Advantages of Having a Pellet Smoker
Although you can easily barbecue and grill on a normal grill, investing in a pellet smoker—especially if you’re fond of entertaining guests—will set your barbecues apart from all the other backyard parties. If you’re really looking to be named the “Grill Master”, like your apron says, you’ll want to invest in a pellet smoker.
The pellet grill gives the best production of the smoking grill flavor you’re looking for, with much less hassle than a big-production grill. Most of the smokers on the market, especially those in our guide, are extremely easy to set up and use.
Most stick burners and traditional smokers that produce quality results are often large, expensive, and take an expert-griller to monitor your cooking. With the pellet smoker, you don’t have to monitor too much and actually enjoy the barbecue party you’re hosting. The extra features will also help you maintain the proper temperature range for the task at hand.
To help you pick the perfect pellet smoker, here are some features you should consider first:
Features to consider while choosing a pellet smoker
Especially if you’re looking to cook for a large number of people, you’ll want to have enough space to fit all the meat on the barbecue, without compromising heat distribution. The best range you’re looking for is 700 square inches of cooking surface and two racks. It’s great to be able to have a main rack and an additional, removable upper rack to create space if you’re not using it.
You’ll need a large amount of cooking area as well, if you’re cooking different kinds of meat. You can use the flame broiler, a simple slide-plate with a direct flame so you can smoke and grill—all at the same time.
Working with a variety of different foods, you’ll want to have an adequate range of cooking temperature. The sweet spot is anywhere from 180°F to 500°F. However, you’ll find that some grills are capable of hitting up to 600°F in temperature. These temperature ranges can be set up at the turn of a dial and be ignited electrically, which makes setting the temperature extremely easy. If you need to adjust the temperature after you have begun, you should also look into investing in a pellet smoker with temperature fluctuation controls.
Temperature fluctuation controls
When you’re new to grilling—especially when trying to smoke meat, you’ll need a little help. Sometimes it takes an expert to really know what you’re working with and how to do so. This is where temperature fluctuation controls come into play. These temperature-regulating computers help set and keep the correct, precise temperature for the meat or food you’re working with. This is what sets pellet smoker grills apart from regular grills.
Even though you might think that this is a matter of convenience, it really is necessary for the pellet grill to help you cook to perfection. The Traeger Texas Elite is one that ticks this box, with its Digital Elite Control that keeps the heat within 20 degrees of optimal temperature. But bear in mind, not all products have this feature.
If you see that people have complained that grills have heat zones or hot spots, this might be detrimental to keeping that consistent temperature. You’ll also want to avoid using a manual form of airflow for temperature regulating purposes—this will also mess with the consistency of temperature.
Especially since these grills run on the power of pellets, you’ll need a pellet smoker with a high hopper capacity, like the REC TEC Bull RT-700, which has a hopper capacity of 40 lbs. If a large hopper capacity is not your biggest concern, you can aim for a smoker with an average-sized hopper, holding up to 18-20 lbs of pellets. A smaller capacity may be cumbersome, requiring refills much more often.
Another important feature when considering a pellet smoker is to make sure that you have enough room.
When you are planning to host barbecuing events or need to cook for a lot of people, you’ll want a cooking surface that is not only made of high-quality metal, but one that is sufficiently large, too.
A normal range size is going to be from 429 sq. inches to 875 sq. inches. Although you’ll find some pellet smokers, like the REC TEC Bull RT-700 with over 1,000 square inches. You’ll want to pay attention to the size of the surface area to make sure that it corresponds with your needs.
Whether you’re going to be stationing this pellet smoker in the corner of your backyard deck for the next few years, or you are going to be investing in one for your camping adventures, you’ll want the weight of the smoker to reflect its purpose. Lightweight pellet smokers like the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett are great for portability.
With a higher quality model, you can expect a more interactive controller. Some may be customized, easy-to-use, and can adjust the temperature in increments of five degrees. Other, less-expensive smokers will have controllers that only contain three settings, like low, medium, and high. Although effective, they aren’t very accurate when it comes to adjusting it to a specific temperature for the meat you’re cooking. You might actually end up having less control over the temperature than you would with a regular grill. Therefore, we would definitely recommend that you invest in a pellet smoker that has digital control.
WiFi Remote Controls
With everything turning to WiFi and heading into wireless territory, your barbeque experience is no exception. There are some pellet smokers, like the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett, which can be controlled through an app on your phone—bringing grilling truly into the territory of modern technology. When looking for the perfect pellet smoker, it’s not essential to have WiFi remote controls, but it definitely brings an element of a quality first-impression. Plus, if you’re tech-savvy and you have everything controlled on your phone anyway, from your alarm system to the air-conditioning, you might as well consider this for your grill, too.
Just like with anything else and any other product you can buy—it pays off to have a quality pellet smoker. On that note, you should be aware that it might look impressive on the outside – but as they always say, never judge a book by its cover.
Even if it has a stainless steel finish on the outside, the manufacturer may have saved money on the interior design. You’ll want to focus mainly on the quality of the internal construction, rather than on its appearance.
Ease of Cleanup
One thing that most grillers can agree on is that they despise the cleanup—no matter how much they enjoy the grilling process. After you’ve used your grill for 15 hours, you’ll want to prevent ash build-up as much as possible. This means a cleanup feature in the smoker, like a removable ashtray, can help. This will force the ash to accumulate at the bottom of the unit, where it shouldn’t have any impact on the actual cooking. Fortunately, smokers usually burn pellets easily, so you won’t have much ash to deal with in the first place.
As with any other equipment that you buy, you’ll want a machine that the brand actually backs up, as well. With a pellet smoker, you can invest in one with a 3-to-5 year warranty, which is often the average. This will give you peace of mind and confidence in your purchase, as a pellet smoker can be a pricey investment.