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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.
This grill has many beneficial features that include its cooking surface area, as well as its digital controller with LED display and the easy to clean porcelain grill grates. The Texas Elite 34 is easy to use, easy to clean and maintain, as well as operate. However, the Traeger Texas Elite 34 is a little on the pricey side. Another issue that may occur deals with the porcelain coating on the grill grates. This can actually chip or break off.
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.
Sometimes an inexpensive, less efficient pellet blend might be just fine for burgers or chicken breasts. Other times, you may want to step it up with a premium flavored pellet where whole turkeys, prime rib roasts, or a nice brisket can really shine. No matter what you read in any grouping of pellet grill reviews, know this: pellets are not all made equally. You will wind up with one or two “go to” brands over time that you simply prefer – sometimes for their efficiency (leaving little ash), others for their flavor.
This simple smoker takes care of your basic smoking needs by locking in smoke and providing simple door-front controls for smoking pros. A matchless snap-ignition makes it easier and safer to get your smoker up and running.
A: First, you should add a deflector, convection plate, or a duct. The issue with offset smokers is that the cooking chamber is hotter near the firebox. As the heat travels to the other side, it disperses quickly. If the cooking chamber is thick and tight, the heat will not disperse as much. However, many offsets are fairly skinny and permeable.
Hey Wayne – thanks for your comment. The Brinkmann and Meco models are good starter models. I’d probably edge up to a Masterbuilt electric. Sounds like you have one of these other models. What’s your favorite thing to cook in it?
If you have an older smoker and need a lot of physical maintenance like changing the hopper and the digital control, then changing those two parts may not help. These two changes may cost you $200 – $250 and with a rusty hopper, you will continuously lose the smoke you produce. This is not safe for your health, so in this situation, you should definitely opt to get a new pellet smoker grill.
The CB940X is a really nice model with excellent construction specs. The body is a heavy gauge steel and the cooking racks are cast iron with a porcelain coating. The unit also has a helpful fire pan adjustment mechanism that really reduces the complexity of temperature control for direct cooking.
Loved the article and read the entire thing. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an in-depth piece to help the rest of us out. With that said, I now want one of each!! It’s really so difficult to purchase one without being able to compare the taste side by side for each. We also just bought one of the Traeger’s on the last day of a Costco show. We have LOVED the taste, and aren’t looking back, from a pellet perspective that is. However, we’ve already had a couple of issues that concern me from a longevity and a safety perspective. So we’re going to return it, and ‘upgrade’ to something more substantial. I was leaning pretty hard toward Yoder, and then after reading the article, the Memphis really intrigued me (could have something to do with being born there, and raised on southern pulled pork). And then, Fast Eddy came into the picture. Any advise on how to make a decision without being able to conduct taste comparisons, which is really the most important thing. (We’ve been smoking a brisket and pork shoulders every week, with the occasional steak and veggies. So we’d like something that does both smoking and grilling, so both important, with the smoking component being the feature we’ll use a bit more of.)
I also love the automatic light feature – it eliminated the hassle I went through when lighting my previous grill, the Weber Kettle BBQ. The grill also comes with two meat probes, which allow you to prepare two different meals while monitoring the progress of both probes simultaneously.
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.
The hopper of your pellet cooker is the container which stores the pellets ready for the auger to take them to the fire-pot. Therefore, the size of your hopper essentially dictates how long your cooks can be. So, settling for a hopper that is too small will prove to be annoying to say the least, as your cooks will fail to go the distance.
An electronic ignition and a digital controller that makes it possible to precisely set temperature within +/- 20 degrees F. The smoker reaches up to 400 degrees F, but you have to know that its main advantage is maintaining precisely low temperatures which makes it possible to properly sear meat for many hours.
The WSM uses a two vent system which allows for more temperature control. It’s made out of the same long lasting materials as the Weber kettle and if you remove the middle cylinder, you can grill on it just like the kettle too!
Wood pellet grill is a two-in-one mixture of a smoker and a grill. It doesn’t provide direct flame for your steaks or meat as a grill would which eliminates flare-ups. Since there’s no direct flame, searing meat isn’t an option and there’s a better choice if this is your desire. However, if you desire a great smoky flavor with an easy cooking process then a pellet smoker is an excellent choice.
