Technically speaking, digital smokers don’t have an open flame. This means you won’t get the same smoke ring that you would get from a charcoal smoker. However, looks aside, the fuel doesn’t heavily affect taste. You won’t have the coal flavor that so many people enjoy with their barbecue, but smoking relies (or should rely) on the flavor of the wood and seasonings far more than the fuel’s influence. If you taste the coal more than the wood when you use a coal-fueled smoker, you’re doing something wrong.
Basically, Cookshack keeps to Ed Maurin’s simple design – using a dual layer of thick 304 stainless steel separated by high temperature insulation to hold in heat. Heat is provided by an electronically controlled 36,000 BTU pellet burner fed from an external hopper (you can add more pellets without opening the smoker).
It is a disappointment that so many manufacturers continue to include cheap bimetal dial heat indicators (we can’t bring ourselves to call them thermometers). They are usually in the lid, far from where the cooking actually takes place and are frequently off by more than 50°F! Good cooking is all about temperature control. Without accurate thermometers you’re asking for wasted money, overdone embarrassment, and food borne illness from underdone food. Please budget for a good digital oven thermometer and a separate rapid read digital food thermometer. For more info, we also have a database of reviews for more than 100 thermometers.
PID controller has a developed algorithm that takes many factors into account such as weather changes or opening the lid. Such changes have a very huge impact on the temperature inside the grill. Despite that, this system is perfect at handling them while always maintaining the desired temperature.
Another great thing about Our Kamado Pick is that it can be up and running quicker than nearly any other in our kamado list (check the link) and is really easy to use when it is running. The thermometer is nicely placed and has a clear dial that is easy to read, even when it is getting smoky.
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.
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.
Another way to put it – is it the quality of smoke that is an issue with the pellet smokers, or the quantity? The upgrade to a pellet smoker is a big investment – tough to do without testing. Any assistance would be much appreciated.
Here at Grills Forever we are independent and only promote the best smokers out there, regardless of brand. We give you our own unbiased opinion based on our own experiences. We want you to get the best smoker grill for your needs and if something new develops we will be the first to try it out and let you know.
All in all I really love the RecTec for its warranty, ease of use, customer service and ability to get calls from the owner when you need help either late at night or on the weekends….weber customer service is good also, but it is just a matter of personal choice……$1500 is more than a “few hundred” more than the Yoder……thats $500…….that is a lot on money..IMHO……but again, its just a matter of what you like best in all the models……I prefer RecTec and the Weber as back up for the wife….
Another great solution is the ash removal system – it’s a patented solution that you won’t find in any other grill. Under the grill you’ll find a cup where the ash from your pellets goes to. All you have to do is twist it off, throw out the ash and put it back in its place. Easy, quick, efficient and effective.
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.
The Traeger is made of solid steel, and it uses wood pellets to accurately maintain temperature throughout the cooking process. When you turn the unit on, you simply need to set the temperature; the unit will automatically dispense pellets when they are needed.
The results are astonishing. If we could post a scratch and sniff picture of ribs smoked on the Karubecue there would be no need to write any further explanation of why it made our Top Ten List. Alas, we cannot, so click here to read our review of the Karubecue C-60 Pit. The above price includes shipping from the factory.
The pellet smoker combines the flavor of charcoal, with the convenience of an electric smoker. The small pellets are made of hardwood sawdust, and when burned in the smoker impart a delicious smoky taste to any food being cooked. Like an electric smoker, the user can dial up the temperature required for the smoke, and let the smoker do the rest. Modern high-end machines provide a regular supply of pellets to be burned, and all the operator needs to do is make sure the smoker does not run out of pellets during the smoke. The flavor you get from a pellet smoker is not as rich and deep as from a charcoal smoker. However, it does have all the convenience of the electric type.
Smoking v. Grilling more about the temp you’re cooking at than how it’s heated. Smoking happens below 300F most of the time. The Sawtooth Pellet Grill can get to 550F-600F at the top end so it’s more of a grill at that point that smokes. I’ve grilled burgers and fajitas and other stuff like you would a gas grill. Works great and it’s made in the US!
For this kind of price, it’s a good choice, perfect for less demanding people or for a regular consumer who’s just starting their adventure with pellet smokers and wants to have a basic, efficient and simple pellet grill for a decent price.
