Kevin, your recommendation rocked. The Pro is one of the best pieces of grilling and smoking iron I have had my hands on in a long time! Better than the Backwoods? Well depends on how much work you want to do! Maybe not, they are first class, but ease of use? I use the Backwoods a couple times a year, the Pro has already done 8 cooks in 5 weeks. Love it.
Rating: I’m sufficiently impressed to give this grill a 9.4 out of 10 rating. Even if I didn’t know about its crowdfunding success story, it has comparable capabilities to the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill (even sans WiFi).
The MAK Pellet Boss will increase or decrease with the press of a button in 5°F increments and has a probe in the oven that keeps the temp pretty solid. As with any thermostatically controlled oven, even your indoor oven, the thermostat cycles heat on or off as needed. So it you set it for 225°F it cycles on til it hits 225°F, then off until it drops to 220°F, then on to 225°F. There are three meat probes and the Boss can be programmed to change the cooker temp when the meat hits a target. I’ve had one for several years outdoors in the Chicago winters and summers without a cover and no problems.
As such, the Yoder YS640 is one of the more robust pellet smokers out there. The main body is constructed of 10 gauge metal. Yes, this means that it takes longer for it to come up to temperature, but once there – it holds temp far better that thinner walled cookers. You know you’re buying quality when your pellet smoker weighs in at 315 lbs.
This four rack smoker is very easy to use. The unit holds a steady temperature well, although it can take quite a while to get up to temperature. Clean up is also super simple with the racks pulling out for easy cleaning.
Solid construction that’s built to last is what the Rec Tec is all about, from their proprietary PID temperature control algorithm and Smart Grill Technology to the grill’s powder coated high strength carbon steel and 304 stainless steel for all of its critical parts.
If you’re a member of the Rockefeller family and price isn’t an issue then you’ll definitely find pellet grills over the $2000 mark but, if you’re more the ‘other fella’ with a budget in mind, then the Rec Tec is one of the best-priced grills, available for under $1,000. There’s also a Rec Tec mini grill which comes in under $750.
I’m blown away at this grill and if you have any doubts go online. Where everyone has no holds barred opions and see how many negitive ones you find about this product. I tried and couldnt find one! So i had to buy it. ”
The main cooking surface at your disposal measuring 570 square inches, which is heated by pellets. It is able to heat up the surface from 160 degrees to 500 degrees F. It is great for long and slow meat smoking.
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.
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.
The first thing that you need to look at when buying a pellet smoker is your budget. There are tons of different models on the market, and they all come with various accessories. If you’re looking to spend a lot of money, then you can buy a unit that comes with tons of bells and whistles, but if you’re like most people, you are better off buying a decently priced unit that cooks well.
Larger, more expensive smokers run anywhere up to 900 square inches, which will basically let you feed your whole street. It’s also a whole lot more convenient when you’re planning on cooking multiple things to be able to throw every single sausage, joint of meat and rack of ribs on at once, flip ’em around and move things to the edge when they’re done.
I did a lot of research, and ended up buying the Camp Chef DLX24. It was at a price that fit my budget, (under $500) and had a lot of features the others didnt. The pellet trap door for quick dumping of the pellet hopper into a bucket, and the ash cleanout under the drum was a clincher. Being able to pull a lever and dump the ashes into an easily removable cup is a great feature that all grills should include.It has a digital temperature controller, and dual probes (one inside the smoker for grill temp, one for the meat) and overall good quality construction. The second shelf inside is standard (you pay extra for that on other grills). If your budget allows, would suggest purchasing the propane powered sear box ($199) which attaches to the side of the grill and allows for reverse searing meat..
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.
A pellet grill on the other hand can handle just about any cooking job you throw its way. And the best part is of course the flavor. With a pellet grill your food will get that real wood flavor. And if you want to switch things up a bit you can throw in some applewood pellets, hickory pellets, pecan pellets and classic adler pellets just to name a few.
This unit costs almost half of what most high-end smokers cost, but it offers equal (or even better!) features. This 8-in-1 smoker and grill lets you enjoy the fun of grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, searing, braising, barbecuing and char-grilling!
