The Best Pellet Smoker Reviews (2017-2018)
There is nothing more interesting to do in summer than having a get together with your family and friends in your own backyard. It might be a good idea to upgrade your cooking set up during this time not only to impress but also to make sure that you get to enjoy the best food during these gatherings. If you are in the market to upgrade to the best pellet smoker, then this article will surely be helpful for you.
With all the information overload around, it can be very difficult to find the best pellet grill. I made this article for everyone who is looking forward to owning their first smoking equipment. I have gathered all the information available and tested some of the best machines on the market right now so that you will be guided when you decide to buy one.
Top 5 Best Pellet Smoker Reviews Of 2017
What is a pellet smoker?
No one can precisely say at what particular moment in history humans learned how to create fire to cook or used smoking as a method of cooking. It just happened, and the world suddenly began smoking food items. Vegetable, cheese, and meat products among others were smoked and enjoyed by generations of humans.
In the early times, people made use of smoking houses to smoke their food. As the years moved on, smoking food products were no longer limited to smoking houses. Today, it has been brought to your homes.
A pellet smoker is a special electric-powered device that helps make smoking food easier and hassle-free in the comforts of your home. It has an automatic system that allows heat and smoke to continuously form by delivering pellets made of compacted sawdust. This heat will cook your food indirectly and the smoke adds flavor on it. Ancient humans would probably be jealous of this device, knowing that they used shoddy materials and didn't have any equipment to monitor the temperature accurately compared to the smokers marketed nowadays.
Is It A Smoker or A Grill?
Over time the terminology "pellet smoker" and "pellet grill" have become interchangeable. Most people, especially those that just starting out, tend to call the smoker a grill because it looks similar to grills that you often use when barbecuing.
However, it does not function well the way grills do. It does not sear well the way a charcoal grill or a gas grill does. A pellet smoker can be considered more like a fantastic convection oven than a grill. Nevertheless, you can still call it a pellet grill.
Here is a quick comparison between smokers and grills:
Food is cooked with indirect heat at temperatures below 200 degrees
Food is cooked with wood or charcoal on low heat (200-250 degrees)
Gives a smoky flavor depending on what was used to smoke
No significant flavors unless chips used for smoking is added
Usually, electric which makes it easy to use and control temperature
There are a lot of grill choices. You can choose from wood, charcoal, gas, electric, or a combination of these
Smoky flavored and moist meat
If you are not careful, you can get a dry and burned meat
You can use charcoal or wood to smoke, but the best fuel for smokers are compressed sawdust called pellets
Gas, electricity, charcoal, wood
What Are Pellets?
You can use different fuel sources for smoking. The best choices for a smoker though are pellets. These are compressed sawdust that looks like dog food.
Traeger heating was the first to use pellets as a fuel source in 1982. It was originally used as a fuel for heating devices during winter. In summer when the demand for pellets was low, Traeger developed a grill that made use of pellets for smoking.
From that point on, the pellet smoker became a hit, and several companies started making smokers that utilize pellets as a fuel source.
Comparing the Different Smokers
When it comes to smoking food, you are not actually limited to pellet smokers. Charcoal smokers, propane, and electric smokers are also available. The main difference between these smokers is the fuel source.
Each of the smoker models has their own advantages and disadvantages. Pellet smokers though are much a better choice for the following reasons.
Smoking gives unique flavors to your meat depending on the wood you have chosen. It reminds you of the simplicity of life in ancient times. Pellet smokers can offer this without you being exposed to chemically-treated wooden chips nor the fiery smoky taste of charcoal. Also, propane and electric smokers aside from emitting potentially harmful smoke do not give enough smoke to affect your food's taste substantially. You will experience a safe smoked and moist meat with a pellet smoker.
• Better Heat Control
Pellet smokers offer better heat control than other smokers. The temperature reading device in the cooking chamber sends signals to the controller to allow the flow of pellets to the heating system through the use of an auger. This makes smoking just a waiting game. You do not need to fear about your meat getting burned or uncooked in some parts because of the temperature control of pellet smokers.
• Better Clean Up
Unlike wood and charcoal smokers, pellets create a relatively lesser volume of ash. This makes cleaning a pellet smoker a breeze. It does not contain harmful chemicals and fillers. The flame ups are nonexistent.
Aside from these benefits, the pellet smoker also has a few disadvantages.
Pellet smokers can be quite expensive. Smoker prices that reach almost $1000 are common when you talk about pellet smokers. In comparison, you can get a good charcoal smoker for less than a hundred dollars.
• Does Not Sear Well
As a smoker, this is to be expected of a pellet smoker. It cooks food with indirect heat below 500 degrees Fahrenheit. On top of this, it’s one of the best when it comes to maintaining and controlling temperature which really prevents you from attaining that Maillard reaction.
