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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.
Pellet grills are available in a range of sizes for a variety of needs—everything from portable models for tailgating to extra large commercial units and built-in pellet grills for outdoor kitchens. When considering grill size, look at the cooking area as well as physical dimensions to choose one that fits your space and lifestyle.
Hey Charlie – I’d leave that grate wide open if you want maximum heat. If the grates are only over the burn pot, then you can do sort of a two zone cook (indirect vs direct heat) by putting a thicker steak, chop, or piece of chicken on the ‘non direct’ side to get up to a temp that’s 15 or 20 degrees lower than your target. Then, finish off over the burn pot area. Just one idea.
To be sure, there are pure “smoker” and pure “grills” but there are some exceptionally well-designed hybrids. I bought a Memphis Elite last year, and it is AWESOME! I made a pulled-pork masterpiece two months ago that was absolutely delicious… 8 hours on low temperature (225) then an hour on open flame (switching from a “smoker” insert to an “open-flame’ insert at 700 was easy) and it was awesome!
I bought a Brinkmann Tower Charcoal smoker many years ago. Living in IL at the time, it served its purpose. I recently moved to Colorado and live at 9200′ above sea level. i am usually smoking a couple racks of ribs or making some jerky….nothing competitive or too large.
This is the ultimate portable grill. It can run off a 12V with no problem so plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter. It also works 120AC so it’s perfect for home or camping, tailgating, hunting, house-boating, music festivals or anywhere you can take it!
So that brings me to the one thing I have learned in all this that I basically read when I was getting started. One of the biggest keys is “Temperature Control”! If you want consistent food make sure you get that under control. It is the key to solid consistent food! Once you get your food consistent you can experiment with a lot of other things. But if you can’t get that down, you will always be looking for another magic bullet. The number one magic is temperature!
Third name to make it to my list of the best pellet grill review is The REC TEC Wood Pellet grill. It has a trademark Smart grill Technology, which maintains precise temperature. This amazing pellet grill has a whopping 702 square inch cooking area, and a 40 pound capacity pellet hopper. It is made out of high quality stainless steel. It comes with a drip pan.
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.
If you’re one of the serious barbecue enthusiasts, you would not want to leave any stone unturned to get your hands on the best of the best pellet smokers the market has to offer, in that case, you need the REC TEC Wood Pellet Smoker. The REC TEC has a large surface which takes care of all sizes of cuts, the thermostat maintains the temperature and ranges all the way from 180 F to 500 F. It has been leading the market for so long that the company now provides warranty for 6 years.
If you are concerned about the shine on its exterior, always use dish soap, warm water and a scrubbing sponge to clean it. Also, avoid metal brushes or steel wool. Remove stubborn stains by scrubbing using diluted ammonia or vinegar. And you can remove the water spots using unsweetened club soda.
Number two when cooking with charcoal (yes plain Kingsford is good stuff if you do it right, a lot of the cheaper brick and cheaper lump can put some weird twangs in your food) brick or lump can produce quality high temp steaks or slow & low bbq! To add some nice flavor add some wood, but do your homework! I think Clark ‘Smokey’ Hale has one of the best books ever for the grill and Q master, “The Great American Manual on Grilling and BBQ or something like that. Last I saw you can grab a used one on Amazon for a few cents and some shipping. The most prolific thing I read in there that so many miss, is burn your wood and your charcoal to where it is literally a coal of gray ash covered glowing ember. Do that and you will find a new flavor in your cooking! Problem is so many places think heavy smoke is great, as they are trying to imitate cold smoke flavors! They are not the same! All this talk I see here about, “I want heavy smoke flavor.” I can tell you if you burn your wood and your charcoal (and I feel even lump needs to be well on it’s way to gray ash covered or you get bitter smoke even though many say not necessary) to a red ember with gray ash covering 80 to 90% minimum preferably completely covered your flavor profile will change. Many supposedly good bbq restaurants I have been in serve something with a bitter or ash flavor, which I find much less enjoyable.
A pellet smoker gives one limitless options on what to cook. One can entirely cook anything and everything because the pellet smoker gives a combination of abilities from grilling and smoking to kitchen oven. One can grill chicken, hot dogs, burgers sea foods and even vegetables. Brisket and ribs BBQ can be smoked. Baking of pizza, blueberry pie, bread pudding and cakes. This is why the pellet smoker is best considered than other grillers.