Many of today’s wood pellet grills, including popular models made by Traeger and Pit Boss, also come with digital controllers. Whether you are cooking at low heat or high, you can control the temperature for consistently delicious results.
Hal – your points are well made, sir. The “set it and forget it” – at least for me – means you don’t need to “tend the fire” as you might when using charcoal pits, etc. I have had very (next to none at all) problems with any pellet smoker I’ve used — so long as I make sure to clean it out regularly and maintain it as directed.
The Z GRILLS Wood Pellet is an honored American brand that offers high quality yet affordable products. This product also includes a three year warranty as well as a thirty day return guarantee. It offers a 330 sq. in. cooking area and ranges in temperature from 160 degree Fahrenheit to 475 degree Fahrenheit.
This is obviously no revelations that temperature is the first on my list. When it comes to cooking appliances, temperature is always a key factor. However, it is not the sole reason to be on my list. The thing about temperature you need to look for in a good pellet grill is its ability to control, change and maintain it. Any grill can turn screaming hot, but only the best ones provide you with multiple temperature settings, and are able to maintain it constantly to ensure an even cooking surface where it is not too hot on the left and cold on the right. Many pellets come with special, even patented, temperature features.
It is almost as we have forgotten how to live life the way it should be lived. We no longer have the time to sit back on a summer’s day, and appreciate the show that nature has put up for us. Now-a-days we are so committed to our work, responsibilities and duties towards the external that we often forget that we have our very first priority neglected: happiness. We are so engaged in our daily 9 to 5 routines that we have actually began to take it as a way of living while it slowly drains and strains us away over time.
Somehow, though, this is more expensive that every other choice in this price range wjo;st offering nothing extra. Whilst you certainly won’t regret buying this, given the choice I’d go for one of the above smokers instead.
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.
Topten Tips For Pellet Grilling
This grill uses Traeger’s simple to use controls, giving users quick access to a range of grilling temperatures. An 18-pound capacity pellet hopper provides plenty of space for wood pellets and many hours of smoking.
Today, all serious players in the pellet smoker market have switched to digital thermostatic controllers that dictate pellet-feed commands based on a temperature sensor inside the cooking box. Just like with the oven in your kitchen, you set the desired cooking temperature, and the heating system kicks on and off to maintain that set point. An LED display shows your set temp, and most models allow you to toggle between set temp and actual temp readings from the internal thermostat. Actual temperatures will fluctuate a bit as the controller switches on and off to hover around your set temp, but many sophisticated touch-pad controllers can maintain tighter tolerances than your indoor oven. Some pellet controllers also have integrated probes that let you monitor the internal temperature of whatever you’re smoking. Wireless remote control and monitoring from your smartphone or tablet are also increasingly common. (You can learn more about pellet smokers on AmazingRibs.com.)
Kevin- I’m in the process of researching to get my husband a grill for Christmas. I’m torn between the 820 you mentioned above and the Traeger Pro Series. As far as I can tell they are basically the same except that you get a larger cooking area on the pit boss for the same price you pay for a small cook space in a traeger. I would like to spend around $600 on the grill but would possibly go up to $800 and want 500 sq in cook space or greater. Which do you prefer? Pit Boss, Traeger or another brand?
Hi Dan, I had a Bradley some years ago and the quality of the smoke is somewhat comparable to that of a pellet unit. As I said in my earlier post, compressed sawdust does not create the wood flavor that permeates the meat— no matter what pellet you use. I recently bought a Lang reverse flow, and on my first cook the difference was spectacular. My nephew went to the trouble of adding a full size wood burning firebox to his pellet stove as an experiment. He piped the smoke from the firebox into the pellet unit while making some ribs and the results were obvious. The next day he was out looking for a new smoker. Wood burners are a lot of work compared to a pellet unit, as you say, so I understand your reluctance. Many like vertical units that burn charcoal with wood chunks. These units are much easier to manage than a stick burner and give good results. All I can say is that the first time you make BBQ in your backyard with a wood unit, you will know you made the right choice. There are many good BBQ forums that discuss these points. Good Queing to you.
