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.
PID controllers: PID controllers are considered by many to be the gold standard of grill controllers. Using complex algorithms, temperatures are accurate to within a few degrees. The pellet feed is constantly adjusted to maintain the correct temperature, and this type of controller can even accommodate programmable meat probes that work in tandem with the controller to lower the temperature when the meat is done. They also feature LCD and one touch buttons.
Once you have finished cooking, don’t switch off the smoker immediately. Let it go to high heat for a while to burn off any food or fat residue left in the smoker. Once it has reached a high temperature use a brass wire brush to clean the grates of any leftover foodstuffs or amassed dirt and soot residue. It is now time to switch off the smoker and let it cool down. Remove the grease bucket or trap you may have been using, and set it aside. With a damp rag, wipe any grease or fat deposits that may have accumulated on the outside of the smoker. Once the grease bucket is cool enough to handle, replace the aluminum foil in the drip pan, and discard the old. A build-up of grease in the smoker could lead to an unwanted fire. Don’t forget to clean out any pellet ash once things are cool inside your smoker.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks Chris and Kevin for the input on the GMG grills. They look like really nice equipment. I’m looking foward to getting into pellet grills. I can always upgrade in the future if I really have the need.
Hey Jay – Yoder makes a great product. Price not being an option, I’d probably go MAK, Memphis Pro (I go back and forth between the two personally!), then the Yoder. I’ve heard good things about the Louisiana pellet grills, just haven’t featured them here so haven’t done a lot of in-depth research. I’m inclined to rate it below the ones I just mentioned – but not by tons. I will say that if American Made is a factor, MAK, Memphis, and Yoder are a go there.
Watch Sears.com and Target.com for the Pit Boss; target is pretty spotty on having stock to ship to store, though sears seems pretty regular availability for free ship-to-store. If you wait for a sale when the cut it to $22 or $24 per 40lb bag, then get enough bags to reach $50 and apply a $5 off $50 coupon you can get a solid deal on the pellets.
I have been seriously tempted by the Copperhead vertical pellet smoker and if I ever find one on sale I will snap it up in a heartbeat. The Copperhead has MASSIVE cooking capacity and its 60 pound pellet hopper is the largest I have ever seen. It is also just a handsome looking smoker.
With this grill, you will have no use for charcoal or gas again! The Traeger Grill uses wood pellets that offer your food a delicious taste. Barbecue, roast, smoke, bake, braise, or grill your food to succulent precision with this six in one versatile Texas Elite 34 Pellet Grill that offers slow cooking with low heat of quick cooking with high heat. This pellet grill allows you to grill your food to precision each time with an Integrated Digital Elite Controller that retains temperatures inside +/- twenty degrees Fahrenheit and makes setting the grill temperature as simple as spinning a knob. It provides 646 sq. in. of cooking space, which is capable of holding up to six chickens, nine racks of ribs, or twenty-four burgers.
In terms of portability, there are smaller and lighter options available but the cooking surface is much smaller and has the out-of-date lo-med-high controller. The Davy Crockett uses Green Mountain’s sophisticated digital thermostatic controller with a dual readout LED display to accommodate the included meat thermometer. It also comes with adaptors to provide power from a wall outlet, car cigarette lighter, or car battery: items that are often optional on other makes.
So if you want more of a smoke profile, cook at longer and lower temps in your pellet pit. I have found that is the best way to get a more distinct smoke profile in your food. Cook at 180-190 for the first several hours.
First, you have to figure out what your budget looks like. Of the pellet smokers I cover here, the Rec Tec Grill Pellet Smoker is the most economical and best overall value – with solid construction and top end electronics controls.
Hello Mark! Thanks for commenting here. The Kalamazoo Hybrid Grill looks like a BEAST! If you can swing it, I’d go for it. I truly enjoyed cooking on the Memphis Grill, which is to date the most high end pellet grill I’ve used. It offered a nice blend of professional grade convection with the wood fire taste of the pellets. The Kalamazoo hybrid really does seem to offer one step beyond with the addition of charcoal and wood chunks. I see that Derrick Riches of About.com stands behind the Kalamazoo brand. You’re hard pressed to get a better endorsement of a grilling product than that! Keep me posted at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how your search goes! 🙂
Hey Jon – I believe that Yoder pellet smokers are built sturdy enough to be placed within a backyard patio/outdoor kitchen setup. Contact them to inquire about this at email@example.com.
I recently purchased a a Smoke Hollow pellet grill from Sam’s. Seems like quality is good and it was recommended by a friend. Temperature control has issues. I called for customer service a couple of times and they sent a new thermostat. Still can’t get temperature to to hold at setting. Am I missing something? Told to start and let preheat for 10 minutes and then move to desired temperature. Tried setting new thermostat at 190 and let it go for 15 minutes and it was back at 230 when I checked it. Any suggestions?
