One Touch Non PID controllers are a lot more accurate than the previous two controllers. However, keep in mind they too deliver pellets on a fixed cycle. Because of this accuracy is limited to +/-15–20°F.
Of all the different smoker designs available, pellet smokers are the easiest to use, because they’re thermostatically controlled, like your kitchen stove. You just select a cooking temperature, and a controller maintains it by feeding wood pellets to a fire pot as needed to maintain your set temp. Set it and forget it. You can throw a brisket in a pellet smoker, set it for 225°F, go to bed, and sleep like a baby, knowing you’ll wake up to delicious smoked meat.
Lubricate your motor and fans for optimal use. This will help your smoker to work better, longer. Note that you should not store your grill for long idle periods. Doing so can cause the structure to warp and mold to form under the grill cover, which of course can render the entire grill unusable or inefficient.
For example, it has a decent 570 sq. in. of cooking area, a patented ash cleanout service, endless versatility (wherein you can barbecue, braise, roast, bake, smoke, and grill to your heart’s delight), and an advanced digital control (the same one that allowed the Camp Chef SmokePro to take the top spot). However, the quality control for this unit is a little worse than SmokePro.
Fans of gadgets – More expensive models come with very interesting features. You can download app for your phone or tablet (iOS and Android). Then you can use Wi-Fi to connect with your pellet grill. It allows you to monitor the temperature inside the grill while away from it. Some of the grills even make it possible to check the internal temperature of the meat.
When used as a smoker, the temperature can become too unpredictable, rising to extremely high temperatures; over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. There have also been reports dealing with the auger malfunctioning while in use, which can cause the smoker/grill to not heat properly or to allow heat to escape.
As far as accuracy goes PID controllers are in a league of their own. They feature an LCD display and have one touch buttons that allow you to set the temperature in 5° increments. This of course gives you more control over how you are able to prepare your dishes.
The Camp Chef ticks all the boxes you would expect from a pellet grill at this mid price point. You’ll enjoy the set it and forget it style cooking, clean flavor and minimal ash to clean up. All of the main parts are built with heavy gauge stainless steel and feel sturdy.
Traeger really pulled the trigger on this one this time around, delivering the Traeger TFB65LZBC Texas Elite 34 Series Wood Pellet Grill. It’s fueled by 100% pure hardwood pellets to give you real wood flavor out of your meat (rather than artificial or gimmicky ones).
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.
Thermostatically controlled pellet smokers are usually more accurate than your kitchen oven. So you can leave it running all night and wake up to delicious barbecue without worrying about any temperature flare ups
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?
Thank you all for a great site and an informative discussion. I am a newbie to smoking and presently have a charcoal grill for when I have more time and a gas grill for a fast meal. Its time to replace my gas grill so I am looking at alternative options. Is a pellet grill overkill, or a timely expedition, if I want to grill a couple steaks or chicken breasts during week nights? I’d also be interested in smoking larger hunks of meat (and ribs!) less often, but am wondering if a pellet grill can cover both? How long does it take a pellet grill to get to temp (e.g. 450°)? With the indirect heat, can you get char marks on your meat? Thanks in advance for the info!
Hey Kev, I was wondering about that cooking surface and its capacity. Have you found the 16×20 to be sufficient for a brisket and/or other large chunks of meat? This is my biggest concern as we love to cook a good amount of meat at one time.
It is recommended to compare and contrast specs of different pellet smokers in the store. One should also look at different reviews and researches and not be shy to ask about the quality of the pellet smoker they are wishing to have. A good pellet smoker store should have staff that are well equipped with information about pellet smoker and they should be able to advice their customers which grills are best for them having compared variety of the different models.
I have ate a few peoples cooking that have won at the Royal, Houston and Memphis in May. They have all had one thing in common, I didn’t put one drop of sauce on them and they had not been sauced on the Q before serving! The restaurant Cackle and Oink is just a ways from where we live and the owner Aaron Vogel is there regularly. I have tasted all his sauces and they are very good, but the 3 times I have been there, his sauces never touch my ribs and brisket! Aaron does say, if you like this you need to try my competition food (which I will at one of the competitions he is in locally). None of the KCBS, Houston or Memphis in may winners Q had even a hint of ash or bitter smoke flavor. They also had a very light smoke profile. They also all say they cook over well burned down wood.
At Grills Forever, we are passionate about outdoor cooking. We don’t just tell you things we’ve read rather we go the extra mile, making us the go-to team for all your smoker grill needs. Throughout our journey from four BBQ novices to barbecuing experts, we have developed some of the best strategies for picking a pellet grill and testing it before recommending it to our audience.
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.
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?
Hey Jeff! Great questions. If you’re looking for a solid built in pellet grill, I definitely recommend giving Memphis Grill a hard look. I really enjoyed the Pro Series grill I tested for this review. Just a really solid performing machine. Anything else like a kit and and brick etc would definitely be my back up plan rather than my primary focus.
Hey Greg! Sorry so long for my reply. Man, so cool about your Yoder! I’m sure you’ll love it. Everyone I talk to who owns one loves theirs. I agree 100 Percent on pellet quality and cook time. I’ve had luck cooking at lower initial temps and ramping up after the first couple of hour. I’ve also used the A-Maze-N Tube with success.
Temperature range is an important feature. What you’ll need will depend on what kind of cooking you want to do. Most pellet grills can hit temperatures between 180 F and 425 F, an adequate range for smoking, baking, roasting, and grilling. If you like to sear your meat you need something that reaches the 500-550 F. A good thermometer is a must. You’ll need to have an accurate reading so you’ll know you’re cooking your meat at the right temperature
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.
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.
Pellet grills are used not only for grilling but also in baking, smoking, roasting, and more. Nevertheless, the significance of pellet grill is to imitate how charcoal works in smoking and how gas grill regulates the temperature.
Manufacturers advertise this piece of equipment as both a smoker and a grill, but it’s best to think of it as a superb indirect-heat convection smoker, not a grill. Most models just don’t do as good a job of searing a steak as a charcoal grill or even a gas grill with a sear burner can. You’ll sear steaks better on a $20 hibachi than on most pellet smokers.
Flavor – another advantage, pellet burners have a great influence on the flavor of your food. With use of good quality hard wood pellets you create smoke that gives your food a characteristic wooden flavor.