They had the field to themselves for a few years, but the idea was too good to go un-imitated, and soon competitors began popping up. In the early days, most pellet smoker controllers had only three settings—low, medium, high (LMH)—and there was no temperature probe in the oven to create a feedback loop. So, whether you were smoking a few slabs of ribs on a scorching summer day or six pork butts during a blizzard, the controller only knew pellet-feed on and off times for its standard settings. It had no information on the actual temperature inside the cooking chamber.
Rubbery skin has very little to do with the type of heat (direct vs indirect). Rubbery skin is a result of too low a cooking temperature. Take your smoker/grill or whatever you use and get the temperature in the mid 400’s or even higher and you will get crispy skin. One thing though never let the internal temperature of your bird get over 150 or you’ll have crispy skin and dry crunchy meat too. Take it off the grill and let is rest a full 30 minutes. Best bird you’ll ever eat no matter which grill, smoker, 50 gal barrel, etc you cooked it on.
Only use food-grade wood pellets on your pellet grill. Never place wood chips or chunks on or around the fire pot. The fire could grow out of control, producing excessive heat that may damage vital electronics on the grill.
Hi Scott, the pellet tube smoker lyrics buy packing pellets into the tube and lighting one end with a butane torch or other heat source capable of setting the pellets on fire. The length of the tube determines the burn rate.
I live in Florida (Ocala), and I would like to grill, but I am undecided what to buy. I would not use the grill everyday. I am not a ‘griller’, but I do enjoy grilling simple meats, hamburgers, pork tenderloin and chicken; perhaps smoking a 12 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have no knowledge as to grill veggies or fish. I am an ignoramus! I tried, but I couldn’t detect them among the ashes!
Bake, braise, grill, smoke, and sear – all of these cooking techniques can be fully experienced by just using one unit of backyard cooker! Yes, you can definitely do different kinds of cooking to your pork, beef, fish, pizza, or pie by just using the Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill without burning charcoals and woods to start the cooking process.
Hey Charlie – I’d leave that grate wide open if you want maximum heat. If the grates are only over the burn pot, then you can do sort of a two zone cook (indirect vs direct heat) by putting a thicker steak, chop, or piece of chicken on the ‘non direct’ side to get up to a temp that’s 15 or 20 degrees lower than your target. Then, finish off over the burn pot area. Just one idea.
With this grill you get over 400 square inches of coking space and an easy to use digital temperature control. With heats ranging from 160 to 500 degrees, there’s plenty of room for both smoking and grilling.
love your article and got lots of good info from it….i do have a question tho that i didnt see an answer to…..do pellet grills have to use just pellets?….i have 3 acres full of oak branches that could be shredded. my question is can a pellet grill use home shredded wood chips to burn and cook with or is it mandatory that the fuel be in the pellet state?….would be great if i could find a good use for all these fallen branches….
Like I said before, sometimes you will find it difficult to perform the upgrade yourself. Replacing the digital control system seems much more difficult than I thought when I did it. Your smoker manual will certainly help you in this regard. You should seek help from YouTube as you can see what exactly to do.
My cousin and I went on a rowing trip at Tonto national forest, Arizona. He got a 10 feet boat. Not much room for gear, but I insisted he take his grill along. Traeger BBQ 155.01 Bronze Tailgater Pellet Grill w/EZ-Fold Legs& Digit Thermostat is small enough to fit into that small boat along with us. He was scared his smoker might get tipped into the lake, but that first night that we set it up and smoked a whole brisket he knew it was worth the extra weight. This is the length Grills Forever will go to test all the best smoker grills in every place we can think of so you don’t have to.
When you think of pellet grills, being portable isn’t the first thing you think of. For one, you need to have a source of electricity to plug the grill in to. You can’t just grab a bag of charcoal and fire it up anywhere.
