Other Smokers For Cooking Brisket
Below are some other types of smokers that can use pellets for producing nice smoke to cook your brisket and achieve the best results possible. Some are dedicated for pellet use, and others may be better suited for wood chips or chunks. Read your manufacturers instructions to be sure youre creating the cleanest burn and the best-tasting smoked brisket.
- Electric Smoker. This category is a little tricky because pellet smokers are electric smokers, but there is another category of electric-powered vault smokers that utilize either pellets, wood chips, or compressed wood disks to create smoke. These are great starter smokers for a lot of people because they are affordable, small, and take up little room on the patio. Youve got to follow the instructions here and use the recommended fuel source. Swapping chips or the disks for pellets can create dirty, acrid, and heavy smoke that wont taste great on your brisket.
- Offset Smoker. The most old-school traditional way to smoke briskets is low and slow. Most offset smokers utilize larger wood chunks, splits, or even logs to maintain heat and add smoke. Using pellets in a set-up like this would burn through quickly and likely not produce enough smoke to add great smoky flavor to your brisket.
Other Pellet Grills Worth Considering
These are the pellet grills that narrowly missed out on our main selections.
They are definitely still worth checking out and depending on your specific requirements they might be the best option for you.
Read full review.
We could definitely include this REC TEC grill with our top choices above.
With the RT-700, REC TEC has combined the precision craftsmanship and build quality they are known for, with some modern upgrades including WiFi connectivity, dual meat probes to monitor internal temperature of your meat, and an improved PID controller.
The controller lets you adjust the temperature in 5°F increments which is a level of control you dont see on some of the cheaper pellet grills out there.
The product name gives away the primary grilling area of 702 square inches, with an optional warming shelf you can get over 1000.
The majority of the grill is made of stainless steel. You also get a huge 40lb pellet hopper capacity for up to 40 hours of continuous cooking and rollerblade style wheels to easily move the grill around.
You can see the grill in action in the video below.
Finally, you get those signature REC TEC bull horn handles which on their own make this grill worth considering in our opinion!
Read our full Green Mountain Grills Trek review.
When you think of pellet grills, being portable isnt the first feature that comes to mind.
Versatility And Special Features
There arent too many special features to look out for.
The newer models have better digital control boards that accept multiple meat thermometer probe inputs. This allows you to set not only the temperature of the grill but also the doneness.
Various models come with side or front shelves, plus storage shelves below the grill. Some models include a fitted cover, while others do not.
Now its time to choose a Pit Boss unit that best suits your needs and start cooking.
Have a great barbecue!
About the Author
Hi, Im Joonas!
As soon as I learned to walk, I started to assist my dad and uncles with grilling and smoking. I always loved helping them and later took over the role of the grill master in my family.
My goal is to cook tasty barbecue food, enjoy it with family & friends, and help others do the same!
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Best Wood Pellets For Pellet Grills
The tantalizing flavor of pellet wood is one of the main reasons why grill chefs prefer pellet grills. Pellet grills have emerged as strong competitors to gas grills and charcoal grills on account of their exotic flavor, ease of use and superior temperature control.
Master grill chefs can craft the most mouth-watering, smoke-flavored barbecue using the best wood pellets for pellet grill smoking.
If you have researched wood pellet grills, then you probably know that theres a myriad wood pellet types to choose from. Of course, not all wood pellet types and brands are equal.
This guide will take you through all sorts of wood pellets so that choosing the best wood pellets for smoking becomes less perplexing for you.
Here are the brands that make the best wood pellets for pellet grills.
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Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill/smokers
Z Grills Wood Pellet Grills: Image ZGrills.com
The Z Grills brand first arrived in 2016 to focus purely on the budget/economy end of the wood pellet grill market. Very similar in features and appearance to the previous generation Traeger pellet grills. However, the latest iterations in the Z Grills range do show some other design ideas, such as adding flame broiling capabilities. While these pellet grills are relatively basic compared to more modern alternatives in the Practical/Premium classes below they can serve as a low-cost introduction to pellet cooking. In this post with the help of an owners review, I discuss the capabilities of these entry-level wood pellet grills.
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Reading The Label For Wood Pellets
When you go to purchase wood pellets for smoking brisket, be sure to read the label! Here are a few things to look for on the label to help you select the best pellets.
Camp Chef Smokepro Lux
One of the most impressive things about this smoker is its fuel-to- power efficiency. Even though its hopper is a relatively modest 18 inches in height, once full it can burn for a good 12 hours. Even longer if youre using it in warm weather.
