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First Grill/Smoker Purchase

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    First Grill/Smoker Purchase

    Hello All,
    I am a fairly decent cook, particularly Italian...even my wife agrees. I have grilled my whole life (mostly on gas), but am still just an amateur. Fortunately amazingribs.com and Meathead have been schooling me on BBQ, and I hope to become much more skilled, particularly at smoking (which I have never done). I am ready to make a real purchase and commit to back yard cooking. I live in Northern California, so I can grill almost 12 months of the year and it rarely gets too cold. I have two small kids so I can get busy/distracted from the grill. With all that said, I'm leaning towards a pellet grill/smoker, realizing there are always tradeoffs. But I like the idea of having a single device for both cooking and smoking that I can set and forget. If you started with a blank sheet of paper and had nothing but a budget of say 1200-2000, what would you do? Love to get some advice. Regards, Jeff

    You have so many options with that budget! For maximum flexibility I'd go with a ceramic or a Meadow Creek PR36 as my one and only cooker. Perhaps even a Good One Open Range. I live in the south where we get nice weather most of the year so I don't need an insulated cooker, but you may want to check out an insulated cooker like a Backwoods or ceramic kamado simply for their fuel efficiency and consistency. With that budget you could afford a Weber kettle and Weber Smokey Mountain. Personally, I'd buy an expensive offset and a Weber 22" kettle with that budget, but those choices reflect my oddball preferences! Might push your ceiling to $2,500, but you can do pretty much anything on your kettle and reserve your offset for low and slow. Your final choice will hinge on a lot of factors: cooking experience, location, preference for fuel, favorite things to cook, time you have to spend, etc.

    Have you checked out the AR review database yet? Lots of good equipment reviews and articles on selecting a cooker. There's also a Top Ten list Meathead publishes that gives you a selection of the best value smokers that span pellet, charcoal, insulated, offset, etc.


      Myself with a $2,500 ceiling, I would get a Rec Tec pellet grill with the package that has all the pellets and stuff, and a 26-inch Weber kettle with a Slow and Sear.


        JeffCBBQ - First, welcome to The Pit and welcome to The Obsession! We're glad you're here.

        As for a cooker in the $1,200 - $2,000 range, I would urge you to consider to consider the Kamado Joe Big Joe. That is a kamado and kamados are the single most versatile cooker on a patio. Kamados are convection ovens. You can use them for smoking, braising, grilling, baking, etc. Anything you can cook in your kitchen you can easily do on a kamado. It combines all the different types of cookers found on patios and combines them into a single unit.

        I recommend the Kamado Joe because right now, I think it has the best combination of quality, accessories, performance, and customer service. Many kamado manufacturers sell their accessories ala carte. For the most part, the KJ is ready to go out of the box with its Divide and Conquer cooking system.

        You might also think about a Weber Summit Charcoal Grill. It's a very fine cooker and it has just recently been introduced to the market. It doesn't have all the accessories that you'll find for kamados at this point, but those will come in time. I've cooked on one and it is a very solid unit.

        Finally, think about a Weber Kettle and getting a Slow and Sear. That is a powerful combination and is very affordable. Kettles have been around for a very long time and are a powerhouse in the backyard arena, especially now that the Slow and Sear is available.


        • SoonerBQuer
          SoonerBQuer commented
          Editing a comment
          I do however like the Idea of the weber with SnS and the KBQ. If money were no object, i'd be getting a KBQ tomorrow and the SnS the next day. Both however would require a bit more attention than a Kamado would.

        • gon4good20
          gon4good20 commented
          Editing a comment
          You just described 2/3 of my setup minus the SnS SoonerBQuer!

        • SoonerBQuer
          SoonerBQuer commented
          Editing a comment
          Sounds like a nice setup gon4good20 . Just gives me more items to buy, haha.

        If you want versitality and are concerned about two small children touching a hot grill, I would get a Kamado. While they can get hot on the outside it would be nothing like touching the metal of a gril with equal internal temperatures.


          Get a Pit Barrel Cooker and spend the rest of that money on good meat


            Thanks everyone!!! Please keep suggestions coming. Definitely some interesting choices. I did not know about the Pit Barrel Cooker, very interesting. And I know the BGE guys rave about them. I wonder if maybe I should have a combo of gas for convenience and charcoal for flavor (i.e. when I have a full day to cook).


            • jholmgren
              jholmgren commented
              Editing a comment
              That's my setup. Kamado Joe Classic next to a Weber Spirit gasser.

            Originally posted by JeffCBBQ View Post
            I wonder if maybe I should have a combo of gas for convenience and charcoal for flavor (i.e. when I have a full day to cook).
            That's exactly what I did last year. Weber Genesis EP-330 on the main/kitchen level and a Pit Barrel Cooker down below for long, smokey cooks.




                Ha, KBQ looks awesome but I don't have that kinda time lol. Cutting wood, feeding the fire. My my wife would think I'm crazy.


                  Maybe I should just not out think this and get a Rec-Tech and start cooking.


                    I've had a Weber Summit gasser for years and added a Pit Barrel Cooker almost 3 years ago. For me, that's a perfect combination. You've got the convenience of the gasser for short cooks, and a smoker that is as close to set/forget as it charcoal can be and puts out amazing food to boot.

                    The pellet grills do not produce as smokey a flavor which may/may not be an advantage, depending on the flavor profile you're looking for.

                    Back when I was in the market for a smoker, I read all that Meathead and Max had to say about pellet smokers, then read Max's review of the Pit Barrel Cooker, and my mind was made up. The PBC provides great volume (8 racks of ribs, 2-3 briskets, etc.) and great flavor.



                    • JeffCBBQ
                      JeffCBBQ commented
                      Editing a comment

                    I wish I had 2 grand to spend right now, I would go straight to Costco and plop down the price of the biggest Komado Joe they have and the rest of it on meat to cook. Yippi Ki Yah!!!


                    • Beefchop
                      Beefchop commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Ok, so offset (it looks like you have a Lang in your avatar) vs. a Kamado. Which one wins the battle?

                    • vandy
                      vandy commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You know I love my Lang, there is nothing like cooking with logs but I would just like to add a Kamado to my arsenal for smaller cooks like 1 slab of ribs or a few burgers or a couple of steaks. No way would I get rid of the Lang for the Komado Joe though.

                    Welcome to The Pit JeffCBBQ. It's great to have you here and thank you for your support. You've gotten a lot of great recommendations.

                    Since this is your first post, please check out our homework assignment post for new members. It contains a few how-tos and please-dos. This will help you learn your way around so you can get the best experience from our forum.

                    Also, it's very important that you add the domain AmazingRibs.com to your email safe list in case you are ever drawn as our monthly Gold Medal Giveaway winner!

                    See you around The Pit!


                      First, gassers are GREAT. You can make amazing food with a gas grill.

                      Second, WOW, what a budget! For that kind of money, you can go in almost any direction! People tend to recommend what they already use, and I'm no exception, but if I were you I'd keep the gasser and go with something smoky, like the PBC (I haven't used one), a Weber Bullet (likewise), or a Weber Kettle (nice unit, I'm still learning mine).

                      My reasoning is that even though you have a nice budget, all of those are extremely effective units, and they are also very affordable, and well made. You can stash the rest of the money until you get a better handle on charcoal, then splurge.



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