PID Controller: The most precise temperature control is obtained with grills that have a PID controller. PID stands for “Proportional-Integral-Derivative” which is really just a fancy way of saying that it has a built in feedback loop.
Couldnt you add a wood chips, small chunks, directly to the burn bowl before you start cooking? I get you cant feed it thtough the hopper, but it seems like there should be an opportunity to add directly to the bowl.
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.
While the charcoal smoker needs some tending, and work to control the temperature, an electric smoker is virtually ‘plug and play.’ Just plug the electric smoker into a convenient power outlet, and you are ready to go. Electic smokers use elements inside the cabinet to heat wood chips to provide the smoke. A water bath makes sure the food inside does not dry out in the long smoking process. In most cases its a matter of dialing or using a push button to set the required temperature of the smoker, popping the food inside and then set it going. Generally, electric smokers cook faster than other methods, but they do not impart the same deep barbecue flavor you get with cooking with a flame in either a charcoal or propane fired smoker. If you live in an apartment and have no outside space, and want to eat barbecue, then some electric smokers will work indoors.
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Regarding your question about a decrease in smoke flavor when using the pellet grill / smoker, I do believe you will experience a little bit of a drop off. This said, many people find the flavor from pellet grills / movers to be adequate. If you require a stronger smoke profile, you can always use one of the tube smokers that sits inside of the cooking chamber.
Electric smokers are perfect for beginners. You can “set and forget” these smokers, which makes them simple to use if you aren’t into spending hours outdoors cooking. As long as you have access to an electric outlet, you just might find an electric smoker to be the right choice for you. They generally come with very simple manuals and instructions, and you can pick up your smoker and get started cooking very quickly, without worrying about messing with pellets, charcoal or gas.
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!
In addition, the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill comes with multiple accessories. These include a meat probe, peaked lid (which is useful for large fowls and stand-up chickens), rib racks, a convenience tray as well as utensil hooks. This takes away the trouble of having to order additional parts for modification.
Prepare your charcoal. – If you opt for a charcoal smoker, you should make sure that you use new charcoal each time that you smoke something. Also, give the charcoal between 30 and 45 minutes to get hot before adding your food to the smoker.
The Masterbuilt 20075315 Front Controller Smoker is Our Top Electric Smoker Pick because it combines the tremendous features and remarkable performance of a more expensive smoker but at a very low price. Not only is it affordable, it is a “set and forget” smoker grill that competes with much more expensive rivals.
Mike this is a GREAT question, and something I probably should have included in this post. Seriously, thank you for asking it. I’m going to add videos and information to the sections for smokers listed above as I find them. Check back later today and refresh the page, and I’ll have something for you then. 🙂
A digital smoker will always be easier to manage than a simple charcoal burner, but that preference comes down to customer desires, and we did not use this as part of our considerations. Instead, we examined how easily the smokers could be set up, cleaned, moved, and used. While some are intrinsically more portable than others, we relied on the manufacturer’s claims. Not all smokers are designed to be frequently moved, for instance, but if a manufacturer touted portability, the smoker in question came under scrutiny for its ease of movement and ability to travel.
If you’ve ever wanted an 8-in-1 wood pellet grill that you can just “set and forget”, then this grill is the perfect unit for you. This is the most hassle-free smoker we’ve used which is why it deserves to be one of our top picks. Digitally-controlled, this smoker ignites the unit and uses a Smart Smoke Technology™ to heat it up from 160 to 450 degrees F. This pellet smoker comes with a whopping 513 square inch grilling area, plus a 2nd cooking rack! While it doesn’t have a cleanup system, its auto-shutdown feature makes it worth the value.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker lets you get more than what you paid for. At a surprisingly low price, you get to have tons of great features that are sure to elevate your BBQ experience. For its price, we were quite surprised to see that it satisfied most of the features on our list. We tested over fifty products, and even the expensive ones were no match for this product.
Made of rugged 1/8″ thick aluminum, 20″ long, with four serious rivets, Meathead says his shows zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. He uses it on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, yiou can easily pick up a whole packer brisket.
Grilling options: In the past, a drawback of pellet cookers was their lack of grilling capability. Some manufacturers have made grilling possible, either by removing part of the diffuser plate, or by providing a dedicated grilling area within the cooker.
3-Position Controller – 3 position controllers, also called LMH controllers, have just 3 temperature settings—low, medium, and high—which correlate to roughly 225°F, 325°F, and 425°F. They feed pellets in fixed cycles that are determined by which setting you choose. With just three settings to choose from, though, you have less control over cooking temperatures than more advanced controllers. These controllers are often found on lower priced pellet grills.
