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recommendation for a friend

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    recommendation for a friend

    A friend just emailed and asked if I would recommend a Traeger for him. His gasser just quit, and is thinking about going away from gas. He saw Traegars on sale. The thing is, he hardly ever smokes, he grills. I suggested the PK 360 for him. Anyone have a better idea?

    Maybe Weber smokefire if he likes grilling but is also interested in pellet smoking. From what I’ve seen, the smokefire is a pellet grill that can sear as well as a genesis.


      Charcoal is a huge step up, flavor-wise, from gas. Some folks when they make that jump are unhappy, I've read lots of folks say it's too smokey, even thinking they did something wrong. A pellet cooker (I call them "cookers" since they can grill and smoke sorta equally) is a gentler step up from a gas grill, while IMO still more flavorful than a gasser. If he's a hands-on guy he'd probably be fine with lighting and tending a charcoal cook. If he's a turn-the-knob-and-walk-away guy, or a sleep-while-it's-cooking guy, he'd probably prefer a pellet cooker. Traeger has come a long way. Reports of older models' performance and longevity were often less than stellar.


        what does he cook most often? Does he like to experiment, or is he impatient?


          If he only grills and is ready for charcoal he can't go wrong with a Weber Kettle or PK360. It really depends on his budget and if he's ready to manage coals.


            I think you possibly made a big mistake if the guy isn’t fully aware of both the new time commitment you just gave him, flavor profile, and other headaches (for some) of dealing with charcoal (smelling like charcoal, setup time, cool down time, ash issues, etc... things that can be a shock to a person switching from gas).

            A pellet cooker more so parallels a gas cooker for convenience. Searing is the Achilles heel however some have started to address that with grillgrates, separate sear burner (think camp chef), or internal setting (potentially Weber).

            Quite honestly I would grill a lot less if I was relegated to charcoal (I own a gasser, pellet cooker, and kettle). My pellet cooker sees the most action as it has started to replace my gasser. And before anyone starts jumping on the charcoal is king bandwagon.... p!$$ off... it isn’t king for everyone. For me it is about time and convenience. I get home from work late enough to not want to deal with charcoal or if I did it would back our dinner up even later waiting on the coals to get lit then getting the cooker up to temp then stabilizing and then monitoring. And quite frankly don’t want to smell like charcoal all night (I’m a morning shower person if I can help it). With my pellet cooker a lot of the time I will put the meat on then turn it on. While it is cooking I can get unpacked from work, prep other things, etc...

            The other factor is depending on what size grill he had. He could be giving up a lot of real estate with a PK which could be a shock.

            Just make sure he knows what he is getting into because as Huskee mentioned about flavor and also then convenience issues , handling and managing coals, etc... it can be a big change.

            That aside if he is fully aware and accepting of it then I would say cool... Or go with a Weber of some kind from a price standpoint to ease his way into charcoal without spending as much money (and easier ash cleanup).

            *side note: I don’t hate charcoal and maybe prefer the flavor profile... but my time and schedule are a bit more valuable than charcoal cooked food. That being said... I will probably always own a charcoal grill but I’m being honest about use. It is more of weekend cooker for me.
            Last edited by Nate; January 26, 2020, 02:33 AM.


            • Mark V
              Mark V commented
              Editing a comment
              Good points. I probably let my personal preferences color my suggestion. I forwarded some of your comment to him, and also pointed him to the reviews on this site so he can decide better what is best for him.

            • Nate
              Nate commented
              Editing a comment
              Mark V , I definitely don’t think the PK is a bad recommendation. I wouldn’t mind to have one myself.

            George Foreman grill for sure.


              PK would be a great choice, so would a kettle. It really depends on his interests. Why does he think he wants to move away from gas? If he is really wanting to get into this hobby then a PK, Kettle or the Pellet are great places to go. But if he wants to just "grill" they he should probably just buy another gasser.


                Does he think he only needs one grill? Show him the error of his thinking. Get a gasser and a pellet muncher. And a charcoal.


                • surfdog
                  surfdog commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Be serious...he also needs a griddle. LOL

                Gift him a Pit subscription......then he will have 2-3 different grills by year’s end! 😁


                  My thoughts:
                  1. PK is small and cost per square inch is high
                  2. Pellet grill is really convenient but a good one is expensive
                  3. Weber is cost effective and is well made with lots of accessories out there
                  I have all of the above and use them all plus others. I would be really frustrated if the PK360 is all I had because often times the real estate it offers is just too small. It is a great grill and it is robust but . . . . .

                  I am personally not a fan of sheet metal pellet pellet grills due to longevity. Traeger appears to be struggling with quality issues on top of that. I would be afraid to recommend one to a friend. Moving to a higher quality pellet grill gets really pricey.

                  If your friend is budget constrained the move to charcoal is made softly to the wallet with a Weber kettle. They really are hard to beat for the dollar spent.


                    What size gasser is he trying to replace? For example, my gasser is a Summit Platinum 6-burner, so replacing that with charcoal or pellets could be a challenge because I have lots of space on that thing. A lot of grills would feel tiny and very constrained.

                    FWIW, the only pellet cooker I’ve used is my father’s Traeger. It "cooks" quite well, even if it doesn’t have the smoke profile that I prefer. Easily remedied with the addition of a smoke tube. What it does NOT do well is grill. It’s just not designed that way. I’m sure in a pinch that burgers, or steaks, COULD be cooked on there, but it would hardly be my first choice.

                    Without knowing his budget or cooking style it’s hard to make a solid recommendation.
                    That said, my first recommendation would be a SERIOUS look at the new Weber Smoke Fire as it appears to address the "grilling" issues that pellet cookers generally suffer from. But it seems to be a "best of both worlds" kinda thing. And cleanup won’t be too dissimilar to what he’s used to...just a bit more often.

                    If that’s out, I’d probably recommend a Weber kettle. They cost less than the 360, and the money saved could be used for a myriad of accessories. The cleanup is also fast...which he’ll need to get used to. Heck, for the price of a 360 (from a quick look online) he could get a performer AND a WSM. Gotta get that MCS train rolling. LOL


                      If the dude is looking to replace a gasser with a pellet cooker, he is looking for convenience - not the added time and cleanup needed to deal with charcoal. I would educate him that a pellet cooker also needs periodic cleaning with a shop vac to keep it functioning, and that it is not a direct replacement for his gas grill.

                      I have lots of cookers, and gas has its place, especially for quick convenience cooking. He might be better served with a new gas grill, versus a cooker that is primarily a smoker.


                        Personal opinion here. I would suggest anything BUT a pellet pooper. I have a Memphis Pro that just sets on the back deck begging for the occasional brisket or butt I throw it's way when I feel lazy. I do NOT care for the flavor profile it gives me at all.
                        BGE, or PK are my favorites.



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