Today, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) reports that wood pellet grills are one of the hottest trends in the industry, offering consumers the primal flavor of wood smoke coupled with the turn-of-a-knob convenience of gas. Roughly 300,000 units were sold last year—less than 2 percent of total grill sales—but the popularity of pellet grills is surging.
Choose your flavor. The good thing about pellet grills is that the pellets are flavored. Pellets may come from apple wood, cherry, pecan, mesquite, and hickory wood. You can also match a combination of wood flavor and food like using apple pellets when cooking fish or using hickory with beef.
The Pit Boss Grills 340 Wood Pellet Grill is a great grill with dial-in digital control and led read-out. Pellets are 100% natural hardwood. This grill has got an automatic start and cool down. It’s heavy duty with 16 gauge steel construction. It’s easy to assemble. It’s a little expensive. However, other grills are more expensive and seeing that I would recommend this to anyone.
Sometimes. However, often it’s a blend of woods. Many wood pellet makers start with a base of oak or alder that has a neutral flavor and provides a consistent burn then add the flavored wood for the desired taste.(Alternatively, some brands use essential oils from the flavored woods.) Because every type of wood burns differently—at different rates and temperatures—using a blend based on oak or alder offers a consistent burn and provide predictable heat output and burn rates. That way, whether you’re cooking with cherry or hickory, you can count on a pound of pellets to cook at roughly the same temperature and for the same length of time.
On the flip side, the parts are not complex, and you may be able to get them from another source. If you are handy, repairs should not be too hard. Some brands have tech support online. MAK leads the pack in this with numerous helpful videos. Are you getting the sense that I am a fan of MAKs?
The zest for barbequing is growing every year with more and more BBQ lovers venturing into the mystery of the myth-laden empire of smoking. We have spent years encouraging the outdoor cooking buffs to embrace pellet smokers, and until now, our efforts have brought about fruitful results.
I have been looking into a pellet grill for a little while and reviews tend vary on models from website to website. I’m looking to purchase a midsize unit from $500-$1000. The rec-tec looked good but it’s more on the top of my price range. I was hoping to get a little input to help my purchase decision.
So Kevin here is where you come in. Been wanting to make getting consistent Q on the table regularly and easily. Been looking at pellet poopers for about 5 years now and decided to take the plunge. Had already done enough looking a few years ago Traeger’s issues had scared me off. Several friends had them and raved but always mentioned problems. I decided from my work I don’t want to be buying someone’s, ‘we know the problems and are fixing them’ if you can find something solid for similar cost. Yoder and FEC were pretty much my finalists. So I was doing my final thoughts and found your article.
In fact, 80 to 85% of pellet smokers in the USA are Traegers. The consensus is that they are reasonably well built, though some buyers complain that quality has dropped since manufacturing moved to China. But of course we hear more complaints—as well as more praise—about Traegers, since eight out of 10 pellet smoker owners have one. Traeger can be found in many national chains, like Cabela’s and Costco. It’s not unusual to find special deals on this popular product line, so keep your eyes open.
REC TEC grills are built of 304 stainless steel in America and come with a 6-year limited warranty. I have yet to meet a person that owns a REC TEC and isn’t happy with its performance. It’s super high quality and durable.
As for smoke flavor, it seem a lot of it comes down to pellet quality, & cooking time. One of the things that one buddy added that he says work well is 12″ A-Maze-N tube. He gets about 4 hours of heavy smoke and puts it in at the start of the smoke.
Now we come to the part no one likes and that’s cleaning. This smoker won’t clean itself but it does make the process a lot easier. Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill is designed to give you easy access to the fire pot making cleaning out the ash effortless. It also has a trap door which allows you to clean the unit without digging through the grease and ash. Anyone who has ever had to clean a smoker grill knows how time-consuming and enormous the task can be. A trap door like this is only present in higher priced units, but you’ll be glad you paid a little more when cleaning becomes effortless.
The hopper holds 10lbs of pellets, and it only uses a maximum of around 2lbs per hour, so it’s going to last at least 5 hours, which means you can set this going and only have to worry about it half a day later.
While the Camp Chef can get almost up to 500°F (hot enough to produce crispy skin on a chicken), it’s never going to compete with a dedicated grill for searing. This is something that all pellet smokers struggle with though.
Never use heating pellets to fuel a pellet grill. Heating pellets may contain impurities such as bark and leaves or could be sourced from softwoods like pine, which may be unhealthy to ingest and can leave food with an off taste. Those impurities may also cause the pellets to burn less cleanly, potentially causing problems with your pellet grill’s performance.
Hey Di! I use Grillgrates when I want to cook steaks on my GMG, and would recommend them for any pellet grill… or grill period for that matter. They leave AMAZING sear marks! I do the “reverse sear” method. This lets you smoke/roast your steaks and then fire them off for searing at the end. Here’s what I do. (Find Grillgrates on Amazon here.)
