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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
So Kevin here is where you come in. Been wanting to make getting consistent Q on the table regularly and easily. Been looking at pellet poopers for about 5 years now and decided to take the plunge. Had already done enough looking a few years ago Traeger’s issues had scared me off. Several friends had them and raved but always mentioned problems. I decided from my work I don’t want to be buying someone’s, ‘we know the problems and are fixing them’ if you can find something solid for similar cost. Yoder and FEC were pretty much my finalists. So I was doing my final thoughts and found your article.
A smoker is designed to cook even the toughest cuts of meats at a low temperature over a longer period of time. It uses smoke to cook your meat and often maintains a temperature between 225 and 275 degrees, which allows it to break down tough connective tissue. As the fat on your meat melts, it keeps your food nice and moist so that it becomes more tender. It also gets a delicious smoky flavor that can’t really be mimicked with any other style of cooking.
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.
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?
At present, I am sponsored by and continually use pellets produced by CookinPellets.com. There are two versions of pellets – the Perfect Mix (Hickory, Cherry, Hard Maple, and Apple Woods) and 100 Percent Hickory. In each of these versions, CookinPellets uses all wood, no bark, no filler woods like oak or alder and no flavor oils. Just 100% of what is on the bag. I get consistently great flavor using these two varieties of pellet smoker pellets from CookinPellets.com, and I think you’ll enjoy them very much as well.
Ceramic cooking has been around thousands of years. This unit might not last a few millennia but its got a limited lifetime warranty with a 20-year guarantee on all ceramic parts. You’ll get great mileage out of your Primo.

Hi Craig, you are on the right track, the direct flame is a little limited with any pellet grill. A way to solve this is to employ grill gtates. Great heat retention and searing. Some active movement of proteins and veggies will be required if you want direct flames to impact them.
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 Davy Crockett Pellet Grill offers open flame technology which uses infrared radiation to cook your food. The peaked lid not only allows for you to cook tall slabs of meat, but it also helps the convection process within the grill, making sure that your meat is thoroughly and evenly cooked. This technology ensures that you get that consistent and authentic tasting BBQ every time you fire up the grill!
Electricity causes the auger to start pushing pellets into your burn pot and begins to heat up the glow rod until it’s red-hot, which in turn ignites the pellets in the burn pot. Air is pushed into the burn pot via the holes you see around it – allowing for a maximum efficiency burn.
Because of its Smart Smoke Technology, you can set this grill up and just forget about it and your food will cook well. Assuming that you don’t need to turn your food, you can guarantee that it will cook right because this grill has automated electric feed system that maintains cooking temp up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Z GRILLS: Z GRILLS or Z Grills is a maker of smokers, grillers, and stainless steel prep work tables galore. It entered the world of pellet grills recently and launched an IndieGoGo campaign in order to fund its “affordable wood pellet grill” for $500,000 and currently gives even Traeger’s economical offerings a run for their money with its ability to accept all types of pellets and do all sorts of cooking styles.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker lets you get more than what you paid for. At a surprisingly low price, you get to have tons of great features that are sure to elevate your BBQ experience. For its price, we were quite surprised to see that it satisfied most of the features on our list. We tested over fifty products, and even the expensive ones were no match for this product.
To make things easier we have put together a list of the 5 things you should look for before purchasing a pellet grill. Knowing what to look for is the best way to ensure you get a grill that makes you happy.
The cleanout for both the pellets and ash is a huge perk to the grill. The patented “Easy Ash Cleanout” does not require the user to take apart the grill. Instead, they simply have to twist and dump the container. The 18lb pellet hopper is similarly an easy cleanout. The stainless steel also makes it easier to clean the grill because of the steel’s properties.
Every outdoor cooking enthusiast wants an affordable pellet smoker that has all of the key features that even a high-end unit would have. In most cases, this is just a dream and a result of false advertising, because most impressive smokers typically cost a hefty sum of money. The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker claims to be a reasonably-priced smoker that offers top-of-the-line features, and many users have agreed with those claims. With this review of the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, we’ll find out if it really does what it claims to do.
