If you are just a beginner in smoking, then pellet smokers can make the process of smoking much easier for you.
As compared to other kinds of smokers, pellet smokers offer a lot of practicality. This way, you can create a masterpiece of similar quality like made by any other smokers, yet with convenience in handling the smoker.
If you’ve got the time to research and the budget to purchase, it’s wise to get one of the best pellet smokers you can, right from the start. Even though your expertise in using one of these cookers may not be fully expert yet, you know you won’t outgrow whatever you purchase.
5 Best Pellet Smokers for 2021
- Camp Chef Woodwind Wi-Fi 24
- 800 sq in
- 30.0 x 42.0 x 49.0 in
- Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill
- 575 sq in
- 55.0 x 49.0 x 27.0 in
- Traeger Tailgater 20
- 300 sq in
- 37.0 x 18.0 x 36.0 in
This Traeger Pro 575 grill is the right choice for a pellet grill as it contains all the features you want in a grill.
If you forget anything while cooking, you can quickly go back to the store while your meat is cooking as its Wi-Fi support control helps you control it from far away and with that. It has a good utensil space, a vast space for cooking, protection for grease, ash disposal, etc. It has enough high or low temperatures to get your work done, but it doesn’t have the best temperatures than other grills.
It is quite up to date grill as it has advanced technology and specifics such as Wi-Fi support. It comes with a special Traeger Grill Guide, a part of the Wi-Fi support to help you cook different meats.
The guide helps you cook fantastic meals using the grill as it tells you the temperature to use and how to use it, step by step. The Traeger App and the grill contain all this information, which makes it effortless to find and use it.
The D2 Direct-Drive is a unique drive train which the grill uses. The D2 Direct Drive makes sure that your meal is exposed to the correct amount of smoke, so the flavor can be maximized. The time of your grill getting to the required time and the temperature variance you can get is also affected by the D2 Direct Drive.
This grill doesn’t have the best temperature range. The grill has a maximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lowest temperature the grill can get to is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
This grill has all the features needed to carry out many tasks and give your optimum meal flavor even though this grill hasn’t got the best temperature range. The temperature range on this grill is good enough to provide you with a flavorful meal, but you might face problems while searing.
The grill is one of the finest choices, whether you are a novice or a grill expert, who needs a sufficient new grill despite the small drawback covered by this grill’s other incredible features.
If we compare the Camp Chef’s Woodwind Wi-Fi 24 with the Traeger model above, it is quite a suitable alternative. As the grill can store vast amounts of pallets as fuel, it is quite ideal for smoking for an extended period.
You can even put your meat overnight without it needing any management and care as the Wi-Fi control feature, and the prolonged smoking keeps the meal smoked. This grill has the features that carry out all the tasks except the maximum temperature, making the searing slow.
It offers a wider temperature range than the Traeger, with a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
The other features this grill has cover-up this disadvantage. You can switch between direct and indirect heating on the fly; this feature is known as Slide and Grill, and many other options will not have this feature. The value of this is that you can deal with higher-end cuts of meat with more careful grilling, resulting in a better final product.
The colorful display, used for setting the timer and managing the grill temperature, is an undervalued feature. Most grills don’t have a bright display as they operate in black and white, making this a unique and pleasant bonus.
The PID controller display can also help manage the smoke your food gets and control the temperature. There are ten levels for managing the flavor of the smoke in your food, each different in intensity, making it very easy to manage it. It is your choice to make smoke an essential part of your food or a subtle one.
The cooking capacity in the Traeger’s Tailgater 20 is an impressive 450 total sq in. A downside about this grill is that it could take some time to heat up and reach the desired time for cooking a meal, so it is advised to start it early, especially if you’re going to have a big gathering. Starting it before 30 – 60 minutes would make sure to heat it thoroughly and evenly.
What sets this grill apart from others on our list is the folding legs, making it a truly portable tailgate grill. At about 70lbs, it’s heavy but not unmanageable to move from location to location. With how the legs fold you can even use it as a tabletop grill without any issues.
Another great feature is the Digital Arc control for consistent temperatures. You can also keep your food ready long term with the “Keep Warm” mode. This is great for those long, cold tailgate mornings for sure! The lowest temp is about 165`F and the max is 500`F, making this a solid temperature range like the rest on this list.
