This is a membership forum. As a guest, you can click around a bit. View 3 pages for free.

[ Lost Username or Password | Pitmaster Club Information, | Join 30 Days Free | Contact Us ]

There are 2 page views remaining.



Meat-Up in Memphis 2020

Join us in Memphis for our Meat-Up! Space is limited to 400, secure your spot by booking early! Click here for details. (https://amazingribs.com/memphis2020)
See more
See less

What to buy??? Stick Burner vs Charcoal vs Pellet

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • leejay99
    Club Member
    • Apr 2017
    • 2

    What to buy??? Stick Burner vs Charcoal vs Pellet

    I am looking at getting into trying some competitions, possibly food truck-style and maybe a little catering-type things. I am looking for a larger smoker and I am looking for some advice.

    I am thinking about a larger-sized stick burner, a Backwoods cabinet charcoal smoker and the Rec-Tec RT-2500. As everyone has stated above, the Rec Tecs are great with great customer service. Does the RT-2500 live up to those Rec Tec expectations?

    - Stick burner: It seems to be a traditional, eye-catching way to smoke. Upside: once I figure out the temps, with a quality smoker, it should be easy to keep the temps where I want them and the meat would have a stronger smoke flavor. Downside: where to get the wood and the space to store the wood. I have a truck for towing, so that's not an issue.

    - Backwoods/cabinet smoker: I have a WSM so I don't think the learning curve would be too steep. They have a lot of space and good reviews. Haven't heard anything about their costumer service, though. I really don't have anything on the downside, except for needing a trailer for it.

    - Pellet: I am leaning towards a Rec Tec. I am familiar with pellet smoking since I have a Traeger and a GMG. Obviously, the RT-2500 is exceptionally larger so I don't know how the size difference affects the basics of a smoke. The downsides would be weaker smoke flavor, needing a power source and needing a trailer for it.

    I am looking in the $3,000-$5,000 range.

    Any thoughts, ideas, pros, cons, etc. would be appreciated.

  • RonB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 11062
    • Near Richmond VA
    • Weber Performer Deluxe
      Pizza insert
      Smokenator 1000
      Cookshack Smokette Elite
      2 Thermapens
      lots of probes.

    Welcome to The Pit. I don't have any experience with any of those, so just be patient - someone will be along shortly that can help.


    • Donw
      Club Member
      • Jul 2017
      • 2128

      First welcome from Maryland. We have members really into competition who will give you some solid opinions as they come across your post. Wish Candy Sue was more active right now but she has her hands full as president of the KCBS. She is a wealth of knowledge.


      • mountainsmoker
        Club Member
        • Jun 2019
        • 1465
        • Bryson City, NC

        Since this is your first post let me welcome you to the Pit from the mountains of NC. The 1st thing you have to determine is the quantity of people you will be feeding. Then how you will power your pellet smoker. Then maybe go if you are serious about getting into competitions, going to some and talking to the teams that are using what you are thinking of using. I will be honest I have not seen many pellets at the competitions but that just may be me. They tend not to produce as much smoke as other systems. But the guys on here can point you in directions or to ones that provide more smoke.


        • FireMan
          Charter Member
          • Jul 2015
          • 6714
          • Bottom of Winnebago

          Yup, all three of em’ll be just fine.
          Welcome BTW.


          • JPGators17
            Charter Member
            • Jan 2015
            • 445
            • Orlando, FL

            There is no answer, I'm sorry. I am still struggling with this myself. My best advice is for you to divide your budget up and get one of each. You will want or have them all eventually anyway. True story.


            • DavidNorcross
              Club Member
              • Nov 2017
              • 708
              • Virginia
              • Rec Tec RT-680
                Coleman RoadTrip LXX
                Javelin Pro Duo
                More Cast Iron than I care to admit

              Welcome from Virginia. I am personally a fan of charcoal...


              • Old Glory
                Club Member
                • Feb 2018
                • 631
                • Northshore MA

                Three very different types of smokers. How much work do you want to do? Stick burners require you to babysit the fire and add wood every hour or so. Cabinet smokers can be set up to do low and slow without adding fuel for long periods of time. I have a Humprey's and it is rock steady for hours and hours. Pellet Smokers are almost set it and forget it.

