Comparing The Best Pellet Smokers

best pellet smoker

You know, I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve been convinced:

Food simply tastes way better when smoked with a pellet smoker. The wood pellets used to power the burn give the food a wonderful aroma, smoke the food at an even temperature, and make it difficult to oversmoke.

Then, of course, there’s my favorite advantage to using a pellet smoker:

Their ease-of-use is second to none when talking about backyard smoking options. They’re pretty much set-and-forget. Just calibrate the digital controller to the correct temperature and let it burn.

That’s what makes it so great for when inviting guests over. Unlike a grill or even an electric smoker, these bad boys don’t demand your undivided attention.

Bottom line? There’s a reason wood pellet grill ownership is on the rise. Although slightly more expensive than other backyard smoking options, they’re well worth the expense.

This guide will help you choose the best pellet smoker for your money. Let’s start with my top picks:

  NameCooking spaceTemperature rangeRating 
Best Overall
Green Mountain Davey Crockett Pellet Grill Smoker219 sq. in.150-550F (66-288C)4.9/5Check Price
Best Quality
Camp Chef PG64 Pellet Grill and Smoker560 sq. in.160-500F (71-260C)4.9/5Check Price
Best Value
Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill429 sq. in.160-500F (71-260C)4.6/5Check Price
Professional
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill702 sq. in.180-500F (82-260C)4.6/5Check Price
I

‘ve divided this guide into 2 price points, under $500 and under $1000. I believe that you shouldn’t spend more than that on a home-use pellet smoker, unless you’re planning on catering large events on a regular basis.

For most people these prices will mark the difference between the beginner models and the more advanced, feature-rich and pricier options.

In each price range I review 4 of the absolute best pellet smokers, to give you a range of options. Each smoker was carefully chosen to represent an excellent smoker that will deliver great results.

best pellet smoker under $500

Best Pellet Smoker under $500

The best thing about pellet smokers is that unless you’re buying the absolute cheapest models, there are no bad choices. In this list for under $500, you’ll find pellet smokers and grills perfectly suited for dropping a few burgers at home use like the Traeger Junior Elite, for throwing in the back of the van and using anywhere like the Green Mountain Davey Crockett, or for cooking whole turkeys when you have ten people round on Thanksgiving, like the Camp Chef Smokepro.

Pellet Smoker Comparison Chart

green mountain davy crockett
Best Overall!

Green Mountain Davey Crockett Pellet Grill Smoker

  • 4.9/5 Rating
  • 219 sq. in.
  • 150-550F (66-288C)
  • 31.5” x 34” x 23”
green mountain davy crockett

Recommendation

Explicitly designed as a tailgate smoker with maximum portability and accessibility, the Davey Crockett does what it does really well. It’s small, but it’s so easy to move and runs off of damn near any power source, so if you want a wood pellet smoker you can take literally anywhere with maximum portability and style, this is the one. That’s why in my opinion, this is the best pellet smoker out there for the money.

Our Rating: 4.9/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
219 sq. in.
Temperature range
150-550F (66-288C)
Size
31.5” x 34” x 23”
Cooking racks
1
Weight
57lbs (25.8kg)
Accessories
Meat probe

Green Mountain Davey Crockett Pellet Grill Smoker

First things first, you can actually run this smoker off of a car battery. I found that absolutely astounding, especially considering what else it does.

Now, this is only a portable smoker, and obviously you pay for that in size and power. It has a great temperature range, but unfortunately the cooking area is quite small, only just over 200 square inches, which is about enough for two racks of ribs.

It’s built pretty solidly, which is what you want with a portable system as it’s obviously being moved around a lot more. I’d say it’s similar in build quality to the Traeger Junior Elite, which as a top of the line smoker says all that needs to be said. If something does go wrong, there’s a two year warranty. I’d have liked more, but it’s there, and that’s good enough.

It’s got built in manual controls, but there’s also the option to download an app to your phone so you can control your smoker through your wifi! Honestly, this really impressed me, and I don’t know why other manufacturers aren’t all over this. Apparently there’s a cloud based app coming out soon so you can control your grill anywhere you can get internet, so you could be sitting at your kids football game whilst checking the status of your post-victory feast! The controls are also fully programmable, so you could for example set it to smoke for 5 hours and then cook for 2, finishing just as you pull up onto your drive.