I am the only person in the world whose full time job is testing, researching, reviewing, and rating grills and smokers. Not a bad gig! I measure temperatures, slam lids, turn dials, study warranties, kick casters, and cook a lot of food, and consider look, feel, and price. I try to select devices that cover a range of prices, endeavoring to offer you a winner at whatever you can afford. We think these selections are Best Values in their price category. The thumbnail reviews in our Top 10 Lists are in order of manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but actual prices can differ significantly, especially since many of these items can be highly customized. Please click the red links to read our complete detailed reviews and find links to suppliers, many of whom sell well below MSRP. In addition to our Top 10 Lists, we have a huge searchable Ratings & Reviews database with hundreds of smokers and grills.
Just found this and I thank you! I’m doing competitions and want to get a pellet smoker to use after my brisket and pork butts have been wrapped to bring them up to final temp while my main smoker (Backwoods) will then be for the ribs and chicken.
Hey Reid – thanks you for your question. You can use any pellet brand you like in a Traeger grill. I really like what the folks at Cookin’ Pellets bring to the table both in their 100% Hickory and their Perfect Mix blends (fruit wood/hard wood mix). Have been very pleased with them. You can check out their stuff here.
It’s not perfect, though. There are certain features left to be desired. For instance, this smoker doesn’t have a temperature probe as we’ve seen with some models. It’s not a deal breaker, it does come with a very accurate thermometer, but we have seen probes on units in this price range, so that’s left to be desired.
Products with extra insulation, air tight hoods, and precise vent controls are more likely to manage heat and smoke well. There are, of course, exceptions, and just because a smoker has a lot of control features, that doesn’t mean it always does a good job managing temperature and smoke. Digital tech can fail, and vents can suck in drafts.
With heavy duty all terrain wheels this grill can easily be navigated in just about any outside situation. It also comes with a rust proof cover to ensure the grill is always protected no matter what the weather looks like.
Rather than design their own digital controllers, they buy them from a company named Ortech. Ortech’s RealTemp TR-100 Digital Controller is shown here and its operation is not intuitive so let’s take a little time to explain it.
Just like most Camp Chef products, this pellet grill smoker uses a patented ash cleanup system that takes away the trouble of vacuuming. Ash is immediately stored in an ash clean-out cup that’s easy to dump.
We are going to take the guess work out of it for you. Here at Grills Forever we have seared, smoked and grilled on grill after grill so you can have the latest information on what smokers are the best pellet smoker grills. Pellet smokers can sear and cook the most delicious foods, they are easy to control and convenient to use. We took all these features and more into consideration while compiling the top 10 wood pellet smokers.
OK. I’m rambling a bit. To your point regarding Traeger. I think that the models you can buy at big box stores (Costco etc) are OK. I still hear a few complaints about blistering paint etc. But… their Pro Series Models are a different story. The new management at Traeger has come a long way in their efforts to reaffirm the Traeger brand as a legitimate BBQ Pellet Smoker brand that everyone from the backyarder to competition pitmasters can get behind. To that end, they only allow specialty retailers carry the Pro Series models, which are built with a bit more heft and better PID controls, electronics, etc. You can find these at Ace Hardware stores, places like the Whiskey Bent BBQ Supply store we have here in Lakeland, FL (there is now one in Odessa, FL) as well. You can find a Traeger Pro model by going to http://www.traegergrills.com/dealers.
While using and running a pellet grill is child’s play, catching the right offer on pellet grills can be a hassle for consumers who have little to know clue about it can prove a costly bargain. Knowing your facts prior to buying one is always a good a smart idea. My pellet grill review will do the best it can to educate you on the things you need to look out for when purchasing your perfect grill. Here are a few heads-up:
Easy cleaning: there is a trap door for all the ash and the whole thing is designed to be as low maintenance as possible, while still having really good features. Often, when they get automated they get really complicated and it takes away from the simplicity needed to be easy to use. Not this one.
Use of the P settings in smoke mode is easy to understand. But one can also use them as a dual function feature in cook mode. Remember, in cook mode the auger idles when the temperature is correct, but the P settings continue to function in idle mode. Ortech recommends the P2 setting as the default idle rate in cook mode. However, as one gains experience, the P settings can be used to improve the grills performance. For example, when using high temperature settings, select P1 or P0 to reduce auger off time and maintain strong, steady heat. If you have trouble hitting low temperatures on a sweltering day, increase the P setting to increase auger off time. It does not have a significant effect on smoke production. The basic rule remains: Low heat = more smoke, high heat = less smoke.
