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New smoker?

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    New smoker?

    Hello all,

    Let's say I've been grilling <gasp> for close to 50 years now and I'm starting to get the hang of it (LOL).

    Been smoking for about 10. Started with a single-wall, wood fired, steel rectangular upright. Liked the results but always found it hard to keep the temp steady. Finally it rusted thru, so I got a Masterbilt electric, digital type. I'm having good results with it, but it's not stainless and a lot of the inner case is rusting... So I'm wondering if it's time for a new one.

    BUT, do I go electric or pellet? Vertical or horizontal? Most of the time I'll smoke a brisket (or pork shoulder) and 3 racks of ribs, which all fit just dandy. But I may need to kick things up a notch so I was considering "upgrading" to pellet?

    According to what I've read, there's only so much smoke a meat can absorb. Will I get more smoke into the meat with a pellet smoker? Can I grill a steak to M/R and get a little wood/smoke flavor on a pellet machine? Aside from higher cost to purchase and higher cost to operate, what are the other pros and cons of pellet vs. electric?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    PS - is there a way to search this "channel" in case the topic was already addressed? TIA.

    Pellet is much better than electric. Wood is better than pellet but requires baby setting.


      Clearly you value temperature control and ease of use.

      The main benefit of pellet over electric is a noticeable smoke profile which adds to the flavor. I would also expect you to be able to grill and sear steaks better with pellet than electric but not quite as good as with charcoal. There are also many different pellet flavors that you can use to add new flavor profiles to the meat such as oak, cherry, hickory etc. There is no flavor with electric.

      Frankly, there is very little reason not to go pellet if you are deciding between pellet and electric as it is all upside with pellets.

      While preferences vary on pellet smokers, my personal recommendations are usually the Grillas due to the high quality builds and outstanding customer service.

      The OG Grilla is well known to have an above average smoke profile for a pellet grill and is very likely to be my next buy. With the expander, it can easily handle your brisket plus ribs and maybe without too!



        Also, I don’t think we can search by channel but you can search the entire forum easily. Sometimes using Google and Pitmaster as a search term gives you better results.


          Welcome to the Pit.


            Welcome to the pit! What's your budget, is the focus on grilling or smoking? You could always just use a pellet tube or tray and get wood smoke on a gas grill if you wanted to. Lots of options just need budget and intent. If you mostly smoke a pellet cooker might be in your future. Do you currently have any other grills other than what you are replacing? Lots of things pair nicely, lots of folks here have combinations of grill types


            • smokyYank
              smokyYank commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks, "Its..."

              I'm happy with the Weber 3-burner SS grill for grilling. Am hesitant to bother babysitting lo temps, since it wasn't made for that. OK, I may be a blasphemer, but am hoping a digital circuit board can keep my temps for me (plus, thanks to Uncle Meathead, I invested in a 2 channel temp gage; one for the air, one for the meat).

            I used an electric smoker for years with great success. (Smokin-It model #2). I still have it and use it occasionally. I bought a pellet smoker just about two years ago. (Recteq RT-700 Bull) I went the pellet route primarily for the increased cooking space, long cooking time without refueling the wood for smoking, and wider range of cooking temps it could do. I absolutely love it. Be aware that although many pellet smoker brands claim the can do high temp searing, in my opinion they really can’t very well. I use other cookers I have for that. There are a wide variety of quality pellet smokers available these days. Do your research and pick the one that best meets your needs. Just my two cents. Good luck!


              Welcome to The Pit.

              I'm a charcoal guy, so I really can't give an opinion, but I do have a few thoughts. Whatever you get, make sure it's big enough to handle the largest cook you think you might do. As mentioned above, pellet grills may not be the best way to sear, but there have been some recent improvements in that area. Personally, I'd get a charcoal grill for searing because they are easy to light and can get super hot. Size would again depend on how many people you will be feedin'. An 18" Weber Jumbo Joe will sear steaks to feed four, and if you are feeding more than that, a larger kettle will sear more.

              Good luck with your search.


                Welcome to the Pit, you are at the right place to get advice to sift thru. I love my Weber 22 and my Camp Chef pellet smoker. Enjoy the Wikipedia of BQ


                  Welcome from Wisconsin. Glad you decided to join us!
                  I have a Camp Chef pellet pooper, and I'm in agreement with the opinion that pellet grills are really intended to be smokers not grills. My particular model does not have a slide feature to allow direct access to the fire pot like some other brands do, so that may make me a little biased. Personally, the combination of a pellet smoker and a outdoor flat top is a killer steak setup.


                  • Jfrosty27
                    Jfrosty27 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    This is how I do my steak when it's just the wife and me. I'll get one huge steak for the both of us. Cook low and slow on the pellet smoker to about 125 IT. Let it rest as the flat top heats up, and then sear on the flat top until our liking. If steak for more people, I fire up the Weber kettle to sear. Yum.

                  If you have the money, look over at lonestar Grillz


                    Welcome from Maryland.


                      Have you explored our Searchable Equipment Reviews? Here's a search for electric and pellet smokers: https://amazingribs.com/ratings-revi...el_tid%5B%5D=5


                      • smokyYank
                        smokyYank commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Wow, are you "that" Max, the reviewer? Thank you so much!

                      Welcome to the Pit! Charcoal here.


                        Hello all,

                        Thank you so much for your kind advice and wisdom. I was leaning in the direction of pellet.

                        A few qualifying questions:
                        1. Vertical vs. horizontal bed? Right now I have about 672 sqin of smoke space, looking to increase to about 800-900
                        2. Do all pellet smokers have the angled pan to direct the grease into an external pot?
                        3. I don't think I've seen any pellet smokers (PSs from now on) with water pans to keep moisture and smoother temp?
                        4. Other factors to consider?

                        Although I don't want to spend the money, I'd probably go up to about $2K. I'm getting older and can't mess around with any more low end stuff!

                        Thank you all again.

                        PS - at this rate, I should be quite the pit master by age 127 !


                        • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                          ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                          Editing a comment
                          So at the high end of your budget you will find MAK, Yoder, Fast Eddy and Pitts and Spitts but there are also lots of great brands closer to 1,500 like Grilla, Blaz'n, etc... ever some good ones closer to 1K. On the main site you can filter results to pellet grills and a price range. Max hasn't reviewed ALL of them but there's a decent selection of quality grills. Most pellet smokers don't have a water pan because pellet cooking isn't exactly a dry environment.

                        • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                          ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                          Editing a comment
                          ran outta room, but it seems more pellet smokers are moving towards internal grease management. I know that was a requirement for me or the dogs woulda had access to free snacks. The most important factors for me are reliability, smoke output, efficiency, and ease of cleaning.


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