                Stick burner more work better smoke flavor (according to most people)
                Cabinet Smoker Charcoal and chunk wood great smoke flavor and once you learn it easy to use.
                Pellet Easiest to use but people say smoke profile does not come through as much as the other two cookers. More prone to failures due to mechanical and electrical parts.

                I say get one of each...lol.


                • LA Pork Butt
                  Charter Member
                  • Dec 2014
                  • 4526
                  • Grew up in New Orleans, lived in Texas for 20 years, lived in Mandeville, LA for 22 years. I now liv

                  Welcome to the Pit from Dallas​​​​​! Here’s a thought. How much sleep do you need? Some cookers require more monitoring and require adding fuel. I don’t know about the Backwoods cooker, but I am pretty sure the stick burner will require lots of temperature monitoring throughout a long. My assumption would be that the kind of cooks you are describing would be overnight cooks.


                  • stanw891
                    stanw891 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    ☝️☝️ This is good advice! It all comes down to how involved you want to be with the cook and how much time you want to invest monitoring it.

                    There are also tricks to up the smoke profile on pellet grills which I am sure you have heard about since you have them (put meat on cold then start the smoker, a smoke tube, set some wood chunks on top of the heat deflector etc.).

                    But if time and sleep aren’t an issue, a backwoods smoker might have the best of both worlds for you!

                    Good luck!
                • JCBBQ
                  Club Member
                  • Jan 2016
                  • 1038
                  • Jersey City, NJ
                  • Primo Oval XL Ceramic Cooker
                    Pit Barrel Cooker
                    2x Mavrick 732
                    Therma Pen Orange
                    Favorite Bourbon Blanton's
                    SF Giants

                    MCS wish list - Lone Star Grillz off set

                  Welcome from N.J.! Here’s my 2 cents. Don’t get another pellet rig. Get something different. You’ll have a ton of fun learning your new rig.

                  Based on what you wrote, since you’re not sure where to get and store wood, I’d go for a cabinet cooker. I’ve got s buddy who’s got a Backwoods and loves it. Of course, if it was me, I’d look long and hard at Lone Star Grillz. Their cabinet cookers look amazing.



                  • Troutman
                    Club Member
                    • Aug 2017
                    • 6522
                    • Republic of Texallence

                    • OUTDOOR COOKERS
                      22" Weber Kettle - Red Premium Limited Edition
                      6 Burner Weber Summit Gasser
                      22" and 18" Weber WSM Smoker
                      18” Jumbo Joe
                      36" double door Lyfe Tyme offset stick burner (SOLD !)
                      Pitts & Spitts Pellet Pro 2436
                      BBQ ACCESSORIES
                      Classic Thermopen
                      Thermoworks SMOKE
                      Fireboard Pro with Pit Viper fan
                      Grill Grates
                      SNS for the 22" Weber kettle
                      A-MAZE-N Smoker 12" Tube & Tray
                      Weber stainless veggie basket
                      Weber stainless fish basket
                      Weber stainless rib rack
                      Phat Mat cooking mats
                      Barbestar BBQ Cooking Gloves
                      WOOD & PELLET PREFERENCES
                      For Beef (brisket, beef ribs, large clods/roasts) = 100% mesquite, oak or hickory
                      For Chicken & other fowl = competition blend, cherry/oak/hickory
                      For Turkey = 100% hickory or competition blend
                      For Pork Shoulder = mesquite, oak or hickory
                      For Pork Chops or Ribs = 100% applewood
                      SOUS VIDE
                      Anova Immersion Circulator 900 watt & 12 & 18 quart Rubbermaid containers with hinged sous vide lids
                      INDOOR COOKWARE
                      Generic Calphalon non-stick cookware set of pots and pans
                      12" & 14" All-Clad Stainless skillets
                      Cast Iron 12" skillet by Victoria
                      La Creuset Cast Iron 7 quart Dutch Oven - Yellow Round
                      La Creuset Cast Iron 7 quart Dutch Oven - Cherry Oval
                      Old Revere Wear Copper & Stainless Pots (handed down)

                      JA Henckels 15 piece Stainless Knife Set
                      Victorinox 12" Fibrox Pro Slicing Knive
                      Victorinox 6" Curved Boning Knife
                      Set of Dalstrong Japanese Steak Knives

                    It appears as though you want to lean toward either comp or production cooking, not what you want for your family’s backyard.

