When reviewing products for our Top 10 lists we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and look at the kinds of questions that you might ask when making a fairly costly purchase. If you haven’t made up your mind on electric vs pellet smokers, then you can read our Electric Smoker Reviews here.
We’ve painstakingly compared all of the models we could muster, and from that, we’ve come up with a top 5 list. Now, just because something’s lower on the list, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for you. All of these grills are great, and we’ve ranked them on a number of criteria. The importance of each criterion will vary from person to person; thus a grill that ends up lower on our list might be the perfect fit for your needs.
There are some fairly high tech components in pellet smokers. There are also moving parts, such as the auger. This means that there are parts of your cooker that may break, and that you may not be able to fix yourself.
Not something we often mention, but we feel is relevant is Rec Tec’s customer service. Their service is exceptional, and not only in the grilling industry. When you call their office you speak to a staff member that owns a Rec Tec.
The worst part about using a grill is always the clean up. It usually requires you pull out a vacuum or broom and get your hands dirty while you are trying to prepare one of your grilling masterpieces.
Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grills are filled by all regular BBQ wood pellets. The computerized control board lights the grill and permits you to set the cooking temperature from 180° to 500°F. Fan constrained convection cooking takes out the requirement for a rotisserie and makes an adaptable situation for grilling, simmering, smoking, braising and preparing. The Pit Boss 340 has 340 sq. in. total cooking surface with porcelain covered cooking grids. With complete structural quality and strength, the Pit Boss 340 is made to last.
Since two of those marvelous vents are on the bottom, however, without any real catch trays or containment measures, you’ll be dealing with a lot of loose ash to clean up. Cleaning the inside is even more of a chore. The other issue, of course, is size. This product simply isn’t large enough to handle big cuts of meat, and it can’t compete with many other smokers when it comes to scale.
Pellet Cost and Consumption: Cooking pellets for pellet grills cost about $1 per pound depending on the brand, flavor, and if you can get them on sale. The shipping cost can play a factor on their price as well. For a lower BTU, you can get a cheaper brand of pellet for 75¢ a pound, but as a consequence you’ll deal with more filler and they get consumed faster by the flames.
A good pellet grill will grill, roast, and smoke. A wood pellet is a small, 1/4 inch diameter piece of hardwood and looks like a long pill. Because of their small size, wood pellets burn cleanly and quickly to a fine ash.
The different types of smokers all have their pros and cons. If you are looking for an authentic barbecue taste, and a good smoky flavor, then using charcoal is a must. The drawback is that the charcoal can be dirty to handle, and cleaning up the ash afterward can also be messy. A charcoal smoker needs to be learned, and it will take a little while to understand how your smoker operates so you can get the temperature control perfect. The electric smoker takes away all the mess and hassle, and the worry from getting the temperature just right. However, a simple electric smoker will not be able to impart the subtle flavors you expect in high-quality barbecue. Propane gas smokers are the middle ground option, giving your food a better taste than from an electric smoker, with some of the convenience, and without the hassle of ash and learning temperature control.
It will notify you of any system malfunction or low fuel situations. Turn it on or off from your phone, monitor temperatures from the built-in digital meat probes. You can even set up multi-stage cooking based on recipe profiles. For example, step one: low and slow until a certain temp. Step two: raise it up to crisp or brown any skin. Step three: the cool down. This is all done automatically, you don’t have to touch a thing. That’s about as set it and forget it as you can get.
Tech geeks: A tech geek will also prefer a Pellet smoker grill and some of the latest grills including Green Mountain Grills came up with some exciting tech functionality like Wi-Fi! Just imagine, hanging with friends and monitoring your pork with your smartphone? You can increase and decrease temperature and control pellet feed without even touching the grill. This gives you the ability to cook while you work!
Users commend the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill for its ease of use. They love the way they can use different kinds of food and in cook it using different methods. Users mention the ash cleanout port saying that it was convenient and were grateful they don’t need to use a vacuum anymore.
If you’re a member of the Rockefeller family and price isn’t an issue then you’ll definitely find pellet grills over the $2000 mark but, if you’re more the ‘other fella’ with a budget in mind, then the Rec Tec is one of the best-priced grills, available for under $1,000. There’s also a Rec Tec mini grill which comes in under $750.
Pellet Flavors: Like with e-cigs and their gimmick of flavorful e-liquids, pellets for pellet grills and smokers also have different flavors added to their pellets, and they include bourbon, maple, apple, cherry, mesquite, alder, pecan, and hickory. You can mix flavors, change flavors, or use different flavors for every day of the week if you do everyday barbecues and grills for your restaurant or something.
Of course, the grill is equipped with porcelain grates, which are easy to clean and don’t require maintenance like cast-iron grates for example. The downside is that the porcelain surface is delicate, so use soft brushes ( preferably buy a nylon brush ).
Electricity causes the auger to start pushing pellets into your burn pot and begins to heat up the glow rod until it’s red-hot, which in turn ignites the pellets in the burn pot. Air is pushed into the burn pot via the holes you see around it – allowing for a maximum efficiency burn.
