There are several types of smokers across many different price ranges, so there is a smoker out there that is right for you. A smoker can cost as little as $50, and as much as $10,000, and they all do mainly the same thing, which is to cook meat to perfection giving it an aromatic smoky flavor that can’t be beat. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and are generally grouped by the type of fuel they use.
Luckily you can add on a Sear Box which attaches on to the side of your smoker and allows you to grill at temperatures up to 900°. If you find yourself grilling often, this makes an excellent addition, and turns this into a total do it all cooker.
Cleaning a smoker grill can be a task and a half if you haven’t kept on top of the cleaning. An easy to clean smoker will make a wipe-down at the end of a session much less hassle and help you keep your smoker in top condition for longer. Look out for nooks and crannies that fat and dust can get into, hard to reach places and a complicated design. The simpler it is, generally, the easier to clean.
1) I lived not far from a company who produced and sold wood chips for smoking. They purchased logs from all over states and would grind these in to chips. I saw what and how they were grinding and how this wood was contained. If you purchased a box of apple chips, you’d get a mix of any and everything with a little apple mixed in. I watched the logs being cut with chain saws and grinders that would leak oil on the wood. I watched the birds sit on the chips and eat the bugs and the mold. Needless to say, not all companies are this way but one would never know because there is no real restrictions on this that I know of.
The CB940X is a really nice model with excellent construction specs. The body is a heavy gauge steel and the cooking racks are cast iron with a porcelain coating. The unit also has a helpful fire pan adjustment mechanism that really reduces the complexity of temperature control for direct cooking.
If you’ve never used a smoker before, you might be a bit nervous about putting your new outdoor cooker to work. Luckily, smoking delicious meats is easier than you probably think. Ensuring that you have the necessary accessories, that you know how to use your smoker properly and that you use the right recipes, then you shouldn’t have any problem preparing delicious meals and taking advantage of all of the advantages that your smoker has to offer.
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.
Not only are they easy to use, but pellet grills are also some of the most versatile grills on the market. When you use a pellet grill you get all the flavour of a traditional grill without the headaches.
Is the size of the pellet smoker fit for the selected cooking area? This is a question everyone should have in mind when selecting the best pellet smoker. They comes in different sizes. Big and small. Getting a big pellet grill that is bigger for the set cooking area will inconvenience the buyer. On the other side getting a smaller pellet smoker that is less fit for selected space will make it look unfit.
If you prefer the convenience of gas and don’t feel like messing around with charcoal, you might opt for a gas smoker. Gas smokers use gas to heat the wood chips that you add to the appliance in order to produce smoke. The downside is that you do have to buy gas for the device, which can get costly. You can’t really beat the convenience of one of these types of smokers, however, and you will be able to use it even when you don’t have access to an electric outlet. You can even bring these camping and to outdoor events without a concern for electric outlets or bringing along a lot of charcoal or pellets.
The external structure is a mix of steel and cast iron, depending on the item. The charcoal base is a cast iron box for holding the briquettes. The cast iron concentrates and focuses the heat transfer more directly into the meat above, rather than losing some of the heat you’ve built up out the sides of the unit. The grates are also cast iron, but with a nice porcelain feeling.
Where the Rec Tec outshines, or rather, outcooks other pellet grills, is their temperature control. The grills all come standard with a P.I.D. Controller (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) algorithm, the ‘secret’ to the grill maintaining its precise temperature.
These are great changes but the pellet controller is still the old 10-position unit and of course we know that a lot of other makes have moved to much more sophisticated technology, improving temperature precision and maintenance. But it could be the guys at Traeger figure ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.
Their behavior is sometimes counterintuitive. The hotter they get, the less smoke they produce, and at their top settings, they don’t produce much smoke at all. This is good for when you are baking cakes or pies or doing dishes that don’t need smoke. But down under 250°F, they produce plenty of mild, elegant smoke. And even though the fuel is wood, it is hard to oversmoke with a pellet smoker. Burning wood on a charcoal grill produces much more intense smoke flavor.
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.
A good spring cleaning of your pellet smoker is going to take a little elbow grease. Remember to use non-toxic degreasers and cleansers like Simple Green. We use it at our house as we, like the author of this article, have dogs who seem to love to be around the process of cleaning a pellet smoker.