When you’re looking for the best charcoal smoker, you’ve got to analyze the features. Start by considering what kind of meat you want to smoke, usually. Is there a certain brand that makes a difference? Are you wanting ceramic coatings? Or even solid ceramic? What about fuel? Are you a wood devotee, or is charcoal or wood chips best?
Digital Elite Controller – Of course, the basis of every pellet smoker or a very good controller that makes it possible to precisely maintain the temperature within +/- 20 degrees F. All the info such as temperature and settings are available on the LED display.
Only two companies manufactured pellet grills or smokers back in 2008, and they’re MAK and Traeger (both of which are based in Oregon). This changed when Traeger’s original patents expired and the floodgates for competitors opened.
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.
A well-made smoker that is properly cared for can last you for a long time and can provide your family with delicious meals for many years to come. Therefore, you will want to look at the materials that your potential smoker was made with and the quality of its construction to choose a model that will stand the test of time. Although you might think that the best-made models are the most expensive, this isn’t always the case. It is entirely possible to find an affordable smoker that will last your family for a long time to come, but you will definitely want to take a look at the quality of its construction.
For sure MAK does a fantastic job blending stainless steel fabrication with precision design and craftsmanship. Their temperature control system (called “The Pellet Boss”) is hands down the best in the business, according to Meat Head over at AmazingRibs.com. Hey, if Meat Head says it’s so… then it’s so!
By opening the lid you cause the heat to quickly escape. Remember that the most important thing is to always maintain a fixed temperature inside the grill. With this solution, you can easily control the meat’s temperature without losing the heat inside the grill.
Costs more to get a reliable unit compared to other types of smoker – You can pick up excellent charcoal, gas or electric smokers between $200-$500 while a good pellet will run you between $400-$1000+
Choose your flavor. The good thing about pellet grills is that the pellets are flavored. Pellets may come from apple wood, cherry, pecan, mesquite, and hickory wood. You can also match a combination of wood flavor and food like using apple pellets when cooking fish or using hickory with beef.
One of the best things about the gas smokers is they are among the most economical smokers. This doesn’t mean that you will get an inferior product, but propane is an inexpensive fuel and the tanks are sold separately.
You can’t cook as hot or generate as much smoke – You won’t get quite as good a sear as you could with a charcoal grill. And you won’t get that dominate smokey flavor you would get with an offset stick burning smoker.
Easy Cleaning – Some smokers are easier to clean than others. For example, those with stainless steel interiors are often easier to wipe down. Just keep this in mind when looking for your smoker; it can save you a lot of clean-up work later on and can help ensure that you are able to keep your unit clean and sanitary.
Hey Ben – thank you for your comment. From a retail user standpoint, I think you’d be happy with either a Yoder or FEC. I really like the PG 500 for the purpose that you’re looking at. Best of both worlds it seems the more I’m looking at it. You can see how they approach grilling steaks in this video. You can incorporate the use of GrillGrates in either pellet grill. Both companies make their units in the USA. Both have great reputations. I’m just partial to Cookshack’s pellet smokers over Yoder as I know more folks who use them.
With this unit, not even a single pellet goes to waste. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about your pellets running out in the middle of cooking. The pellet hopper can hold up to 20 pounds of pellets and the digital thermostat control ensures that each pellet is efficiently used. Thus, it helps save a lot of money and allows you to smoke your food for a long time without refilling the pellets.
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.
This innovative smoker has dual temperature control sensors that allow users to maintain a consistent temperature without any fuss, and its dual temperature readout gives you both the chamber’s temperature and your food’s internal temperature. The unit is turned on with the push of a button, and it will automatically dispense pellets until your food is done. It has a large capacity pellet hopper; that means you don’t have to refill it often. Its ash can and unique easy access design makes cleanup a cinch.
Gas smokers often run hot and have a limited temperature range, but the Smoke Vault 24″ can be dialed down to 160°F or cranked to 400°F. Go low for smoked nuts and cheese, 225°F for ribs and brisket and 325°F for crispy chicken. The large width is big enough to lay slabs of ribs flat and there’s plenty of room inside for turkeys, roasts and rib racks. It is the only gasser we know of that can be converted to natural gas so no more worrying if the tank will run dry before you’re done with a long low slow cook. Comes with a nickel-plated mesh rack for smoking jerky. Click here to read our complete review of the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″.