Mention a pellet smoker and what comes to mind is the rich taste of BBQ, better control and convenience. These are exactly what the best pellet smokers should give you. To find out the best, among the many that are out there, you must consider all the various features. A burner that can give you control, convenience, long service and great flavor for your food are just some things the best pellet smoker should have. Let’s take a look at all the factors you need to consider when making your purchase.
This smoker is really a quality all around smoker. The design is very basic, but the results speak for themselves. Ideal for a party-style cook, this vertical square smoker offers features that are really fantastic.
If you’ve reached this part of the blog post, I thank you for reading through. It’s a long one, but I wanted to give you as much practical advice as possible. To recap, there are some basic things you should know about buying a pellet smoker.

Are you catching on that there’s a bit of a “favorites play” going on with wood pellets?  No selection of pellet grill reviews is complete without a little bias. I try to be objective here. See if you can catch on to which models I prefer!
Whenever pellet grill owners complain about temperature swings or losing their fire mid-cook, the first question we ask is “What pellets are you using?” Many times it’s a cheap, low-quality brand that produces excessive ash, which can interfere with the sensors that help regulate cooking temperatures. In that case, fix is simple: use better pellets that burn cleanly and regularly clean any residual ash from the grill. Often that’s all it takes, and the next time we hear from the customer it’s to order more pellets.
The KBQ C-60 in one word? Brilliant! To get more detailed, the technology behind this smoker is so innovative it will take your barbecue to another level. This is not a set it and forget it machine. By all means, you’ll still have to tend to your fire on this all natural wood smoker, but that’s part of the fun for some us, isn’t it?
With its Integrated Digital Elite Controller, temperature is kept constant within + / – 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It also allows for low/slow and hot/fast smoking for up to 450 degrees. Checking up on your food’s temperature is also made easy with the LED display, which clearly slows the temperature even under bright daylight.
It is one of the few grills on the market that uses 100% natural wood pellets for fuel. That means you don’t have to worry about the toxic fumes that usually come from using gas, charcoal or propane. It also means cleanup will be a lot easier.
It’s a good idea to take some time before the purchase to compare different grills. Only this way you’ll be able to choose the best pellet smoker. I think that my suggestions will make the choice much easier on you.
I am a little concerned as upon my first time using this grill I was unable to get the temps up to the instructed 350 degree burn in. I did let it burn in at the max temp it would go to which was 200 degrees for an hour. I had already committed to the smoking of a prime rib so I set the grill to high smoke and in my amazement it went to 225 degrees and cooked for 3 hours at that temp, for the second part of the cook it requires to set the grill to 400 degrees I did this and the grill would not heat up past 186 to 195 degrees. A little upset as this is not what I was hoping I would get with this product. I have emailed Camp Chef and will update this review upon the return communication and results of … full review
Allow your meat to rest. – Although you will probably be tempted to start eating your meat as soon as it is fully cooked, many meats need a short resting period to ensure that they are moist and juicy. For example, briskets and other larger cuts of meat should rest for about five minutes; otherwise, the deliciously moist juices can come out when you cut it.
With a large cooking space and the most advanced cooking techniques, this is easily one of our favorite products among our top ten. While it lacks some of the features that the other grills and smokers in this review have (such as an ash and grease cleanup systems), it does deliver fine-dining quality foods, which is the ultimate goal of every grilling enthusiast. For its price, it offers some of the best features you can find in high-end products.
Hey Jon – I believe that Yoder pellet smokers are built sturdy enough to be placed within a backyard patio/outdoor kitchen setup. Contact them to inquire about this at customerservice@yodersmokers.com.
2016 was The Year of the Pellet Smoker and we hoped 2017 would be The Year of BBQ Technology. For some time many manufacturers have been wary of adding too much technology because electronic components are susceptible to failure under the harsh conditions imposed by outdoor cooking, and failure means customer complaints and tarnished reputations. Pellet smokers, digital thermometers and some electric smokers are the exception. We note increased offerings of remote control and monitoring in those three categories, with sophisticated aps that work from smart phones. Much to our ongoing consternation, however, gas grill manufacturers still have not stepped up to the plate with effective, affordable, thermostatically controlled grills. We’ve had the “luxury” of thermostatic temperature control in our gas fired kitchen ovens for decades. In our view it is way past time to bring it outside. As the performance, durability, and affordability of electronic components continues to improve, we hold out hope. Maybe next year.
