The Primo Oval is a ceramic kamado style grill that doubles as a smoker. Its versatility lands it with a spot here in best smokers, as well as top choice for a kamado on our best grills list. What sets this Primo apart from other ceramic cookers is its oval shape, giving it more grill space and better two-zone cooking.
Some users have remarked that it goes through pellets faster than other units, which is certainly influenced by the size. If you’re not cooking a lot at once, one of the smaller units on this list would be a lot more economical.
Thank you for a very comprehensive review and all the helpful advice. I would like to know your thoughts about having the burn pot in the center area as in the Rec-Tec, or on the side. My only interest is smoking, not grilling, and I prefer even heat throughout the cooking chamber. How much difference does the location of the burn pot make? Thank you very much.
We weren’t mentioned in the article, but just wanted to pop in and say that Memphis Wood Fire Grills do have the direct flame capability that’s missing in many other pellet smokers. You can easily sear the heck out of anything you wish. 😉
The argument for bark is that it smolders really well, providing more smoke during the cook and therefore more smokey flavor. Think about it: When you put a log on the fire, the bark almost immediately begins to smoke and smolder. And therein lies the second half of the pro-bark argument: when cooking on an offset you use logs with bark, so why should pellets be any different?
Set it and forget it. That’s the main attraction of electric smokers, and an important one. No lighting charcoal, no checking the fuel supply every hour or so, no messy ash to clean up. Just turn it on, crack a bear and take a snooze in your lounge chair.
Pellet Smoker Grills are the king of all 4 types of smokers. You can get hundreds of variations of pellet smokers at all price points. You can get a pellet smoker for as low as $100 or you can shell out as much as $7000 for the king of kings. The difference you will find in the taste of food and ease of use.
The Masterbuilt M7P 7-in-1(View on Amazon.com) is the best smoker you can currently get if you’re looking for something not too expensive and not that feature-rich. As the name suggests, this is a seven in one smoker that’s going to make all your meals taste simply delicious. One thing that makes it a winner is its large cooking space, which allows you to cook a ham and a turkey at the same time. You can even smoke burgers and steaks at very high temperatures, but also consider indirect grilling for corn on the cob and foil wrapped potatoes.
Whether you call them pellet grills or pellet smokers (the terms are interchangeable), there’s no denying the impact these do-everything cookers are having on BBQ. In the past year alone, interest in pellet grills has grown at an astounding rate, with the number of online searches nearly doubling. Although they’ve been around for over thirty years, it’s only recently that they’ve earned the title of the Hottest Product in BBQ.
Since we have reviewed so many top smokers 2018 and written so many guides and lists to the best smoker grills, we thought we should put together a definitive guide to Our Picks so you can choose the best in every category easily. For the top 10 product reviews in each category, take a look at our reviews page. We will provide a link at the bottom of each review.
To help our readers find the right products, we spend a lot of time on each review. It is around 55 hours per article, we think. That’s not including all the volunteer hours our dedicated team of product finders and reviewers put in. All in all, it is a lot of work for these smoker reviews 2018. It is about a week per guide, giving us time to personally test each product. All this adds up to a very comprehensive set of data that you can read for free and we use to write these best smoker grills reviews.
Very subjective, but there are two things I look for, flavor and cooking temperature. I’ve only been smoking meat for two years, so once I finally got my rubs and sauces figured out (approval of friends and family), I then began to go through the different pellet brands. This was important since what good is a pellet, if I couldn’t even make a rub/sauce that was not liked by the masses. I went through about 15 different pellets brands and found the flavor and temperature vary greatly between brands.
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.
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.
The cooking surface isn’t huge – just 560 square inches – which is a serious drawback. However, with the pellet and hopper system, you’re free to start the smoker, set the temp, turn on the hopper, and go get a drink and wait for the meat to be done. Temperature spikes are controlled and managed by the hopper. The hopper does hold a sizable 18 pounds of wood pellets, which should do a full smoking job pretty well.