A quality pellet grill is built to last and will provide years of reliable performance. Bargain pellet grills not only lack the capabilities of better grills, they’re more likely to break down. No matter your price range, look for a pellet grill that’s built well and offers consistent performance. Fortunately, if price is a major consideration, there are quality pellet grills for under $500, as well as high-end pellet grills for under $1,000.
It’s still a great pellet smoker and it manages to get to a sizzling 500°F pretty darn quickly. We also had one of the tastiest meals from this grill. We can’t say (or verify) if it was because of the Pit Boss or if we had managed to get our hands on the best meat purchases, like ever!
Avoid flames. – Your food should be cooked from smoke and indirect heat, not a flame. If you notice that your smoker is flaming up, you can spray the flames down with your water hose or adjust your racks so that the flames aren’t touching your food.
This little smoker is just right for people who want small capacity and/or need a compact device for their condo patios. Many of our readers who already have other outdoor cookers like to add Davy Crockett to their lineup, especially if they have everything but a pellet smoker.
Camp Chef made this smoker with a built-in temperature gauge and a great grease management system. These features make the process of grilling fun and the cleanup afterward easy, all for a fair price!
A few people mentioned assembly being difficult. Some commented on the lid, saying it would need to be replaced at some point because of sun damage and a few mentioned the grates don’t fit properly, which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, just annoying. One reviewer gave it a good grilling (bad pun, sorry) but he’s been one of a handful. Actually he’s been one.
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.
It is certainly your requirement for the smoker to be automated. That is the case with Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe. It’s a smoker that thanks to its very good temperature control doesn’t require you to check if the temperature inside the grill is really okay. That way it allows for stress-free long meat smoking at a fixed low temperature.
Pros low/high temperatures, quality materials, large cooking area digital control, affordable, multi-use, lighter very accurate, easy-to-use, good cooking surface large cooking surface, digital burn control, low/high temperatures, very affordable awesome cooking surface, very durable, fast cooking
I haven’t posted here before, but have been reading and finding a lot of good information on this site. I am in the market for a pellet grill so have been researching some of them listed on this site. Out of Yoder, Green Mountain, Memphis and MAK I really like price, features and looks of the Yoder YS640. I was wondering if anyone has used Louisianna pellet grills? For example, the CS680? I don’t see it mentioned much on bbq blog sites so not sure if it is a good brand. Thanks for any advice.
Today, all serious players in the pellet smoker market have switched to digital thermostatic controllers that dictate pellet-feed commands based on a temperature sensor inside the cooking box. Just like with the oven in your kitchen, you set the desired cooking temperature, and the heating system kicks on and off to maintain that set point. An LED display shows your set temp, and most models allow you to toggle between set temp and actual temp readings from the internal thermostat. Actual temperatures will fluctuate a bit as the controller switches on and off to hover around your set temp, but many sophisticated touch-pad controllers can maintain tighter tolerances than your indoor oven. Some pellet controllers also have integrated probes that let you monitor the internal temperature of whatever you’re smoking. Wireless remote control and monitoring from your smartphone or tablet are also increasingly common. (You can learn more about pellet smokers on AmazingRibs.com.)
Some grills can only store 18 pounds of pellets. Owners of these grills say it isn’t a big deal to add more pellets mid-cook if needed. A benefit to having a smaller hopper is that there is less chance of unused pellets getting wet during storage and turning to sawdust.
Some cheaper models, such as the Brinkmann, have a controller with only three settings, Low, Medium, High (LMH), and there is no temperature probe in the oven to create a feedback loop. We do not recommend these units. You actually have less control over temp than you do on a gas or charcoal smoker. The whole reason to buy a pellet grill is because it is set-it-forget-it and it hits a temp and holds it regardless of the ambient air temp outside, winter or summer. On these LMH controllers, the temp fluctuates widely and it cannot correct itself for the weather. They just aren’t as smart as a digital device. Whether you’re smoking a few slabs of ribs on a scorching summer day, or six pork butts during a blizzard, the three position controller only knows auger on and off times for Low, Medium, and High. It has no information on the temperature inside the cook chamber.
Hey Corey – thanks for checking out the blog man! I did actually do a review of the Pellet Pro smoker and the company’s Smoke Daddy Cold Smoker Attachment. You can find the review here. Again, appreciate you leaving a comment!
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.
Pellet grills are known for their versatility. It’s a device you can use for grilling, roasting, smoking, and barbecuing all sorts of meats, vegetables, and dishes. You can even use this grill for braising or baking.
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.
Hey Jeff – I think that due to pellet smokers requiring much of the wood pellet for “fuel” leaving a smaller part for the “smoke” means that you want as much of the smoke to stay in the chamber for as long as possible. Just my opinion. I’ve not used charcoal pellets. Those I’ve spoken with who have used them weren’t extremely happy with the results. Regarding the water pan, I feel that pellet smokers don’t typically require water pans. However, you can surely use one and see how your results go.