In cook mode the thermometer in the cooking chamber sends info to the microprocessor which controls the auger. When temperature is correct the auger motor is idle. When the temp drops below a set threshold, the auger motor kicks in and delivers pellets until the desired temperature has returned.
We at Grills Forever have been using all kinds of pellet smokers for over 4 years and have come up with different strategies to finding the best pellet smoker. That’s why all of our reviews are so detailed — because they come from first-hand experience. After 15 hours of testing and researching numerous products, our team of outdoor cooking enthusiasts have decided to crown the Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker as the best. It emerged as the perfect choice for beginners and pros, always delivering that rich BBQ flavor and fragrance.
Some grills simply can’t be left outside. Due to their materials, they will rust after exposure to precipitation, harsh temperatures, or even humidity. Regular oiling can prevent a lot of that, but that’s another maintenance step that counts against the smoker overall. What’s more, if a BBQ smoker is not designed to be easily wheeled into a garage or shed, but it rusts easily, it loses both maintenance and ease of use consideration.
Now on to your question. As you mention, this is a pretty subjective topic…ask 10 people and you might get 10 different answers. When I can order them affordably, my favorite pellet is CookinPellets 100% Hickory. I don’t have any local retail outlets, and ordering from the factory brings pricey shipping costs into play. I like to wait for good deals on Amazon so I can make orders with free shipping. Amazon occasionally runs them for less the $30 per 40# bag…and as you probably know, just make an order of at least $35 and their standard ground shipping is free.
To help our readers find the right products, we spend a lot of time on each review. It is around 55 hours per article, we think. That’s not including all the volunteer hours our dedicated team of product finders and reviewers put in. All in all, it is a lot of work for these smoker reviews 2018. It is about a week per guide, giving us time to personally test each product. All this adds up to a very comprehensive set of data that you can read for free and we use to write these best smoker grills reviews.
Hey Rob! First, I really appreciate you reaching out. That’s what The BBQ Beat is for! To your question, I own a Davy Crockett Tailgate Model pellet smoker and really like it. Full disclosure, it was given to me by the company to test and Jason Baker of GMG said I could just keep it. But, I get a good number of products to review sent to me and a whole lot of them don’t make it onto the blog. I’d rather “omit” than “detract” – keep things positive sharing the stuff out there that I can get behind.
Pit Boss’s real wood cooking lets both beginners and pros cook and smoke everything from ribs to fish, bake biscuits to pizza, grill burgers to vegetables, sear and charbroil steaks and more. It’s an 8-in-1 beast that will spice up your kitchen.
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.
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.
Next up is the Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill which shines in some areas, and is a very viable option. Before we continue, it’s worth pointing out that everything on this list of the best pellet smokers and grills is an excellent choice, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. While our number 1 pick is the top choice for a reason, there wouldn’t be a grill on this list that wasn’t worthy of your patio. Pit Boss pellet grills are solid for beginners. Be sure to check out our full review of the Pit Boss 71700FB.
If you like grilling outdoors, you want to reduce the time and energy you spend using traditional and classic methods of grilling in an open air. The problem with traditional grills is that you keep on manually feeding the grill with charcoal or wood. In addition, you need to stay near the grill until the food is finally cooked.
I see a lot of opinions about Traeger not being good at maintaining a desired temperature. It is very important if we’re planning very long and slow smoking of the meat. Unless you have a time and will control the temperature.
Other important parts of the pellet smoker that one should watch out the joints, the welding and the hardware. They should be made of good material, most preferred, aluminum or steel. The joints of the pellet smoker should be well lubricated in a way that they do not produce uncomfortable sounds while the cooking is on. The grill should generally feel sturdy with all the seams and joints fitting together snugly, leaving no spaces for heat produced to escape in any way.
Just like with the 3 position controller, with a multi position controller the pellets are fed in on a fixed cycle. In ideal conditions a multi position controller can maintain the temperature at about +/-20°F. In windy conditions however the controller is less reliable and not as accurate.
Some grills have “trap doors” that let you easily dump all of the pellets in the bin into a bucket. This is a handy feature if you want to switch flavor profiles (dump out the hickory and add apple) or if you don’t want to store pellets in the hopper between smoking sessions.
Many new developments are underway and soon will be released in the market. However, some are already with us! So here are some of the biggest things to look forward to while buying your next pellet smoker.
Second, It would be just my wife and me BBQing so I’m looking small. I’m considering the REC TEC Mini Portable Wood Pellet Grill (RT-300) after reading your reviews. Having only ever BBQed with hard wood coals on a Webber, is there going to be a taste fall-off going to the pellet grill as far as charring and/or smoke? I’d hate to spend that kind of money and get bland steaks. Really, steak is all we ever cook outside, though that would probably change with a nice grill.
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.
With a large cooking space and the most advanced cooking techniques, this is easily one of our favorite products among our top ten. While it lacks some of the features that the other grills and smokers in this review have (such as an ash and grease cleanup systems), it does deliver fine-dining quality foods, which is the ultimate goal of every grilling enthusiast. For its price, it offers some of the best features you can find in high-end products.
“I have cooked on my new RT-700 twice now and you can’t beat the convenience of this grill. Both of my cooks have been low and slow smoking (225°) and had great smoke flavor. Can’t wait to cook more!”
Although this would not work as a portable grill, it does come with built-in wheels for convenience. You can easily transfer your grill to any part of your backyard and it will stay secured in place (as long as it’s on an even surface, of course).
So that brings me to the one thing I have learned in all this that I basically read when I was getting started. One of the biggest keys is “Temperature Control”! If you want consistent food make sure you get that under control. It is the key to solid consistent food! Once you get your food consistent you can experiment with a lot of other things. But if you can’t get that down, you will always be looking for another magic bullet. The number one magic is temperature!
Multi-position Controller – A step up from 3-position controllers, multi-position controllers feature a knob with temperature settings that go from 180°F to 420°F in 25° increments and may have an LCD display. In addition to more settings, these controllers offer more temperature control. However, they also run on fixed cycles and can only maintain about +/-20°F in ideal conditions—in cold windy weather they are less accurate and reliable. Some versions of these controllers have inputs for meat probes that can monitor food temperatures.
A: There are a variety of units currently on the market that can smoke as well as grill. Charcoal smokers are the most common of this type of smoker. While many of the inexpensive smokers state that they are capable of this feature, be mindful that it takes a great construct to be able to smoke and grill sufficiently. However, most of the inexpensive models will only provide one feature or the other, not both.
Bark or no bark—that’s the great BBQ pellet debate. Some pellet makers remove bark from the wood before making their pellets, while others keep it on. The question is whether it’s better to cook with pellets that include bark or with pellets made from wood that’s been de-barked, or if it matters at all.
Barbecuing and grilling meats to the perfect temperature, texture and doneness is a skill that is acquired over years and years of practice. There is a lot that goes into making a good BBQ than just good seasoning and fresh meat, and any pit master will agree. There are just so many aspects you have to learn how to control: the temperature, the smoke, the placement, the ratios and so on. But you are lucky that this is new of yesterdays.
For a portable pellet smoker, it’s fairly heavy for the average person. It’s also a little awkward to carry around. The DC is small, which we’ve mentioned, and for some the 12″ deep x 16″ wide primary cook surface is a problem. But there are a lot of people who love it because of the compact size. As they say, one man’s basting is another man’s poison!