Best of all, with a pellet grill, you can “smoke” your food at a very low temperature to create fall-of-the bone tender items like ribs or ham. This gives you a huge range of options when it comes to the types of meals you can prepare with your grill. You certainly will not be limited to just burgers and dogs! Think Cornish game hens, smoked turkey legs, lamp chops, smoked salmon, fish tacos, pot pie, and even pizza or cornbread. Some people even use their pellet grill to make desserts such as cookies or bread pudding.
Savory Herb is a blended pellet. Oak saw dust is mixed with oregano, rosemary and thyme to produce a pellet that has the distinctive odor of those herbs. It’s especially good on chicken, pork and lamb.
The gas smokers mainly look like a cabinet, reminiscent of high school hallway lockers. There is a burner at the bottom, usually made of brass or cast aluminum, very durable, with numerous jets. Above the burner is a shelf for a pan for the wood, and above that is a shelf for a water pan. Above that are four or more shelves for food. The bottom vents cannot be adjusted to make sure the gas gets enough oxygen. At the top there is either a chimney or a damper or two. You should always leave the top vent open all the way to prevent soot buildup on your meat.
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.
Barbecue enthusiasm seems to be growing every year, and many backyard cooks, no longer content with burgers and chicken, are venturing into the mysterious—and myth-laden—realm of smoking. I’ve long been an advocate for pellet smokers, and it seems that this equipment is finally coming of age. In fact, 2016 may be the Year of the Pellet Smoker.
The taste of meat cooked on a pellet grill can be outstanding. However, some recent medical studies have suggested a link between eating smoked or grilled meat, and a risk of developing some types of cancer, the most notable being pancreatic cancer.
Works best when using cheaper cuts of meat, that need to be cooked for a long time at a low temperature. This allows the connective tissue in the meat to break down, making the food tender moist and flavorsome. Smoking relies more on indirect or radiant heat to cook the foodstuffs rather than flames, and works at a much lower temperature, the formation of HCAs is far less of an issue. The heterocyclic amines are present but in much lower concentrations. The smoke you get from the wood being used in the smoker can be the source of harmful chemicals. These are the same chemicals that add the pleasant smell from the wood to the meat. The compounds are called polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and are a known carcinogen. These PAHs are present in a wide variety of commercially made processed and cooked meats but have higher concentrations in meat that has been home-smoked.
Set it and forget it. It does not require you to stay while the food is being cooked as you can set a timer and temperature so you can do other things, like prepare the side dishes or drink beer with friends while the grill is doing its job. Most pellet grills use electronic controls to regulate the grilling according to your preferences. You have a choice to choose the level of smoke aside from choosing your desired temperature.
Having the same problem as the rest of the group. Rec Tec, Yoder, Green Mountain, Pellet Pro, or MAK? All seem to be heavy gauge SS, Pellet Pro seems really good value, MAK and Green Mountain seem to have controllers with more features. Have a friend who bought Rec Tec 3 years ago, he cannot say enough about the good customer service and the grill. If you could only buy one (money not the issue among these 5), which one, and why?
They have great insulation, not only for cold weather cooking but to conserve fuel energy. Using its removable diffuser plate, you can get down to 180f for low and slow, or remove the plate and use the Primo as a high-temperature grill, which can get as high as 800f for amazing steak sears or even cooking pizza.
Most of the pellet grills available on the market offer “temperature control” although the problems start when the weather changes. The temperature outside changes, the temperature inside the grill changes, the temperature inside the meat changes. All those factors are very important, as they have a significant impact on maintaining the right temperature inside the grill.
Meanwhile, it also has a 15-pound pellet capacity comparable to Camp Chef SmokePro (not as large but big enough to eliminate continuous wood pellet refills) and folding legs for better portability. However, certain users who’ve already bought their own REC TEC Grills Mini Portable Pellet Grill have complaints about it, like inconsistent heat distribution of the grill and poor quality control (certain grills break down easily).
