Great reviews. I have been lately looking into pellet poopers. I currently own a large Big Green Egg and a Pit Barrel Grill. My Egg has limited space. On the PBC (Pit Barrel Cooker) I can cook a ton of food as it uses hanging meat method. But it has zero temperature control on it. A set lower vent and that’s it. You have to adjust the lid to get the temps up. I have adjustable rings for my Egg that allows for increased capacity. Eggs are great smokers, grills and ovens. I do have a FireBoss temp controller for the Egg which will allow a set it and forget operations. Wifi controls also. With that being said, I am looking for increased capacity in my cooks. I was seriously considering a XL Primo Oval or a XL BGE. Then I found these pellet poopers. After reading this blog and other reviews I found some limitations. One the lack of smoke flavor. Now with my Egg I add chunks of wood into the lump for smoke flavor. Same with the PBC. The PBC has different smoke flavor as the fats and juices from the meat drip on the hot coals which ignite (according to PBC’s website) and produce a smokey flavor in the meat. I’ve read two ways to increase the smoke flavor in Pellet Poopers. One is to start at a lower temp for a few hours, then crank it up to cooking temps. Two is the smoke tubes or Mojo Bricks. My question is do these techniques work? One review on the smoking tube said that they really didn’t make that much of a difference. Another issue was for grilling and the lack of direct heat. Grill Grates would eliminate this concern correct? My understanding of Grill Grates is that they provide a way to direct grill in an indirect environment. That’s a limitation with both of my cookers. The Egg can Indirect or Direct grill. Not both. Yes I can remove the indirect piece and set up the Egg for direct grilling, but you risk burnt fingers even with welders mitts on. Wouldn’t the Grill Grates on a Pellet Pooper solve this problem? Allowing you to slow cook that steak to say 10 degrees shy of your temp range then sear it on the grill grate for the a couple of minutes on each side to get it to your desired temp range? Or go the other way, sear first for a few minutes per side then indirect cook it to the desired temp?
The Camp Chef SmokePro’s automatic features definitely sets it apart and makes it truly a “set it and forget it” kind of unit. It makes use of an electric auto-igniter system that lets you start grilling with just one button. The automatic auger instantly dispenses pellets to maintain the desired temperature and use your pellets the most efficient way.
A pellet hopper is what you put your pellets in. The grill will automatically help itself from the hopper and use it to maintain the temperature you want it to. More heat requirement will use more pellet, and less heat will use less. What you need to make sure is that you have a good sized pellet hopper so that your grill can keep using from it and you do not have to keep refilling the hopper too often. There are pellet grills out there that are powerful and gentle enough to be cooking for hours, and sometimes overnight, all thanks to its large pellet hoppers that keep replenishing and refueling the fire all throughout.
Kevin- super helpful article. Thanks! I just moved from a big city small apartment with no grill to a house in the country. Most essential purchase is the grill. I’m really on the fence. I like the idea of a pellet grill, but in reality- I’m mostly cooking burgers, fish, steaks, scallops, and veggies. The brisket and ribs will be more of a special occasion. From an economical perspective, am I better buying a gas grill and just getting one of those smoke tubes to add some flavor? From many of the online comments, it seems like the pellet grills benefit from additional smoke anyway, and though you can get additional grates for searing, seems like a square peg in a round hole. The gas grill is sort of the tried and true, and way more economical. Those $500 entry level pellet grills seem a little scrawny, and the next level up is a cool $grand. I’m really on the fence, and getting pressure to “just buy the darn thing” to consummate the move to the country! However the pellet grills seem like the new shiny object and have my curiosity. Any advice? PS- love the website! Thanks, Cary
The first name to kick start our list of the best pellet grill review is the Camp Chef PG24 Pellet grill. It measures 45 inches by 21 inches by 51 inches, in dimensions. This pellet grill weighs 127 pounds and capacitates a 550 cubic inch cooking surface. It has a removable upper rack, and it comes with a stainless steel food probe. Camp Chef PG24 Pellet grill comes with an LED digital temperature control system, and has a patented down cleaning system. It can provide temperatures from 160 degrees to 500 degree Fahrenheit, and has an internal sensor.