There are additional accessories that can be purchased for this grill, such as a front folding shelf, that will really increase the versatility and function. While it holds only 8 pounds of pellets, you’ll be happy to have the extra storage on hand for travel.
Though Camp Chef’s Smoke Pro DLX is a small grill in terms of size, it can store a whopping 18 pounds of pellets.
As compared to other grills mentioned in this list, the price of this grill is quite economical. The grill allows a smooth grilling experience without any difficulties. It excludes unnecessary luxury features that are expensive and not critical to a well-cooked product.
There are a lot of included features, however, that make things easier for you. It incorporates the ash catching system at the bottom that can be easily cleaned. The hopper of the grill is quite huge, so a large amount of fuel can fit in, which means that you can do the fueling less frequently and only when needed. This way, maintenance tasks are minimized, allowing you to focus more on grilling.
The grill allows you to monitor both the temperature inside the grill and that of the meat. You can set the internal temperature of grills to a specific temperature. The temperature of meat can read from the built-in probes so that you can know when your meat is fully cooked and ready for consumption
Z Grills’s ZPG-450A is a very affordable pellet smoker, yet it has all useful features incorporated into it. It might take some time to work out the temperature controls initially, and you might need to check things manually to ensure the process is going in the desired way
If you need affordable grills within short periods, then this grill is an excellent option. The performance is good enough to do the work smoothly, and the maintenance and cleaning are made easier thanks to the useful features it has.
As compared to other grills, this grill is quite light, with its weight being only 84 pounds. It facilitates mobility, and you can move the grill around and take it with you to new places without any difficulty. So even if your friend doesn’t have a grill, you can take it to his place so you can party together.
While making, the factor of money-saving was considered. So even with 1 pound of pellets, you can do grilling easily for an hour. It means that even in the long run for grilling, you would not have to invest a lot of money for grilling. Another thing that it proves is that it is very efficient since it effectively manages the fuel.
Choosing The Best Pellet Smoker — Buying Guide
The ideal pellet grill would be the one that incorporates many useful features that makes the process of smoking more convenient while allowing you greater control over the grill. While listing out options of the grills you should buy, you should consider the grilling option you are interested in.
Vertical pellet smokers are more suitable if you will use the grill for lighter meat or are more fond of cooking the slower cooking meats over a long time.
However, if you want a multipurpose grill that will offer you versatility in the smoking options, then the freestanding pellet grill is the better option. If you choose the grills based on your usage, then they will fit all the requirements in the best way.
Unlike the traditional grills, pellets grills are more complex in terms of construction. They offer a lot of features because of which their use is extremely convenient. These features are provided by the equipment insides it. For it to function in the intended way, the grill comprises of six major parts. Let’s go through each of them one by one, so we can understand what role they play in the cooking process
Pellet grills are given this name as they use Pellet grills as their fuel. Pellets are small pieces of wood that you insert in the hopper, generally located on the grill’s side. Generally, pellets are made out sawdust, which comprises of pure hardwood. High pressure and temperature, the sawdust is compressed to make pellets. This process highly resembles the way diamonds are created.
However, different brands use different kinds of wood used, and even the process has some variations. If you take pellets from two different brands, you might notice that there appearances and sizes are different.
There are plenty of different woods you can use for smoking, they all carry their own flavors, which is later passed onto the meat through the smoke. As a beginner, it can be a bit difficult to know the flavors that match your taste. It needs a lot of experimenting to find the best combinations that you like. Though the taste is an abstract thing, and you can’t communicate it without food. But still, we have some suggestions for you that will help you on your journey to find out the combinations that will work out for you.
Whether a flavor is light or strong is conditional according to the wood used. If you are looking for a strong, deep smoky flavor, then you should choose wood pellet made out mesquite or hickory is a good option. Alternatively, cherry or apple flavors are more suitable if you are looking for lighter or mild flavors.
Both apple and cherry have mild flavors, so using them ensures the original taste of meat or veggies is not overshadowed by the smoke. For delicate lighter meats or the ones having their own strong flavor, cherry and apple are the best choices.
Available Pellets: Heating and Food Grade
Another thing to remember is that within pellets, there are two kinds’ available- heating pellets and food-grade pellets, and both of them are different. Many people know that heating pellets are also usable for heating purposes, and even pellet grills can run on them. There are many misunderstandings in this regard. Heating pellets can indeed act as fuel, but you shouldn’t use them for this purpose.
