Best Pellet Smoker: The Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Are you in a mess about finding the best pellet smoker?
- Are you in mess in determining which actually is the best pellet smoker in 2017, as there are hundreds of products having their good and bad sides?
- Need to know which is the best pellet smoker for home use?
- Looking for some pellet smoker reviews?
- Do you have many more questions regarding smoker like these of above?
No worries. Once I was in your position,thus I know what question might comes across your mind. You’ll find the answer of ’em all below in the comprehensive buying guide I’m providing below.
In my early time, I was cruising the internet to find some reviews and a buying guideline. But I really never have found a “comprehensive” one.
So here I am, providing reviews of the products I’ve came in touch with in my 7+ years of smoking experience. And, with a comprehensive buying guide, trying to help people find the best pellet smoker that meets their condition.
In this guide, you’re gonna get-
- Quick comparison between smoker types, and get to know why pellet smokers are one of the best.
- Quick introduction to a pellet smoker, if you are not familiar with it.
- A very useful comparison table, comparing metrics of the best pellet smokers in the market, to help you decide.
- Reviews of the top pellet smokers available in the market in 2017.
- A comprehensive buying guideline, explaining what should you keep an eye on while choosing a pellet smoker.
- Some frequently asked questions and some words from me, as an somewhat expert.
Pellet vs Electric vs Charcoal and so, which one is the best:
Pellet, electric, charcoal, gas these are the main four types of smoker available in the market now. Each of them was created for certain reason. Each of them has their unique good sides, and bads as well. So it might be confusing determining what type of smoker will suit your conditions best, and will give you ultimate tasty dishes!
Well, firstly talking about electric smokers, they’re good. They’re well control-able, not messy and clean. But the biggest problem of them is you really don’t get that organic yummy smoky tested dishes from it, no matter even if you use wood chips! It kinda tests artificial. That can really be a deal breaker, for me it was.
Charcoal pretty much overcomes that taste issue of electric smoker, not by 100 percent though! But the biggest problems with charcoal smokers? They can be really messy! It’s hard and time-consuming to clean a charcoal smoker clean and these type are smokers are also less durable than others!
Gas smokers are better from the two of above in these issues. But, they can be really expensive to maintain and the heat sometimes get uneven and un-control-able! So, not perfect, yet!
Pellet smoker, probably the best type of smoker:
In a good pellet smoker, you’ll find none of the issues of above. And, you’ll rarely find any other issues with a pellet smoker! Of all the different smoker types available, pellet smokers are the easiest to operate as they’re thermostatically controlled. Just set it and forget it!
The best thing about pellet smoker is it keeps thing natural, thus you always get that pure smoky flavor, without using wood chips! And, it is easily controllable and cheap to maintain. Thus I prefer pellet smokers most! And you’ll rarely find any unhappy pellet smoker owner.
What actually is a Pellet smoker:
Pellet smokers are basically a re-modeled home heating system, introduced by Oregon’s Traeger in 1982. It used to operate by burning wood pellets made from compressed sawdust, which was a by-product of local lumber milling.
But demand for these kinda furnaces and wood pellets dropped off after winter. So Traeger came up with an innovative idea and they attached a grill that would burn pellets to operate. This is basically how pellet smokers was made first, and it’s still the basic operation system of modern day pellet smokers.
But this smokers were to basic. Most of the smoker controller had three settings—low, medium, high; and there wasn’t any temperature probe in the oven to create a feedback loop either.
So a user would never have any information about whats’s going on inside and what’s the actual temperature there. Thus he could never have total control over the process as they did’t have any chance to make changes according to the condition inside.
But the scenario is different now. All the manufacturers of pellet smokers have switched to digital thermostatic controllers which dictate pellet-feed commands based on the information given by a temperature sensor, positioned inside the cooking box.
It operates just like the oven in your kitchen, you just set the desired cooking temperature, and the heating system will adjust according to situation to maintain that set point. There’s an LED display that will show you all the data like, your set temp, current temp inside and all. And most models will allow you to toggle between set temp and actual temp readings from the internal thermostat.
Comparison Table of Top 10 Best Pellet smoker:
Here, in this comparison table, I’ll compare the features and specs of the best pellet smokers available in the market now. This will make your decision making easier. So, have a look at the comparison of top pellet smokers –
Best pellet smokers reviews 2017:
In this segment, I’ll honestly review the best pellet smokers available in the current market, that I’ve came in touch with. These are actually the top considerations for you if you wanna get the perfect smoker for you. So, lets have a look at the best pellet smoker reviews 2017:
1.REC TEC Wood Pellet Smoker:
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For the first line I’ll say it’s the best pellet smoker under 1000. In fact, the best pellet smoker around.