If you look back on my best picks on each type of smoker grills, I have chosen the best electric smoker and the best charcoal smoker in this price range. It is really a decent price range for a smoker to buy.
And #3, good bbq or grilled meats should taste great without a ton seasonings or sauce. Beef especially can be excellent with simple salt! Make sure your seasonings enhance flavor. Another great read, the late (and much grieved at our house) Paul Prudhomme’s ‘Louisiana Kitchen’ again available on Amazon used for a couple of bucks and a masterpiece! Paul was a master of seasoning. Don’t kill it with seasonings and sauce, enhance the foods flavors. Barks on meat are great if they are right. However burnt, sugar and many other seasonings detract from the meats natural flavor. I personally love a meat you can eat without a sauce and then sauce if you want some added flavors going on!
The construction and the elements – REC TEC Pellet grill are an investment for years, safe from corroding. Most of competitive grills look pretty on the outside and the manufacturers claim they are made of stainless steel. The truth is, only the outside part of the grill is stainless. The steel on the inside is different, and major parts are made of materials of poorer quality.
One thing about this grill: it weighs a ton. It’s not small. The grates are solid and heavy duty, perfect for those great grill stripes everybody loves. It is not designed to be portable, it is designed to sit somewhere comfortable and smoke stuff. So it is not too portable, but that’s OK, you can take the grill enthusiasts to the grill, not the grill to the enthusiasts. It will be worth the trip, we promise you.
Now we come to the end of my smoker quest. I used a combination of online research and real life experience to bring you the most in depth information you will get anywhere. This quest was long, but it was worth it.
BBQr’s Delight pellet grill fuel is for pellet-fired cookers. These cooking devices use wood pellets to produce the cooking heat and the wood smoke for flavor. This food-grade wood pellet product is blended 2/3 oak with 1/3 flavor-wood. This gives you consistent BTU’s for heat and plenty of flavor-wood for good smoked flavor. See Pellet Grill Fuel page for more information!
With porcelain non stick grill grates cleaning this grill is quick and easy. Just rinse, wipe and store. Thanks to easy clean up you can spend more time enjoying friends and family and less time cleaning.
Hey David – in my opinion, you’re going to find hot spots in any entry level pellet grill/ pellet smoker. I include GMG, Rec-Tec, Traeger, etc. When you start moving into the higher pellet smokers/grills – Memphis Grill, MAK, etc, you can minimize these to some extent. If you experience higher heat on one side, put the thicker cut of meat (pork butt, point of brisket) near that part.
“”Hell yeah!” These were the first words that came out of my mouth as soon as I hit the On button on my smartphone and heard my new Bull light up!!! How did nobody come up with this sooner and thank you Rec Tec for doing so!
It is difficult, we appreciate that. We struggle with it too. But you should be able to trust us because we’re transparent in what we do. Our business model is that we test, gather data on and review lots of different smoker grills, and tell you about the best smoker grills. We don’t have any affiliation with any manufacturer or product, we just find the best grills for you.
Only 1/3 of a cup of pellets is needed for most cooking events. As compared to other forms of smoking wood, you’ll need 5-10 times the weight of wood to achieve the same results as pellets. The cost per use is much less for pellets than any other form of wood.
Stick burner vs Pellet… it’s time tending the fire question for me. Pellet poopers are way less work, but you can up your smoke or lower it with a great deal more variability with a stick burner. If you have the money, I’d go Yoder.