Honestly, if you’re looking for the best wood pellet smoker to use at home, you’re better off with another one in our list, probably the Traeger, but if you need a pellet smoker that’s absolutely portable and able to be powered by damn near anything, this little beast is spot on.

Pros
  • Multiple power options mean you can run this anywhere there’s electricity
  • Inbuilt temperature monitoring
  • Wifi controls from the Davey Crockett app
Cons
  • Quite a small grill size
green mountain davy crockett
green mountain davy crockett wifi
green mountain davy crockett folding
green mountain davy crockett outside
camp chef smokepro stx
Best Value!

Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill

  • 4.6/5 Rating
  • 429 sq. in.
  • 160-500F (71-260C)
  • not specified, but it’s big
camp chef smokepro stx

Recommendation

A bigger pellet smoker than our top budget picks, when you compare it to both the Traeger and the Green Mountain Davey Crocket, you start to realise it doesn’t excel either as a home smoker or a portable model. However, the Camp Chef Smokepro is a competent smoker that’s easy to use and delivers solid performance, without any pomp or flash.

Our Rating: 4.6/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
429 sq. in.
Temperature range
160-500F (71-260C)
Size
not specified, but it’s big
Cooking racks
1
Weight
110lbs (50kg)
Accessories
Meat probe, transport wheels, utility rack

Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill

The Camp Chef Smokepro is a really solid wood pellet smoker, and I mean that in all possible ways. It performs well, with a large cooking area and good temperature range and stability, and it’s built like a bomb shelter. It also holds 18lbs of pellets, which is enough to last almost an entire day of cooking.

There’s a built in meat probe, which is pretty accurate and saves you having to buy one separate, as well as a good set of wheels that make moving it about a whole lot simpler.

One bonus you’ll learn to love is how simple this is to clean with its ash clearout system and built in grease management. There won’t be any more spending hours pulling this thing apart and sweeping it out when you’re done using it. It’s literally as simple as pulling a lever.

There’s a smoke level adjuster, which lets you adjust the flavor of your meat by ratcheting the chimney up or down. This is a smart way of doing it and considering I love a real smoky frankfurter, it’s an option I really appreciated.

Compared to the Digital Elite it has a larger cooking area and built in meat probe, but the Traeger just edges out in overall cooking quality and ease of use.

Pros
  • Adjustable smoke delivery for maximum flavor
  • Really easy to clean
Cons
  • Less tech than some other options
camp chef smokepro stx
camp chef smokepro stx chute
traeger bq155
Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155 Junior Elite
  • 4.2/5 Rating
  • 300 sq. in.
  • 450F
  • 36” x 37” x 18”’
traeger bq155

Recommendation

Traeger literally invented the automated pellet burning smoker, so it’s fair to say they know what they’re doing. Whilst this model has a relatively small cooking area, the amount of tech built in makes using it much simpler than the competitors, with an auto-start and intuitive digital controls.

Our Rating: 4.2/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
300 sq. in.
Temperature range
450F
Size
36” x 37” x 18”’
Cooking racks
1
Weight
70lbs (31.7kg)
Accessories
Automated pellet hopper, front mounted thermometer

Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155 Junior Elite

Traeger make quality. They’re the originators of the technology that everyone uses for pellet smokers, and even after all this time, they’re still respected as a force in the pellet smoker and grill world, and their grills are seen as the benchmark of pellet grill quality.

Well built and compact, this smoker and grill still has a 300 square inch cooking space, and is generally big enough to fit a small turkey inside, so it’s ample for six to eight people. It’s really easy to use, with an automated electric start, front mounted thermometer and idiot proof digital controls that make this so simple, an absolute beginner could walk up to it, have a quick play around and start cooking.

The hopper holds 10lbs of pellets, and it only uses a maximum of around 2lbs per hour, so it’s going to last at least 5 hours, which means you can set this going and only have to worry about it half a day later.

It’s incredibly energy efficient, as well. When it’s first firing up, this smoker uses 300 watts for the first 4 minutes, then only 50 watts for the rest of the time it’s on. Which is less than a goddamned light-bulb.

