BEST [5+] Pellet Smoker Reviews 2018 – Must READ Before Buying
Pellet smokers are some of the easiest to regulate and will deliver the most tasty slow-cook meals without much hassle. Apart from that, they are all-in one. Whether you want to smoke barbeque, grill burgers, bake pizza or slow roast your prime rib, here is your perfect companion. This is because it combines the flavour of a charcoal grill and the automation of an electric kitchen oven.
Pellet grills are powered by electricity and fuelled by wood pellets. Electricity will power its digital control board, the auger and the fan. Wooden pellets will provide the heat for cooking and also enhance your food flavour.
A typical pellet smoker has a digital control board that automatically controls both the cooking and the food temperatures which is why it is commonly defined by the phrase ‘set-it and forget-it’.
Because a greater percentage of the population, an additional approximate of 45% are warming up to smoker pellets, you may well brace yourself to have one and see the difference it makes to your cooking.
However, there is too much information out there you need a credible guide to help you sift through and land the best unit for your needs and this is exactly why we compiled this pellet smoker review along with a buyer’s guide.
- 1 Compare the Best Pellet Smokers
- 2 Best Pellet Smoker Reviews 2017
- 2.1 REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill (RT-680) – Featuring Smart Grill Technology™
- 2.2 Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill
- 2.3 Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155.01 19.5K BTU Pellet Grill
- 2.4 Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler, 700 sq. in.
- 2.5 Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe
- 2.6 Pit Boss 71820FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler, 820 sq. in.
- 3 Pellet Grill Buyer’s Guide
Compare the Best Pellet Smokers
|Pellet Smoker||Price||Material||Temp Range||Hopper Capacity||Cooking area|
|REC TEC Grills RT-680||304 stainless steel||180ºF to 500ºF||40 lb||702 sq/in|
|Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite||Steel||50ºF to 400ºF||10 lb||300 sq. in.|
|Traeger BBQ155.01||Steel||-||10 lb||292 sq. in|
|Pit Boss 71700FB||Cast Iron & Steel||180°-500°F||20 lb||700 sq. in|
|Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe||Steel||160 F and 500 F||18 lb||429 sq. in|
|Pit Boss 71820FB||Steel||180-500 F||20 lb||820 sq. in.|
Best Pellet Smoker Reviews 2017
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill (RT-680) – Featuring Smart Grill Technology™
REC TEC Pellet Grills are known for their quality construction, convenience and their famous Smart Grill Technology will definitely charm you. A single push of its top quality ceramic ignition system is what it takes to light your unit.
This grill is one of the most accurate given a wide range of temperature settings with incremental of 5ºF between 180ºF to 500ºF. Not only that, if you love the aesthetics, this one’s a real eye-catcher.
Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill
The Junior Elite Grill by Traeger is an amazing unit, one of the few within its range that guarantees you value for your bucks. With ample grilling area and ease of use and monitoring thanks to the LED digital display and the auto auger control, you are in for the best cooking experience. Here are the features that make it a worthwhile purchase.
This pellet smoker offers 300 sq. in. of grilling area which is just enough to cook sizeable chunks of meat in many different ways be it braising, grilling, roasting, smoking, or baking. With a temperature range of 150ºF to 400ºF and the dependable multi-position thermostat control mechanism to maintain the temperature just where you set, you can relax and wait for your food to cook.
Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155.01 19.5K BTU Pellet Grill
If you are looking for a pellet grill with a medium sized cooking area and dependable temperature regulation then the BBQ155.01 is certainly it. Traeger as a trailblazer and the best electric pellet smoker, for some, in this industry has been on the forefront, manufacturing quality units with long life attached to them and they have not disappointed us with this unit. Here are some outstanding features that have propelled it to the top of several reviews.
Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler, 700 sq. in.
Well if you are a man or woman of the people then you need a pellet smoker with a roomy grilling compartment and great versatility that will allow you to attend to everyone in one cooking session. Pit Boss definitely outdid themselves with this unit. Most uniquely it features 700 sq. in and an 8-in-1 functionality. Let’s check out in detail what this unit is all about.
Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe
Camp Chef has won many hearts with its quality and sturdy construction in all of their products and they certainly didn’t let us down with the PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill. This unit happens to be one of the most trusted based on user review.
Ample Cooking Area for Medium Gatherings
This unit measures 32.5 in. in height and together with 429 sq. in. available cooking space within it, which is just enough to cook around 20 burgers at once at a temp range of 160oF and 500oF, you can budget comfortably for small to medium barbecue party. In case you need an extension specifically for smoking or warming more food, it comes with a secondary 6 x 24 in. rack.
Hassle-free match-less lighting is probably the greatest advantage that comes with smoker pellets. Simple plug your unit to a power outlet switch on.