Excellent article, but I have an off beat question. What about cleanup and maintenance of the pellet smokers you have reviewed? Is anyone better or easier for ash cleanup? I have a friend who has Yoder and his only complaint is the amount of time and complexity of cleaning up the pellet ash. Thank you in advance.
What can I say? Camp Chef Pellet Grills are one of the best go-to grills at all price points. You’ll love this one for its many features and we love it because it’s so dependable. You can’t go wrong with this grill and with that body you’ll be sure to impress everyone at your party with your food and grill.
The 20 pound capacity pellet hopper means you’re not even stressing about running out of ‘gas’ while you’re cooking and the pellets are automatically dispensed. We did say it’s like having your buddy doing the BBQ for you. The electronics used inside the thermostat are very precise, and if your cooking temperature falls, the hopper throws another pellet on the fire to heat the unit up. You will not get this kind of control from wood, charcoal or gas units.
As you can see in this selection of pellet grill reviews, the act of heating pellets and generating smoke in any pellet smoker is pretty much the same. Yes, some pellet grills use thicker metal, have better thermostats, air flow, racks, drip flow, etc. But the ask any professional BBQ cooker who uses a pellet grill, and they’ll tell you that the quality of your smoke really does come down to the pellets themselves. Here’s what one very astute BBQ pro had to say over at the Pellet Smoke Ring:
Pick an item that is anything but difficult to clean and store. Stay away from massive units on the off chance that you don’t need your grill to stick around in the kitchen when not being used. You may likewise need to pick one that your space can suit. And afterward, search for a model that can be effortlessly cleaned and that accompanies a deplete framework and an oil/dribble plate/gatherer.
First, we are just like you. We love smoking and grilling. We were once novices like you, but now, through years of practice and research we are the genuine kings of the grill. We have our own favorites like the Camp Chef pellet grill and we want you to find your favorite too.
If you would rather avoid the potential for rust altogether consider getting a stainless steel pellet grill. Not only are they rust resistant, but they are extremely durable and a lot easier to maintain.
Includes a meat probe, a peaked lid, a convenience tray with utensil hooks and our new open flame technology grease tray. Also included is Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature.
Before you buy, remember, pellet smokers need access to electricity. Maintenance is also an issue. There are moving parts on these grills. Moving parts eventually break. There is an auger with a motor, and a fan with a motor. There are proprietary electronics systems on these babies. Augers clog. Motors burn out. Electronics have bugs or fail. Especially when exposed to rain, snow, hot, and cold. When they fail, will the manufacturer have a replacement part?
Other than that the build quality is excellent. The materials are heavy and feel like they are made to last. Unlike most smokers that you setup once and then leave forever, this unit can easily fold up and be moved.
When we tested the “Traeger BBQ 155.01 Bronze Tailgater”, we discovered that this grill has a very common pellet jamming problem. After a couple of cooking sessions, we found ourselves constantly checking the wood chip tray to make sure the feed was not jammed and that there was enough smoke in the cabinet. An issue like this makes grilling inconvenient, and repairs in the long run will cost even more than the extra $40 to $50 you will spend on this smoker as opposed to our Best Budget Pick.
Second, more people know about them. More manufacturers are realising the advantages of pellet smokers and hopping on board, the market is expanding, and with the advantage of the internet putting all the info at our fingertips, even someone who hasn’t got the first clue about smokers and grills can find out everything they need in just a few minutes.
Yoder Smokers: Well-known in competition barbecue circles, Yoder sells three models of pellet smokers, ranging from $1100 for the YS480 to $3600 for the trailer-mounted YS1500. (Numbers in the product ID refer to the square inches of cooking space.)
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!
It’s incredibly energy efficient, as well. When it’s first firing up, this smoker uses 300 watts for the first 4 minutes, then only 50 watts for the rest of the time it’s on. Which is less than a goddamned light-bulb.
Traeger literally invented the automated pellet burning smoker, so it’s fair to say they know what they’re doing. Whilst this model has a relatively small cooking area, the amount of tech built in makes using it much simpler than the competitors, with an auto-start and intuitive digital controls.
Pellets come in a variety of flavors—hickory, pecan, alder, mesquite, cherry, apple, maple, bourbon, etc., and can be mixed or changed in minutes. One 20-pound bag is sufficient for several cooks, though usage will depend on the temperature setting and weather conditions (wind and cold will increase pellet consumption). Under normal circumstances, a pellet grill will use about 1/2 pound of pellets per hour on the smoke setting and 2-1/2 pounds on high.
Easily create a barbecued masterpiece. Put your ribs or brisket on the grill, set a low temperature and leave it. With our grill’s extremely low heat setting and reliable even heating, when you return your meat will be slow-cooked to mouth-watering perfection.
I can honestly admit I hate cleaning, I think most people feel the same. You have to know, though, that keeping your pellet smoker clean is a very important task. People who designed this grill handled this task perfectly, making cleaning a much easier and quicker task.