What makes this even more remarkable is that its cooking area is generous in size. This smoker can take a lot of food.
This smoker also comes with the option of an added sear box, giving you a bit more freedom with your barbecuing. For an added cost you can get a 16,00 BTU sear box installed in it, which should be able to reach upwards of 800°F to help you with reverse searing.
It does come with its own built-in temperature and meat probe, but Id recommend getting your own. Its a bit flimsy, and in all honesty I prefer buying my own because third party models tend to be far more reliable and accurate in their temperature reading.
Weve found that its temperature calibration can be a bit wide of the mark, usually by about 30°F. We always want to ensure consistent cooking levels, so this can be frustrating. It shouldnt be enough to discourage anyone from considering this grill, but youll just need to recalibrate the smoker every few uses.
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What Are The Best Affordable Pellet Grills
Luckily the days when you had to splash out top dollar for a new pellet grill are behind us. Brands like Pit Boss , Z Grills, and Green Mountain Grills all produce a range of affordable options.If you want a full-featured grill that compares with Traeger and Camp Chef, the Z Grills 700D4E is great value. If you want something sub $500, then Z Grills 450B fits the bill, although youll give up a little size.
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work
Load a pellet grill’s hopper with pellets , calibrate the onboard computer to your desired temperature and walk away for 15 or so minutes. The grill’s computer ignites the firepot at the center of the grill and begins turning an auger that feeds pellets into it to generate heat and smoke. This process is typically helped along and regulated by a series of interior fans and temperature monitors. For the most part, fire pots are not directly exposed to the grill grates they’re usually separated by an angled steel plate, which catches dripping grease and feeds it away from the fire pot and into a catch. This means the majority of pellet grills cook with indirect heat, which is why temperatures are lower than their gas and charcoal counterparts.
Best Pellet Grill For Smoking And Best Pellet Grill Overall: Weber Smokefire
Weber just has a way with grills. In addition to the pellet grill here, the brand also came out on top of both our charcoal grill and gas grill tests. When it came to smoking, this was a very close call between the Weber and the Traeger Ironwood . Both displayed exceptional temperature control, staying within seven degrees on either side of the desired temperature over the course of a nearly eight hour cook time. Both produced fall-apart ribs and pulled pork with the kind of smoke flavor Id expect from a good offset smoker. Webers Smokeboost feature worked as advertised, adding seriously amped up flavor to the pulled pork . Essentially, what it does is keep the grill between 165°180 at the beginning of a cook because it is easier for meat to absorb smoke flavor at lower temperatures.
The promise of a pellet grill is that it can do everything a charcoal grill can do, just more easily. The Smokefire delivers on that promise in almost every way.
Note that I tested the large Weber Smokefire EX6, but I expect that the smaller Smokefire EX4 works just as well with slightly less grilling space.
Traeger Tailgater Portable Pellet Grill
The Traeger Tailgater Portable Pellet Grill is a great grill for beginners, plus its compact and portable! With 300 square inches of cooking space, you can conveniently accommodate a few smoked pork ribs at a time. The unit weighs around 62 pounds and has foldable legs, making it easy for you to place the unit on the backside of your car.
Unlike most other pellet grills that are advertised as being portable, this unit works just as well, if not better, than other grills. Plus, the interior parts of the pellet grill are conveniently removable, making it easy to clean the unit after a grilling session.
The Tailgater is able to hit a high-temperature range quite easily, making it a great option for grilling, smoking, and searing. That said, the size of the hopper is just 8 pounds, which is quite low compared to competitors.
- weighs around 62 pounds and has foldable legs, making it easy for you to place the unit on the backside of your car
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How Do We Choose The Best Wood Pellets
When deciding on the best wood pellets, we considered a broad range of sorts and flavors. We know that different types of wood flavor are more suitable for specific foods, so we included choices that pair great with poultry, pork, and seafood, as well as vegetables.
This list includes some suggestions that may be used in a variety of ways. However, quality is the most important consideration when purchasing wood pellets. For the best results, choose pellets that are completely natural , produce minimal ash, and come from high-quality wood.
You should also check for pellets that are compatible with your smoker. If you buy cheap pellets, they may become jammed in your grills auger and ruin your dinner plans.
Pellet grill manufactures will play with the blend to find the perfect mix for their grills and taste, but to pick a good wood pellet, you want to focus on all-natural hardwood pellets without fillers or additives.
Other Pellet Grills We Tested
Traeger is the biggest name in pellet grills, and for a couple of decades it was the only company that made them. The companys reputation is well earned and the Traeger Ironwood series that I tested was a great performer. The Ironwood is the middle of the three Traeger linesthe Traeger Pro Series is less expensive, and the high end Traeger Timberline is basically a complete outdoor kitchen.