Well, to be honest, the cons are only a problem for novices. These grills are for someone who wants to perfect the craft of smoking and after some experimenting you will be grilling with the best of them. I faced the same problems too when I tried a charcoal smoker for the first time. But after some practice I was grilling with the best of them. Check out my guide on how to set up a charcoal grill for smoking in just 5 steps.
Yeah it seems like no one is providing any input on it…I was interested in having them review it and do a direct comparison to some of these other grills. I made the mistake of getting a Myron Mixon pitmaster Q3 at sears. It turned out to be a waste of money and the slight humidity I had caused the pellets to burst and seize up the Auger. Anyway I had narrowed my search down to a rec tech or silverback but none of the reviewers seems to be giving it any attention.
Keep that in mind, as the right temperature is the key to making great food. Meanwhile, plenty of competitive grills use old systems that are bad at maintaining the temperature in different weather conditions.
Hey DS – You’re dead on correct re: Grilling vs. Smoking. Most to nearly all Pellet Smokers are used as “smokers” in the truest sense. Louisiana Pellet Smokers boast a direct fire feature for grilling, as do Yoder smokers. However, I’m with you in that a grill is a grill and a smoker is a smoker. GMGs are very popular down here on the FBA circuit. However, most folks do find that they don’t produce the amount of smoke preferred for competition meats (which, in truth is a complaint about many pellet smokers). This is why stick burners and “some” gravity feds get a boost in rep among competition cook teams. That said, I do see folks happily using pellet smokers, and some win with them. One “trick” I see used now and again to boost the smoke output on a pellet smoker is to use one of those smoke tubes… like the A-maze-n Tube Smoker. Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by to read this blog post! – Kevin
One thing that really makes this grill stand out is its versatility and real wood flavor that saturates anything you’re cooking on the grill. Whether you want to smoke a big slab of ribs or charbroil a steak, with the Pit Boss you win with every meal.
Shawn, I do not have direct experience with the Pit Boss pellet grill. The Pit Boss is made by the same company that makes the “Louisiana Grills”. The Louisiana pellet grills are their nicer models and the Pit Boss is the cheaper version designed to compete with Traeger. I don’t like the idea of buying a company’s second best product. The folks over at Amazing Ribs do have some hands on experience and wrote the following review: http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_reviews_ratings/smoker/pit-boss-820-deluxe-pellet-smoker
Set it and forget it. That’s the main attraction of electric smokers, and an important one. No lighting charcoal, no checking the fuel supply every hour or so, no messy ash to clean up. Just turn it on, crack a bear and take a snooze in your lounge chair.
This smoker offers 975 sq. inches of grilling space meaning you can smoke just about anything you want. The level of versatility this offers is enormous, you can put a serious amount of meat in this thing. This alone makes it worth the $500. The two different models and sizes for this smoker, the 30-inch (730 square inches) & 40-Inch version (975 square inches), differ in price by $110. 975 inches is huge, so it is great there are smaller sizes for a little less money.
Pellet cookers usually have an auger or another feed mechanism that pushes the pellets into a burn pot typically about the size of a beer can ripped in half. An igniter rod sits in the bottom of the pot and when you turn on the grill it glows like the element on an electric stove. As the pellets ignite, a fan blows to feed them oxygen, and the igniter shuts off. The Traeger L’il Tex, an inexpensive model, draws 300 watts an hour while the igniter rod is on in the first four minutes, then it drops down to 50 watts an hour for the duration of the cook session, less than a standard light bulb.
Due to the lower oxygen at 9200 FASL, I cannot keep the smoker hot and I cannot get it above 250 Deg. F. I seem to be limited due to the diameter of the smoker…just can’t get enough coals and air to get and maintain temps. Therefore, I want to buy a new smoker, on that will regulate temperature at temperatures of 200 – 450 deg F. Any experience or guidance for a smoker brand and type (wood pellet, charcoal, or electric) at high altitudes? i am looking for a smaller size smoker unit.
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.
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
To solve this problem, several companies have come up with alternative ways to expose food to the flame by allowing you to use the small area directly above the fuel pot. It’s still not as good as charcoal or sear burners, but better than the designs that are strictly indirect. Check out the Memphis Elite, Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack PG500, and the Yoder YS640 for this feature.