                    As others have eluded to, you need to address it from a practical standpoint. That pretty much leaves a stick burner out. It’s not practical because it’s large, can be difficult to maintain and like others have mentioned, you have to baby sit it. If your in comps or catering you have other things to worry about, why not make cooking your meat as easy as possible?

                    That leaves a vertical cabinet or a pellet cooker. The main difference between those two is smoke profile. Pellet is light, verticals stronger. I personally don’t like the lighter results from a pellet, but that’s your determining factor between the two. Both are pretty much set and forget from the automated standpoint.

                    I’d lean toward the vertical, either a water type or maybe one of the new generation gravity feeds. Whichever one you choose, good luck with your venture and keep us abreast of your results.


                    • mountainsmoker
                      mountainsmoker commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yep have been disappointed in the smoke profile of a pellet smoke and the judges are looking for a good smoke ring, a pellet smoker will not give you that.
                  • HandsomeDave
                    Club Member
                    • May 2017
                    • 43
                    • Gig Harbor Washington

                    What Troutman said. I have been asking the same questions this year, and after a lot of research, have come to the same conclusion. A reverse flow cabinet is the way to go if you have the coin. Which I don't at the moment. So in the meantime I am going to keep rockin with my WSM 22.5 which turns out pretty good BBQ.


                    • Dadof3Illinois
                      Club Member
                      • Jul 2017
                      • 575
                      • Southeast Illinois

                      I might visit a few competitions and see what others are using and talk with them about the pros and cons of each. Some that do both catering and competitions might not use the same cooker for both? Heck you can do some awesome competition cooking on a couple WSM’s and a 26” kettle!


                      • mountainsmoker
                        mountainsmoker commented
                        Editing a comment
                        No don't might, do visit a few competitions. It will add to your experience 10 fold. The pitmasters are all willing to talk to people thinking about getting into the game.
                    • klflowers
                      Club Member
                      • Sep 2015
                      • 2291
                      • Tennessee

                      Welcome from TN. Nothing to add to what these guys have offered, but keep us up to date on your decisions when you have time.


                      • TripleB
                        Club Member
                        • May 2017
                        • 375
                        • La Crescenta
                        • Jambo Backyard Smoker
                          Weber Smokey Mountain (22" & 18.5")
                          Portable Kitchen 360
                          Portable Kitchen Grill
                          Pit Barrel Cooker
                          Weber "Brownie" Circa 1978 22"
                          Weber Gas Grill, Silver A
                          BBQ Guru ATC
                          Favorite Beer: Peroni
                          Favorite Sports Teams: Rams, Dodgers, Kings, UCLA Bruins

                        I've competed, I'm a judge and I have a Jambo so here are a couple things.

                        1) stick burners are great, but you gotta watch them. Read an interesting article were a guy tested double-walled vs. Single walled fire box. Result was the single walled fire box produced better "smoked" meat. Jambo is double wallsd and the smoke flavor is mild. If I did it again, I'd go with a cabinet style smoker with a temperature control system. Watching a smoker for 18 hours gets old fast.

                        2) not a lot of pellet smokers at the comps (KCBS) I go to. There is also some additional rules that apply to them, but I dont know what they are.


                        • Murdy
                          Murdy commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Any idea why double walled produce less smoke flavor? Maybe they hold heat better so you use less wood? (I'm guessing here)

                        • TripleB
                          TripleB commented
                          Editing a comment
                          That's a good hypothesis. The author did not elaborate on why, just that in his opinion it did. Recently I smoked ribs on my Jambo and a chuck on my PK360 and I thought the chuck had a lot more smoke flavor than the ribs.



                      Meat-Up in Memphis 2020

                      Join us in Memphis for our Meat-Up! Space is limited to 400, secure your spot by booking early! Click here for details. (https://amazingribs.com/memphis2020)
                      See more
                      See less
                      Meat-Up in Memphis

                      T-Shirts & More T-Shirts & More
                      Order men's and women's T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Aprons, Mugs, Caps, Tote Bags, Flasks, and more, all imprinted with the Pitmaster Club logo. There's even a spiral bound journal where you can make notes on your cooks.

