controllers. In any case it’s a great feature. To be honest with you I’m not sure that the auger mechanics are going to be all that different between smokers. I’m sure there are differences, but I don’t feel that they are dramatic enough to offer a distinct selling Advantage for the manufacturer. If you haven’t looked at them yet, you might consider taking a look at the Traeger Pro Series pellet grills. You can’t find it on Amazon, but you can find them at different retailers listed on the main Traeger site. A friend of mine has one major competitions using the pro series models.
REC TEC offers high-quality pellet smokers featuring excellent digital controllers, sturdy construction, and an eye-catching appearance. With a 40-pound pellet hopper, a 680-square-inch cook surface, and nine inches of headroom, the REC TEC 680 is a large, smartly constructed pellet smoker for about a thousand bucks. The seams are welded, powder-coated, and caulked. The grill grates are quarter-inch-wide, marinade-resistant, long-lasting stainless steel rods. The fire pot, heat deflector, and drip pan are also stainless steel. All pellet grills need to be plugged into an AC outlet, and REC TEC wisely takes advantage of this requirement to include a very useful internal hood light.
It is almost as we have forgotten how to live life the way it should be lived. We no longer have the time to sit back on a summer’s day, and appreciate the show that nature has put up for us. Now-a-days we are so committed to our work, responsibilities and duties towards the external that we often forget that we have our very first priority neglected: happiness. We are so engaged in our daily 9 to 5 routines that we have actually began to take it as a way of living while it slowly drains and strains us away over time.
A digital smoker will always be easier to manage than a simple charcoal burner, but that preference comes down to customer desires, and we did not use this as part of our considerations. Instead, we examined how easily the smokers could be set up, cleaned, moved, and used. While some are intrinsically more portable than others, we relied on the manufacturer’s claims. Not all smokers are designed to be frequently moved, for instance, but if a manufacturer touted portability, the smoker in question came under scrutiny for its ease of movement and ability to travel.
There are, however, several pellet grills that offer a direct grilling option, making them true smoker-grill combos. These include pellet grills from Memphis Wood Fire Grills, Louisiana Grills, FireCraft, and Fast Eddy’s. Of those, the Fast Eddy’s PG500 is specifically designed to let you quickly and easily switch between smoking and grilling.
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.
First pellet grills and older models with three-position controllers have disadvantages as it is hard to achieve your desired temperature in the winter. Pellet jams are also a problem with the old type of pellet grills.
Summer has almost come around again and I am excited for the first night, where the air is still warm and the sky is clear. The sound of friends laughing and joking mingle in the air with the smell of the promise of a perfect meal. Thanks to the King of Pellet Smoker Grills, my summer is going to rock.
As for the grill itself, it is sizeable, coming in at 560″. This is enough space to be able to grill a party’s worth of food. You don’t have to of course, you could cook any amount you like in this versatile pellet smoker. It is well designed, having a table for cooked meat and a table for uncooked, helping you stay food poisoning free! Camp Chef have a good reputation and this is why.
Pellet grill uses various types of flavored wood pellets to flavor the food by infusing smoke into it. Pellets of numerous flavors are available on the market: hickory, strawberry, oak and olive are just to name a few. Many pellet grill companies also manufacture wood pellets alongside the pellet grills that go hand in hand with their respective grills. So know your options, and be sure to spend a few extra bucks into buying a good quality wood pellet for your pellet grill as this is what will set apart your smoked exotic BBQ from the mainstream flavors out there.
** Memphis Wood Fire Grills: Stylish design, sophisticated electronics, and great thermodynamics. This is one of the few pellet grills that lets you remove the top of the burn chamber so you can direct grill over a wood pellet fire.
Hey Shannon – they all have their merits. Budget dictates a lot. If you’re in the $1000 or under range, Green Mountain and Rec Tec are great choices. Both have developed near cult followings, with GMG a little ahead of the curve on that front having been around a bit longer. I love the Yoders as far as moving up on the price range is concerned. Will last you forever and they offer a solid product with great support. MAK grills are just beautifully made. There’s no other way to put it. The “General” models are superbly crafted. Love that MAK offers built in cold smoking as a capability. Am I helping here or just making things worse? Hahaha.
Most pellet smokers have a flat drip plate under the cooking grate that diffuses heat and catches grease and gunk. Louisiana uses a curved “Arched Flavor Guard” that mirrors the shape of the lid. It claims that this design presents a larger surface for meat drippings to sizzle and enhance flavor. The Flavor Guard also has a section over the fire pot that can slide out of the way to expose large, slotted openings, which allow meats to sear over open flame.
Pellets look like rabbit chow. They are about the width of a pencil and as long as a couple of erasers. If they get wet they turn into a pile of sawdust. The beauty of pellets is that they have none of the additives and fillers in charcoal briquets, so they combust almost completely. Almost zero ash. The pellets provide the heat as well as flavor. No need to add wood chips. Surprisingly, they do not produce overly smoky food. If anything, the food is undersmoked to some people because the combustion is so complete.
