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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.
Whether you are new to the scene or a long-time grillmaster, everyone has unique preferences when it comes to their cooking method of choice. From propane to charcoal to wood, people take their method of grilling quite seriously, and some argue quite passionately about the pros and cons of each method.
You can get anything from electric to charcoal in this price range and the variety of options is vast here. If you are a beginner with a lot of cash to spare then this range will offer everything that you need to fall in love with American Gourmet. Authentic BBQ with capacities that can cook above 8 stacks of ribs at once is what this price range offers.
My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.

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.
The lid is the same excellent coated and enameled heavy gauge steel, and the charcoal bin to the right will keep your charcoal dry and light-ready. It’s not uncommon to hear the complaint that there’s always half a bag of charcoal left after every grilling session and there’s no where to store it. Weber heard the complaints and has made a really nice model to deal with it.
Thanks for the great information and the research you did. I am a retail store owner in Boise, Idaho area and we sell a pellet grill smoker in our store. I would like to encourage to look at the Sawtooth Pellet Grill. It is made local here and is American Made. It is an excellent grill for the price with an awesome company backing it. You can find their website at sawtoothpelletgrills.com. Again thanks for the information and if you do another publication regarding pellet grills, I would love to see what your opinion of the Sawtooth would be 🙂
For the best value, we’d go with the Masterbuilt M7P 7-in-1 Smoker and Grill. The unit is a really great grill with tons of versatility, high quality construction, and multiple fuel sources. Masterbuilt thought of everything on this unit, and it shows. The whole unit is well constructed, should last you a number of seasons, and is priced at a really good value for what you’re receiving. So if you’re committed to the smoking and grilling process, but want a really quality and versatile unit, you’ve found what you’ve been looking for here.
This pellet grill comes with a six-year warranty, but don’t expect it to start following apart a month after your warranty is up. Even after a year or two, if you use it with any regular consistency (Spoiler alert: You will), you’ll feel it’s already paid for itself.
The Webber Smokey Mountain is really an ideal and well made backyard smoker. The space of the cooking chamber allows large sized cooking without any issue, and the simple vertical design sends the smells and heat around the meat cut. The smoker also functions as a moist smoker with a water pan built in to add moisture to smoked meats.
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.
The Daniel Boone pellet grill is the only unit on our best smokers list to feature a Wi-Fi enabled control system. This connects to your iOS or Android phone and conveniently lets you know the status of any smoking session.
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.
Everyone loves smokey food. The smell of fire roasted meats and spirit of kinship that pervades BBQ gatherings harkens back to our ancestors. You just don’t get that with boiled ribs. For many years smoking was a mystery to most home cooks. Today it’s commonplace to find backyard smokers filling neighborhoods with irresistible fragrance.
Brought it home and set it on my prep table with the controller in a cubby hole with all intentions of building a cart for it later. So I have made a killer rib eye on it and tried to burn it down with a couple rib eyes cooking at 600 F. Gotta figure out a little better method of catching drippings as they will catch on fire and you have a runaway! But you can make a great rib eye. Ribs, every set has turned out awesome, everything from low and slow to a high temp cook process on them. Probably made 8 racks of great ribs. Wasn’t impressed with the hamburgers on it but will try again later. Made a pretty good brisket but used Rudy’s rub as I like their store sandwiches and I don’t have the method down. Next one will be back to salt and a touch of pepper. Chicken thighs (thighs are the perfect chicken part for Q, their rather uniform thickness makes getting them all consistent and cooked even a slam dunk) with a light coat of mustard and Tony Chachere’s lightly sprinkled is to die for. Simply squeeze them when they should be close and if the juice is clear, no pink or red they are perfect. If you cook the juice out, well they make decent tasting blotter paper 🙁 Pretty much killed a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving, good thing the wife made an over baked one too. It did make great gumbo though as does the blotter paper chicken if you ruin any thighs or the whatever chicken. Also have a pile of hot links I put on at 180 for 2 to 3 hours. They are great for reheat with sauerkraut and roasted pabs or in the gumbo. Hot links should be a staple, ha ha! Gotta try my great pulled pork on it and we do Prudhomme pizza sauce on a Brown Eyed Baker crust and this Pro should rock it!
In addition, the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill comes with multiple accessories. These include a meat probe, peaked lid (which is useful for large fowls and stand-up chickens), rib racks, a convenience tray as well as utensil hooks. This takes away the trouble of having to order additional parts for modification.
With the internal temperature sensor, meat temperature probe, and a digital temperature readout, the PG24 pellet smoker takes the guesswork out of your cooking process. An advanced digital temperature chip gives a more steady smoke and temperature, eliminating large temperature swings and giving a more consistent cooking temperature. The patented Ash Can Cleanout System makes clean up the easiest out there.
We won’t include the built in thermometer as a negative, as even far more expensive units come with unreliable thermometers that can be off by as much as 10-40 degrees. Always invest in a quality thermometer setup.
Central to all pellet cookers is a digital controller similar to the controllers on modern indoor ovens. You select a temp you want, and there is an LED display that tells you the actual temp. Some of the controllers also are programmable so you can cook at a certain temp for a determined time. Some have leave-in meat probes that can dial back the ovento a holding temp when the meat hits its mark.
