A pellet smoker is an outdoor electric cooker that is fuelled by hardwood pellets. It is also referred to as pellet grills, electric pellet smokers, wood pellet grills, wood-fired grills, and electric smoker grills. A best pellet smoker is automated and versatile, allowing you to do everything like smoking authentic barbecue, slow-roasting a turkey, grilling a steak, or baking a pizza. It is the ultimate solution to your backyard cooking needs so you can achieve an amazing wood-fired flavor every time.
The use of pellet smokers is the easiest way to smoke, grill, bake, braise, roast, and barbecue food in one grill that you will surely love. It only means that you can smoke a rack of ribs slow and low, or grill a wood-fired pizza fast and hot, and bake a berry cobbler for your entire family and to welcome your guests.
- Giving food real-hardwood taste
- Easy and convenient use
- Choose a variety of hardwood flavors
- Precise temperature
- Prevent burnt food
- Saves time so more bonding with family and friends
How do pellet smokers work?
A pellet smoker uses auger which feeds hardwood pellets into a firebox. The higher the temperature that is set, the more dispensed pellets into the auger. A hot rod ignites the pellets automatically with the fan stoking the fire to create convection heat for even cooking. A combustion fan prevents the pellets from burning and maintains the positive pressure to prevent the auger tube from burn-back. The mounted sensor inside the pellet grill sends data to the built-in computer and the controller automatically adjust the air and pellet flow so the temperature set is maintained. To keep the direct flames off the food, a drip tray usually sits over the fire pot to catch the food drippings, thus preventing flare-ups.
Top 5 Features Should Know Before Buying Pellet Smokers
As more pellet smokers are being introduced in the market, manufacturers do their very best to differentiate themselves and stand out from the competition, trying to set a gold standard in the market. They are dedicated to enhancing pellet grill features thought advanced capabilities and innovative technology to provide customers with the best benefits, catering to their needs and expectations.
1. Precise Meat Probes Control Boards
Pellet grill controllers have inputs and outputs for meat probes. All you have to do is to plug one end into the unit control board, inserting the other into the meat. Tracking the internal food temperature on the digital display at a glance is made possible without opening the lid. Not every pellet smoker accommodates a meat probe that comes with the package because some require you to purchase separately. Control boards come programmable and others are merely for monitoring temperature.
2. Reliable Direct Grilling Option
For some brands of pellet grill, you need to remove a part of the diffuser plate, letting the flames through, while having a permanently dedicated area just for direct grilling.
3. Space-saving Secondary Cooking Racks
You can maximize your cooking space by buying a pellet grill that can accommodate a secondary rack. It is important to know whether the package has an included rack or an add-on option.
4. Connected with WiFi capability
You can get connected with pellet smokers because they have an electronic control board that naturally fit for WiFi. Remote monitoring and controlling cooking are made easier with a connected pellet smoker using your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any Wi-Fi-capable device.
5. State-of-the-art Cooking Technology
The combination of set-it and forget-it technology, versatility, and flavor make pellet grills stand out than charcoal grills with the accuracy and ease of a kitchen oven. A pellet smoker can smoke, grill, roast, braise, and bake at the touch of a button, thus infusing your favorite food recipes with real wood smoke flavor.
Can you use pellets in a regular smoker?
Yes. But make sure to only use food-grade pellets without binders or glues so people won’t taste chemicals on the food. Never use wood pellets that were specifically created for home heating. Food-grade wood pellets can be made with a mixture of woods. Some wood pellets crumble too quickly while others are hard to keep burning, so they are more suited to shorter cook times.
Can you soak wood pellets?
No. Pellets can enhance the taste of your barbecue and any grilled food recipe. Pellets are easy to use ad there’s no need to soak them like what you normally do with wood chips. Just a 1/3 cup of hardwood pellets can provide 30 minutes of smoke, which is about 10 uses per pound.
Pellet Smokers Buying Tips
- Quality Construction
The best way to ensure that your pellet smoker lasts for many years to come is to buy one that is built well, featuring quality construction. Pellet grills are not like offset smokers, so they do not need to be hefty, but they should not feel delicate either. Check the hardware, the joints, and any welding to ensure that the pellet grill feels solid. All the seams and joints should fit together without spaces or gaps for heat to escape.
Do your research when shopping online by reading reviews and comparing the specs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or call the customer service of the company. A seller should be able to confidently tell who the important things you need to know about a particular pellet smoker and its comparison with other models.
When you’re shopping for a pellet smoker, it is crucial to know the material it is made from. Most are made from painted steel, but the quality of steel and paint varies. A good high-temp powder coat paint withstands high heat without flaking or blistering. This is very important because once steel exposure may cause rusting. Check the inside even if the outside body is painted. The diffuser plate and fire pot have the potential of corroding which is two of the most common components needing replacements. Stainless steel pellet smokers are durable, rust-resistant, and easy to maintain. The most desirable stainless steel is commercial-grade 304, and some are made of 430 stainless which is also durable and more affordable.
- Temperature Range
The temperature range is very important which should fit the type of cooking you are planning to do. Most have no issues hitting the right temperature from 180°F to 425°F that is adequate for grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking. Pallet smokers require a temperature of 500-550°F, suitable for searing. Remember that a better temperature range means more cooking types and better performance. The best performing pellet grills have an upper temperature ranging from 500°F to 700°F, which is hot enough to obtain a great sear and flavorful fire-bake pizza.
- Pellet Grill Controller
A pellet smoker should keep a consistent temperature to produce great food. The temperature should be close to 250°F as much as possible for more than 12 hours it’s cooking. Your pellet grill’s performance is highly determined by the control board, which is considered the brain of the pellet smoker. Pellet grill controllers have different types with varying consistency and precision. Majority of pellet grills can hold a consistent and accurate temperature in ideal environmental conditions. However, not all pellet smoker controllers have the ability to maintain a tight temperature when it is cold, windy, and raining.
- Size and Cooking Area
Pellet smokers are available in different sizes for a variety of needs, from portable pellet grills for tailgating to extra-large commercial models and built-in pellet smokers for outdoor kitchens. When it comes to grill size, find a cooking area with physical dimensions that fits your cooking space and lifestyle. The two cooking areas of a pellet smoker include a main cooking great which is the primary cooking area and the total cooking area with secondary racks.
Because pellet grills are indirect cookers, there’s no difference between cooking on the main rack or the upper rack since the temperature are the same. A smaller pellet smoker with a primary grid of 450 sq in. and an upper rack of 125 sq in. is a better option than a larger grill with only a 500 sq in. primary grid. Bear in mind that a bigger space is not necessarily a better option. For an average-sized family, a pellet smoker with a primary cooking area of 450-500 sq in. should be sufficient. Couples and singles can go smaller, whereas larger families and those who regularly have guests should go for larger pellet grills.
Now, you have just learned about choosing the best pellet smoker based on the best features, benefits, and buying considerations presented above. We highly recommend making product comparison before buying a pellet grill and prioritize on the quality more than the price so you can enjoy outdoor cooking wood-fired and smoky flavor food for your family, making ordinary days extra special. Determine product warranty coverage and the company’s return policy. Check the item once it has arrived and tested it right away so any issues or problems are addressed within the warranty period to avoid frustration.