Tools To Make It Easier
The inbuilt therometer that comes with a smoker is reasonable accurate, however it can vary considerably.
When I started meat smoking, I had one cheap thermometer probe, I used it to get the consistency using a portable smoker or anything I had that didnt read temperature very well.
I would insert it into the meat and wait until it had hit target internal temperature. Whilst, also using it to check the smoker temperature.
If you have a thermometer inserted into the meat at the centre, it becomes incredibly easy to know when its cooked.
If you want some thermometer reviews, looked at the budget options and also got something special for a xmas ppresent, find more info here.
Other Styles of Charcoal Smokers
These below are the opposite of easy smokers and if you want easy, then managing fire and smoke is a whole other story.
I realise some people find charcoal smokers really easy also. However, in terms of the attention you need to give them. They all require input regularly, sometimes I love and sometimes I prefer set & forget.
Purists of BBQ smoking have issues with non-charcoal sometimes. At the end of the day, pellet grills win a lot of competitions.
- Different Vertical Charcoal Smokers
Cook Food Indirectly With Smoke Box
Now continue to cook the food. The best idea for cooking is to cook without direct contact with the fire.
Also, if you have a manual for cooking, you can follow that manual and follow any given temperature range. In this case, the formula for cooking different food items may be slightly different. But almost all formulas will be around.
Pellet Grill Reviews Getting Your Pellet Smoker Lit And Ready
Getting your Pellet smoker lit and ready is a pretty straightforward process. Simply make sure your hopper is full of wood smoking pellets, flip the on switch, set your temperature, and let the process begin.
Electricity causes the auger to start pushing pellets into your burn pot and begins to heat up the glow rod until its red-hot, which in turn ignites the pellets in the burn pot. Air is pushed into the burn pot via the holes you see around it allowing for a maximum efficiency burn.
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Pellet Grill Vs Propane Grills
Both gas grills and pellet grills offer convenience to the consumer. And when Pit Boss® bursted onto the scene a few years ago, they both offered affordability as well. However, there are some major differences between the two types of grills.
Gas grills are great for cooking at mid to high to high temperatures. However, due to poor insulation, gas grills typically dont perform well at low temperatures. Gas grills need proper ventilation and because of this they dont typically perform well as smokers.
Pellet grills also offer more flavor options due to gas itself being flavorless. The wood pellets, on the other hand, can come in a variety of natural flavors that help enhance the food.
It is also a little easier to control temperature on a pellet grill. Each gas grill has a dialing in process with the user but a pellet grill can be set to the temperature you desire within a 15°F variance.
What Is The Cheapest Pellet Grill
- Camp Chef SmokePro
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett
Many brands provide quality pellet grills at lower prices, while other brands offer more features as the products get more expensive.
Camp Chef is known for offering pellet grills for under $500.
- They offer the SmokePro and Woodwind series.
- They have their patented ash removal feature, making it easy for you to clean the grill and dispose of ash immediately after cooking.
- However, extra features can be limited given the price.
One of the other cheapest pellet smokers also comes from Green Mountain.
The Davy Crockett model is priced at $299 only with perks like portable Wi-Fi control features.
- This allows you to monitor and control the smokers temperature even if youre inside the house.
- The grill is also easy to transport, given its adjustable legs.
- However, it has its corresponding disadvantages like limited Wi-Fi technology.
Overall, brands, like Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Cuisinart offer some of the cheapest pellet grills you can find on the market.
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Why Not Check Out A Pellet Grill Just Try Em
There isnt another grilling platform that offers the mix of flavor, convenience and flexibility that pellet grills do. They offer all the ease of gas, but with the flavor benefits of charcoal or wood.
Give a pellet grill a try and I know youre going to love it. Nothing compares to the great taste of a wood-smoked meal.
What Should You Look For When Buying A Pellet Grill
When buying the best wood pellet grill under 500 dollars, consider the following factors to avoid compromising quality for a lower price:
- Grilling Performance
Affordable grills and smokers should still have great grilling performance.
Compared to regular grills, grills powered by wood pellets are versatile, boosting their performance.
They should be able to grill using different temperature settings to let you smoke, barbecue, roast, and braise meat.
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Best Pellet Grills From Cr’s Tests
As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I’ve always valued having the best tool for a jobwhether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I’m not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I’m restoring in my free time.
Are Wood Pellet Grills Healthy
Some people claim that wood pellet grills are healthier than other types of grills and point to carcinogens as the reason. Carcinogens are the chemicals that come off food as you cook them at high temperatures. This can also apply to the charred or burnt marks on your food.
The idea is that the ash that sticks to your foods and the burnt areas are full of harmful chemicals that can cause serious damage to those who eat it. Some even claim that those carcinogens can cause cancer. While there isnt any research to back up these claims, many people believe that wood pellet grills are healthier because they dont produce carcinogens.