The Traeger TEXAS ELITE 34 has a 646 sq. in. grilling surface and uses 100% pure hardwood pellets as its fuel source. This grill also has an upgraded digital controller with an LED display which sustains accurate internal temperatures, just as an oven would do.
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.
Being portable doesn’t mean it has to be extra small. This smoker boasts an accommodating 300 square inches of grilling space. This is enough to cook around twelve burgers or three racks of ribs. Perfect for families going on camping!
For many purists, nothing compares to a charcoal burner, and while we’re inclined to agree (though any of our Top Rated Picks will give you incredible results), we think that the smoker quality itself is a big deciding factor. In other words, it is the features and build quality that make the big difference when it comes to how smoky your food gets. This wins both arguments. It is charcoal and it is really well made. When it was delivered, we thought it would be one of the more expensive lot, but it is actually relatively affordable.
A pouch made of heavy duty aluminum with just one tiny hole in one side works great to provide smoke in most outdoor cookers. To make a foil pouch, cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil 6″ by 12″ and fold in half making a 6″x6″ square. Fold the side edges at least twice, pressing each fold firmly along the entire side. Put 1/3 of a cup of pellets in the pouch and fold the top to seal. Poke a hole in one side of the pouch with a toothpick. Place the pouch on top of your charcoal briquettes or above the gas flame. When the smoke starts coming out of the hole in the pouch, put your food on the cooking grate and close the cover of your cooker. Smoke should last up to 30 minutes depending on the temperature of your cooker.
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
A good spring cleaning of your pellet smoker is going to take a little elbow grease. Remember to use non-toxic degreasers and cleansers like Simple Green. We use it at our house as we, like the author of this article, have dogs who seem to love to be around the process of cleaning a pellet smoker.
Another “set it and forget it” pellet grill, the Camp Chef allows you to set the temperature controls for up to a range of 500 degrees F, and leave it to do the regulating. With its efficient auto-dispensing pellet hopper and digital temperature controls, the pellet grill sets, maintains and adjusts the desired temperature for even cooking each time. With consistent and fuss-free temperature control, you’ll sure to have the most perfectly grilled foods.
Hey Oscar, based on what I think and my discussion with my buddy Shane Draper of Draper’s BBQ, you’ll probably only need to run 14 hours for a brisket cook – given the convection nature of your pellet grill. You’ll probably go about 1 lb per hour or a little less – depending on the weather and other variables you mentioned. Again, pellet cooking is a little bit give and take where you’re getting ease and a more set it and forget it cook experience in exchange for some additional fuel use.
Before buying, please note that most pellet smokers need access to electricity to run the digital controller, the auger that transports the pellets to the firebox, and the convection fan that circulates the air in the cooking chamber. These cookers can use a lot of pellets at high temps. At high temps there is little or no smoke, and at low temps smoke is unavoidable. So if you want to cook, say, a chicken breast low and slow to retain juices, but you don’t want any smoke flavor, you’re outta luck. If you want to torch a thin burger to get a crunchy crust and add a little smokiness, you’ll get great smoke flavor, but it is hard to get the crust. But if you want killer ribs, bacon, smoked salmon, etc., pellet burners are hard to beat for convenience and quality.
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.
While the ability to smoke and grill is typical of any kamado, the Weber Summit Charcoal has some unique features, starting with a quick-start gas ignition that lights charcoal in about 6 minutes and gets you up to temp and cooking in about 15 minutes, a fraction of the time it takes with most kamado grills. It also features a hinged stainless steel diffuser plate, which makes it easy to add wood or charcoal mid-cook. As a testament to its dual role as smoker-grill combo, the Summit Charcoal’s fuel grate has 2 settings, allowing you to lower the coals for smoking or raise them closer to food when grilling.
What your best BBQ smoker is made from, or what the best outdoor smokers are constructed with makes a big difference to both how well the smoker works and how long it will last. Stainless steel is good to look for, but also quality paint and enamelling prevent rust and look good. If there are plastic parts, are they cheap looking? If they are, they probably won’t last.
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.