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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!
Before you buy, remember, pellet smokers need access to electricity. Maintenance is also an issue. There are moving parts on these grills. Moving parts eventually break. There is an auger with a motor, and a fan with a motor. There are proprietary electronics systems on these babies. Augers clog. Motors burn out. Electronics have bugs or fail. Especially when exposed to rain, snow, hot, and cold. When they fail, will the manufacturer have a replacement part?
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…..
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.
I noticed a question on the use of pellet grills in cold weather… living in Minnesota we have an abundance of cold weather. The warm up takes a bit longer but once the grill is going the upper temp ranges seem to hold true. In below zero temps. I throw an asbestos blanket over the grill to save on pellets.
The most important thing, which is temperature control. You have to pay attention to that if you want your food to be well made. A smoker that is characterized with lack of temperature control will lead to your food getting burned or the temperature will be so low that it won’t be properly cooked.
Electric smokers don’t always get a lot of love on barbecue websites, you won’t see them on many best smoker lists either. Whether it’s purists that only want wood-fired BBQ, or maybe it’s a size factor so they often get overlooked. But there are those that find them convenient. Some have no other option because they live in an apartment. Either way, electric smokers have their place for some people,
The diversity of BBQ smokers available makes fair judgment a challenge, and personal cooking preferences will go a long way in determining which type of smoker is best for you. However, our evaluation hinged on five key criteria by which any smoker can be judged. They are as follows:
With the upcoming and already existing new features, you can achieve an easier smoking experience. Always look for features that can help bring out the real taste of food, and give you more control and convenience. Check back with us often because we will always be the first to bring you the newest and best innovations in grills and smokers.
Although this smoker is easy to set up and clean, it has a few flaws. The number of vents gives great control over your smoke, but several do not completely close, which leaves the smoker vulnerable to sharp winds during colder seasons. Some vents do not completely close, presumably for safety reasons, but they do not take weather into consideration. The smoker’s other major flaw is its built-in thermometer. This thermometer seems to fail more often than it actually works, and the temperatures it reports are unreliable.

These are really popular entry level smokers, just check out some community reviews to see how many people have these in their backyards. You can pick up a lot of tips on how to make these little smokers contend with the big boys.
Another pellet grill from Camp Chef. This time a much bigger one with new features. Sadly it’s much more expensive too, although it’s worth its price. It’s an comprehensive pellet grill & smoker, which allows you to smoke meat, grill or even baking.
We love recommending and reviewing wood pellet smoker grills, but we also want you to get the most out of them once you purchase. Without proper care and maintenance, even the best pellet smoker is bound to have a shorter lifespan. Therefore, how you use your smoker and how you maintain it after use greatly determines how long it will serve you. A little bit of work will go a long way to extending the life of your smoker. A thorough cleaning of the smoker should occur at least once a year. If you frequently use it, you should have it done at least three times a year. Buying quality pellets will extend its life as well.
Hey Jeff! Great questions. If you’re looking for a solid built in pellet grill, I definitely recommend giving Memphis Grill a hard look. I really enjoyed the Pro Series grill I tested for this review. Just a really solid performing machine. Anything else like a kit and and brick etc would definitely be my back up plan rather than my primary focus.
As such, the Yoder YS640 is one of the more robust pellet smokers out there. The main body is constructed of 10 gauge metal. Yes, this means that it takes longer for it to come up to temperature, but once there – it holds temp far better that thinner walled cookers. You know you’re buying quality when your pellet smoker weighs in at 315 lbs.
I did a lot of research, and ended up buying the Camp Chef DLX24. It was at a price that fit my budget, (under $500) and had a lot of features the others didnt. The pellet trap door for quick dumping of the pellet hopper into a bucket, and the ash cleanout under the drum was a clincher. Being able to pull a lever and dump the ashes into an easily removable cup is a great feature that all grills should include.It has a digital temperature controller, and dual probes (one inside the smoker for grill temp, one for the meat) and overall good quality construction. The second shelf inside is standard (you pay extra for that on other grills). If your budget allows, would suggest purchasing the propane powered sear box ($199) which attaches to the side of the grill and allows for reverse searing meat..