Not only me, most of the consumers also think to. Around 95% consumer rated it 5 starts out of 5 and some mentioned that they lacked another 2 stars. Consumers have been fully satisfied with this unit and I barely find any unhappy owner of REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill.
There are hundreds of reasons for saying that. But firstly comes its smart grill technology that maintains a precise temperature from 180ºF to 500ºF in 5º increments. Thus you can set any temperature you need to cook your food perfectly. And temperature doesn’t fluctuate much; in fact, minimal. The smart grill technology is one of the biggest reason I name it as the best pellet smoker.
Huge cooking space:
Then comes it’s huge cooking space of 702 Sq.inches. You can handle any family gathering and reunion of friends with it. And it works full functionally even when fully loaded. A consumer mentioned that he cooked food for 13 adults and five children in a thanksgiving. He cooked 24 pounds of turkey, 12 pound ham and some veggies with the smoker.The taste was great, made everyone go full there were left overs Thus you can guess how much food it can cook at a time perfectly.
The smoker features a touch-pad which is pressure-sensitive.That makes it easy to set the temperature and have it maintained throughout the duration of its use.
It has a PID algorithm. You don’t have to worry if you don’t know what that means. Just know that it’s another proprietary technology that can maintain constant temperature.
Large display for control:
With the large LED display of it, you get to know what actually in going on. It shows all the data you need to cook the food perfectly like temperature inside now (if there’s ant fluctuation), remaining time, temperature you set etc. You’ll have the control over the full cooking process with this display.
It looks premium outside with it’s exterior. And, it’s too durable with that. It has a high temperature durable textured powder coat finish along with micro polished stainless steel bull horn handles.
Pellet use is far less than you’d expect in a high end smoker like this. Thus it’s cheaply maintainable.
It might look like a complex machine but actually, assembling it is easy and pretty straight forward and will take about an hour.
You’ll get a lengthy 6-year limited warranty for this smoker, which can be considered as one of the most extensive within the product category. And the customer service was refreshingly personal, prompt and first rate.
I recommend using REC TEC Premium Hardwood Pellet with REC TEC Grill. Manufacturer have precisely calibrated it to produce accurate reliable cooking temperatures when these pellets are used with it.
Quick Pros n Cons:
- Smart grill technology.
- Huge cooking space.
- Brilliant and constant heating.
- Durable, sturdy and premium.
- Produces natural tested dishes.
- Price might be little high, except that I that i haven’t found any concerning issues to talk about.
2.Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill
Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill; Best pellet smoker under 100:
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The Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill is a great little smoker priced under 100 bucks, in fact 80! This smoker is perfect for the price. It will give you decent performance in all the sections, and great in terms of taste of the dishes! On the other hand, it will cost you less than you can expect for a Offset smoker.
2 cooking chamber:
The smoker has 2 chamber, Main and firebox. This technology is used for getting classic indirect cooking through the transmission of smoke, low heat, and flavor, through the cooking chamber.
You get a 290 square inches of cooking surface in main chamber, and 140 sq. inches in firebox chamber (for foods you wanna get burnt in direct smoke). So the cooking space is good for a little smoker like this and it can handle a little army.
There is a simple door in this unit for easy ash removal and a convenient side shelf as well. This will make the cleaning job easy for you. Though it doesn’t get that dirty, still a help is a help.
It comes with adjustable dampers. If you need to adjust heat and smoke depending on what is preferred, this will make things easy for you.
The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is ergonomically designed for user friendliness. It’s very simple to operate and really it’s no complicated machine.
Even after being cheap, the build quality is surprisingly good for a cheap smoker like this. The body is made of good materials and thus it’s somewhat durable. With care you can use it for pretty long.
It comes with a cool touch handle , allowing you to move the smoker around with a firm grip without burning your hand.
The grates inside cooking space is porcelain coated. Thus it doesn’t get unable to use after a little use.
I recommend using a grill cover to protect your investment and keeping the firebox clean to avoid flare up.
There’s a mixed review to this product from the consumers. But I found there were some misleading reviews from some of the consumers. They didn’t realize the machine well and thus complained about wrong things. But some of the intelligent users made a little bit adjustment to the product and thus it performed great, like a middle ranged smoker. You can check the reviews from here.
For my word, I’ll say it’s not a 500 dollar smoker. So you’ll have to admit that it’ll have some issues. But the good thing about the smoker is with some adjustment you can overcome these issues. Thus, for my word as a consumer, I’ll give it a good review of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Quick Pros n Cons:
- Amazingly low priced for its performance.
- Have a good combined cooking space being a little sized smoker.
- Simple door and convenient side shelf for easy cleaning.
