Rounding out our top 3 is the best pellet smoker that Camp Chef offers, when you factor in quality, price, size, and overall value. This is an excellent choice. If the Traeger, our 2nd top pick, is a bit too small and you’re looking for something with a few more features, that’s still within the same price range, you’ve found what will likely be ideal for you. Camp chef is a really solid brand, and it was one of the first pellet grills my Dad owned. We reviewed another camp chef grill in another article.
Once a year, or at the end of the barbecue season before you stow away your pellet grill for the winter it’s wise to give it a thorough clean. To start with fill a large plastic container with hot soapy water, and a cleaner recommended for barbecues. Remove the grill rack and chimney dome and pop them into the water to soak. Remove the foil from the drip pan and flame deflector. If there is any debris or cooking residue on them, scrape it off. Once the majority of the dirt has been removed, put them into the hot soapy water too. Clean out the grease bucket and add that to the container. With a little elbow grease scrub the parts as well as you can to remove any dirt or debris and allow them to dry. Clean out the grease shoot if your smoker has one with a stick or wooden spoon. You will be surprised how much dirt and detritus will be inside the chimney, and it is best to scrape that out too. Using a vacuum cleaner remove any dust, dirt, soot or debris from the inside of the smoker, not forgetting the firepot. Give the whole interior a wipe down with a damp rag using a natural cleanser. Make sure the temperature probe is clean and not contaminated with soot or dirt. Its next time to reassemble your pellet smoker.
Another good way to reduce the likelihood of heterocyclic amines being formed is to simply cut as much fat away from the meat you are intending to grill. This will reduce the chance of any fat falling into the flames to be burned and the chemicals released.
What is it about “stick burners” that barbecuers love? They’re big, they’re old school, and they’ll make you look like someone who knows exactly what they’re doing standing next to one. Instant credibility. But here’s the thing about offset smokers that some don’t realize, if it’s a good one, it won’t be cheap.
Hey Wayne – thanks for your comment. The Brinkmann and Meco models are good starter models. I’d probably edge up to a Masterbuilt electric. Sounds like you have one of these other models. What’s your favorite thing to cook in it?
Unfortunately, although the smoker features stainless steel construction, it has some issues with rust. The bolts are often the first to show signs of oxidization, and the interior of the lid soon follows. After a year and a half, the bottom of the product may become too rusted to use. It works exceptionally well for the first year or so, but this isn’t the product for someone looking for a long-term investment.
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.
While using and running a pellet grill is child’s play, catching the right offer on pellet grills can be a hassle for consumers who have little to know clue about it can prove a costly bargain. Knowing your facts prior to buying one is always a good a smart idea. My pellet grill review will do the best it can to educate you on the things you need to look out for when purchasing your perfect grill. Here are a few heads-up:
The entire system is really a fail-safe smoking design for newbies and experts alike. The temperature can vary from a low 160 F to a stunning 500 F. It also has a really handy feature – the patented Fire Pot Cleanout system allows for an easy clean up after use.
Scrumptious flavor – nourishment cooked on this unit has a delightful flavor when contrasted with sustenance cooked with a charcoal or gas barbecue. The unit permits smoke to enter the meat giving it a huge flavor while the aberrant fire keeps the sustenance delicious and delicate.
Don’t dry it out. – Meat that is prepared in a smoker should turn out unbelievably moist and delicious. If you leave your meat in after it has finished cooking, however, it can dry out; therefore, you should remove the meat as soon as it is done for optimal flavor.
Movable Interior Shelves – You will probably be preparing all different types of meats and other foods in your smoker, and you might need to adjust your shelves every now and then to make sure that everything fits. Therefore, you will probably want to look for a smoker that gives you this option.
Surety when cooking– the unit’s in-fabricated LED advanced temperature control framework gives you the certainty required when smoking or barbecuing consequently evacuating the mystery out of your cooking procedure.
I was thinking that electric was the way to go. Who doesn’t like easy and cheap…right? Then I met the first gas smoker operation. It happened by accident and I’m glad it did. My girlfriend and I attended a party at her parent’s place. When we arrived, we were greeted by her father and the smell of smoked pork.
Set it and forget it. Fill the hopper with pellets, set your preferred temperature (and a timer if you need) and go prepare a side dish or drink beer with friends. No charcoal grill will give you that freedom.