Hey Vernon – Yoder warranty is is 1-year on the igniter, 3-years on the control system and 10-years on the cooking body. Products manufactured by Memphis Wood Fire Grills carry a seven (7) year Limited Warranty from the date of purchase by the original owner against defects in material and workmanship. Electronic and electrical components carry a three (3) year replacement warranty when subjected to normal residential use. Limited Warranty does not apply to burn pot, meat probe, grill cover gaskets or damage caused by corrosion. The meat probe is under Warranty for 30 days from the date of purchase. (Both warranty blurbs were pulled from the respective company websites) Yoder: http://www.yodersmokers.com/pellet-frequently-asked-questions.html Memphis Grills: https://memphisgrills.com/warranty/
“I have cooked on my new RT-700 twice now and you can’t beat the convenience of this grill. Both of my cooks have been low and slow smoking (225°) and had great smoke flavor. Can’t wait to cook more!”
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!
I have used Bradley, Masterpiece, Green Egg, New Braunfels, Oklahoma Joe, Weber and now Traeger. So there is some experience in these comments. The “set it and forget” it is a misnomer and should not be used with Traeger (or any smoker/grill.) With Pellet Drive before you buy Read up on Er codes. The worst is when the fire pot fills up with pellets because the fire can’t keep up with the auger push and the whole cook is ruined or delayed. You have to pull everything out and basically start over while your expensive prime brisket is trying to be saved in the oven. Doesn’t matter what the weather is or wind conditions. Doesn’t matter if you stare at it and stir the hopper continuously. It will happen. Customer support at first was well you are at fault (didn’t leave the lid open on fireup for exactly 2 to 4 minutes or didn’t vacuum out the firepot between every cook) which is crazy. Finally, after so many calls over the past 6 months they are trying to make it right. Problem is, DO NOT believe the “set it and forget it.” That does not exist with any good cook. I have replaced the controller the fan and now getting a new probe. Do not waste your money. Unless someone out here in BBQ land can give me a recommendation on a product that won’t do this stay away from Pellet Drive?
Turn it on to “Smoke” mode and use the P settings, or cook mode by selecting a temperature. When you select smoke or a temp setting you start the ignition sequence. The fan, igniter and auger motor turn on. The fan stays on until the smoker is turned off. The auger motor continuously delivers pellets to the red hot igniter rod in the firebox for two minutes under normal conditions. Then the igniter rod shuts off and the pellet fire burns with only the assistance of the auger and the fan.
To sear a steak you need direct radiant heat. I don’t care if you can heat the air to 1000°F, it is still indirect heat and that does not deliver as much energy as direct radiant heat. It’s physics, but not hard to understand. In short, heat is not the same as temperature. It feels hotter at 80°F if the sun is shining on you than if it is 80°F in the shade. I discuss the concept in more detail in my article on thermodynamics of cooking.
Some of the “smoke” from a pellet cooker, comes from the drippings burning off of the deflector over the pellet pot. So in the grills, where the deflector is, and how heat is spread across it, usually makes a difference.
A pellet hopper is what you put your pellets in. The grill will automatically help itself from the hopper and use it to maintain the temperature you want it to. More heat requirement will use more pellet, and less heat will use less. What you need to make sure is that you have a good sized pellet hopper so that your grill can keep using from it and you do not have to keep refilling the hopper too often. There are pellet grills out there that are powerful and gentle enough to be cooking for hours, and sometimes overnight, all thanks to its large pellet hoppers that keep replenishing and refueling the fire all throughout.
Perhaps what will attract you the most with this pellet grill is the fact that it will offer all those features of the more expensive pellet grills but you not have to break the bank to purchase it. It has a varying cooking temperature that can go all the up to 500 degrees. It has got an easy to use controller which features a digital readout. This pellet grill can easily be used by novices but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have those features that expert grillers use. The cooking features are easy and fun to use and the digital temperature control is just so impressive. This pellet smoker will give you a more steady smoke and temperature needed to cook your food perfectly well.
It’s really a lot like charcoal in terms of brand loyalty. Thus far the brands of BBQ wood pellets that stand out as being best of breed come from the following manufacturers. Note – this list is not in any specific order.
Simple portability – this is especially an extraordinary component as it gives you a chance to convey it along to a companion’s place for a BBQ session. This is made conceivable by its haggles little size and weight.