“It’s easy—maybe a little too easy,” I told the crowd of Barbecue University students gathered around the first wood pellet grill many had seen. People nodded—we had an understanding, right? Smoking and barbecuing are supposed to be hard work. If not chopping wood, then at least breathing in charcoal dust and smoke and laboring to maintain a steady temperature during a barbecue session that could last the better part of a day. Or night. Certainly no self-respecting pit master would subscribe to a “set it and forget it” philosophy. Pellet grills are a fad, I thought to myself, that will flame out fast.
You don’t normally over-smoke food on a pellet grill. The smoke flavor is more subtle than the sometimes acrid smoke generated by a straight wood or charcoal fire. The grills are available in a number of sizes from small to large, as well as commercial-size units that can accommodate a whole hog or pulled pork for a crowd. For additional wood smoke flavor, you can position hardwood chunks or pouches of soaked wood chips directly on the heat diffuser plate.
If you live in an area where wood furnaces are used (not like down here in FL where a few heat strips will do the trick), you may also be familiar with pellet furnaces. In short, pellets compressed from sawdust and wood shavings fill a hopper and are then fed into a burn pot using an electric auger system. The auger, which is basically a long screw, delivers pellets to the burn pot based on the speed dictated by the unit’s thermostat.
Up next to find its place in our pellet grill review is the REC TEC’s mini portable pellet grill. It has a 341 square inch cooking surface with 180 degrees to 550 degrees Fahrenheit temperature limit, with 5 degrees increment. But it can easily reach 600 degrees Fahrenheit in full mode. It has a satisfactory pellet hopper capacity and has folding legs. It is great for travel and movement as it is compact and small in size.
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+
Fans of gadgets – More expensive models come with very interesting features. You can download app for your phone or tablet (iOS and Android). Then you can use Wi-Fi to connect with your pellet grill. It allows you to monitor the temperature inside the grill while away from it. Some of the grills even make it possible to check the internal temperature of the meat.
This Pit Boss 700 Series Pellet Grill provides 700 sq. in. of cooking surface as well as an additional rack which is ideal for cooking for a group consisting of four to six people. It is constructed from heavy gauge steel parts, has ample operational strength and stability, and is a high-value grill that is intended to last. This Grill also includes a porcelain coated cast iron grid and a digitally controlled burn system. This Pit Boss Pellet Grill uses 100% natural wood pellets as a fuel source and does not require gas or propane. Simply choose your desired cooking style with the digital control board and flame broiler. This is an eight-in-one grill that varies in temperature from 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. With this Pit Boss product, you can bake, smoke, sear, grill, barbeque, braise, or char-grill your food.
Really a very nice charcoal smoker/grill. The unit is designed to be used in a similar way to a vertical smoker, but with greater levels of cooking space. In fact the grates cover 816 square inches, which is really quite a large surface for a true charcoal grill (that’s enough for four racks of ribs plus sides).
Imagine a warm summer night, your friends and family all around you. Someone is playing a guitar and that sweet melody drifts over with the delicious smell from your smoker filled with succulent barbeque ribs, seasoned pork tenderloins, spicy chicken wings and juicy turkey! Yum! It makes my tummy growl! Just thinking about it! We’d all like a night like that, but who wants to go through all that research to find out what grill best suits your needs?
Pellet grills are used not only for grilling but also in baking, smoking, roasting, and more. Nevertheless, the significance of pellet grill is to imitate how charcoal works in smoking and how gas grill regulates the temperature.
Can you comment on the Camp Chef entry level pellet grill. I’m of limited funds but would like to purchase one of these type grills. I’ve been using an electric smoker and I personally don’t like the creosote taste I’m experiencing with it! So I guess my question is will I regret purchasing one of these “cheap” pellet grills?
Hey Kev, I was wondering about that cooking surface and its capacity. Have you found the 16×20 to be sufficient for a brisket and/or other large chunks of meat? This is my biggest concern as we love to cook a good amount of meat at one time.
Just make sure to pick a grill that meets your needs (size, features, portability) and has good customer reviews. Do your research (hopefully this article helps) but don’t overthink it – a grill in your back yard is better than no grill.
I was amused to know the story and since charcoal smokers were next on my list to check out it, it seemed the best place to start. The more I found out the deeper in love I fell with these smokers. They are the real deal, used by those who are the most serious when it comes to grilling and smoking meat. Have a look at the history of charcoal grills , it’s a fascinating look at the history of these popular smokers.
