Pellets are made of compressed sawdust. It’s wood and wood burns when heated. If you starve wood of oxygen when you heat it, it smokes rather than burning to ash. This smoke is the best for providing food with an all natural flavor!
It’s true that even the entry-level models of pellet smokers are a bit pricey. But I’ve never met an unhappy pellet smoker owner, even if they paid a few hundred bucks more than the cost of their neighbor’s grill. While many folks struggle trying to get cheap offset and bullet smokers to work, with a pellet smoker, it’s easy to make the best smoked ribs, brisket, and pulled pork in the neighborhood.
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First, you have to figure out what your budget looks like. Of the pellet smokers I cover here, the Rec Tec Grill Pellet Smoker is the most economical and best overall value – with solid construction and top end electronics controls.
If you’re a member of the Rockefeller family and price isn’t an issue then you’ll definitely find pellet grills over the $2000 mark but, if you’re more the ‘other fella’ with a budget in mind, then the Rec Tec is one of the best-priced grills, available for under $1,000. There’s also a Rec Tec mini grill which comes in under $750.
With a temperature probe for the meat inside the chamber, this allows you to keep an eye on the temperature of your meat without opening the grill. Nothing ruins a brisket or roast faster than the grill who constantly fiddles with the meat on the grill. Opening the chamber lets the heat out and that can quickly make for some tough meat. This handy feature takes the guesswork out of how ready your meal is.
Although many people refer to pellet smokers as grills, they aren’t the best for cooking steaks, burgers or hot dogs. Because they use indirect heat, they’re typically best for smoking turkey, pork and other meats. For this type of cooking, however, they are some of the best options.
If you’ve never used a smoker before, you might be a bit nervous about putting your new outdoor cooker to work. Luckily, smoking delicious meats is easier than you probably think. Ensuring that you have the necessary accessories, that you know how to use your smoker properly and that you use the right recipes, then you shouldn’t have any problem preparing delicious meals and taking advantage of all of the advantages that your smoker has to offer.
An attractive option for many people are stainless steel pellet grills, which are rust-resistant, more durable, and easier to maintain. While pellet grills made from commercial-grade 304 stainless steel are the most desirable, they come at a higher. However, there are also some pellet grills made from 430 stainless steel, which is more affordable and still incredibly durable.
First of all, the construction is really top notch. At around this sale price, you can’t usually expect a smoker grill to be well made, but this one is. Tight seals, good welding, snug fitting attachments, smooth action on the door and handles. It all adds up to something that gives the impression of being much more expensive. The wide feet give the Smoke Vault a sturdy and stable stance and the door is pleasingly like a bank vault door. It is almost like robbing a mini bank, just one full of deliciously smoky meat, when you open the door and the plumes of aromatic smoke pour out. It is a mini dramatic experience.
Traeger Smoker – Buyer beware. My Traeger stopped working both times I’ve used it. It just stops after about 2 hours. Traeger’s response is their pillory is they don’t make refunds. The nearest service is 3 hours away and it’s just too far for them. They said the solution to it stopping is for me to partially disassemble it when it stops and vacuum out the burner pot. They said they would talk me through some troubleshooting. They offered to send me replacement parts but said they don’t think it will help. I can’t return it, they can’t determine a fix for it. I’m supposed to just eat the $830 cost for a smoker that doesn’t work.
Many new developments are underway and soon will be released in the market. However, some are already with us! So here are some of the biggest things to look forward to while buying your next pellet smoker.
Great product. Well made and simple to use. Used it the day it arrived to smoke cheese. Used the following week to boost the amount of smoke in my Traeger during a higher cook temp. Still had 1/2 of the pellets let after the pork was done, so I moved it to into an even larger grill and guess what???? Smoked some more cheese. Very good smoke enhancer and cold smoke generator.
Rubbery skin has very little to do with the type of heat (direct vs indirect). Rubbery skin is a result of too low a cooking temperature. Take your smoker/grill or whatever you use and get the temperature in the mid 400’s or even higher and you will get crispy skin. One thing though never let the internal temperature of your bird get over 150 or you’ll have crispy skin and dry crunchy meat too. Take it off the grill and let is rest a full 30 minutes. Best bird you’ll ever eat no matter which grill, smoker, 50 gal barrel, etc you cooked it on.
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.
Hey Mike – yes, I’ve looked at and used the Traeger Pro models, and I like them. I’ll be doing a review of the Traeger Pro 22 that I now own. Definitely go with the Pro Model, which you can find at Ace Hardware stores or any of the locations you find via the Traeger Grills store locator here.
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Digital control panel – Elaborate and all-embracing panel allows for a great temperature control. Set the desired temperature for yourself and the smoker will automatically supply pellets to the grill in order to maintain the temperature you set. The regulation range is 160 degrees F all the way to 500 degrees F.
PID Controller– Proportional Integral Derivative Controller is a recent technology that many manufacturers have yet to include in their products. It helps the smoker maintain an accurate and precise temperature while cooking.
Considering quality construction of anything is among the most important factors that should be kept in mind while shopping for a pellet smoker. No one would wish to buy an item, no matter the price, that is not of good quality and that will have rust or get destroyed without giving the user enough service. That is a loss. A good quality pellet smoker will last longer and will need less or little maintenance.
Costly – That’s the main darn thing that may hold you from purchasing this. However, this grill barbecues delectable meat makes utilization of smart heat technology and will keep going for a considerable length of time. Also, yes you will be a grill master among your friends.
That said, I can’t see why the Memphis Pro couldn’t hold its own versus the MAK on cooking ability – with the ability to go low and slow or crank things up to a searing 650 degrees F. All in all, a great pellet grill that will last a lifetime.
You should consider the temperature range of what you will be cooking mostly before choosing the desired pellet smoker, to avoid choosing one that is not fit cooking foods of higher temperature. Pellet smoker with higher temperature range are better that those with low temperature range because they can cook more foods with different styles of cooking.
Kevin- super helpful article. Thanks! I just moved from a big city small apartment with no grill to a house in the country. Most essential purchase is the grill. I’m really on the fence. I like the idea of a pellet grill, but in reality- I’m mostly cooking burgers, fish, steaks, scallops, and veggies. The brisket and ribs will be more of a special occasion. From an economical perspective, am I better buying a gas grill and just getting one of those smoke tubes to add some flavor? From many of the online comments, it seems like the pellet grills benefit from additional smoke anyway, and though you can get additional grates for searing, seems like a square peg in a round hole. The gas grill is sort of the tried and true, and way more economical. Those $500 entry level pellet grills seem a little scrawny, and the next level up is a cool $grand. I’m really on the fence, and getting pressure to “just buy the darn thing” to consummate the move to the country! However the pellet grills seem like the new shiny object and have my curiosity. Any advice? PS- love the website! Thanks, Cary
Some people think simple is best and some love a smoker grill that comes with all the bells and whistles on the market. If you are someone who likes to have all the latest features have a look out for a smoker grill that has some of the extras below:
The PID controller is different from other controllers in that it does not used fixed cycles. Instead it is constantly measuring the temperature of the grill and adjusts the cycle as needed. This ensures the correct cooking temperature is always maintained.