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!
Kevin, appreciate your reviews and insights. I am currently looking for my first pellet cooker which will be primarily used for camping, therefore I will likely purchase a portable unit. Your review on the GMG Davy Crocket answered some questions for me. I was initially contemplating the Traeger Junior Elite and GMG Davy Crocket, but after doing some homework I’m now considering the Rec Tec Mini as well. I can purchase the Traeger and GMG now for $350 and the Rec Tec for $500. My dilemma is that I (like many others) take very good care of my gear/equipment, so whatever I purchase, I expect to get a great deal of use out of. With that said, making the wrong decision could be a 7-10 year mistake. There are aspects of each that I like, I guess my question is whether spending another $150 on the Rec Tec, in your opinion, would be worth it to you? I understand if you would rather stay away from specific recommendations, and if that is the case, any other thoughts you have would be appreciated.
If you’re looking for the best smoker grill in this price range then it is obvious that you have a lot of love for gourmet (with plenty of cash to spare!). In this range, you can get the best of all the 4 types of smoker grills with capacities that can help you feed 10 to 15 people with ease. This range will give you some of the most high-quality smokers.
Turn it on to “Smoke” mode and use the P settings, or cook mode by selecting a temperature. When you select smoke or a temp setting you start the ignition sequence. The fan, igniter and auger motor turn on. The fan stays on until the smoker is turned off. The auger motor continuously delivers pellets to the red hot igniter rod in the firebox for two minutes under normal conditions. Then the igniter rod shuts off and the pellet fire burns with only the assistance of the auger and the fan.
Regarding getting a good draft, this is a common misconception for pellet grills. The burn pot on pellet grills receives oxygen via a fan unit. As such, there’s no need for a draft to get a measured burn in the traditional sense. Most pellet grills lack sufficient insulation / gaskets, etc to prevent smoke from leaking out of the body. So, unless you’re going with the Memphis or something that uses oven style insulation, you don’t really need a chimney at all IMHO.
Once we you get over the $1,000 price point the competition for large grills starts to really get fierce. At this price point you get a wider range of features and a lot more cooking space to work with. But the decision becomes more important.
Like other grills, pellet grills list cooking area two ways: primary cooking area, which refers to the main cooking grate, and total cooking area, which is the main cooking grate plus any secondary racks. However, since pellet grills are primarily indirect cookers, there really is no difference between cooking on the main rack or the upper rack&em;the temperature should be the same. Therefore, a smaller pellet grill with a primary grid of 450 square inches and an upper rack of 125 square inches may be a better option than a larger grill with only a 500 square inch primary grid.
I know, I know, no one likes to read the instruction manual, but even as an expert you see the advantages learning the specifics of your grill. Reading the manual is key. Generally, you should not use water to clean the pellet smokers, so keep your hose pipe far away. These smokers have digital controllers, a motorized auger, a fan and an igniter rod for the fire pot. These parts will get destroyed if they come into contact with water. You should gently dry scrub the dirt off these parts, making sure not to disassemble any parts. Cleaning the thermostat will also prove essential; otherwise, it may read temperatures inaccurately.
As you can see from our research report (check the link below), you can see we compared fully 49 features for charcoal smokers, and this one clearly wins, hands down. It is easy to use, easy to clean, stores nicely, has a convenient thermometer, has a cool look and feel to it, it is tough as hell and incredibly efficient. It can go on one load of charcoal for fully 8 hours. That’s going to be some intensely smoky stuff after 8 hours.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.
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.
First pellet grills and older models with three-position controllers have disadvantages as it is hard to achieve your desired temperature in the winter. Pellet jams are also a problem with the old type of pellet grills.
Pellet grills already have an electronic control board which makes them a natural fit for WiFi. When your pellet grill is connected to WiFi you will have more freedom to roam and do other things as you will be able to monitor and control everything remotely.
As some of the cheapest smokers on the market, gas smokers are highly recommended for those who are on a tight budget. The flavor is very similar to what you will achieve from other types of smokers, and many find the taste to be far superior to the taste of food that is cooked in an electric smoker. If you want a combination of affordability and functionality, a gas smoker might be your best choice. It won’t produce the same level of smoke or the same charcoal flavor that you can find with a charcoal smoker, but many people find that amount of smoke that these units produce to be more than sufficient.
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.

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