To better illustrate the different smoker, I have compiled some of the similarities and differences between the different smokers in the table below.
Compressed sawdust from hardwood
Natural or briquette which you can add wooden chips for flavor
Natural or Propane (Propane is more popular)
(can become expensive in the long run)
Not so portable as you need to connect to an electric outlet
Semi-portable. You can connect it to a gas pipe or have a gas tank attached
Not so portable as you need to connect to an electric outlet
Deep smoky flavor that does not contain any chemicals
Very rich smoky flavor with a fiery charcoal flavor
Gives a good smoky flavor but your food can have some byproducts after burning gas
Does not give a very rich smoky flavor
Ease of use
Very easy to use
Difficult to start and you need to be skilled to maintain temperature
Very easy to use
Very easy to use
Easy to clean as it has less ash
A bit difficult to clean due to the volume of ash produced
Easy to clean
Easy to clean
How to Choose the Best Pellet Grill
The popularity of pellet grills has risen in the past few years. There is so much information available about it right now which makes it difficult to ascertain which one is the best. It will be a lot easier for you if you know which factors and features to consider before buying your very own pellet smoker.
I think there are 6 main factors that you need to consider.
First and foremost, pellet smokers are expensive. They can cost more that other regular grills. There are inexpensive pellet grills, but you need to realize that you are giving something up for the bargain you are getting. A pellet smoker has a lot of moving parts which makes maintenance difficult. If you opt for a cheap smoker, then it might result in costing you more in the long run due to the maintenance of low-grade parts in cheap smokers. Most high-quality smokers are priced $300 to $1000.
• Construction of smoker
Construction of a smoker is one of the integral factors that you need to consider when buying one. You should choose one that is made of materials that can last for several years to come. It should be durable, resistant to rust, and able to withstand the heat. I find stainless steel pellet smokers as good choices as they are durable and rust free. They can also resist heat and are easier to maintain.
Another important thing about the construction is to check how the parts are connected. Are they connected securely? Does the lid close down without any gaps? If it is not possible for you to check out the smoker personally, then try scouring the Internet and read what people have to say about your grill choice. In addition, a pellet grill made of high-grade materials will not only last longer, but it will also be efficient in its function giving you better results.
• Temperature Range
Temperature range is quite important. Having a pellet smoker that can accommodate temperatures from 180 degrees to 425 degrees Fahrenheit is already adequate. But if you want something that can generate a bit of sear, then you might want to choose a smoker that can go 500 to 525 degrees Fahrenheit. Just remember though that this kind of searing is not as good as what you can get from grilling.
• Pellet Controllers
Pellet controllers are the incredible additions to pellet smokers that make it hassle free to use. The pellet controller allows the temperature control by feeding the pellets into the heating chamber automatically. There are different varieties of pellet controllers. You can choose smokers with LMH controllers, Multi-Selector controllers, one touch LCD controllers, and PID controllers.
Each of the controllers has their own advantages and disadvantages. I personally like the multi-selector controller as they offer more temperature control and most smokers with multi-selector have probes that can check your meat’s temperature.
• Cooking Area
The pellet smoker comes in various sizes. You can get compact-size models, or you can also get large units. When considering your choice, your space at home and how often you cook should be included. Also, pellet grills usually have 2 cooking areas. You will have the main cooking area and a secondary area.I think the best pellet grill is something that just suits your need. I would say that the perfect choice could be a grill with the main area of a 450-square inch. But if you love to get bigger machines and have the space to put it then it wouldn’t be a problem.
• Extra Features
Most pellet smoker makers try to outwit and out sell each other by adding some features to their products. These features may include meat probes and it control boards. Some include direct grilling option and secondary cooking racks. Others have additional working spaces. The most outrageous and unbelievable feature that I have seen was the one with wifi capabilities.
You can simply control and cook using your mobile devices wherever you are. This means that you can cook and leave your food being smoked and come back and it is already ready to eat. The extra features will depend on your preferences. If you want something fancy like a WIFI capability, then get it. But be reminded that these extra features can be an added cost to the exorbitant prices of pellet grills.
The Best Pellet Grill reviews: Top 5
Now it’s time to reveal to you the top 5 choices when it comes to the best pellet smoker.
The Choice for Best Pellet Smoker
I am quite torn between Trager’s, Rec Tec’s, and Green Mountain’s pellet smoker. Each of the three brands offers something unique. However, I find Rec Tec just too expensive especially for an entry level pellet smoker. Green Mountain’s Davy Crocket is a good choice, but it seems so flimsy and has not yet achieved the efficiency of a pellet smoker. Perhaps in the near future it will.
The best pellet grill title goes to Traeger’s pellet grill. It is an amazing entry-level pellet grill and it is very affordable. It has a wide cooking area. It also has a superb digital controller that can maintain the right amount of heat needed for smoking. It is also very durable and will certainly be very useful for several years.