On top of that, it comes with an excellent 3 year warranty, so in the unlikely event something goes wrong, you know you’re covered.

Overall, for such a cheap pellet smoker, the Traeger digital elite comes with a lot of options that make it ideal for the home user. That’s why in our opinion it’s the best budget pellet smoker out there.

Pros
  • Electronic automatic start
  • Digital controls make usage simple
  • Accurate front mounted thermometer
  • automated pellet feeder
Cons
  • No meat probe
  • Tight squeeze on cooking space for more than 4 people
smoke hollow ps2415
Smoke Hollow Pellet Smoker Grill
  • 3.5/5 Rating
  • 440 sq. in.
  • up to 485F (251C)
  • 52” x 50” x 24”
smoke hollow ps2415

Recommendation

Smoke Hollow’s pellet smoker does the job, but just has nothing to define it. It’s still a good smoker, but compared to the three above, there’s no real standout reason to pick this, especially when the Camp Chef Smokepro does exactly what this does, but better.

Our Rating: 3.5/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
440 sq. in.
Temperature range
up to 485F (251C)
Size
52” x 50” x 24”
Cooking racks
1
Weight
120lbs (54.5kg)
Accessories

Smoke Hollow Pellet Smoker Grill

Looking at this smoker and grill, it’s obvious that Smoke Hollow have made a competent pellet smoker, but that’s all you can really say about it.

It’s built out of solid, heavy duty steel and the build quality is good, with a few nice touches like a built in easy draining grease system and built in wheels for simple mobility.

There’s an okay size cooking area at 440 square inches, around the same size as the Camp Chef Smokepro above, and it keeps a consistent temperature that guarantees good end results. The digital LED controls are simple to understand and use, and a digital temperature gauge keeps you updated as to how your cooking is going.

Somehow, though, this is more expensive that every other choice in this price range wjo;st offering nothing extra. Whilst you certainly won’t regret buying this, given the choice I’d go for one of the above smokers instead.

Pros
  • Well built from heavy duty steel
  • Digital thermostat and temperature gauge
  • Fast and easy clean up after you’re done
Cons
  • No defining features
smoke hollow ps2415
smoke hollow ps2415 open
smoke hollow ps2415 pellets
smoke hollow ps2415 controls
best pellet smoker grill under $1000

Best Pellet Smoker Grill Under $1000

Once you start paying more than $500, you’re looking at a big boy professional level machine. It’s going to be big enough that you don’t have to worry about having the neighbours over as well as the family. You’re also looking at more expensive sensors and thermostats, so you get a more consistent temperature, which leads to a much better end result, and there’s generally some sort of cleaning assist built in, which makes cleanup and putting it away at night so much easier.

The single biggest advantage though, especially for beginning outdoor chefs, is that when you’re paying this much, damn near everything is automatic. As an example, if we look at our number one choice, the Camp Chef PG64 pellet smoker, literally everything can be controlled by the built in systems, so I could grab a friend who’d never cooked anything more complicated than boxed mac and cheese over, give em a five minute masterclass and be confident that the automatic systems would do most of the heavy lifting when it came to getting everything right.

For beginner outdoors chefs and guys buying their first smoker, that’s an invaluable bit of knowledge. Knowing that no matter what you do, as long as you follow the standard set up, you’re going to produce professional quality meat with ease, which is why smokers like the ones below are the best choice for anyone looking at buying their first pellet smoker.

Pellet Smoker Comparison Chart

camp chef pg24
Best Quality!

Camp Chef PG64 Pellet Grill and Smoker

  • 4.9/5 Rating
  • 560 sq. in.
  • 160-500F (71-260C)
  • 45” x 51′ x 21”
camp chef pg24

Recommendation

Accurate, powerful, with a lot of options, good build quality and a nice set of features, all at an excellent price, the Camp Chef PG64 is our best overall pellet smoker. Of course, the RecTec still offers more options, but it’s more expensive, so if you want the absolute most for your money, without breaking the bank, you’re going to want to look closely at this.

Our Rating: 4.9/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
560 sq. in.
Temperature range
160-500F (71-260C)
Size
45” x 51′ x 21”
Cooking racks
2
Weight
127lbs (57.5kg)
Accessories
Meat probe

Camp Chef PG64 Pellet Grill and Smoker

The top pellet smoker in our list from Camp Chef. They’ve made another excellent pellet smoker that’s a little higher class and a lot bigger with a lot more options than the Smokepro.