- Adjustable air damper.
- Materials used to build this are okay, not great.
- Produces inconsistent heat sometime.
- Kind of small if you wanna handle large gathering, otherwise okay.
3.Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill
Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill:
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The camp chef PG24 Pellet grill was designed keeping amateur smokers in mind. Manufacturer added tons of features and easy operation system to make the smoking process easier for beginners. When it comes to ease of use, this will definitely prove to be an option that is exceptional.
There’s a built-in digital thermometer in it to take the guesswork out of cooking. With the thermometer, you will know the exact situation inside the cooking chamber, thus you can take action according to the situation. No more over cooked or under cooked from now!
Controls on this unit are excellent. It maintains the heat consistently. The temperature inside doesn’t fluctuate much, thanks to its dual temperature control sensors that monitors and controls the process. When temperature falls, the hopper throws another pellet on the fire according to the reading of the sensors to heat the unit up. No other type of smoker can provide this type of control.
This pellet smoker has a large cooking area of 560 cubic inches, decorated with removable upper racks. Thus you can cook good amount of food at a time to serve a small gathering.
Heating on this unit is brilliant. It can risen the temperature up to 500 F, while other smokers struggle to get close around 400. With this kind of heating, you can cook many more kind of food that you can’t do with other units, such as poultry.
The Camp Chef PG24 is a solid built unit that weighs in at 128 pounds. It’s a sturdy unit that is made of steel, so it promises durability. Users mentioned they have been able to use this for long period with minimal maintenance.
It’s pellet hopper has a capacity of 20 pounds, and that’s great. There’s no chance of running out of fuel in the middle of cooking. The pellets are automatically dispensed throughout the cooking process. And, it consumes less pellets than other similar ones. Thus cooking on this is cheap also.
Cleaning this smoker is easy because of its trap door. In this one, you’ll have easy access to the burn pot, and won’t have to dig through grease and ashes to clean this one. It’s much easier to clean this than most other units in the market.
Consumers have been happy with this smoker. They’ve rated it highly and mentioned it was a great value for the money for them. You can see what consumers are saying about the product from here.
I found the material used for lid is a disappointment. It’s doesn’t maintain the standard of it’s other parts. And, I recommend using some hand precaution, especially when the temperature is more than 400 degrees F.
Quick Pros n Cons:
- Brilliant heating unit, more heat and less fuel consuming.
- Great control with dual temperature sensors and built-in thermometer.
- Good cooking area with removable upper racks
- Somewhat effortless to clean
- The lid material is not good.
- One can find the price to be a bit high.
3.Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill
TRAEGER BBQ155.01 PELLET GRILL:
Traeger has been a old name in producing great pellet smokers is the BBQ155.01 Junior is another great on fromthem. Being made for small families, it’s named junior. And thus it doesn’t have a huge cooking space, but adecent space of around 300 sq. inches. But for quality, taste of dishes, efficiency, etc., it beats every other smokerin this range.
Before getting to other details, I have to talk about the dishes it produces. It might have other great features, butthe taste of dishes beats them all. It so organic and smoky, and it’s exactly what you’ll want from a smoker. I foundno owner that could complain about the food’s taste.
Unlike many other pellet smokers, it features an electronic auto start. You just need to turn the switch on and thenthe pellet will be automatically heated and will be fed directly to the auger.
GREAT HEATING UNIT, AND GREAT CONTROL WITH THERMOSTAT:
Like other traeger smokers, heating unit has been good on this one too. Being s mid ranged smoker, it can reachconsistent high temperatures like the REC grill, which is a 1000$ smoker. Because of the good heating unit, thetemperature doesn’t fluctuate even when it’s full. The auger and the induction fan will work together to provideconsistent heat. And it provides much more even heating than gas or propane.
Digital thermostat on this unit takes the guesswork out of equation. The temperature will be detected andadjusted automatically according to situation. Chances of getting over-cooked or under-cooked food are not there.
The entire unit is very easy to operate. Traeger wanted this smoker to make user friendly, thus they made sure it’snot complicated. It will suit great even a beginner smoker.
This smoker is portable, thanks to its fold-able legs and attached wheel. So this smoker becomes a great choice forcamping needs.
This unit is well built with a bronze led finish. Material on the smoker is good, and it is expected to provide gooddurability. Users mentioned they could use this one for pretty long, without any major issue.
EASY TO CLEAN:
The junior is fairly easy to clean. The primary reason for that is it doesn’t get too dirty. It’s large drip pan rarelycatches fire from grease drippings. The grease is also nicely channeled to the drip bucket thus it doesn’t get dirty.And it won’t need necessary clean after every use. It might need one after several uses.
