The Best Pellet Smoker for Home Cooks
Americans love to barbeque outdoors. Traditionally, barbequing can easily be achieved by wood, charcoal, with the barbecue sauce. But gas, propane-powered grills and meat injector to boost flavor have helped cut down time and energy to accomplish this task in the past several years.
However, savvy barbeque enthusiasts still found that gas, propane, and even wood still had gaps to fill in terms of convenience, temperature precision, and even flavor. And so the pellet smoker was born.
Pellet smokers look like traditional gas and propane grills, but the similarities end there. From the technology, fuel to flavors, pellet smokers have dominated the market with their automated and digital controls so that you can just place your meat on the cooking surface, set it and leave.
The best pellet smoker is designed to indirectly smoke your meat at the set time and temperature, so you can go back to a meal nicely cooked to your desired taste and doneness.
An excellent pellet smoker affords you precise temperature control while giving your meat a tasty and smoky flavor – all with the convenience of the smoker’s high-tech features.
How do Pellet Smokers Work?
All pellet smokers come with a digital control panel of some sort, most of which are similar to what you see indoor and wall ovens. You simply need to set the temperature and smoking time, and then, leave the meat to cook. It works by the very virtue of “set-it-and-forget.”
Pellets are the smoker’s fuel. Pellets are compressed sawdust, taking the form of an extra-large pencil eraser.
Pellets are fed by an auger which, then, falls into a burn pot. The pellets ignite to produce real fire. A hot spot is located directly above the burn spot where heat is spread evenly and helps minimize hot and cold spots.
It is easier to imagine the pellet smoker as a wood-fueled convection oven where heat is evenly circulated inside the smoker, resulting in an evenly-cooked delicious meat.
Pellet Smoker Buying Guide
With all the good things that a pellet smoker has to offer, you might find yourself excited to purchase your own unit.
However, you must remember that like everything else, these devices aren’t created equally. Some smokers carry a generous degree of bells and whistles while others carry the basic features but still deliver the smoking/grilling task splendidly.
It is wise to educate yourself first with the different factors that make a certain pellet smoker a suitable option for you.
If you’re going to spend $400 up to a couple of thousand dollars for a smoker, you must ensure that the quality is well worth the price. A dependable pellet smoker unit should last a long time and that its parts are durably built to prevent or minimize repairs and replacement.
Typically, pellet smokers are made of stainless steel, some of which are coated to prevent rust and wear. The overall unit must look and sound sturdy and should be made of high quality materials.
A pellet smoker should give you a good degree of temperature control; otherwise, it will only be as good as a gas smoker or wood grill.
Temperature control is a very important factor since this feature is what truly sets pellet smoker from the older generations of smoker. The ability to control temperature is variable from one brand to another.
But in most cases, the unit should come with a computer-regulated program or digital panel where you can simply push buttons to achieve the temperature you want.
It is important to determine how well the unit holds the set temperature and up to what degree it fluctuates. If the differences hover between +/- 10 degrees, then it’s a fairly accurate unit. It’s good to choose a unit with 5-degree increments for better control and precision.
Size and Dimension
Countryside grilling may afford you the space for bigger-sized smoker unit, but if you live in an urban area, picking the right size of the pellet smoker is an important factor.
You probably only have a small patio or backyard as grilling space, and getting the wrong smoker size might make it difficult for you to grill and socialize at the same time.
Size is also an important consideration if you entertain guests regularly or smoke huge batches of meat at the same time. If you see yourself toting the unit when camping or going to the beach, you must make sure that you’ll be able to handle the size of the smoker from loading to transporting.
Most of the pellet smokers start at the range of $400, going up to a couple more thousand dollars. Needless to say, these smokers are expensive than the traditional gas and propane types and it’s good to determine how much you’re willing to shell out so you don’t go over your budget.
Expect to see pellet smokers with a slew of bells and whistles to be more expensive than the basic ones. However, you must check if the price is reasonable for the features that you need.
Fortunately, pellet smokers are efficient burners. This means that the unit will burn most of the wood pellets completely and leave little ash to deal with. This makes pellet smokers a lot easier to maintain than the other types of smoker units.
Some models have an ash catcher so it’s easier to take out the ash and dump when needed. You can wipe down grease and food debris with a clean cloth and let the unit air dry before using. The easier it is to maintain the smoker pellet, the better you can enjoy this cooking investment.
Top 5 Pellet Smokers for Home Cooks
Whether you’re a home cook with a penchant for smoked meat or just a hobbyist who enjoys backyard grilling, this Camp Chef pellet smoker is an excellent choice for its size, ease of maintenance, and precise temperature control.