Weber is a name you’ve heard of. It’s really the best known smoker and grill company on the market. Everyone knows Webber. The smoker is covered with really cool features. For example, the grates are coated with nickel for a non-stick and highly durable cooking experience. The smoker has two large sized cooking surfaces, and the handles are made of nylon for high temperatures. There’s also a thermometer at the top of the smoker to help you know if you’re capturing enough heat, as well as individual vents on the lid and bowl.
If you’re looking for something less expensive than the Rec Tec unit, but still want something very decent, and don’t mind not having the very top of the line, this pellet grill by Traeger is an excellent choice. It comes in at around half the price, but it’s no slouch. It’s a solid way to save some dough if the Rec Tec is overkill for you. You can read our full review of this grill here.
Finding the right BBQ smoker is probably harder than finding any other kind of grill, because the individual smoker itself has so much to do with how time-consuming and costly your smoking process will be. Professionals often use the same smokers backyard enthusiasts use. There are plenty of quality smokers available for a broad range of prices, and the best options aren’t always the most expensive.
Nothing else comes close in terms of features and portability at this price point. The WiFi control via tablet or smart phone is an awesome feature that lets you control the temperature of your grill remotely (handy if you’re lying by the pool).
What I like about this grill is its robust construction, and the amount of smoke it puts out compared to other pellet grills. There is a built in temperature swing that guarantees that every so often, a strong but not overpowering amount of smoke will enter the cook chamber.
We’re running out of good things to say about this simple, affordable smoker. There’s nothing else like it on the market. $299 delivered to your door in a big box. Open it up and start smoking. No assembly, no baby sitting and great results every time. If you’ve wanted to get a dedicated smoker or replace a cheapo rust bucket that never worked well anyway, the PBC beats anything in this price range hands down.
SEAR BOX – 16,000 BTU stainless steel burner can heat up all the way to 900 degrees F. The burner runs on propane and has a separate automatic ignition. Great feature that makes this grill stand out among other pellet grills at this price. Great for finishing cooking our food.
I have the RecTec RT680 and i am very happy…..it is primarilly a smoker but can be used for burger and steaks as well as brisket and turkey’s……always performs well with little or no attention……my wife has been using the weber little smoky joe for 10 yrs plus and really did not know or want to know about the RecTec……well, i bought her a weber performer premier 22” charcoal grill…..it has become our go to for burgers and steaks and bbq chicken…..the RecTec has become out smoker….this combination is the best of two worlds…..Remember, “a happy wife is a happy life”….hehehehe…..
Hey, thanks so much for letting me know what you guys finally decided on buying! The Memphis is a great all around cooker. I loved the Memphis Pro series model I tried out at home. Dead on accurate and quality all the way. Congrats on your purchase. I know you guys will be happy!
The Camp Chef is a perfect unit for people who want to take their outdoor grilling and smoking to the professional level. The unit was designed for home chefs, and it does its best to simplify the cooking and smoking process; it includes a digital thermometer to help take the guesswork and variance out of the smoking process.
why don’t pellet smokers have a drawer for sawdust like some of the propane units. It could slide in over the fire pot much like you mentioned for the mojobricks. Dampened sawdust still makes one of the best smudges.
Nothing says “you are welcome to my home” than some delicious and succulent baby back ribs; some beer can whole chicken cooked your special spice mix, and some wood smoked salmon. There is no better way to wins the appreciation of your favorite people than cooking up some wood grilled steaks and baked potatoes. But there is a catch, there always is.
Includes a meat probe, a peaked lid, a convenience tray with utensil hooks and our new open flame technology grease tray. Also included is Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature.
Pay attention as well to what temperatures your grill can heat up to. Most of pellet grills can maintain a temperature within 160-500 degrees F ( with much more expensive models is even  600 degrees F ). Why am I mentioning that? Because you have to think about what is the most popular grilling style for you. It will influence whether your pellet smoker will be a good choice for you.

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