No surprises this was Our Top Pellet Smoker Pick. Portable, powerful, advanced and easy to use. And that’s without mentioning the consistent grilling temperature, the controls and the automatic pellet feed. Clear winner for not much money.
A. pellets can easily be affected by humidity and moisture, making the user to be very careful when storing the pellets. A dry place with extremely no moisture or humidity is conducive. Moisture and humidity can cause difficulty or no lighting of the pellets when one is cooking. The pellets can hence swell causing jam in the cooking grill.
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.
Good info above. A couple added notes. LG (Louisiana Grills) and Pit Boss are both owned by a company named Dansons. I’ve had good success with both the LG Competition Blend and Pit Boss Competition blend. Some bags have been a bit dusty, other bags just fine. My current bag of LG Hickory has very few fines, less than either of the CookinPellets bags I’ve tried. (not to ding CP, they’re good, but use CamelCamelCamel.com to monitor Amazon prices and alert you when they bring the price down.
One thing we humans tend to forget amidst hustle bustle of our fast paced and commercial lives is that we should earn to live, not live to earn. So I think it is high time you ditch your shoe-box of an office behind for a day and live. Spend a day with your family at the park, or maybe catch up with your childhood friend over a beer or two and start doing barbecue. You cannot even begin to imagine how much spending some quality time with your loved ones can help you and them, revive and replenish the monotonousness. And there isn’t a better way to mingle than over a small get-together with some amazing food and great company cooked on your pellet grill.
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.
Industry giants, Char-Broil and Weber dominated the lists with seven picks apiece out of 57 selections total. Cast aluminum classics like Portable Kitchen and Modern Home Products (the original gas grill), remain on our lists from previous years. Charcoal devotees take note, there’s a new Portable Kitchen Grill in town and its name is PK360. Big and beautiful, it’s their first upgrade in decades. Another hot entry to our 2017 Top Ten Luxury List is Kalamazoo’s Charcoal Cabinet Smoker, the only sleek stainless steel, live fire smoker we know of that fits under the counter of a shiny outdoor kitchen ensemble and blends in seamlessly.
Due to its size, upkeep is a big problem. Unless you have somewhere to store this massive contraption away from the elements, it will begin to rust within four years. It’s essentially two large grills welded together, so there are plenty of gaps to let in water. Even the one year limited warranty isn’t enough to
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?
If you begin to get hooked on meat smoking, you will find yourself doing this cleaning on a fairly regular basis. Occasional cooks may see that this could be incorporated with the annual cleaning session. Before you start, make sure your pellet smoker is cold, preferably wait at least 24 hours after a cook before starting the cleaning process. If you are using an electric pellet smoker, make sure it is unplugged from a power source. If it uses gas, it would be an excellent time to uncouple it from the gas bottle to check the connections.
To keep this smoker in working order, you’ll need to invest a lot of tender-loving care. Although rust is often a sign of poor maintenance, it seems to be a common issue with this model, which reflects on the smoker’s construction. For a mid-priced smoker, material standards should be a little higher.
I’ve wanted a pellet grill for many years now, I didn’t realize how many different manufacturers there was until a couple weeks ago. Your review was very informative. Was wondering what if anything you have heard about Traegers new Timberline series?
MAK Grills: Sells four American-made pellet grill models, from the 1-Star General ($1600) to the 4-Star General ($8000). The trademarked “FlameZone” attains temperatures of 500 degrees and can be used for direct grilling.
Despite its steel body, the Summit Charcoal performs every bit as well as a ceramic kamado. The air insulated double-walled construction retains heat as well as a ceramic kamado, allowing it to hold a steady low temperature for smoking BBQ and easily reach 800°F for high-heat grilling. Better yet, it cools down quickly, giving you the ability to go from grilling to smoking in about 45 minutes. That’s unheard of on a ceramic kamado, which takes several hours to cool.
It can run off a 12V with no problem so plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter. It also works 120AC so it’s perfect for home or camping, tailgating, hunting, house-boating, music festivals or anywhere you can take it!
Davy Crockett uses Green Mountain’s advanced digital thermostatic controller with a double readout LED show to accommodate the included meat thermometer. Green Mountain additionally incorporates connectors to give control from a divider outlet, auto cigarette lighter, or auto battery: things that are frequently optional.