Sorry for the long book all, hope there is some info that helps all of your readers to avoid all the work and ruined meat. The books I recommend are great but there are a ton more out there with great info as well. (And yep still looking for the magic bullet on brisket, best I can say cook till floppy and don’t let the juice out! GL)
Generally, the more you pay for a smoker grill, the more reliable and longer-lasting it will be. This is not always true, we have tested some really expensive grills that fell apart the first time we used them, but it is a good rule of thumb for the best smoker grills. Check for good welding, tight seals, non-squeaky joints, snug fits and “feel” (you know what we mean) when you’re looking for a reliable machine.
Hey DS – You’re dead on correct re: Grilling vs. Smoking. Most to nearly all Pellet Smokers are used as “smokers” in the truest sense. Louisiana Pellet Smokers boast a direct fire feature for grilling, as do Yoder smokers. However, I’m with you in that a grill is a grill and a smoker is a smoker. GMGs are very popular down here on the FBA circuit. However, most folks do find that they don’t produce the amount of smoke preferred for competition meats (which, in truth is a complaint about many pellet smokers). This is why stick burners and “some” gravity feds get a boost in rep among competition cook teams. That said, I do see folks happily using pellet smokers, and some win with them. One “trick” I see used now and again to boost the smoke output on a pellet smoker is to use one of those smoke tubes… like the A-maze-n Tube Smoker. Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by to read this blog post! – Kevin
This unit is really well designed. It’s a smaller take-off of the old classic kettle model with a smaller food cooking surface (only 363 square inches), meaning that it’s really designed as a family-plus-a-few-more style grill. The unit is really well made, though, and has some quality features.
To operate a kamado, the lid usually hinges open to reveal a ceramic or metal bowl that contains the charcoal. A vent in the lower half feeds oxygen to the charcoal and the vent in the roof lets air escape.
This item smokes for about 5 hours (not 4 hours) I filled mine half full, and used tinfoil to displace the unused area with about a 50/50 gig..after 2 hours I still had quite a few pellets left. I poured them in a coffee can, and will use them next time. Note: I made wire “U” hangers and hung my A-Maze-N smoker off the bottom wire rack (next to the door)..Rockin !!!
The cooking process is made a lot more convenient with this smoker. To start cooking, all you need to do is flip the Traeger on/off switch, and you’re good to go. Then, you can simply set your desired temperature through the digital controls. Enjoy your time and relax while you leave the unit to do everything else. With its efficient temperature control system and automated auger with an induction fan, heat remains constant throughout the cooking process. You’ll have evenly-cooked foods that have that mouth-watering smoky flavor in no time.
Warm summer nights call out for a get together. The laughter of your loved ones and the smell of your favorite BB-Q in the air. This can be you and here at Grills forever we want to be the one that helps you find that perfect smoker grill that will make your party the best of the summer.Wood pellet smokers are some of the most popular smoker grills on the market. Part of the reason they are in such demand is because there are so many to choose from. With so many out there how do you know which one is right for you?
Hi – my husband and I are really interested in a pellet smoker. We came across some when we were at a fair and are trying to find more information about the Traeger brand because the price seems affordable compared to all the others you mentioned. You started out talking about the Traeger but never gave any feedback on it? Little help please:) Thanks!
A. There are two mostly and popular pellet smoker flavors. Apple and hickory. With these two types of flavors, one can cook entirely anything. When cooking poultry or pork, hickory is the best flavor. It is though a strong flavor to be used in cooking red meat. Apple on the other side can be good on vegetables and seafood but can also be used when cooking poultry, red meat and pork.
The Memphis Grills Elite Series pellet grills and smokers are the absolute best you can have. They are more expensive than your backyard pellet grills but built to last and they come with Wi-Fi which gives you the freedom to control your grill from anywhere you desire.
It’s a variation on the Ugly Drum Smoker or UDS, but the drum is slightly smaller and, although it comes with a grate, for most recipes you hang the meat vertically from hooks – even turkeys! Your jaw will hit the deck as you pull one round of deliciously smoked meats after another from this magic drum with little more effort than trimming and seasoning. Furthermore the meat hanging method provides beaucoup capacity. PBC easily accommodates eight full slabs of ribs. Whether you’re a novice or an award winning competitor (and competition teams now use them), Pit Barrel is a welcome addition to any backyard. Click here to read our complete review of the Pit Barrel Cooker.
The Camp Chef SmokePro’s automatic features definitely sets it apart and makes it truly a “set it and forget it” kind of unit. It makes use of an electric auto-igniter system that lets you start grilling with just one button. The automatic auger instantly dispenses pellets to maintain the desired temperature and use your pellets the most efficient way.
Yoder’s Variable Displacement Damper is another unique feature: Essentially, it’s a metal plate that may be moved from left to right along the lower smoke box. Positioned all the way left, it concentrates heat directly over the fire pot for conductive searing with optional aluminum GrillGrates. Move it back to the right for even heat across the entire smoke box. Yoders are sold primarily through independent retailers.
Built for a home griller, this smoker really has some special features for making the smoking experience super simple. For starters, the thermometer is digital, allowing for a consistent read on the internal temperature. The construction is pretty ingenious, with the upper chimney at the center of the unit, allowing for good air and heat movement over the meat.