The racks of ribs and pulled pork from the Traeger were of the same high quality as the winning Weber and the Super Smoke function combined with the downdraft exhaust gave the pork the most smoke flavor of anything I tested. It also grilled beautiful chicken. Traegers app, powered by the grills WiFire technology, worked seamlessly, and the apps automatic guided cooks are great for beginners or anyone who doesnt want to think about what theyre cooking that day.
The Z Grills 450B is a bargain when it comes to pellet grills with a price tag under $500. It does feel a bit cheaper than grills like the Oklahoma Joes or Weber, but it produced good results in the slow-cooking tests, even if its PID controller did allow the temperature to fluctuate some. The real reason this wasnt the best budget pick was because it struggled with grilling chicken. It never quite got hot enough to produce nice grill marks and took longer to cook the chicken breast than other grills. If you want an affordable pellet grill for smoking, though, this is still a good choice.
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Size And Cooking Capacity
From small portable models suitable for tailgating to giant 1000+ square inch cooking surface monsters, pellet smokers come in all different sizeswith prices to match.
If you will only ever cook for 2 to 6 people, theres little point splashing out on a model that can cook four full-sized briskets.
So know what size you need before looking at what to buy.
How We Picked And Tested
As with most products out there, pellet grills run a wide spectrum when it comes to price and quality. In order to best be able to determine which is the best pellet grill while still comparing “apples to apples”, we’ve broken the entire wood pellet grill population into 5 categories: Under $599, Under $1199, Under $1999, Over $2000, and Portable.
We have also compiled a list of 20 criteria in which we tested and compared the grills within each category. Some categories were very black and white as to how the grills ranked, whereas other categories rely upon personal preference.
In the end, out of all of the pellet grills personally tested by us, we can tell you which grills ranked highest for us, earning the title “best pellet smoker” in their respective categories.
Ready to see how it all shook out?
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Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grills
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill: Image Traegergrills.com
The Ironwood range is a step-up over the Traeger Pro Series. While they are based on the same D2 Direct Drive platform they feature a more advanced D2 control panel with Super Smoke and Keep Warm modes. More stainless steel components are found on the Ironwood grills over the Pro Series. They also feature insulated sidewalls. Furthermore, the Ironwood 650 and 850 are simply larger grills than the Pro Series grills. While not included you can add the Traeger Pellet Sensor and monitor the hopper level through the WiFire app.
What Are Smoking Pellets And How They Are Made
Smoking wood pellets follow a different process from that of making woods for smoking or barbecuing.
Wood pellets are in most cases made from the by-products of mills. Originally used as a source of fuel and heat, pellets have used in cooking and grilling. They are made of wood. This wood is sawdust from mills. The sawdust undergoes tremendous pressure and is compressed.
To hold this compressed sawdust together, the naturally occurring compound from trees, lignin, serves as an adhesive. After compression, it is forced through holes to form the desired shape. The compound lignin binds the sawdust together to form wooden pellets. These clean, dry, and combustible pellets produce a distinct, smoky flavor that enhances the taste of your food.
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Green Mountain Davy Crockett
The Davy Crockett is a serviceable portable grill with WiFi connectivity. Setup is easy, but leaving the extension legs off is recommended for moving. The grease collection system was challenging to work with, and our testers found variations between ambient temperature readings in the control panel versus testing with thermometers.
Best Overall: Weber Smokefire Ex4
Pros: Large capacity, excellent heat control and retention, and easy setup make this a great pellet grill.
Cons: It’s difficult to monitor the ash bin, and searing can be troublesome, per our tests.
This grill is the second generation of the EX4, and our testers were quite impressed with it. With high scores from setup to capacity to value, the Weber handily gained the Best Overall title. As with many models reviewed, the EX4 excels as both a smoker and a grill, with a temperature range from 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has excellent heat control and, more importantly, retention, aided by the porcelain enamel finish.
It has a large capacity of 672 square inches that, with careful arrangement, can accommodate three briskets for smoking or thirteen burgers for high-heat grilling, as examples. The app connectivity is versatile, allowing you to monitor and adjust the heat, giving prompts for when to turn the meat. It can also accommodate multiple items of varying weights and thicknesses via individual probes that monitor each piece.
Dimensions: 47 x 43 x 33 inches
Grilling Area: 672 square inches
Extra Features: Grease and ash collection system, LCD control panel, smoke boost, app-controlled
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