Hey Kim – thank you for this. I’ve had this happen with numerous pellet smokers, including GMGs. What happens most often when it happens is that I’ve been remiss in properly cleaning the grill out after several uses (vacuuming the fire pot out). This causes the ash etc to cover up the heating rod, thus making the temperature lower than expected. The auger keeps feeding the fire pot to compensate and you get what you’ve described.
Having said that, the Green Mountain Davy Crockett also include adapters so you can get power from an outlet in your house, your car cigarette lighter or from your car battery. You could also use a generator.
PID Controller– Proportional Integral Derivative Controller is a recent technology that many manufacturers have yet to include in their products. It helps the smoker maintain an accurate and precise temperature while cooking.
Whenever pellet grill owners complain about temperature swings or losing their fire mid-cook, the first question we ask is “What pellets are you using?” Many times it’s a cheap, low-quality brand that produces excessive ash, which can interfere with the sensors that help regulate cooking temperatures. In that case, fix is simple: use better pellets that burn cleanly and regularly clean any residual ash from the grill. Often that’s all it takes, and the next time we hear from the customer it’s to order more pellets.
Pellet Hopper – One of the reasons we all buy a pellet smoker for is the long cooking time. It’s an automated grill, but it needs to be provided with the right amount of pellets in the hopper. Those grills are used for long, often all night long meat smoking. That’s why it’s important for the pellet container to be very big. Here you get a 40 pound hopper capacity. You can be sure you won’t run out of fuel during longer cooking.
For now, we’ll tell you right from the start that our choice for best overall smoker is the Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill. It’s not the cheapest smoker on the market, but the Primo is the best smoker out there. It’s large, with over 400 square inches of cooking surface, makes incredible pork butts, and is the only true ceramic smoker on the market of this size. Because of the unique design, this smoker offers features that just aren’t available on any other unit.
My new Yoder YS480 is being delivered today. Great size for the home smoker. I chose the Yoder after talking to a couple of buddies that have them and tasting their smoked meats. Living 30 miles away from the factory doesn’t hurt either.
Meat probes: Some pellet cookers have outputs in their controller that allow for meat probes to be plugged in directly. Readings taken from your meat can then be displayed conveniently on the screen of your cooker.
When you buy a pellet smoker, it should last you for years. If you buy a unit that’s dependable, then you won’t have to worry about costly repairs and replacements. It’s important to buy a smoker that comes from a dependable manufacturer; when you do this, it’s much more likely that your unit will produce quality smoke without breaking after a few uses.
Just like most Camp Chef products, this pellet grill smoker uses a patented ash cleanup system that takes away the trouble of vacuuming. Ash is immediately stored in an ash clean-out cup that’s easy to dump.
Most pellet grills that offer a direct grilling option require you to adjust the diffuser plate to create an open area for the flames to pass through. However, the PG500 actually has 2 separate cooking areas for smoking and grilling. The right side is for indirect cooking, with the grill grate sitting over a solid diffuser plate. On the left side, though, the grill grate sits directly over an open flame, making it possible to do high heat grilling and searing. So, if you’re reverse searing a steak, you can simply smoke it on the right side then move it the right side to finish.
3 Position Controller – Often referred to as LMH controllers, the 3 position controller has only 3 temperature settings. Low which is around 225°F, medium which is around 325°F and high which is around 425°F.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are a few pellet grills that lead the pack in terms of name recognition. The ones featured here are those that come most highly recommended by friends of mine on the professional BBQ circuits with KCBS and FBA.
Choosing the one perfect pellet grill that could change your cooking experience is easier said than done. There is just so know you have to know before committing to it. Though I did give you a run-through of all the basic and important things to look for in a pellet grill before buying one, it is still a scratch on the surface. It is tiring to have to go from store to store to find the quality ones that you can choose from. So, to come to your rescue once again, I will now give you the some pellet grill review.
Multi-position and digital controllers ( LED display ) – a much better solution, but it does have its flaws. First a multi-position controller, then a digital controller that allows to set the temperature at intervals of +/- 25 degrees F. It’s a controller that also has poor responses to weather. A great advantage of a digital controller is that it allowed to implement other innovative solutions. It helped introduce such technologies as alerts, timer or better meat control.
The grill is plated with beautiful stainless steel that gives the grill a refined and impressive look. The huge cooking area includes 570 square inches of surface area. That’s enough to hold 20 burgers or 4 rib racks! It also contains a second warming rack and bottom shelf that provides the grill stability and extra storage. This version comes with a sear box that can reach temperature of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which caramelizes your food. There’s a cheaper version without a sear box that costs around $200 less if a sear box isn’t a necessity for you. Additionally, the legs are built with extreme thickness giving the grill a grounded base. The caster wheels add portability to the grill so you can find that perfect place in the backyard.