First, it’s really easy to use, with an electric auto ignition and shutdown system, plus LED controls that make setup idiot proof. Once it’s up and burning, the built in temperature sensor and meat probe make knowing what’s going on inside simple, especially considering that the thermometer is one of the most accurate I’ve seen, with only around 10 degrees variance. It’s got multiple settings if you’re using it as a meat smoker, as well, so you can control your flavor.

There’s an 18lb hopper capacity, which is enough to last all day, especially considering that this is one of the most efficient pellet smokers I’ve ever seen, only using around half a pound of pellets an hour, which is frankly ridiculous considering most models use at least doubt that.

Camp Chef’s ash can and grease management systems make clean up on this smoker the easiest on the list, and any pellet burners that have a similar feature are twice as expensive. There’s a hopper clean out and pellet purge system as well, making it much simpler to drop the wood pellets out of this when you want to put it away for the night.

Overall, this is a really great smoker. The only downside is the one year warranty, but it’s got a great build quality, so it shouldn’t go wrong. Just make sure when you pick one up that you look after it properly.

Pros
  • Simple to use LED controls
  • Drop down cleaning system so you don’t need to take anything apart
Cons
  • Only a one year warranty
camp chef pg24 rack
camp chef pg24 front
camp chef pg24 control
camp chef pg24 outside
rec tec grill
Professional!

REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill

  • 4.6/5 Rating
  • 702 sq. in.
  • 180-500F (82-260C)
  • 48” x 57” x 34”
rec tec grill

Recommendation

I’ve seen a lot of pellet smokers over the years, and it’s easy to say that out of every one, the RecTec is without a doubt a beast. It combines exceptional cooking performance with fantastic build quality and a thoughtfulness of design that you just don’t see in other smokers. Or a lot of other products. Not only that, but it’s one of the easiest smokers I’ve ever used, with professional quality cooking literally at the push of a button

Our Rating: 4.6/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
702 sq. in.
Temperature range
180-500F (82-260C)
Size
48” x 57” x 34”
Cooking racks
1
Weight
203lbs (92kg)
Accessories
All weather cover, grease bucket, tool holders, towel holder

REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill

I love this thing. Everything about it just screams thoughtfulness and quality, from the exceptionally robust construction, the rust, corrosion and environment proof paint, to the built in towel ring that looks just look a chrome bullring.

Inside, it’s packed with tech, including an internal grill temperature monitor, which uses RecTec’s proprietary technology to keep the internal temperature more precise than ever. If you’re smoking meat with it, you can activate the Xtreme smoke feature at any temperature between 180 and 250F to stack the smoke inside and really pile on the flavor

It can easily cope with up to 60lbs of meat at a time, which is three or four entire turkeys or multiple full racks of ribs, so no matter how many people you have over or amount of food you need, this has it handled.

It’s so easy to clean as well, the internal light can actually be removed and washed in water, and a lot of people recommend putting foil into the drip pan, so cleanup there is as easy as swapping over a piece of foil.

The hopper capacity is an enormous 40 pounds, which will last entire weekends without needing to be refilled, and it double feels downwards so it’s more precise and less likely to jam, like a lot of cheaper, auger based feeds. You can also use the hopper as a warming plate, another little bonus and great space saver.

Just in case something goes wrong with your new, glorious machine, there’s an absolutely massive six year warranty. And if somehow you end up not falling in love with it, (not likely) you can get a full refund within 30 days of purchase, no questions asked.

Most importantly, it’s painted fire engine red and the handles are shaped like bull horns. I mean, c’mon, what else could you want?

Pros
  • As easy to use as pushing a button
  • Huge internal cooking space
  • 40lb hopper capacity
Cons
  • It’s expensive, but you get what you pay for
rec tec grill open
rec tec grill display
rec tec grill pellets
rec tec grill pellet grill
pit boss 71820
Pit Boss 820 Wood Pellet Grill
  • 4.2/5 Rating
  • 820 sq. in.
  • 180-500F (82-260C)
  • 50” x 49” x 24”
pit boss 71820

Recommendation

Pit Boss have made this heavy duty beast as a semi-professional pellet based smoker, and it shows. It’s absolutely massive, with a colossal amount of cooking space and a lot of tech that makes using it a serious pleasure. It’s actually probably too big for most households, but if you need the most cooking space possible, this is the biggest on our list.