Be it any scenario in your pellet grills; you should never use heating pellets. The reason is that they are not created to be used for food. You can face severe health issues if you ignite heating pellets since they release harmful byproducts. Therefore, while purchasing, ensure that the pellets you are buying are of the food grade type. And you should ignore the suggestions of people who ask you to use heating pellets for food.
For moving the pellets within the grill, an augur is used. Pellets are introduced into the grill through the hopper from where they are moved to the firepot using augur. The pellets are burned in the firepot and the smoke and heat produced is used in preparing your meal.
The combustion fan circulates when the pellets are transferred from the hopper to the grill within the grill. By circulation, the combustion fan fuels the fire and produces the heat needed for cooking.
For starting the combustion, the fuel needs to be ignited, which is done using the igniter. The fuel when burns and produces smoke when it is transferred into the firepot. At this stage, the flame is maintained to remain strong by the air given off by the combustion fan. The flames stay consistent with this air from the combustion fan that hovers around the igniter. It also allows you to increase the strength of heat if you want to increase the temperature.
The fire pot is where all the fuel rests and burns. The temperature and the amount of fuel are related in a way that if one increases, the other one increases. However on the other hand, the smoke would be produced in a greater amount when the temperature is low. So, a balance between temperature and smoke should be maintained to be cooked in the best way.
The cooking grates and the food while grilling stays on the barrel. The burned fuel in the firepot would produce smoke that rises and cooks your food and is removed from the grill via the vent located above. This smoke transfers the flavor of the wood onto the food.
With the increased popularity of the pellet grill, a lot of innovation was added to them, and the result is the modern grills that incorporate newer technologies. These newer technologies are added to make the process of grilling and smoking more convenient. Various features are now incorporated, and each of them serves a different purpose. For example, you can check the temperatures of food while they are still on grills and can even move away from grills yet still monitor the food.
Many pellet grills now incorporate the meat probes inside the grills so you can also check the temperature of food besides the temperature inside the grill. This way, without cutting the meat to check if it is cooked, you can know that it is fully cooked and ready for eating.
Instead of opening the grill to read the temperature from the tool, you have the meat probe incorporated in the grill that allows you to read the temperature directly.
Even while you are away from the grills, you can read the temperature and other details on the phone and adjust them since many grills now come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It can offer a lot of convenience since you don’t have to sit beside the grill constantly.
So if you want to move away from the grill to someplace in your house or even leave the house, you can still monitor and control. In the past, people had to shun the idea of grilling if they had to go somewhere since leaving it was unsafe but not anymore.
You are notified if something goes wrong so you can immediately go back to the grill and solve it. Alternatively, if the process is going smoothly, you can stay up to date and from any place can adjust the temperature. A wireless connection is offered in two ways: blue tooth or the internet. With blue tooth, you need to stay in a certain diameter to be able to manage things, but with the internet, you don’t have this restriction.
- Regardless of where you are, using Wi-Fi, you can stay connected with your grill. The condition is that both you and your grill at home should be connected to the internet. Though this feature is great, it’s still a new one, and manufacturers are still considering the limitations. Therefore even while using this feature, it’s better to check your grill from time to time.
- You can connect with your grill using Bluetooth as well, but you have to stay within a certain radius, which is not the case while using Wi-Fi. So if you are not traveling and are somewhere around the grill, it is great for you. You can monitor and manage your grill using your phone. It particularly comes in handy when you are napping or sleeping. By the time you wake up, your meal would be prepared, and if something goes wrong, you would be notified, and you can wake up to attend to the grill.
A Brief History Of Pellet Smokers
Pellet smokers didn’t just start out of nowhere. It is the modification and answer and advanced form of the pellet stove, which were used previously.
The pellet stove originally runs on oil, but the oil crisis in 1973 forced people to search for oil alternatives. It was at that time the use of wood for lighting pellet stoves was suggested and tried.
Later in the late 1970s, using the same concept, the creation of pellets using wood started in the US. The pellets were the size of small bullets that were cylindrical made by compressing sawdust.
The owners of Oregon based heating company- Joe Traeger and an engineer from Washington who worked in Boeing aviation started to experiment with the use of pellets for lighting up stoves. In appearance, the stove they created resembled the traditional stoves, but the main difference was that they used electricity to operate.