It has a fuel capacity with it’s 10-pound hopper. It’s enough to handle foods that fit in its comparatively smallcooking space.
Only issues it has is low cooking space. If you don’t cook for large family or that frequently, it’s great choice foryou. Otherwise, not! And it is a little bit expensive to maintain as it consumes a little bit more pellets than others,to maintain it’s great heating.
QUICK PROS AND CONS:
- Great and consistent heating.
- Smart temperature control.
- Awesome taste of dishes it provides.
- Ease of cleaning.
- Little expensive to maintain.
- Comparatively low cooking space, if you need to cook for a large crowd. Otherwise, okay!
How to choose the Perfect and Best pellet smoker for you : Pellet smoker Buying Guide:
How to choose the Perfect and Best pellet smoker for you : Pellet smoker Buying Guide:
Okay, let me help you decide yourself which unit will be perfect for you according to your conditions. In this guide, I’m gonna tell you what should you keep an eye on while looking find the best pellet smoker for you. I’ll describe what makes a pellet smoker good or bad.
Let’s get started.
Firstly, determine why are you buying it for:
Reason behind saying this is, manufacturer makes different smoker to serve different purposes. They make cheap small smokers, as well as large costly smokers. So, if you doesn’t cook often and when you do, you cook only for little family having 3-4 members, buying a 1000 bucks large smoker would be foolish.
So, first determine the purpose you are buying it for.
If you need to cook small amount of foods for a little family, go for a smoker that is cheap because of not being too large, and is useful with good features like heating, temperature control, ease of cleaning etc.
The Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill can be a great choice for this. It is the best pellet smoker under 100 and it handles small amount of food better than any other.
If you like to have large friend or family gathering often, thus need to smoke large amount of food, go for something big and useful like REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill.
In this case, you need to make sure that the smoker doesn’t only fit large amount of food, but also doesn’t fluctuate much in terms of temperature while loaded fully. And the REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill doesn’t do so. Certainly it handles large amount of food well and it’s the best pellet smoker under 1000.
If you have to do both, means generally need to cook food for less persons, but sometimes have somewhat bigger gathering, something like Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill would be ideal.
In this case, you need to make sure it has a decent amount of cooking space, around 500-600 cubic inches, and it’s heating unit won’t fall apart while given the pressure of a fully filled cooking area. So decent cooking space and good heating unit are must for this category, and nothing is better than Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill for this.
Secondly, fix you budget:
There are hundreds of products in the market, with different price tag and features. Among this large amount of products, choosing the perfect product for you can be real mess without having a budget in your mind.
So, my recommendation is you keep a budget in you mind, and have a bit of liquidity in it.
Just like, “I need a smoker for this kind of need and willing to spend around (***) bucks for it. And in too much necessary, can add (***) bucks”. Having a clear thought like this would help you decide.
If you need a cheap, little, yet useful smoker under 100$, go for this product.
If you need medium sized useful smoker around 500-600$, go for this product.
If you need a big, loaded with features, and high end smoker under 1000$, go for this product.
Thirdly, rate a smoker good having this features:
Good heating unit: It’s a must. At the end of the day, all matters is the taste of dishes, and it depends on getting the perfect temperature. You won’t like a under cooked or over cooked food. So make sure a smoker has a good heating unit that can risen the temperature high and also has good control-ability.
Good space with removable racks: In a smoker, you need good amount of space to cook the amount of food you need. So make sure it has a decent amount of cooking space. And, having removable racks into the cooking area is useful, as removing the rack, you can cook a full turkey or something like that in it.
Build quality and durability: Who like a cheaply built material? I’m sure no one does, for any kind of machine. So, make sure your unit is also made of good material, that ensures durability. You won’t like your smoker fall apart after a little use. Not to let this happen , choose a smoker built well with quality materials.
Frequently asked questions about pellet smokers:
Q: Are pellet smokers really better than other smoker types?
A: For a quick answer, yes it is! But make sure, you are not comparing a pellet smoker of 100 bucks with a other smoker of 1000 bucks. In a certain price range, pellet smokers perform better than other ones.
Q: How the foods smoked by pellet smoker tastes like?
A: Bingo! you described the best reason why pellet smokers are rated highly. Forget all other things, at the end of the day, taste matters. And pellet smokers provides organic tasted foods, with real smokey flavor, which most other type of smokers don’t provide even with wood chips.
Q: Is a pellet smoker costly to use and maintain?
A: Nope, but little costlier that electric smoker, not by a big margin though. But beats the electric ones in terms of taste of dishes by a big margin.
Q: Is this the best type of smokers?
A: For me and many other experts, it is! It’s the ‘old-school’ kinda thing!