Our Rating: 4.2/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
820 sq. in.
Temperature range
180-500F (82-260C)
Size
50” x 49” x 24”
Cooking racks
2
Weight
141lbs (64kg)
Accessories
Grease bucket

Pit Boss 820 Wood Pellet Grill

With a huge 820 square inches of cooking space, almost 600 on the main rack and a second removable top rack for the rest, this pellet grill has the most space out of everything we’ve reviewed.

Each grill is porcelain coated, like you’d find on professional grills, for exceptional heat transfer and easy wipe cleaning. This attention to excellence is extended over the whole machine, with everything made out of heavy gauge steel and top quality material. The only real let down is the wheels, which are kind of low quality, but they’re real simple to switch out.

As for the cooking. It’s easy to use, with electric ignition as standard and a smart grill temperature probe that works alongside the digital systems for easy automatic adjustment.

The hopper holds a generous 24lbs, which is enough for a whole day’s serious cooking. It’s easy to clean up at the end of the day as well. A good thing, considering the size of it.

Bad things? Well, it’s probably a little too much for most households. The generous size is almost excessive, and far more than any normal sized family will need. Of course, when you have everybody round, you’ll appreciate all that working room.

Oh yeah, it also has a built in bottle opener. At first, I found this hilarious, but once I cracked my first brew whilst I was standing directly in front of this thing, I started to wonder why it wasn’t
standard on everything I own.

Pros
  • Solid construction out of heavy gauge steel
  • Automatic start up and turn off keeps it simple
  • Heavily built, sturdy and robust
Cons
  • Huge and heavy
pit boss 71820
pit boss 71820 open
pit boss 71820 side
pit boss 71820 profile
traeger lil tex elite 22
Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill
  • 3.5/5 Rating
  • 418 sq. in.
  • 400F
  • 49” x 42” x 22”
traeger lil tex elite 22

Recommendation

Another pellet smoker from industry leaders Traeger. The Lil Tex Elite is an upscaled Junior Elite, and whilst it’s still a good quality smoker and grill with a powerful burner and excellent heat output, plus all of Traeger’s usual electronic gizmos. There’s just not enough of a difference between this and the Junior Elite, especially not when you consider the increased price tag, which is disappointing.

Our Rating: 3.5/5

TECH SPECS

Cooking space
418 sq. in.
Temperature range
400F
Size
49” x 42” x 22”
Cooking racks
1
Weight
98lbs (44.4kg)
Accessories
Grease bucket

Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill

Being a Traeger, this smoker is obviously good quality. It’s real easy to use, with a spot on Elite LED digital thermostat and a supremely accurate LED temperature display.

It holds temperature well, heats up fast, and the end result is always mouth wateringly delicious.

It’s also super easy to clean. The auto shutdown cycle keeps the system’s induction fan running for ten minutes after you shut it off which shifts ash out of the fire pot, then shuts it all down automatically when it’s done. Clearing the leftover grease is as easy as anything, too, draining out simply and easily. No spills, no mess.

The major issue is the size. It’s the smallest smoker at this price range, and barely bigger than the Junior Elite. Considering the price difference in the two, it’s hard to justify the extra expense, and when you compare it to the other smokers at this level, the Lil Tex seems more than a little lackluster. There’s less cleaning options, less automation, less cooking space. Just less of everything.

Overall, it’s a lot smaller than everything else reviewed for no cheaper, and it doesn’t do anything special. It’s still a Traeger, so it’s obviously a good quality smoker and grill, but I’d probably look elsewhere.

Pros
  • Really easy to use, set and keep temperatures
  • Simple to clean with the grease draining system
  • 6 in 1 cooking capacity makes this a complete unit
Cons
  • Pretty small cooking area

How To Choose The Best Pellet Smoker

The Definitive Buyer’s Guide

pellet smoker buyers guide

What is a pellet grill/smoker, and how do they work?

