Here’s a unit that deserves a look if you’re one of those people who don’t care about status and just want to add some extra smoke in your life. This 40″ front controlled smoker from Masterbuilt is spacious and can smoke a variety of foods. From full slabs of ribs to whole chicken and whatever else you want to add to the mix.
Hey Pete, first thanks for your kind words. Traeger pellet grills fell off a bit quality wise over the past several years. That said, they’ve hired a new CEO – formerly from the Skull Candy Head Phone company – who brought that company’s valuation up considerably. I see them making moves to get back to their roots… aligning themselves with some of the more well known names in BBQ again. From a build quality, they’re making solid pellet grill bodies using fairly heavy steel. The area I’d like to see them improve on is the controllers they use. Right now, GMG is making great strides in claiming some of the entry level pellet smoker market share away from Traeger. This is due to a superior PID controller, advances in built in Wi-Fi monitoring, and outstanding customer service.
Here’s my long term review of the GMG Daniel Boone grill purchased in Nov of 2010, about six and a half years ago. My model has the stainless steel lid. Assembly was straight forward and only required attaching the legs and folding side table as I recall. Operation was straight forward and the grill heated quickly to any desired temperature from 180 to 500 degrees usually in ten minutes or less. The temperature was maintained consistently within +5/-5 degrees as long as the hopper had pellets. This grill was truly a dream to cook with which we did 3 – 4 times a week from March through October. That is the good part.
An attractive option for many people are stainless steel pellet grills, which are rust-resistant, more durable, and easier to maintain. While pellet grills made from commercial-grade 304 stainless steel are the most desirable, they come at a higher. However, there are also some pellet grills made from 430 stainless steel, which is more affordable and still incredibly durable.
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.
Fully 481 inches of grilling space come packed into this black beauty, giving you ample opportunity to smoke large proportions of a large animal or many, many vegetables. This machine could dole out delicious and smoky meals to a very large party. Can you imagine how many happy people that would be? It is a good thing.
Before you can get started, you will need to stock up on a few accessories. You will obviously need things like mitts, seasonings and other essentials that you would use while cooking on a regular grill, but you will also want to invest in a thermometer; this will help you keep your smoker at the right temperature and will allow you to check your food to ensure that it’s done. You will also need charcoal or pellets, lighter fluid and other essentials, depending on the type of smoker that you opt for. If you have an electric model, you won’t have to worry about any of these things.
It’s a device that offers consumers a primal wood flavor from their meats. This is coupled with the convenience of a gas stove that you can easily turn on and off or regulate its temperature by dialing its knob forward or back.
Many of the models require you to clean them up for 30 minutes because you have to take out the gooey deflector plate and the greasy grates in order to scrape them off and wash them until they’re shining. Careful cleaning is required when the grease and carbon is covering the deflector plate. The easy-clean grills typically make the parts more accessible but the amount of cleanup remains the same.
The kamado is another design growing in popularity. Usually egg shaped and well insulated, traditionally made from ceramics, but more and more are being made from steel. They are versatile and especially good at cold weather cooking. People love them and manufacturers respond by churning out more choices every year. These days you can find some inexpensive models for a few hundred bucks, but if you want a good one that has unique and thoughtful features, produces great results and will last a long time, take a look at Kamado Joe. They’ve always offered high quality cookers, and never stopped trying hard to earn more market share. A couple years ago they introduced a unique multi-level grate and heat deflection system called “Divide and Conquer” that provides versatility and comes standard with the model on our list.
This is the smallest of the Traeger pellet grill series and this makes it an ideal choice for people who are going on vacation or camping because of its small and compact design. Even though it also comes with a number of features similar to the larger Traeger models, it features a rather small cooking surface which is less than 300sq inches. This, however, doesn’t mean that you won’t have some plenty of room to prepare your meats. It also comes with a digital thermostat so that you will have control over the temperature. Because it can be set to extremely low or high temperatures it can be an ideal pellet smoker for braising or slow cooking and also grilling and baking.
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.
Price is always an important factor. We all like to save money, but buying a low-quality cheap smoker grill will end up costing you more money in the long run. A high-quality grill at an affordable price will last longer and be used more because you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Something you may not have read in other Pellet grill reviews is that there are two key concerns: flavor and fuel consumption. As previously stated, pellet smokers are not known for producing a strong smoke flavor, no matter what pellets you use. Though, some brands can be more pronounced than others. Hardwood pellets provide longer overall burn times per pound than fruit wood pellets. 1oo percent fruit wood pellets will also be more expensive on average.