The PG24 is well-equipped with numerous features to help the modern griller achieve as much control and reliability, from its quality of construction, sensors to digital thermometer.
- The pellet hopper can carry as much as 20 pounds of pellets. This helps eliminate the need to refill the hopper every so often.
- The unit is equipped with a LED digital temp control that allows you to fully control every aspect of the grilling/smoking process. This temperature control panel allows you to pick the right temperature for the right type of meat. There’s also a built-in meat probe so you know the meat’s internal temperature at any given point of the cooking time.
- The unit’s temperature can reach as high as 500F degree.
- It is well-built with quality materials, and at 127 lbs, feels sturdy and durable enough for most cooking needs.
- It comes with a drop down cleaning system which makes cleaning the unit easier.
- It only carries 1 year warranty.
- It is said that the product is too pricey for its type and model.
The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill may look ordinary, but it was built with advanced technology in mind.
Unlike other pellet smokers which you’ll have to manually set and control the temperature from the panel; this one is wifi-enabled and allows you to check the settings remotely via your smart phone or computer.
It has notable portability and proprietary thermal sensor to keep make temperature monitoring convenient.
- The Davy Crockett weighs only 57 lbs and comes with foldable legs. It is portable and can easily fit in most car trunks.
- You can control the temperature through your phone using an app. This remote ability gives you more freedom to do other things while the meat cooks. Furthermore, you can also set timer alerts and adjust settings on the smoker remotely.
- It has easy to use digital controller and meat probe temperature reader. You can set the temperature between 150-500F degrees with 5-degree increments.
- It is notably cheaper than other pellet smokers.
- It lacks a carrying handle that make it challenging for one person to set up or transport.
- It doesn’t originally come with a grill cover.
Manufactured by the pioneering pellet smoker company, it’s hard not to trust a smoker that comes from Traeger.
This specific model, BBQ115.01 is first remarkable for its seamless old school and modern look.
This is a very basic pellet smoker which is easy to operate, and equipped with all the important features for a convenient grilling/smoking session.
- It is easy to use. The comprehensive instruction manual makes it easy to set up and use even for a first-time user of pellet smoker.
- It is decently-priced for a smoker coming from a well-known and established brand.
- It comes with an electronic start system which automatically ignites the pellets and prompts the fan to work. This allows the unit to heat up quickly and evenly.
- It comes with a digital temperature control so you can set the desired temperature precisely.
- It has a smaller cooking surface than most models of pellet smokers.
- It cannot sear meat. A separate searing kit must be purchased separately.
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, the REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill provides an enormous amount of control to the user – from setting the temperature to mandating how much pellets to use.
It is equipped with a large cooking area that heats easily and evenly. It costs $600 which can seem more expensive than others, but proves to be efficient and durable enough for most grilling needs.
- The unit heats up quickly. Its maximum temperature is 500F degree with 5-degree increments. Once the pellets are ignited, the unit heats quickly regardless of the outside weather condition.
- It comes with 680 inches of the cooking area which is larger in comparison to other grill brands and models.
- It is also highly efficient with pellets. It comes with an even bigger pellet hopper at 40 lbs, but the unit doesn’t waste a lot of pellets as it works.
- It comes with a six-year warranty.
- It doesn’t come with a searing feature. A separate searing kit needs to be purchased separately.
- Accessories like grill cover and searing kit are not included in the package.
The Grilla Grills Silverbac has all the useful features required for a pellet smoker, but they’re all not that different from other brands and models.
This unit comes with a digital “set-and-forget” control so you can grill with minimal attention and supervision. It is sturdy and made of quality materials.
The Silverbac is also easy to use, making it a great choice for both the beginner and seasoned outdoor grilling enthusiast.
- It is equipped with an intuitive digital control to set the desired temperature and rate of pellet consumption.
- The heavy-duty hinge easily opens partially or completely, even with just one hand.
- The round-shaped cooking area helps ensure that heat is evenly distributed and that there are no hot or cold spots.
- It is made of high-quality stainless steel and coated with powder finish to ward away rust and wear.
- It weighs 170 and is less portable than other pellet smokers.
- Its round cooking space seems to limit the amount of meat you can grill/smoke in one go.
Pellets smokers are some of today’s most ingenious inventions for the home cooks. A stay-at-home mom or dad with little to no experience operating a pellet smoker will find the Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill an excellent choice for their level of grilling experience.
You’d basically want a pellet smoker you can easily operate and understand and the PG24 has excelled very well in this area. The digital control is impressive, but home cooks will certainly appreciate this smoker’s ease of operation and maintenance above all.