Dual LED Temp Displays
Quite a unique feature about this unit is its dual LED temperature displays; one for internal temperature of the cooking area and the other for food temperature.
Its auto-auger dispenses pellets from the hopper into the fire pot automatically, in maintaining the temperature you have set for it and ultimately this is the most economic utilization of pellets in your smoker. The hopper has a large pellet capacity at 18 lb which is a remarkable feature when you need to set it and forget it.
What we loved
- Additional cooking and warming rack for more functionality
- Dual temperature display hence no need for an internal meat probe
- Easy clean; grease drain and ash collection systems
- No need for
What we didn’t like
- Others have found it to be a bit heavier than others in its league
- Some users found it difficult cooking at its max temperature
The dual LED temp displays in this unit blew me off. Apart from that, this is generally a quality built unit that will give you really good service for years to come but with good maintenance.
Pit Boss 71820FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler, 820 sq. in.
Perhaps an outstanding feature with Pit Boss pellet smokers is the ample space within their grilling area. Most users who picked on this brand considered capacity first and then other features. Let’s look at why the 71820FB has kept it top of best pellet smoker reviews.
Roomy Cooking Compartment
An 820 sq. in. of cooking space is quite a plus for anyone looking for a commercial grade unit and the 7182FB by Pit Boss certainly fits this requirement. Its grilling compartment is divided; 580 sq. in. for the main rack and 240 sq. in. for the detachable upper rack.
Underneath is a grease rack that automatically drains away grease into a bucket connected to the grill. Additionally, it comes with a Flame broiler for open flame grilling which extends its functionality even further.
After a tough job selecting the best pellet smoker from the best, the REC TEC RT-680 Wood Pellet Grill came as the best pellet grill. Like others it comes with quite a sturdy construction and an exceptional digital controller.
Beyond this, what sets it apart is its Smart Grill Technology and of course it’s beautiful design detail. To back all these up is a 6 year warranty, which we felt no other grill manufacturer offered and quite honestly this is a mark of quality you need to look out for.
Pellet Grill Buyer’s Guide
Traeger happens to be the earliest pellet grill brand in the market from way back in the 80s when Joe Traeger’s company made the first pellet grill and patented this noble innovation for some years. Initially this company made home heating furnaces that used wood pellets.
However, when it was not winter their market dropped so the company came up with a unit that would use the compressed wood pellets throughout for stable sales and so the pellet smoker was born.
With time, the thermostat came into being which made regulating the smokers a whole lot easier into what would be termed ‘ set it and forget it’.
This was the onset of some major brands we have in the market today like Green Mountain, Mak, Fast Eddy’s Cookshack and Yoder Smokers. The present pellet smokers are built with a temperature probe that monitors the internal temperature of your food.
Why Pellet Smokers?
- Natural Wood Smoke and original non-fillered Flavour from wood pellets made from compressed sawdust and wood shavings makes them natural and safe for flavouring your meals.
- These units are some of the easiest to operate. They eliminate the hassle that goes with operating charcoal grills and still embrace the convenience of an electric oven.
- Pellet grills incorporate a temperature probe which automatically monitors temperature as your food cooks. So while you are away, you can rest assured that your food will not burn up or undercook.
Most Recognized Brands
- Rec Tec Grills
Rec Tec Grills Pellet smokers fall in the under $1000 category yet their design features top quality and sturdy construction. These units are made in China but the computer controls are made in America along with their powder coat and their final assembling. Their assembly facility is based in Georgia. Their units feature PID temperature controls, a smart Grill technology, powder coated carbon steel construction for utmost strength and performance. Other vital parts are built with 304 gauge stainless steel for hygiene purposes and to prevent rusting.
- MAK Grills
Based in Dallas Texas, MAK first began in 1990 as a steel fabrication company. They later on embraced the pellet smoker innovation to expand their base. One of their most unique innovations is the direct heat FlameZone ® feature with a gas-grill-like convenience cooking. Their pellet smokers are all made of premium stainless steel along with a revolutionary design that incorporates their very own temperature control system ‘The Pellet Boss’.
- Fast Eddy’s – Cookshack Pellet Grills
Think of Fast Eddy’s and the first thing that comes to mind is precision. Fast Eddy’s company has quite an interesting history attached to it. In 1986 just a year after the Traeger Pellet grills had made their entry in the market, retired KMCO Firefighter Ed Maurin cooked at an American Royal event which would be the first of an inherent passion for barbeque. By 1998 his first grill made entry into the space and amazingly made a name that would users would reckon with to date.
Cookshack features a double 304 stainless steel layer sandwiching a high temperature insulation which is responsible for maintaining accurate temperatures.
How they work
Pellet smokers, just as their name indicates, burn wood pellets which are made by compressing sawdust and wood shavings together. Compressed wood pellets burn to produce both the heat used in cooking and smoke to give your meals flavour.