If you are looking for portability, convenience and a smoker that is relatively clean to operate, then a propane gas smoker is your best bet. The flavor you get from a gas smoker is probably better than from an electric and not quite as good as from charcoal, so it is a good compromise solution. Although a propane gas smoker does not have the fill and forgets the convenience of an electric smoker, it has many of the advantages. Once the burner is lit, and the food is in the smoker, one eye on the inbuilt thermometer, and a hand on the gas regulator to get the temperature just right is all that is needed. As smoking times are very long, it’s probably handy to have an extra gas bottle or canister available just in case.
Travelers – Of course there’s a perfect pellet smoker for you too. It differs from a basic pellet grill in that it’s smaller and much lighter. It has foldable legs, which allows you to easily take it to the car with you. Everyone’s been on a camping or a field trip at some point. In moments like those, grilled food is something delicious and wholesome. I found the right portable pellet grill for you, which thanks to its size and weight is portable.
I took a stab at locating your IP address (it shows when you leave a comment). It has your in the Olney, MD area. If I’m right, Clarke’s Ace Hardware in Ellicott City (410) 465-9633 sell the Traeger Pro series pellet grills. I called them and confirmed that they can get them in and have a bulk order of them in to Traeger now.
The Davy Crockett gives you far more temperature control than many other pellet smokers. Using the manual control panel you can make 5 degree adjustments. And if you want to really dial it in you can use the app to make one degree adjustments.
So if you want more of a smoke profile, cook at longer and lower temps in your pellet pit. I have found that is the best way to get a more distinct smoke profile in your food. Cook at 180-190 for the first several hours.
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
Have you heard of the gold standard smoker? You are about too. I present you the charcoal smokers. Though charcoal smokers are quite difficult to figure out in comparison to the easy to use electric smoker and cheap and portable gas smoker, these types of smokers are the queen of all smoker types.
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.
I have used Bradley, Masterpiece, Green Egg, New Braunfels, Oklahoma Joe, Weber and now Traeger. So there is some experience in these comments. The “set it and forget” it is a misnomer and should not be used with Traeger (or any smoker/grill.) With Pellet Drive before you buy Read up on Er codes. The worst is when the fire pot fills up with pellets because the fire can’t keep up with the auger push and the whole cook is ruined or delayed. You have to pull everything out and basically start over while your expensive prime brisket is trying to be saved in the oven. Doesn’t matter what the weather is or wind conditions. Doesn’t matter if you stare at it and stir the hopper continuously. It will happen. Customer support at first was well you are at fault (didn’t leave the lid open on fireup for exactly 2 to 4 minutes or didn’t vacuum out the firepot between every cook) which is crazy. Finally, after so many calls over the past 6 months they are trying to make it right. Problem is, DO NOT believe the “set it and forget it.” That does not exist with any good cook. I have replaced the controller the fan and now getting a new probe. Do not waste your money. Unless someone out here in BBQ land can give me a recommendation on a product that won’t do this stay away from Pellet Drive?
On Tabletop Models: I didn’t include them here because though extensive, this post is more of an overview of a few select makers of Pellet Smokers I think do a fine job with both manufacturing and product support. The one exception is that I did include a link to where you can find the Rec-Tec mini. That’s Rec-Tec’s answer to the smaller, tabletop or tailgating models.
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.
For the best overall, we’d suggest the Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill. It’s a great unit, and we know you’ll be pleased. Large cooking space, remarkable build quality, and ease of use all make this an amazing smoker.
Who doesn’t want to experience the tastiest grilled food, and one of the simplest ways to do that, and make sure your meat is more healthy for you is to marinate the meat before grilling or smoking. A marinade will add a plethora of new flavors to your cooking, and it also forms a protective barrier around the food to stop any harmful chemicals penetrating into the meat.
When you can set and forget your unit, it gives you free time to do other things during the lengthy smoking process. This isn’t the case with conventional wood or charcoal smokers; they need a full day of maintenance and tending.
Luckily it’s not hard to find high quality grills for less than $500. Three that come to mind are the Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler, the Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and the Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill.
Comes with a 633 square inch main grilling surface, but also includes a 280 square inch removable upper cooking rack (total cooking area: 913 square inches). Includes a digital thermostat and gives you precise heat control from 170 Fahrenheit to 600 Fahrenheit (5 degree increments).
Temperature range is an important feature. What you’ll need will depend on what kind of cooking you want to do. Most pellet grills can hit temperatures between 180 F and 425 F, an adequate range for smoking, baking, roasting, and grilling. If you like to sear your meat you need something that reaches the 500-550 F. A good thermometer is a must. You’ll need to have an accurate reading so you’ll know you’re cooking your meat at the right temperature
“I have cooked on my new RT-700 twice now and you can’t beat the convenience of this grill. Both of my cooks have been low and slow smoking (225°) and had great smoke flavor. Can’t wait to cook more!”
The compact design of the Grilla does not hurt your grilling space. The Grilla has 488 square inches of grilling space (346 square inch main grate, 142 square inch upper grate) which is more than enough to handle four slabs of baby back ribs.

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