The idea of combination grill and smoker isn’t new. Many smokers have long claimed that they can grill. There are also plenty of grills that say they can be used for smoking. And, technically, it’s true. However, typically those cookers can do one thing well (either smoke or grill) and the other is an afterthought. Yes, a smoker can grill a hamburger, but it probably can’t achieve the high heat needed to sear a steak or cook pizza? And you can use wood chips to smoke ribs on a grill, but most grills aren’t built for maintaining the low-and-slow temperatures required for authentic BBQ. Nor are they designed to maximize the airflow needed for proper smoking.
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.
The M7P also functions as both a dry and wet smoker. A pan of water with juice or vinegar added can be inserted into the bottom of the smoker to provide additional moisture when smoking more lean meats.
The overall dimensions are 51x21x45 and it weighs about 130 pounds. This unit has some great features that help with cleaning and maintenance, as well. This is an excellent place to start if you’re a beginner, this pellet grill will definitely hold your hand through the process, but don’t get the wrong idea – it’s far from being an “entry level” unit.
I am glad your review of the Rec Tec included commentary on the accuracy and performance of the temperature controller. I would have liked to read similar comments about the other five grills in your reviews because this is such an important feature.
Because the auger runs on adjustable timer setting, it feeds pellets in for 15 seconds and then shuts off. This means that it doesn’t take into account temperature swings throughout the day, or wind which can effect your cooking. Keep this in mind if you will be cooking in a extreme conditions.
Equipped with a digital controller that allows you to set the temperature between 160 and 500 degrees F. Dual LED allows you to check the current temperature inside the grill and read the internal temperature of the meat using a meat probe for that.
No review of REC TEC would be complete without commenting on the striking and appealing look of this smoker. With its bright red powder-coated hood and shining, micro-polished stainless steel bull-horn handles and nose-ring towel holder, it’s a mighty cool-looking cooker that’s a pleasure to use.
Yo, Kevin! Hope that you can soon review one of my all-time favorite purchases, the Traeger Li’l Tex Elite Smoker/Grill. After using it for a couple of months, I gave away my two year old gas-grill to my grandson. We’ve done chicken, turkey, pheasant, lamb, all kinds of beef, pork and sausages including some wonderful ribs and brisket. Our Easter Rib Roast turned out terrific as did the chunks of assorted sausages that we did for another family get-together. I was never a big fan of grilling until we got our Traeger. Both Traeger and the web-sites like yours are full of great recipes and ideas.
Let me remind you of Byron Fuchs. Byron Fuchs was grilling for a Fourth of July party at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. He bent over to light his propane barbecue when there was an explosion, engulfing his body in a wall of fire. “As soon as I did it, I looked down at my arm and I [saw] the skin melt off,” he said. — Today.com
Please know that I have in no way been paid to speak about the Memphis Grill Pro series model I tested. The company contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying one out. I said yes and picked up a demo model from Danielle Fence in Mulberry, FL to use over the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays.
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.
Hey Jeff – I think that due to pellet smokers requiring much of the wood pellet for “fuel” leaving a smaller part for the “smoke” means that you want as much of the smoke to stay in the chamber for as long as possible. Just my opinion. I’ve not used charcoal pellets. Those I’ve spoken with who have used them weren’t extremely happy with the results. Regarding the water pan, I feel that pellet smokers don’t typically require water pans. However, you can surely use one and see how your results go.
I have the Camp Chef Woodwind with sear box (basically their SmokePro DLX with a stainless steel lid), and it’s… pretty good. Good smoke, easy cleaning, all the points made in the article above. However, I’m having some cook timing issues which I believe stem from the Ortech controller. I’ve seen temperature swings of 75 degrees while cooking. Also, even with an added gasket, the lid leaks smoke quite a bit- to the point that the chimney seems superfluous.
If you’ve ever wanted an 8-in-1 wood pellet grill that you can just “set and forget”, then this grill is the perfect unit for you. This is the most hassle-free smoker we’ve used which is why it deserves to be one of our top picks. Digitally-controlled, this smoker ignites the unit and uses a Smart Smoke Technology™ to heat it up from 160 to 450 degrees F. This pellet smoker comes with a whopping 513 square inch grilling area, plus a 2nd cooking rack! While it doesn’t have a cleanup system, its auto-shutdown feature makes it worth the value.