                      Cool Embroidered Shirt Cool Embroidered Shirt
                      This beautifully embroidered shirt is the same one Meathead wears in public and on TV. It's wash and wear and doesn't need ironing (really!), but it is a soft cottonlike feel. Choice of four colors and both men's and women's.

                      Click here for more info.

                      Support ARC

                      Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. On Amazon it works on everything from grills to diapers, they never tell us what you bought, and it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! And remember, we only recommend products we love. If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon.


                      BBQ Stars


                      These are not ads or paid placements. These Are Some Of Our Favorite Tools And Toys.

                      These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

                      Use our links when you buy things

                      Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. On Amazon it works on everything from grills to diapers, they never tell us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon




                      Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

                      Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts

                      Digital Thermometers Are Your Most Valuable Tool And Here's A Great Buy!

                      maverick PT55 thermometer

                      A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. YOU NEED ONE!

                      Click here for more info on the Maverick PT-55 Waterproof Instant-Read Thermometer Review shown above. It may be the best value in a thermometer out there

                      If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the Slow 'N' Sear

                      slow n sear

                      The Slow 'N' Sear turns your grill into a first class smoker and also creates an extremely hot sear zone you can use to create steakhouse steaks.

                      Click here for our article on this breakthrough tool

                      Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet's Dual Tube Burners

                      the good one grill

                      The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King's proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

                      Click here to read our complete review

                      The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One

                      the good one grill

                      The Good-One Open Range is a charcoal grill with an offset smoke chamber attached. It is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. The grill sits low in front and doubles as a firebox for the smoke chamber which is spliced on above and behind so it can work like a horizontal offset smoker only better. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

                      Click here to read our complete review

                      Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

                      Griddle And Deep Fryer All In One

                      The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone's Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all. Plus it has a built in cutting board, garbage bag holder, and paper towel holder. An additional work table on the left side provides plenty of counter space.

                      Click here to read our detailed review and to order

                      Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

                      The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

                      The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier. Best of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

                      Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them

                      The Undisputed Champion!


                      The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. Don't accept cheap substitutes.  Click here to read our test results and comprehensive review and why it won our Platinum Medal .

                      Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater


                      Char-Broil's Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you're off to the party! Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.

                      Click here to read our detailed review and to order

                      The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

                      NK-22-Ck Grill

                      Their NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

                      Click here for more about what makes this grill special


                      G&F Suede Welder's Gloves

                      Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

                      If you're using oven mitts at the grill, it's time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder's gloves. They're heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

                      Click here to read our detailed review

                      Click here to order from Amazon

                      GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

                      grill grates

                      GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.

                      Click here for more about what makes these grates so special

                      kareubequ bbq smoker

                      Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

                      The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

                      Click here for our review of this superb smoker

                      Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

                      masterbuilt gas smoker

                      The First Propane Smoker With A Thermostat Makes This Baby Foolproof

                      Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

                      Click here to read our detailed review

                      Professional Steakhouse Knife Set

                      masterbuilt gas smoker

                      Our founder, Meathead, wanted the same steak knives used by steakhouses such as Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, Morton's, Kobe Club, Palm, and many others. So he located the manufacturer and had them stamp our name on some. They boast pointed, temper-ground, serrated, high-carbon stainless-steel, half-tang blades with excellent cutting edge ability. The beefy hardwood handle provides a comfortable grip secured by three hefty rivets. He has machine washed his more than 100 times. They have never rusted and they stay shiny without polishing. Please note that we do not make, sell, or distribute these knives, they just engrave them with our name.

                      Click here to read our detailed review and to order

                      PK 360 grill

                      Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

                      The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Beautifully designed and completely portable. Meathead says it is his preferrred grill.

                      Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

                      Click here to order it direct from PK and get a special deal for AmazingRibs.com readers only

                      Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

                      fireboard bbq thermometer

                      With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.

                      Click here to read our detailed review

                      Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

                      Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill

                      Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

                      Click here to read our detailed review and to order