Luckily you can add on a Sear Box which attaches on to the side of your smoker and allows you to grill at temperatures up to 900°. If you find yourself grilling often, this makes an excellent addition, and turns this into a total do it all cooker.
You fuel it with cylindrical food-grade wood pellets—each about an inch long and 1/4-inch wide—composed of compressed hardwood sawdust. The sawdust is subjected to high pressure and heat, which activates lignin—a natural glue in wood. With the exception of vegetable oils to aid the extrusion process or carry flavor, the pellets contain no additives. They burn cleanly, leaving remarkably little ash.
There are other options, KBQ for one, but I want it to look like a grill. Not a refrigerator, although I’m sure they make great Q I have narrowed my search to Pellet poopers or the Primo or Egg. The Pellet poopers will have more capacity than even the XL Primo/Egg. But are they one trick ponies? Smoking and baking. WIth limited smoke profile. I wish I could taste the Que off of one to know for sure. I got rid of my gasser because of the limited flavor it produced. Rec-Tec’s tag line is Do you cook with wood. But does it produce enough smoke flavor for most people? How do your neighbors respond to your Que? Do they like the smoke profile of the Que? Sorry for all the questions. Just trying to figure out what the next smoker will be at Mi Casa.
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.
For now, we’ll tell you right from the start that our choice for best overall smoker is the Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill. It’s not the cheapest smoker on the market, but the Primo is the best smoker out there. It’s large, with over 400 square inches of cooking surface, makes incredible pork butts, and is the only true ceramic smoker on the market of this size. Because of the unique design, this smoker offers features that just aren’t available on any other unit.
This is a sturdy 210 pounds, and also features those great cooking grids made from cast iron and coated with porcelain. The broiler is a nice touch; you can expose the grill to open flame for a perfect sear. This will also cause it to go through pellets more quickly, naturally.
What is it about “stick burners” that barbecuers love? They’re big, they’re old school, and they’ll make you look like someone who knows exactly what they’re doing standing next to one. Instant credibility. But here’s the thing about offset smokers that some don’t realize, if it’s a good one, it won’t be cheap.
The MAK 1 Star General boasts our favorite digital controller: It’s highly programmable and easily accessed via the internet from anywhere in the world. Made entirely in the USA, the 1 Star General is solid-feeling, with a heavy-duty powder coat. The hood is a rolltop, meaning that, unlike a lot of its competitors, the 1 Star doesn’t need much rear clearance, and there’s plenty of room inside. The 1 Star includes a 214-square-inch slide-in upper rack, and an additional rack is offered as an option. Our only criticism: Not only is it built like a tank, it kinda looks like one, too.
Everyone has their price range, but don’t confuse cheap for affordable. As with other types of grills, there are plenty of inexpensive pellet grills that seem attractive at first glance, especially if you’re looking to save a little money. However, while a cheap pellet grill might save you a little money up front, it’s going to cost you more in the long run. Parts will rust, components will break down, and you will likely find yourself replacing some or all of that affordable grill within five years. Ultimately, you’re better off investing a little more money up front and get a quality grill that will keep years to come.
It is also worth noting that a pellet smoker made of high quality materials will perform better. High quality materials will retain heat, ensure more efficient pellet consumption, and maintain temperature better in the cold weather.
In smoke mode the controller is no longer controlled by the thermometer, it merely switches the pellet feeding auger on and off. On time is 15 seconds, off time ranges from 45 seconds at P0, to 165 seconds at P15. Temp and smoke are controlled by the duration of off time: the auger always runs at the same speed. More smoke is produced at higher P settings and lower temp settings because longer off times allow the pellets to smolder. At P0 in smoke mode or “High” in cook mode the auger replenishes the pellets at a faster rate, creating more flame, less smoke.
So, I say go for the best pellet grill you can get within your budget. I reviewed the little GMG Davy Crockett pellet grill recently and was impressed. At just under $400, it’s a good option. That said, I would like to see them put the unit on fold down legs with casters or some other option to make it easier to move around. You’ll see what I mean in the post. Hope this helps.

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