Well said John, I have had my Rec Tec 680 for a year now, first pellet smoker. At first I was going to buy a Yoder, but for $1500 I had to do more research, I didn’t need a 350 lb tank I wanted a pellet grill ( I have a 450 lb stick burner). Rec Tec came out on top, warranty sold me. My ignitor rod went out, I called CS on a Sunday, left a msg and they called me back within an hour and FedEx me a new ignitor rod. I have called CS several times for advice, and the always help
Traeger: As the launcher of the pellet smoker trend, it’s only natural that the innovative Traeger Pellet Grill Company would perfect its pellet grill technology and come up with some of the most affordably priced smokers around costing $300 upwards. It’s the Ford Motors of the pellet grilling world and many a pellet griller on the market to date owes the existence of their industry to this one company.
One comment I see a lot in various forums like Pellet Heads Forum is that you want as much efficiency as you can get. As with lump charcoal, this means burning as clean of a cook as you can with as little ash as possible. Different pellet mixes will produce differences in what you get in this area, and the cooker you’re using will dictate this to some degree as well.
Red meats such as beef and pork generally have more fat content, so why not try leaner meats such as turkey or chicken. White meats can be just as tasty and have a lower fat content, and with a good marinade or rub can have a fantastic flavor.
Depending on the type of cooking you want to do, temperature range can be important. Every pellet grill is good at indirect cooking and most have no problem hitting any temperature from 180°F to 425°F, which is adequate for smoking, roasting, baking, and grilling. However, it’s not enough for searing, which requires a temperature of 500-550°F.
Clearly, this had to be our Top Charcoal Pick. It has amazing quality smoke, a really solid construction, a cool mini look, the brilliant feature of a porcelain steam pan for extra delicious moisture, and it is efficient! Good stuff.
Set it and forget it. Fill the hopper with pellets, set your preferred temperature (and a timer if you need) and go prepare a side dish or drink beer with friends. No charcoal grill will give you that freedom.
One other thing to know about the wonder of pellet grills is that they come with pellet hoppers, varying in capacity from brand to brand, that accommodates and use the pellets you put it accordingly and automatically as per the heat setting, eliminating the need to refill the hopper manually so frequently. So throw on some lamb ribs on to those hot grills, and go enjoy some cold beer while the pellet grill does the rest for you!
The Camp Chef PG24S is one of the most high-capacity , heavy-duty smokers we’ve ever used. For its size, it’s fairly easy to operate and won’t require you much maintenance. Although it’s quite heavy, it definitely cooks large amounts of food for big groups. Overall, a great investment that will last you a long time.
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.
Next, consider if you’re in the market for a wet or dry smoker. A dry smoker will work great with juicier meats with higher fat content like brisket, shoulder, and ribs. However, if you’re looking to smoke leaner cuts and still get a moist final product, a smoker that allows for water smoking. Water smoking uses a water pan above the fire chamber that fills the smoker with water vapor, maintaining some of the moisture of the meat.
REC TECs use what they call “smart grill technology”. A PID system (a controller that will regulate based on environment) is used to feel pellets when needed, and regulate air flow based on desired temps. This is much more useful and accurate than pellet smokers that use timers to add fuel. It also has a massive 40 lbs hopper to feed pellets. At an hour a pound on low temps, that’ll give you 40 hours of smoke.
I have narrowed it down to either a Rec Tec or a Yoder. I plan on spending around the 1500 dollar range and wanted your opinion on which one is better between those 2 units. I plan on using it for grilling as well as smoking and don’t want a long warm up time. I value your professional opinion / comments to help me make my decision?
Hey David, Is there a particular reason why the Grilla grills interest you? I tend to find they’re great smokers, just expensive for what they are. If you’re working with limited space (say smoking on a condo balcony) then the Grilla models vertical footprint can make all the difference between having a smoker or not. But for the price, and for a standard model smoker, the Traeger models tend to be better all around.