Pellet smokers are on the up. A few years ago, only 2% of BBQ and grill owners had a pellet smoker, but according to research by next year this could be as high as 8%! But why are people only now starting to choose pellet smokers over other options?

It’s down to a few factors. First, pellet smokers have got a lot less expensive recently, putting them in the price range of a lot more families.

Second, more people know about them. More manufacturers are realizing the advantages of pellet smokers and hopping on board, the market is expanding, and with the advantage of the internet putting all the info at our fingertips, even someone who hasn’t got the first clue about smokers and grills can find out everything they need in just a few minutes.

Third, and last, pellet smokers have a number of benefits over traditional charcoal, wood, or even electric smokers, which we’ll get into later.

But what is a pellet smoker?

Pellet smokers, sometimes called wood pellet grills or pellet grills, are a combination of grill, barbeque, and smoker that uses tiny little-compressed pellets of sawdust to smoke meat, automatically dropping them into the cooking area whenever the temperature starts to drop.

This is the single main advantage of a pellet smoker. Unlike charcoal, gas or wood fired smokers you don’t need to do anything with fuel except make sure it’s full when you start. This means no more having to go back and check fuel levels, no fluctuating temperatures, no spending ten minutes setting up charcoal and getting it at the right temperature, and no random heat variance giving you oddly cooked food ’cause you set it all up wrong.

Instead, there’s an internal thermostat that constantly monitors the inside temperature, so when the temperature begins to drop, more pellets are delivered to the flame by an automatic hopper system, taking all of the hard work out of keeping the temperature steady.

The most expensive pellet burners are actually accurate to within 10 degrees, meaning your smoker will be running at a constant temperature the whole time. This means your food will come out moist and juicy, perfectly cooked and tasting the best it’s ever been, all without you having to do anything besides set it up.

How do you use a pellet smoker?

Because everything is automated, pellet smokers are far easier to use than wood or charcoal smokers, and pretty much comparable to electric smokers in simplicity.

The process is easy:

  • Make sure you’re loaded with enough fuel. Pellet smokers all have hoppers to hold the wood pellets before they’re delivered into the machine, with fuel loads that last anywhere from a few hours to the entire weekend.
  • Switch the machine on. The vast majority of pellet smokers have some sort of electric start up, meaning you start it by pressing a button and waiting for it to fire. Yep. No more shovelling charcoal and desperately struggling to get your grill to ignite.
  • Give it time to warm up. This varies from machine to machine and the temperature you’re cooking at, but you’re normally looking at about ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Load it up with meat and leave it to cook.

That’s literally it. Start and go. This simplicity is the reason why sales of pellet smokers are only climbing. Follow the rules and it’s damn near impossible to get wrong.

Pros and cons of a pellet smoker?

Firstly, pellet smokers are the easiest type of smoker to use, because they’re controlled almost exactly the same as your kitchen over. Just like we’ve explained above, it’s as simple as setting a temperature, letting it fire up, then throwing on the meat and leaving the system to do all the hard work.

Compared to electric smokers, pellet smokers deliver a better flavor and a more natural smoky taste.

When you look at standard fuel-fired smokers, pellet smokers annihilate them when it comes to convenience and ease of use. A lot of other types of meat smoker are also single usage, meaning they only function as a smoker. Pretty much every pellet smoker we’ve seen can also be used as a grill, a roaster, and sometimes even a barbeque.

Pellet smokers can be used as more than just smokers, too, with pretty much every model doing extra duty on roasting, grilling, baking, and more.

There’s also the fact that, because you can change fuel so easily and there’s a whole bunch of different types of pellet out there, switching out the smokey flavor or finding your favorite is as simple as throwing in a new stack of pellets.

In terms of downsides, pellet smokers can be a pain in the ass to clean, but no more than any other type of smoker that takes solid fuel. More expensive pellet smokers normally have some sort of cleaning mechanism built in, as well, which makes cleanup a lot easier.

Pellet smokers are also more expensive than other types, but when you compare everything that you get, it’s more than worth it.

Electric smoker vs pellet smoker?

Electric smokers are really good. Nothing beats the convenience of an electric smoker, and there are some great models out there that cook great quality food, which you can see in our [Electric smoker guide] but for the discerning chef, I’d recommend a wood pellet smoker every time.