The working mechanism was similar to the one we previously mentioned. In the firepot, the pellets were introduced using an auger. An igniter and combustion fan was used to ignite them
Traeger then created the first pellet grill in 1986. In the 20 years that followed, it remained his sole property because of the patent he signed. In this period, there was no competition for him, and he was perfecting his craft.
Traeger’s original design utilized an “LMH” temperature controller. This controller allowed you to set the temperate as high. Low and medium, and for the same reason, it was called LMH. Each category had a certain range of temperatures, and for attaining each category, a particular amount of pellets was required.
This previous method was not effective as the user could not set the temperature according to any other factor besides the one set by the user. There was no way by which the number of pellets could be adjusted. As a result, working with it meant that the user had to stay beside and manage it.
These types of controllers are referred to as non-PID controllers now. As compared to them, PID controllers are much more effective and popular. The popularity can be estimated from the fact that apart from cheap pellet gills, other devices don’t use an LMH controller.
Best Pellet Smokers — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why should you go for pellets grills rather than other types of grills?
The convenient handling is the fundamental reason why you might choose a pellet grill rather than other types. Since the top pellet grills generally work like ovens, handling them is very easy, and even a beginner can prepare perfect dishes. Mainly you need to set the grill at the required temperature, and the grill will do the rest of the work for you. If you go for the best pellet grills available in the market, then the grills take away the tension of tending a fire or adjusting the fuels.
What qualities does a good pellet smoker have?
Temperature control is the first and foremost thing that you should look for in a good pellet smoker. A lot of consistency can be added to your grilling experience if you have proper temperature controls. Three main categories of temperature controls can be used in pellet grills.
First are the non-PID controls, which are old forms of temperature controls. The precision of these as compared to other temperature controllers is relatively low. They are still used, but generally, the temperature set is in the range greater than the value you set. From your desired temperature the actual temperature can even have a difference of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit
PID controls are the second type of temperature controls, and their mechanism is quite similar to the non-PID controllers. However, this kind of control is more precise than the previous one since it uses data from various sources to do some calculations. The heat is then adjusted using these readings so that the temperature falls in the required range.
PID plus controls are the last types that are the most efficient out of all temperature controllers. Generally, most of the PID plus controllers are equipped with Wi-Fi allowing you to monitor your grill even while you are away. These help you to control the grills through your phones.
Are there any cons of using a pellet smoker?
Though many reviews skip out the disadvantages of pellet smokers, we have got you covered. The major con is that pellet grills or smokers take more time to heat up than other grills. If you go for the best ones, they can attain the high temperatures that you require. However, if you for cheap ones achieving a temperature above 600-degree Fahrenheit is hard. Before buying the pellet grill, you should consider this factor as well and should modify the cooking steps if necessary so that they are compatible with the grill you are buying.
How to operate pellet smokers?
Though pellet grills need wood for fuel, they need electricity to operate. So, whenever you plan to use your grill, make sure that an electricity source is available.
The pellets available are of two types, and there is a lot of wrong information related to pellets. Pellets are of heating or food-grade types. Though some people say that you can use the heating grill for cooking purposes, the reality is that you should never use them for cooking purposes. They can pose serious health issues besides ruining the taste of your food. Ensure while purchasing and using that food grade pellets are used.
Pellet grills are even capable of working in really cold weather, which means you can enjoy grilled food even in winter. Though they do work to keep the temperature consistent, they require more fuel. For that scenario to save the fuel expenses, it’s better to buy an insulating blanket to solve this issue.
You are free to use other pellets besides the ones made by your brand as well. The grill comes with manuals, including the needed specifications in the pellets that work well with the grill. However, it is entirely optional, and if you don’t want to research this regard or this baffle you, you can use the pellets made by your brand since they are designed mainly for the grill you are using.
Final Thoughts On Best Pellet Smoker
If you are looking for the best pellet grill in 2020, our recommendation would be Traeger Pro 575. With all its features, it offers a lot of versatility.
The temperature control of the device is precise, and the device is equipped with various features to aid the convenience in handling it. Due to its easy handling, even beginners can use it to have a stress-free smoking and grilling process. This way, they can stay assured that even if they experiment, the resultant product would not be something that is inedible.
We think that anyone who goes for this grill wouldn’t be disappointed after using it.