We also loved this smoker because it has an auto shut down feature. That means you can even go to the office and enjoy delicious smoked ribs by dinner time. Only 30% – 35% of the existing smokers have got this feature.
Central to all pellet cookers is a digital controller similar to the controllers on modern indoor ovens. You select a temp you want, and there is an LED display that tells you the actual temp. Some of the controllers also are programmable so you can cook at a certain temp for a determined time. Some have leave-in meat probes that can dial back the ovento a holding temp when the meat hits its mark.
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.
Sorry for the long book all, hope there is some info that helps all of your readers to avoid all the work and ruined meat. The books I recommend are great but there are a ton more out there with great info as well. (And yep still looking for the magic bullet on brisket, best I can say cook till floppy and don’t let the juice out! GL)
If you really want an inexpensive pellet grill like the Pit Boss then check out this article on the Z Grill pellet smokers. They are almost identical to Pit Boss, are priced equivalently and come with a three year warranty.
As smoking and grilling become more popular, increasingly there’s more crossover. The same person that enjoys smoking a pork butt for 10 hours on the weekend wants to be able to fire up steaks after work. In the past, that often meant owning multiple cookers: a traditional smoker to handle low-and-slow BBQ and a charcoal or gas grill for high-heat grilling. Not only does that get expensive, but it takes up valuable backyard real estate. More and more, however, people are looking for a single cooker, a smoker-grill combo that can handle both.
Thank you so much for the kind words! I think you would be very happy with a smaller pellet grill / smoker. The wording changes depending on how you are using the device. For instance, if you are cooking at low temperatures you will get a stronger smoke profile then if you burn a pellet smoker / grill at its higher temperature range. One thing you could do for steaks is cook them at the higher range thus being able to get a sear much like you would on a direct heated Grill service, for instance on your Weber. Another option would be to cook the steak in the reverse see your method, by bringing it up to temperature at a lower smoker setting and adding some smoke flavoring that way, then removing it and bringing the smoker up to its higher settings so you can finish off the steak with some of the effect you would achieve on direct flame. I normally do this by bringing the steaks up to about 15 degrees below where I want them to finish. Then, I finish them off at the higher temperature to where they are about 5 degrees below my target. This usually means a few minutes on each side but I use a Thermapen to be sure.
I talk with a lot of teams out there, and I know for certain that some of them have turned to my buddy Fred Grosse’s MojoBricks to boost their smoke profile when using pellet grills. In fact, of the teams who win with Pellet Smokers – I’d wager at least a quarter of them to maybe half have used MojoBricks to round out their final product. I really like Fred as well – which makes it a pleasure to include his products in this grouping of pellet grill reviews.
Remote Accessibility: This level of control and observing is critical on the grounds that the container does not generally sustain the pellets into the wood screw accurately and the fire in the firepot can go out. The Davy Crockett will tell you that the container is not sustaining wood pellets and that the temperature is dropping. The Davy Crockett application will reveal to you something isn’t right.
Hopper – That’s where you put the fuel, or pellets, which is them sent through a special auger to the place where pellet is burned. Resupplying pellets in the hopper is a very easy and quick task, often quite different in the case of grills with different type of fuel ( such as propane tanks ).
As the worldwide glorification of BBQ intensifies, people around the globe want more BBQ morning, noon and night, with the ability to enjoy any recipe cooked outdoors anywhere. Supply rises to meet demand with an overwhelming variety of grills and smokers offered at prices ranging from economical to extravagant. If spring finds you considering replacement of a decrepit grill that didn’t make it through the winter, or adding that coveted smoker you dreamed of for so long, the selection process can be daunting. To get you started on the right foot, we have selected the Best Value Grills & Smokers of 2017 from our searchable database of ratings and reviews of over 500 cookers from 185 manufacturers.
Other than that there isn’t a lot to complain about. You can throw any type of food in for short or long times and the REC TEC will handle it with ease. If you’re trying to decide between this and the REC TEC mini then we have a full review on the Mini that compares the two grills.
The Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker is cheaply built, but not as bad as most gas smokers in this price range. It is narrow so you have to cut rib slabs in half, but it can hold a lot of food. Once you get the hang of it, it can hold temps pretty steadily and it doesn’t require nursing. But you absolutely must replace the temperature indicator (it is not a thermometer no matter what they call it) with a good digital thermometer. Click here to read our complete review of the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker.
A PID controller knows what temperature you set and knows the temperature inside the grill. The controller continually makes adjustments to make sure the desired temperature and actual temperature match.
The first two columns are must haves. This includes heavy-duty materials to hold heat and stand up to the elements (whether it’s smoking in the cold or not rusting out). The third column is a set of options. Not necessary, but bonus if they make the list.
Rust in the smoker itself is a sign of poor quality or unusually high maintenance. Again, we’ll go more into maintenance later, but it’s important to note that evidence of rusting inside the smoker itself is just as often a sign of poor maintenance as it is a sign of poor materials. When you’re looking at any kind of reviews for a smoker, keep that balance in mind.