The reason why is simple. Better flavor. Because it uses high quality, specifically made wood chips that are smoked with a real, open flame rather than an electric heating element, the quality and subtlety of the smokiness you get from a pellet smoker just can’t be compared to electric.

There’s also the bonus that pellet smokers can almost always be used as multi-role cookers, with pretty much every model also functioning as a grill, barbeque and sometimes more, whilst electric smokers are pretty much only ever smokers.

Wood smoker vs pellet smoker?

When you’re buying a pellet smoker vs a wood smoker, what you’re buying is convenience and simplicity of use. Whilst electric smokers are arguably more convenient than pellet based smokers because they start quicker, only need a power point and a handful of wood chips, pellet smokers are still incredibly easy to use and far more convenient than wood smokers.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever used a wood-fired smoker, but they’re a pain the ass. Hard to get going, hard to keep at a consistent temperature, you have to keep checking them over and over and over, and if you aren’t careful, you can stack your fuel wrong and end up overcooking half of your food and undercooking the other half.

Because everything is automatic with a pellet smoker, you don’t have any of these issues. Again, just set it and forget it.

So what should you look for when you’re buying your smoker?

One huge advantage with pellet smokers is that because of how they work, they’re all generally of a higher standard than a lot of other types of smoker. But just because you’re less likely to grab a bad model doesn’t mean that you don’t want the best, right? There’s still things to think about that make sure you get the absolute best fit for you and your family.

First, consider cooking size.

Smaller, cheaper smokers tend to run with areas of around 300 to 400 square inches. This is large enough for a dozen burgers, two racks of ribs or a small turkey, which makes it absolutely fine for the family and a couple of friends, but if you’re cooking for any more you’re probably gonna struggle to find space.

Larger, more expensive smokers run anywhere up to 900 square inches, which will basically let you feed your whole street. It’s also a whole lot more convenient when you’re planning on cooking multiple things to be able to throw every single sausage, joint of meat and rack of ribs on at once, flip ’em around and move things to the edge when they’re done.

Secondly, make sure you pay attention to the controls and temperature settings. As well as a thermostat, higher quality smokers come with meat thermometers built in. As you cook, the internal temperature of your meat is going to rise, and unless you’ve got a meat thermometer, there’s no way of knowing exactly how hot it’s got. If you don’t know why this is bad, when you let food sit too hot for too long, you run the risk of drying it out. You’ll undo all of your good work, plus it just tastes bad.

Even if you’ve got a meat thermometer at home, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a smoker with one built in. This is because the built-in thermometers send their readings straight to the smokers computer and it automatically adjusts how it’s cooking based not just on how hot it is inside, but how this affects what you’re cooking. Now, unless you’re Gordon Ramsey you probably can’t tell what’s going on inside that turkey you’re cooking, so this is obviously a major plus.

It’s also worth double checking the precision of the controls. Less expensive smokers sometimes have cheap control panels that only allow you to set the temperature to a few discrete settings, for example just low and high. This is, generally speaking, awful, and leads to improperly cooked meat and a whole host of other issues. Avoid it if you can.

If you’re gonna set it and leave it to do the magic, you’re going to have to be careful, too. A major contributor to how long you can leave a smoker is how many wood pellets the pellet hopper holds. Pellet smokers run the gamut in how much fuel they use per hour, with anywhere from half a pound to two pounds of pellets being standard. Always check how much the model you’re looking at holds, and make sure that it’s going to last long enough, especially if you plan on leaving your smoker to cook whilst you do other things, especially if you’re going away from home. It’s simple math, and better that than coming home to a bunch of chargrilled ashes.

Lastly, check your smoker for cleanup options. Because pellet smokers burn sawdust wood, there’s always ash residue and smoke deposit buildup inside the machine, not to mention grease runoff from the meat, and this needs regular cleaning.

A lot of more expensive smokers come with options that make this so much simpler and trust me after you’ve cleaned yours off a few times, this is something you’ll grow to really appreciate.

Again, pellet smokers tend to be of a higher standard than other types because of the level of technology involved in the core process. If you’re in any doubt about anything, just follow our reviews.

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