For more details, read here if pellet grills are safe for use.
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Pay Attention To Fat Content
A mistake that a lot of BBQ newcomers make is with the meat itself. Meat that is too lean can dry out quickly, whereas meat with too much fat content can get in the way of the smoke working its way into the flesh of the meat.
If you choose to smoke a cut like brisket, then be sure that you trim the layer of fat on it to about ½ inch thick before putting it on the smoker.
Final Thoughts About Buying And Fueling Pellet Smokers
If youve reached this part of the blog post, I thank you for reading through. Its a long one, but I wanted to give you as much practical advice as possible. To recap, there are some basic things you should know about buying a pellet smoker.
First, you have to figure out what your budget looks like. Of the pellet smokers I cover here, theRec Tec Grill Pellet Smoker is the most economical and best overall value with solid construction and top end electronics controls. At just under $1,000 its a great buy that should last you a very long time. If you can move up from there cost wise, Id go with the Yoder pellet smoker. While the Rec Tec looks like a beast, the YS640 absolutely IS one. Weighing in at 315 lbs and boasting solid control components and features, you wont ever need another pellet smoker in your life unless you just want another one.
Second, youll have to figure out what BBQ pellets you want to use. There are many different brands, blends, and mixes to choose from, and youll likely want to do some side by side testing to see what you like best on what meats. My very good friend and BBQ buddy Shane Draper really likes to make his own blends using different woods in different proportions depending on what hes cooking.
Shane Drapers Pellet Mix Ratios
Heres how Shane breaks down is pellet mix ratios something you may want to try as you begin to get a good feel for how your pellet smoker cooks for each of the meats listed below.
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Pellet Vs Gas Grills The Differences In Searing Performance
As Ive discussed above, as a general rule you will find a gas grill will more quickly get up to temperature and achieve a higher grilling/searing temperature. But why is that? Well, quite simply, its due to energy density. The combustion of propane gas is releasing more energy than the size of pellet fire in a typical pellet grill.
But what temperatures do you really need at the grate to achieve good searing/grilling performance? Well, as a general rule you want to achieve at least 450 degrees. Below that temp, you are not going to get the grill marks on your food, you wont hear the meat sizzle and you wont see it properly caramelise. Can all pellet grills actually achieve and exceed that required 450 degrees? Many yes, but not all. Some pellet grills need a little assistance.
Some Z Grill pellet grills will struggle to reach/exceed 450 degrees for reasonable grilling/searing performance without the assistance of some GrillGrates: Image ZGrills.com
Typical examples of pellet grills which are going to struggle to actually grill without some assistance are Gen 1 Traeger Pro Series grills, several Z Grills and basically any pellet grill with a non-PID control panel and without access to direct flames.
Camp Chef pellet grills fitted with PID controllers and Slide N Grill direct flame broiling offer some of the best grilling/searing performance of mid-range pellet grill models: Image Campchef.com
Do Pellet Grills Cook Like Gas Grills
This answer is: sort of. To master your pellet grill, you dont want to think about it like a gas grill for several very important reasons.
Gas grills have multiple burners and pre-heat really fast. Your pellet grill pre-heats like a household oven: its going to get to the desired temperature, but it will take longer to get there. Respect the pre-heat: its one of the most important steps of the cookout.
Cleaning is key, especially if youre switching up your grilling style. You should never smoke a brisket then crank up the heat and grill a steak. The brisket will have shed several ounces of grease onto the drip trays that needs to be cleaned up before you grill. Remember: a clean grill performs better and tastes better, too.
There really isnt anything to fiddle with on a pellet grill. When using a gas grill or charcoal youll find yourself fine tuning the controls or vents: a little more heat here, a little less here. Temperature control on a pellet grill is just as reliable as the oven in your home: simply set it and forget it.
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Pellet Grills Vs Gas Grills
So while I hope you read the rest of my article below, we are all busy people. Therefore, Ive put together some bullet points on the general pros and cons of pellet vs gas grills. However, please bear in mind, these are generalisations and are not applicable to every single pellet or gas grill:
Popular brands of mid-range gas grills include Weber and Napoleon: Image BBQGuys.com
Advantages of Gas/Propane Grills
- Higher Grilling/Searing Temperatures Any gas grill can easily get over 450-500 degree at the grate and on to much higher temperatures up to around 900 degrees.
- Quicker Warm-Up Time A gas grill can get up to those high grilling/searing temperatures in a relatively short period of time .
- Generally Cheaper Gas grills are generally cheaper to buy and run compared to a pellet grill of the same equivalent cooking area.