This time it’s a suggestion to those who need to bring the pellet smoker along when going out camping. Small portable pellet grill, equipped with plenty of useful features. You can easily put it in the car with you, as it has foldable legs and is lightweight.
Good info, but it’s missing something… the cost to use. I’ve been looking for a long time to get into smoking. I have only ever used a propane setup for grilling. My main quesion is the cost to use propane vs charcoal vs pellets. I’m very interested in pellet smoking AND grilling. A couple times a week my wife and I will grill some chicken breasts or steaks. Can you breakout an approximate cost comparison to run the different methods? Appreciate it!
And how about that meat probe? An amusing name for a very useful thing. It lets you gauge the temperature of the meat inside without having to lift the lid and cool the entire grill. Massively useful and makes for really consistent cooking.
Hey, thanks so much for letting me know what you guys finally decided on buying! The Memphis is a great all around cooker. I loved the Memphis Pro series model I tried out at home. Dead on accurate and quality all the way. Congrats on your purchase. I know you guys will be happy!
The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker comes with Smart Smoke Technology, which lets you set and forget your grilling. It accurately sets and maintains the desired temperature using an automated electric feed system, heating your unit from 180 degrees F to 450 degrees F. We’ve gotten used to smokers taking around 30-40 minutes to heat up, but with this unit, it took only 20 minutes for the temperature to settle in!
A cheap cooker may save you up front, but if it starts to rust, components break down within a few short years, you don’t have a good warranty and the customer service is not up to par, you will be spending more money in the long run.
If you’re one of the serious barbecue enthusiasts, you would not want to leave any stone unturned to get your hands on the best of the best pellet smokers the market has to offer, in that case, you need the REC TEC Wood Pellet Smoker. The REC TEC has a large surface which takes care of all sizes of cuts, the thermostat maintains the temperature and ranges all the way from 180 F to 500 F. It has been leading the market for so long that the company now provides warranty for 6 years.
Thanks for the great information and the research you did. I am a retail store owner in Boise, Idaho area and we sell a pellet grill smoker in our store. I would like to encourage to look at the Sawtooth Pellet Grill. It is made local here and is American Made. It is an excellent grill for the price with an awesome company backing it. You can find their website at sawtoothpelletgrills.com. Again thanks for the information and if you do another publication regarding pellet grills, I would love to see what your opinion of the Sawtooth would be 🙂
One comment I see a lot in various forums like Pellet Heads Forum is that you want as much efficiency as you can get. As with lump charcoal, this means burning as clean of a cook as you can with as little ash as possible. Different pellet mixes will produce differences in what you get in this area, and the cooker you’re using will dictate this to some degree as well.
As such, if you don’t see one of your favorites listed here and would like to offer up a review – please contact me via any of the social media links at the top of this blog’s sidebar, and we’ll see about getting a post up.
The cleanout for both the pellets and ash is a huge perk to the grill. The patented “Easy Ash Cleanout” does not require the user to take apart the grill. Instead, they simply have to twist and dump the container. The 18lb pellet hopper is similarly an easy cleanout. The stainless steel also makes it easier to clean the grill because of the steel’s properties.
On top of that, the construction is designed in a way that makes all the fat and grease drip to the bucket on the side. That way you can quickly and easily replace the bucket with a new one or quickly clean the old bucket.
As both a fuel source and flavor enhancer, wood pellets can affect everything from how well your pellet grill performs to how good the food tastes. And while one might assume that because all wood pellets look alike that they’re all the same, which pellets you use can make a big difference. These 6 tips will help you choose quality smoker pellets that will keep your pellet grill performing its best and producing great wood-fire flavor.
This heavy-duty grill and smoker has a total cooking area of 429 square inches, which is large enough for cooking around twenty burgers at once. If that’s not enough, it comes with a secondary rack of 144 square inches that you can use for smoking or warming. With a height of 32.5 inches, you can cook a variety of meats and foods to your heart’s desire.
Having said that, not everyone has over $400 to splash out on a new smoker. So while you can get a better quality charcoal smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain for a similar price, if your hearts set on a pellet smoker, you can definitely do worse than the Bradley Original.