Smoking your roast chicken or pork chops adds that extra oomph of flavor and taste, with the deep, rich and delectable undertones you’d expect from a smokehouse. But if you’re too daunted by the task of smoking with charcoal, considering the prep-work and constant vigilance you’ll be practising lighting, stoking and maintaining your fuel, you might prefer the user-friendliness of a pellet smoker instead.
Evoking similar smokiness to cooking your meats over an open fire, high quality hardwood pellets can deliver a rich and textured flavor, even allowing you to mix up different types of wood pellets for creating different medleys of flavor and intensity. Similar to electric and propane models, pellet smokers use electronic controls to operate the process, some featuring timers that allow you to fire up the unit and then dedicate yourself to something else, rather than being stuck to the smoker’s side constantly tending to the fuel.
Although tending to be pricier than some charcoal and gas smokers, and not delivering the same full-bodied smoky depth you’d get with charcoal, if user convenience and flexibility of use are important buyer decisions for you, you might find our shortlist of the best pellet smokers worth your while.
Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker
This remarkably user-friendly unit scores the top spot on this list, featuring an intuitive smart digital control system and automatic augur – the unit feeds your choice of wood pellets into the firepot and keeps your smoker running, advanced controls allowing you to set the temperature anywhere between 160°F to 500°F, the range versatile enough not only to allow you to smoke your meats, but also barbecue, grill, bake and sear. The hopper has a capacity of 18 lbs, the unit producing an output of 25,000 BTUs per hour.
An internal meat temperature probe and temperature sensor allow you to check, moderate and control the optimum cooking conditions for whatever is on the menu for the day, while adjusting the grill’s temperature involves toggling user-friendly controls and then letting the unit do the rest of the work for you.
Versatile and built for multiple cooking applications, the unit features a grilling area of dimensions 19.5 by 22 inches, smoking rack of dimensions 6 by 24 inches, and a total rack surface area of 570 square inches. The brilliant Ash Cleanout system enables you to clear out the waste created while burning the pellets with the pull of a lever, making maintenance and usage that much more fuss-free.
KAREN’S BUDGET PICK
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
For optimum control over the cooking process, this unit features Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor allowing you to constantly monitor internal temperatures of the smoker. A hopper of capacity 9 lbs feeds pellets into the firebox, where they are automatically ignited, a combustion fan to ensure they keep burning. Digital control systems enable you to set the temperature of the unit anywhere between 150°F to 550°F (in increments of 5°F), enabling you to not only smoke your meats but also barbecue, grill, braise, bake and so on. The controller features a meat probe so you can get real-time readings of the grill’s internal temperature, and adjust based on your cooking needs.
The unit, designed to be a heavy-duty portable smoker/grill you can transport from place to place, features foldable legs that allow the unit to easily fit into the trunk of a car, running on 12V or 12AC for maximum flexibility in terms of where you can use it, be it in your backyard or when out camping. User-friendliness is further enhanced with features like a convenience tray with utensil hooks, so you have a place to keep all your cooking paraphernalia handy in instances you don’t have a convenient table or countertop around, especially if you’re out in the great outdoors.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
Our Runner-Up is by the same folks who popularised outdoor smoking with wooden pellets, so it’s no surprise that this unit scores a spot in our Top 3. Offering six in one cooking versatility, you can not only smoke but also roast, braise, barbecue and grill, all within another portable unit with EX-Fold Legs to let you tuck it into the trunk of your car or the back of your camper, so you can set up your kitchen wherever you like. Featuring a hopper of capacity 8 lbs and cooking capacity of 300 square inches, the unit can cook up to 12 burgers, 2 whole chickens, 3 racks of ribs or 18 hot dogs, so group cookouts become that much more of a breeze – especially considering the digital controls which allow you to fire the machine up and then let it handle the heavy lifting.
An electronic auto-start ignites the pellets fed into the firebox with a hot-rod, stoked by an in-built induction fan, while the Digital Elite Controller lets you maintain the desired temperatures, going up to a maximum of 450°F, an LED display letting you keep track of internal temperatures and moderating as you need to. A drip-tray carries away the grease produced as a by-product of your cooking, which can be collected and disposed of using the grease bucket included with the unit. The porcelain grates of the cooking racks are easy to clean out too thanks to their non-stick surfaces.
Traeger also offer their own premium quality hardwood pellets of different types, so you can choose to incorporate different smoky depths into your cooking depending on your preferences, with the promise of authentic wood-smoked flavor to make your mouth water.