Clearly, this had to be our Top Charcoal Pick. It has amazing quality smoke, a really solid construction, a cool mini look, the brilliant feature of a porcelain steam pan for extra delicious moisture, and it is efficient! Good stuff.
To solve the problem, several pellet burners have come up with ways for you to expose food to the flameand can actually get a nice sear. Still not as good as charcoal or sear burners in my opinion, but a lot better than the ones that are strictly indirect. Check out the Memphis Pro, Cookshack Fast Eddy, and MAK 2 Star.
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.
But you cannot burn home heater pellets in a cooking grill. Cooking pellets are hardwoods. Heater pellets often contain softwoods such as pine, they can have treated lumber and other chemical contaminants in them. The smoke they put out is potentially hazardous in food.
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.
Certain parts of your smoker grill will wear out faster than others if you use your smoker a lot. So, you may need to replace them every few years or so to have the best experience. The gasket represents the place where the dome meets the base. This makes for an easy fix and you can purchase a kit and have it repaired in no time.
Move it around a bit so you can feel the weight. Is it heavy or flimsy and light? While a pellet grill doesn’t need to be overly hefty, you don’t want it to be too light on its feet either. The grill should feel sturdy and there should be no visible gaps or spaces that will allow heat to escape.
Multi-Position Ortech Controller: This is the most common type of controller used in pellet grills. You select a temperature for the grill using either a dial or a digital touch pad. The controller then feeds pellets at a predetermined rate that should get the grill close to where you want it.
They have great insulation, not only for cold weather cooking but to conserve fuel energy. Using its removable diffuser plate, you can get down to 180f for low and slow, or remove the plate and use the Primo as a high-temperature grill, which can get as high as 800f for amazing steak sears or even cooking pizza.
I bought a Brinkmann Tower Charcoal smoker many years ago. Living in IL at the time, it served its purpose. I recently moved to Colorado and live at 9200′ above sea level. i am usually smoking a couple racks of ribs or making some jerky….nothing competitive or too large.
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.
The second video comes from Big Jake BBQ and showcases the “cold smoking” feature the MAK Grills 2 Star General smoker has to offer. This is a great value add in my opinion, as it really steps up your game in terms of what you’re able to smoke. Cheese, nuts, cold smoked salmon… getting some ideas? I know I am!
I started with the BBQ Delights, then went to brands I could pick up at my local farm stores for about half the price, then moved into Cookin Pellets Perfect Mix. By far, these two (BBQ Delights and Cookin Pellets) are at the top of the list. I’ll be going back to the BBQ Delights (Pecan) for the superbowl, since I haven’t used them since I started smoking meats. My notes are not so good from when I started, but if memory serves me right, the biggest difference is that the Delights produced a lot of ash, where the Cookin Pellets did not, but I’ll know for sure in a week.
This smoker is really a quality all around smoker. The design is very basic, but the results speak for themselves. Ideal for a party-style cook, this vertical square smoker offers features that are really fantastic.
I know, I know, no one likes to read the instruction manual, but even as an expert you see the advantages learning the specifics of your grill. Reading the manual is key. Generally, you should not use water to clean the pellet smokers, so keep your hose pipe far away. These smokers have digital controllers, a motorized auger, a fan and an igniter rod for the fire pot. These parts will get destroyed if they come into contact with water. You should gently dry scrub the dirt off these parts, making sure not to disassemble any parts. Cleaning the thermostat will also prove essential; otherwise, it may read temperatures inaccurately.
I would make that decision based upon desired temperature. Very few of the smokers on your list can surpass the 485 to 500 degree mark. You’ll read a lot of discussion about grill grates helping you get into those higher temperatures and that product does work. I would simply pick a smoker that can get to the desired temperature you want like the Louisiana and the Memphis. Both can exceed 500 degrees and both can hit 600 degrees without problems.
As you have a BGE and the PBC, I think a “pellet pooper” is a great 3rd option. They’re more versatile than folks think, and you can fire them up, cook, and shut them down with a lot less effort than the other two. Great for impromptu week night cooks. Hope this input helps. – Kevin
Newer pellet smokers have more features and can typically be set at a certain temperature and left alone while your food is being cooked. They are eco-friendly, and the taste that they produce is smooth and tasty although not as strong as the smoky flavor that charcoal smokers can produce. You can also switch up the flavor by buying different types of pellets.