Disadvantages of Gas/Propane Grills
- Bland Flavour The gas itself cannot add any flavour to the food.
- Lacking Precise Temperature Control While a gas grill can hold a steady temperature in calm weather conditions, it will not adapt if the outside temperature drops or the wind picks up.
- No Remote Monitoring/Control You cannot leave a gas grill unattended for long periods of time, and you cannot adjust the temperature of a gas grill or turn it off remotely.
The two most popular pellet grill brands are Pit Boss and Traeger : Images Pitboss-grills.com and Traegergrills.com
Advantages of Wood Pellet Grills
Disadvantages Of Wood Pellet Grills
What Are The Easiest Foods To Smoke
Here is a list of meats that I have found really easy to smoke. Mainly based on the shorter time to smoke them.
- Steak thick cut
- Turkey breast
- Chicken breast or thigh
If you are following the above advise, then you should be able to follow a decent recipe and conjure up beautiful smoked flavors. If you want some more information one easy smoking option, please click here.
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Pros And Cons Of Pellet Grills
Pellet grills offer effortless ignition through the simple touch of a button. With straightforward digital controls, most are easy to use. Plug them into an electrical outlet and set grill temperatures for hassle-free cooking. These grills provide even heat and have well-sealed lids to support use as ovens or smokers. Some have wireless Bluetooth capabilities and Wi-Fi connectivity to allow remote commands from smart devices. Others come with pre-programmed smoking cycles that make cooking easy for novice grill users.
Many pellet grills have a heat baffle that separates food from fire to prevent the occurrence of flare-ups. Barbecue pellets not only help fuel your grill but add unique flavors to your food. They also allow you to slow cook food for hours.
While there are some definite pros of pellet grills, there are also some cons. For example, there are a variety of wood pellets available in different flavor profiles, but they don’t provide the same intense flavor that you’d get from a charcoal grill or offset smoker. As pellet grills use electricity, they are not ideal for damp conditions. They are also not as portable as charcoal, or even gas grills. Plus, they need to be either near an outlet, or you will need to use an extension cord.
Pellet Grill Vs Gas Grill Overview
Before you decide what grill is right for you, lets explain a few key differences. While they both have the word grill in the title, they are actually quite different cookers.
If you want to do a lot of searing at high temperatures then a gas grill is the way to go. If you want the option to smoke low and slow then thats where pellet grills excell.
Both pellet and gas cookers offer speed and convenience in a very user-friendly package.
Pellet grills make great set and forget versatile cookers. Think of them more like an outdoor oven. They do a great job cooking low and slow, and they impart a subtle smokey flavor to your food by burning wood pellets.
You may have heard people talk about pellet smokers and pellet grills. They are just different ways to refer to the same thing.
In fact, pellet smoker might be a better name, as they make much better smokers than grills.
Pellet grills generally cost more than gas grills, and pellets are not as readily available as gas.
So if speed, cost-effectiveness, and great sear marks on your steak mean more to you, you may want to take a closer look at gas.
Gas grills really come into their own when cooking at mid-high range temperatures. You can generally find a gas grill to fit your budget, and gas is an efficient fuel to burn. A gas grill will also heat up lightning fast.
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Convenience And Ease Of Use
When you grill with charcoal, it can be a pain to start. Once started, it requires your constant attention because you dont want your food to burn or the charcoal to flare up too much. When you use a wood pellet grill, you push a button to start, then set the temperature where you know it will give you the flavor that you want and the tenderness that you desire.
After a short heat-up process, youre ready to grill. These grills are also much easier to clean since the pellets burn neatly and have low ash contents.
Wood pellets have the benefit of allowing you to leave the grill and do other activities like preparing other food that you may be serving at your barbecue. A wood pellet grill burns with consistent heat, so you never have to worry about the grill getting too hot or the wood pellets flaring up, burning your meat or fish and making it tough and unpleasant.
Why Are They Called Both Pellet Grills Or Pellet Smokers Which Is It
Youll see the two names used interchangeably across the Internet. But, are they two different things, or is this a true all-in-one solution for all your backyard cooking needs?
Well, they look like offset smokers. And they look like standard grills, too. The truth is, while they perform many of the functions of both types, they arent really either. Confused?
Steven Raichlen of Barbecue Bible hit the nail most squarely on the head when he wrote:
they have more in common with convection ovens than the offset wood-burning smokers they resemble.
While many units are capable of temperatures over 500F, its ambient heat. They cook evenly, but it wont sear like a grill. Searing requires intense, direct heat applied to the meat.
You can, of course, smoke in a pellet smoker. And, you can roast large cuts, just as you would on a standard grill set up for indirect cooking.
For that matter, you can cook a steak you just wont get quite as good a gorgeous sear and the resulting flavor boost.
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