The 3-2-1 method of barbecuing ribs (3 hours of smoke, 2 hours wrapped tightly in foil, and 1 hour sauced) has become very popular among competition barbecuers and home cooks alike, especially those who prefer their ribs “fall-off-the-bone” tender. Adjust the cooking time if you like your ribs with more chew.
With so many pellet grills on the market the only way manufacturers can differentiate themselves is through features. When comparing pellet grills, take the time to look at all the features that are included.
Wood pellets are an all natural product. No petroleum products in them, no fillers, chemicals, or binders. They are an excellent source of smoke flavor and compact energy, 8,500 BTU per pound. No hot coals, no flareups. There is also very little ash: 10 pounds of pellets will produce about 1/2 cup of ash. All the rest is converted to energy and combustion gases. I clean out the bottom of the ones I tested after about 10 cooks. At high temps there is very little smoke, at low temps the pellets smolder and produce superb but understated smoke flavors. Click here for more about pellets.
Hands-Free Grilling – Due to superb temperature maintenance you can set it and overlook it. This permits you to stop for a moment to talk with your friends, and you don’t pass up a great opportunity for those chuckles.
Hopper – That’s where you put the fuel, or pellets, which is them sent through a special auger to the place where pellet is burned. Resupplying pellets in the hopper is a very easy and quick task, often quite different in the case of grills with different type of fuel ( such as propane tanks ).
OK, so we know the grilling and smoking processes created chemicals which could increase the risk of cancer. There are studies which have shown there is an elevated risk, but even that is very small indeed, and not all the studies so far have come up with the same conclusions. So, honestly, there is no definitive result to prove the case. Man has been cooking over open fires for thousands of years, and it hasn’t proved to be a killer, so it’s probably best to understand the possibility of risk and take any action you think appropriate.
Hands down Rob Green over at SmokingPit.com offers one of the best reviews of Yoder Smokers available anywhere. Specifically, Rob reviews the Yoder YS640 pellet smoker and does so with an excellent balance of textual information and specs combined with some very well done videos. Below is his introduction to the Yoder YS640.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is a versatile, wood-pellet grill that is intended for portability. Regardless of its weight, it’s about as minimized as you can get, and takes care of business. Contrasted with more costly wood pellet barbecues, it appears to hold its own on performance, while the one of a kind Wi-Fi usefulness needs some finish.
Pellet grills are versatile. You can barbecue, smoke, roast, grill (sort of—more on that below), and even bake or braise in a pellet grill. At BBQ University, we have used them to cook everything from crisp chicken wings to braised short ribs to smoked pork chile verde and crème brulee.
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!
John’s concern here is the same as mine – while my Bradley pucks are compressed wood, they create a crap ton of smoke. Anyone know how it would compare to the Bradley? Does a pellet smoke box create a comparable amount of smoke?
Hey Kevin great article. I too am currently looking for a pellet smoker. I’ve narrowed it down between a Yader, Memphis Pro and the Rec Tec. The Green Mountain did not seem very well built. The wheels looked liked the would break on the first roll and the stainless steel door was flimsy and did not have a good seal. I know the Rec Tec has a 6 year warranty. Do you know how long the warranties are on the other two?
Hey Tom! First, thank you so much for commenting on this article. I hope it’s proved useful to you and helping you make your pellet smoker buying decision. I took a look at the smokers you mentioned in your comment, and they appear to be similar in build to those made by Yoder. I can verify that Yoder does exceptionally good work with both the build quality and the heavy gauge steel Construction of their smokers. I don’t know much about the manufacturing practices of the smokers you mentioned. I do like the fact that their controller automatically dropped down to a warming temperature after your food reaches the programmed temperature setting. That’s a feature that I’ve only seen in higher-priced pellet grills like the Memphis Pro Series that I talk about in this article. However, more grills are starting to utilize this in the programming aspect of their controllers. In any case it’s a great feature. To be honest with you I’m not sure that the auger mechanics are going to be all that different between smokers. I’m sure there are differences, but I don’t feel that they are dramatic enough to offer a distinct selling Advantage for the manufacturer. If you haven’t looked at them yet, you might consider taking a look at the Traeger Pro Series pellet grills. You can’t find it on Amazon, but you can find them at different retailers listed on the main Traeger site. A friend of mine has one major competitions using the pro series models.
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).
My first days on the Bull have been at or below 35 degrees with rain and wind , it didnt care . It stays true to temp and didnt burn more than 1/4 pellets in over 10 hour total run time . My Weber gas grill would had burned almost a tank and blown out in the wind trying to cook down low.
Seems to be a very one way review. You mention how great the Rec Tec is due to price and warranty but fail to mention the Yoder that is heavier made with better warranty and unparalleled customer service. The price point is just a few hundred more than Rec Tec and you can actually see the Yoder in a retail store across the country unlike Rec Tec hiding behind the owner only distraction. The Rec Tec is just a painted up traeger.
It’s also worth double checking the precision of the controls. Less expensive smokers sometimes have cheap control panels that only allow you to set the temperature to a few discrete settings, for example just low and high. This is, generally speaking, awful, and leads to improperly cooked meat and a whole host of other issues. Avoid it if you can.
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.
And #3, good bbq or grilled meats should taste great without a ton seasonings or sauce. Beef especially can be excellent with simple salt! Make sure your seasonings enhance flavor. Another great read, the late (and much grieved at our house) Paul Prudhomme’s ‘Louisiana Kitchen’ again available on Amazon used for a couple of bucks and a masterpiece! Paul was a master of seasoning. Don’t kill it with seasonings and sauce, enhance the foods flavors. Barks on meat are great if they are right. However burnt, sugar and many other seasonings detract from the meats natural flavor. I personally love a meat you can eat without a sauce and then sauce if you want some added flavors going on!
This grill actually came about because of an IndieGoGo campaign. IndieGoGo is a crowdfunding platform wherein interested parties on the Internet can donate money to the maker if they want his invention or service to come about. The Z Grills Wood Pellet BBQ Grill and Smoker got its $500,000 from its donators and now the previously nonexistent Z Grills Company now exists to make their wildly popular grill.
Can you comment on the Camp Chef entry level pellet grill. I’m of limited funds but would like to purchase one of these type grills. I’ve been using an electric smoker and I personally don’t like the creosote taste I’m experiencing with it! So I guess my question is will I regret purchasing one of these “cheap” pellet grills?
Depending on the type of cooking you want to do, temperature range can be important. Every pellet grill is good at indirect cooking and most have no problem hitting any temperature from 180°F to 425°F, which is adequate for smoking, roasting, baking, and grilling. However, it’s not enough for searing, which requires a temperature of 500-550°F.
A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. The Thermopop (above) is about $30. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $99.
Most pellet smokers are wood-burning ovens: great for ribs, turkey, brisket, and butts, but not so great for grilling steaks and burgers. The FEC PG series was one of the first lines of pellet burners to offer a sear station, a cast iron cooking grate right over the fire pot where the wood pellets burn. It isn’t the best setup for searing, but it’s better than most other pellet searing schemes. The real beauty of the Fast Eddy’s design is that it produces meat with a deep mahogany finish, much like a competition-grade offset smoker. It also has two upper-level heat zones, for a total of four distinct temperature zones.
Pit Boss have made this heavy duty beast as a semi-professional pellet based smoker, and it shows. It’s absolutely massive, with a colossal amount of cooking space and a lot of tech that makes using it a serious pleasure. It’s actually probably too big for most households, but if you need the most cooking space possible, this is the biggest on our list.