Babysitting a traditional smoker isn’t unlike babysitting children. There’s a reward at the end, but you’ll face hours of boredom punctuated by sudden bouts of panic as you see or suspect that something has gone wrong. You must feed your charge, clean it, and prevent it from getting too hot or too cold. The payout at the end is a return for a serious time investment.
Brought it home and set it on my prep table with the controller in a cubby hole with all intentions of building a cart for it later. So I have made a killer rib eye on it and tried to burn it down with a couple rib eyes cooking at 600 F. Gotta figure out a little better method of catching drippings as they will catch on fire and you have a runaway! But you can make a great rib eye. Ribs, every set has turned out awesome, everything from low and slow to a high temp cook process on them. Probably made 8 racks of great ribs. Wasn’t impressed with the hamburgers on it but will try again later. Made a pretty good brisket but used Rudy’s rub as I like their store sandwiches and I don’t have the method down. Next one will be back to salt and a touch of pepper. Chicken thighs (thighs are the perfect chicken part for Q, their rather uniform thickness makes getting them all consistent and cooked even a slam dunk) with a light coat of mustard and Tony Chachere’s lightly sprinkled is to die for. Simply squeeze them when they should be close and if the juice is clear, no pink or red they are perfect. If you cook the juice out, well they make decent tasting blotter paper 🙁 Pretty much killed a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving, good thing the wife made an over baked one too. It did make great gumbo though as does the blotter paper chicken if you ruin any thighs or the whatever chicken. Also have a pile of hot links I put on at 180 for 2 to 3 hours. They are great for reheat with sauerkraut and roasted pabs or in the gumbo. Hot links should be a staple, ha ha! Gotta try my great pulled pork on it and we do Prudhomme pizza sauce on a Brown Eyed Baker crust and this Pro should rock it!
The construction is heavy duty as well. Quality gauge steel sides and porcelain coated cooking grates make the smoker nearly indestructible. The American Gourmet also has a chrome rack int he smoking chamber, allowing for two-layer smoking and warming, even as the lower firebox is full of meat as well. The indirect heat will allow the meat to cook slowly, while at the same time infusing it with the smell and flavor of the charcoal or your favorite wood choice.
As any pellet smoker knows, getting the temperature set right is crucial. It will all go wrong if you can’t get that right. The Camp Chef PG24 has a built-in digital thermometer and fully controllable temperature settings. Put it to the temperature you want on the screen and let it get on with it. No lifting the lid to peer at the pellets, letting out precious heat and smoke. It is all in hand, if the smoker detects it is getting too cold, it can feed itself more fuel. This is quality smoke made easy.
They might have lost a few followers along the way, what with newer, sleeker models available but Traeger’s still popular thanks to their marketing and distribution. You can find Traeger pellet grills everywhere.
Grills and smokers are all made of metal, which means they are all more or less prone to rust. The only way to stop your investment from literally falling apart in front of your eyes is to keep up on basic maintenance. Still, some require a lot more attention than others, and some have obstacles that further complicate maintenance.
The diversity of BBQ smokers available makes fair judgment a challenge, and personal cooking preferences will go a long way in determining which type of smoker is best for you. However, our evaluation hinged on five key criteria by which any smoker can be judged. They are as follows:
So, I say go for the best pellet grill you can get within your budget. I reviewed the little GMG Davy Crockett pellet grill recently and was impressed. At just under $400, it’s a good option. That said, I would like to see them put the unit on fold down legs with casters or some other option to make it easier to move around. You’ll see what I mean in the post. Hope this helps.
Not all smokers rust, but their longevity relies more on the user’s maintenance habits than the smoker itself. A smoker kept in a sheltered area will not rust as quickly as one left on an exposed patio, and a smoker with a good cover will always outlast one left bare to the elements. Still, smokers, like cars, are made of metal, and they almost inevitably begin to rust sooner or later. The sooner or later depends on you.
I picked this up at Lowe’s. Did an Anduille smoke with it and it was good. Just did a cheese smoke today and got a good 2 hours smoke out of a 6″ AMAZN tube. Really. Kind of a “Light Mix” of woods. I use a mailbox with pellets.
Great product. Well made and simple to use. Used it the day it arrived to smoke cheese. Used the following week to boost the amount of smoke in my Traeger during a higher cook temp. Still had 1/2 of the pellets let after the pork was done, so I moved it to into an even larger grill and guess what???? Smoked some more cheese. Very good smoke enhancer and cold smoke generator.
This doesn’t mean that a Pit Boss will fall apart after two years, just that you shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. I do not consider a disposable grill to be a good value and so these grills do not make my list.