As you can see, for Plowboys Barbecue, as with most other winning teams out there, competition BBQ success is all about mastering a process that you can duplicate. Not having to sweat the fire management side of things is what Todd Johns loves most about his Fast Eddy’s Pellet Smoker.
True blooded grill sweethearts out there might value this item. It is a minimized, full-included pellet barbecue that can take care of their grilling needs. You may need the item that accompanies all that you may require. When you have warmed it up, you can anticipate a perfect temperature and warmth in view of what you have chosen. Much the same as when you have found a reasonable latte machine for you, you would feel pleased with yourself for picking an extreme item that stays aware of your needs. Another element you may acknowledge in the item is that can keep the correct temperature all through the barbecuing or cooking process—regardless of whether you burn, grill, smoke or prepare. The cooking instrument is an exact griller that won’t make you stressed over any temperature variance. So whether you are an amateur or a pit ace, you might need to investigate this item that can take your grilling to the following level.
Included secondary cooking racks – If you’re looking to maximize cooking space, you’ll want to know if a pellet grill can accommodate a secondary rack. You’ll also want to know whether that rack is included or an optional add-on.
REC TEC grills are built of 304 stainless steel in America and come with a 6-year limited warranty. I have yet to meet a person that owns a REC TEC and isn’t happy with its performance. It’s super high quality and durable.
Most pellet grills that offer a direct grilling option require you to adjust the diffuser plate to create an open area for the flames to pass through. However, the PG500 actually has 2 separate cooking areas for smoking and grilling. The right side is for indirect cooking, with the grill grate sitting over a solid diffuser plate. On the left side, though, the grill grate sits directly over an open flame, making it possible to do high heat grilling and searing. So, if you’re reverse searing a steak, you can simply smoke it on the right side then move it the right side to finish.
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.)
The second video comes from Big Jake BBQ and showcases the “cold smoking” feature the MAK Grills 2 Star General smoker has to offer. This is a great value add in my opinion, as it really steps up your game in terms of what you’re able to smoke. Cheese, nuts, cold smoked salmon… getting some ideas? I know I am!
Typically, most portable grills would give up certain features just to maintain their portability, but this wood pellet grill from Traeger actually had more than what high-end grills have to offer. Out of all of our features, it managed to tick 85% off the list. Its digital controls, versatile cooking features, and decent cooking space (perfect for outdoor adventures) all make it our best portable pick.
The small burn pot is covered with a large deflector plate that absorbs the heat and spreads it out below the cooking surface making them essentially wood-fired convection ovens. Flare-ups are a thing of the past. You need to keep the plate clean because it is right below the food and if you leave sauce and grease on there, it can smolder and leave soot on your food. Carbon buildup will also diminish its heat transmission.
I was thinking that electric was the way to go. Who doesn’t like easy and cheap…right? Then I met the first gas smoker operation. It happened by accident and I’m glad it did. My girlfriend and I attended a party at her parent’s place. When we arrived, we were greeted by her father and the smell of smoked pork.
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 Grills are known as do-it-all cookers that can smoke and grill. However, most pellet grills are primarily indirect cookers, with a solid diffuser plate sitting over the fire. That design allows pellet grills to excel at smoking, but it also keeps cooking temperatures down. In fact, many pellet grills max out at around 400-450°F. Although that’s certainly hot enough to cook a burger or steak, it isn’t hot enough for the high heat searing or open-flame cooking most people associate with “grilling.”
The controller only comes with 9 temperature settings, so you don’t have the ability to dial in the exact temperature you want. This doesn’t mean the unit doesn’t work, you can still cook amazing food. It’s just more geared to beginners who don’t want to fuss around with temperatures
Another option is to put a griddle (or GrillGrates) on the pellet smoker when it’s cranked to high heat, get it blistering-hot, add just a little oil to prevent sticking, and sear by conduction on the metal. It should take only two to three minutes per side. This is a good technique for reverse-seared meats: You start them indirect, low and slow on the cooking grate, with a little smoke, and then sear the surface with direct contact to the hot metal griddle to create a delicious brown crust. It’s not as good as searing directly over hot coals or gas, but it’s a good compromise.