- Turn on the pellet smoker, this will require electric power because its digital controller is powered by electricity same as modern electric ovens.
- This in turns activates the igniter rod which then begins to feed wood pellets into the fire pot. The igniter rod is positioned at the bottom of the pot and will glow when turned on. Once in the pot, the fan automatically blows to light the pellets creating the heat and smoke required to cook your meal.
- Pellets come in several natural flavours including apple, pecan, hickory, maple, peach, mesquite, cherry, and oak to name but a few. Depending on what you prefer, you can have any or a blend of these.
- The burn pot is covered up with a deflector plate which absorbs heat from the burning pellets which then spreads evenly under the cook surface and this is how your meals are cooked. A good thing worth mentioning is that this mechanism completely eliminates flare-ups during cooking.
- It is important to clean the plate regularly to avoid a buildup of grease, sauces, and other debris which will generate soot when smoldered by heat. This also prevents effective transmission of heat.
- With the temperature probe, set your required temperature and timer. The pellets will automatically heat up to the set temperature and maintain this once your food is cooked. Some smokers will also indicate the temperature of your food. Both temperatures are shown on the LED display.
- An advantage with pellets consumed in the smoker is that they are all natural with no fillers which come as a safety guarantee since your meals will only have natural flavour. You will not need artificial flavours in this case.
What to consider when choosing the best pellet smoker
- Pellets Availability– Pellets are made of hardwoods which can be hard to find in some areas and as such can be very expensive to use. However, with ready availability of pellets, you may well consider owning a pellet smoker.
- Space requirements – Smoker pellets vary in sizes from the small portable ones, the built-in smokers to the larger commercial ones which require wider space. All the same pick a size that suites you.
- Durability – Checking the quality of construction, the unit shouldn’t feel too flimsy or delicate during your first handling. However, also check that you get a strong material like steel because first it is safe for food handling and second it is tough enough to last your several years with good maintenance. Powder coated steel is also a good sign of durability. Most pellet grills are made of commercial-grade 304 gauge stainless steel.
- Temperature range – most pellet grills will heat at a temperature range of between 180 and 5000F which will suffice if you are smoking, roasting, grilling or baking. However if you will need to sear your food, you may want to consider a higher temp range say up to 500 or 5500F which you will find in some high end pellet smokers.
- The type of controller it is designed with – there are different controllers with varying temperature accuracies and consistencies. These include:
- Multi-Position Controller: These units feature a control knob with a temperature range of between 180 and 420oF with increments at 25oF. They are known to be good at temperature control since they offer more temperature settings. Their downturn is that they only give fixed temperature settings and may be less accurate in harsh weather.
– 3-Position Controller: these have only three fixed temperature settings; low, medium and high. They are common in low-end grills and will not give you much in terms of temperature control.
– One-Touch Non-PID Controller: these controllers compared to the multi-position controllers will give you much better temperature control since they designed with increments at 5 or 10oF.
– PID Controllers: will give you the best control since they are designed with sophisticated mechanism still with temperature settings at 5of cycles yet still automatically adjust its cycle based on the grill’s temperature which it constantly measures as your food cooks.
- Capabilities – Which offerings are you looking for in a grill? Its capabilities go along with the features it is designed with. Is there room for meat probes in the control board, does it have any Wi-Fi control feature, does it give you an option for direct grilling, can it accommodate extra racks and are these included in its package. These are some things you will need to consider when making your purchase.
- Cooking versatility – How many cooking options do you have with a unit. Can in bake, grill, roast, smoke, and sear?
- Portability – if mobility is a part of your requirements, check that your intended pellet is portable enough.
Care and Maintenance Tips
- Clean before and after use to rid it of any buildup of soot and grease
- Inspect your grease pans and collectors
- Check burners
- Gaskets wear out faster than the other parts. Be sure to replace them the moment you notice signs of wear and tear.
- Go through the instruction manual before you even start using your smoker
- Clean the exterior by wiping of with sponge, soap, and warm water and not scrubbing
- Take care of stubborn stains using diluted ammonia or vinegar and dried water spots using unsweetened club soda
- Motor and fans need regular greasing to operate well
- Grills should not stay idle for long without use. This is the perfect environment for mould to grow under the cover.
A pellet smoker is a worthwhile investment for anyone and comes as a great addition to your kitchen appliances. However, as we always say, the best pellet smoker is a relative term. Always go for what suites your needs.
Depending on space requirements and other convenient features you would love in a unit, take your time so you don’t end up spending your hard earned bucks only to go back to the market.
Greetings, I'm Oliver! My love for garden and DIY projects started since I was in my twenties. Wonderland Gardens is my 'digital land' where I talk about everything garden and home improvement. Write to me at [email protected]Learn more