Wood-pellet grills were first introduced onto the market over 20 years ago by Traeger Pellet Grills LLC. They’re all-electric: No fluids, no lighters, and no gas. Instead, a pellet grill is powered by pellets of wood shaped much like a large pill capsule. Unlike charcoal grills, which take up to 30 minutes or more to heat up, wood pellet grills can give off an even heat quite quickly. And, unlike propane grills which heat up quickly but lack flavor, foods cooked on pellet grills are rich in smokiness and succulence.
Owner/designer Bill Karau makes these smokers out of his garage using the highest of quality materials. The firebox is 14-gauge, 304-grade stainless steel. The cooking chamber is 18-gauge, 430-grade stainless steel and can hold up to 60 lbs of meat on various levels of its 4 cooking grates (with 12 positions available). The grates can also be swapped out for commercial-sized steam pans. The controller is easily removable, so there’s no need to worry about leaving it outside.
The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker comes with Smart Smoke Technology, which lets you set and forget your grilling. It accurately sets and maintains the desired temperature using an automated electric feed system, heating your unit from 180 degrees F to 450 degrees F. We’ve gotten used to smokers taking around 30-40 minutes to heat up, but with this unit, it took only 20 minutes for the temperature to settle in!
First, we are just like you. We love smoking and grilling. We were once novices like you, but now, through years of practice and research we are the genuine kings of the grill. We have our own favorites like the Camp Chef pellet grill and we want you to find your favorite too.
This is the pellet smoker of the future. It is fully automated from start to finish. From clicking the ignition to getting rid of the ash, it is all conveniently taken care of. Usually, you would be expecting to pay at least a thousand bucks for something that does that, but not this time. The PG24 is relatively affordable.
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:
Like I said before, sometimes you will find it difficult to perform the upgrade yourself. Replacing the digital control system seems much more difficult than I thought when I did it. Your smoker manual will certainly help you in this regard. You should seek help from YouTube as you can see what exactly to do.
Solid steel construction, it is a tough kamado that can take some punishment, as well as giving it the right heat retention properties to get that even cooking that is so characteristic of the kamado. It is enamelled on the inside for years and years of use and the outside is powdered, making this a grill to last. The grill itself is cast iron, so it will give great grill lines.
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.
This was a great article and so glad I found it. I have been looking at pellet grills for a year now since I am not very happy with my electric smoker and want something that creates a more authentic smoke ring and taste.
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With a temperature range of 160 degrees F to 500 degrees F, you can cook however you want. Braise, grill, roast, bake, smoke or barbecue your foods — that’s entirely up to you. This smoker is powerful enough to cook even the most demanding dishes.
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.
I am glad your review of the Rec Tec included commentary on the accuracy and performance of the temperature controller. I would have liked to read similar comments about the other five grills in your reviews because this is such an important feature.
Hello, looking to purchase a portable pellet feed smoker. Has there been any confirmation that Traeger quality has improved, and do your brand recommendations hold true for portable/tabletop models, or is this a whole different subset of rankings?
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They might have lost a few followers along the way, what with newer, sleeker models available but Traeger’s still popular thanks to their marketing and distribution. You can find Traeger pellet grills everywhere.
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.
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.
While the Camp Chef can get almost up to 500°F (hot enough to produce crispy skin on a chicken), it’s never going to compete with a dedicated grill for searing. This is something that all pellet smokers struggle with though.
My first days on the Bull have been at or below 35 degrees with rain and wind , it didnt care . It stays true to temp and didnt burn more than 1/4 pellets in over 10 hour total run time . My Weber gas grill would had burned almost a tank and blown out in the wind trying to cook down low.
Everyone loves grilled food, especially if it has been cooked on an outside grill to give it that deep rich roasted flavor. Since their introduction a couple of decades ago, pellet grills have become the simple way to give a distinct flavor when cooking to your steaks, burgers, and roasts.
Hi, and thank you for your comment. Traeger led the pack years ago, but they fell off in quality and reliability when they began manufacturing overseas. Though they are making some improvements now, I’m more comfortable recommending you look into Green Mountain Grills. Check their website to find a retailer near you.