Pellet Smokers Are the Latest Trend in Home Smokers
Pellet smokers, originally only manufactured by Traeger, have taken off in America. There are now over 20 companies producing them and thousands of Smoking Geeks are using them.
We've Seen the ads – so what's the story?
Is a Traeger Pellet Smoker right for you?
THE GOOD NEWS
Let’s start with the good news.
First, those who have used a pellet wood smoker rave about the taste, flavor, and texture of their meats.
What makes a pellet smoker so popular isn’t just the taste it creates but its ease of use. You can easily set it up and leave it until it's done. There is no babysitting, hoovering or double checking required. The reason for this, internal temperature control.
Traeger's, unlike other models, have a temperature probe, these sensors tell it if the temperature is too low and automatically feeds more pellets to the fire. You can set up the temperature in 5-degree increments. Other brands and cheaper versions only offer three settings low, medium and high. There is no sensor to monitor the temperature. If you are purchasing a pellet grill it is because you can set it and forget it. If you plan to hoover then it makes more sense to use a standard smoker or to transform your grill into a smoker.
Traeger Smokers have automatic starts and large drip pans making prep and clean up just as easy as cooking. Also, you can load up the chamber and not worry about uneven cooking.
Pellets are all natural and are available in a variety of wood flavors. There are no chemicals and they burn almost completely leaving very little ash. Only use grilling pellets; don’t use home heating pellets. They have sap woods and can contain other chemicals that are hazardous.
Finally, Traeger pellet smokers are versatile. They can smoke, roast, barbecue, and bake. However, they are not great grills despite their advertising.
THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS
As we mentioned, they are not grills. Smokers are set up to cook meat using low indirect heat, to grill you need a hot direct flame.
Access to electricity has its downfalls. First, if the cord isn’t long enough you will need to make sure you have a proper extension cord. Using the wrong cord is a fire hazard. Do the math (watts / volts = amps) and make sure you have the right extension cord. The smoker is also less mobile, and if it's stored outside it absolutely must have a cover. Electrical components and weather don’t mix.
With an electrical smoker, there are a lot of moving parts, the problem is they often break. How often they will need repair or replacement isn’t known. However, Traeger doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to customer service.
In addition, Traeger recently moved its manufacturing to China, and the result is a cheaper product. Many customer reviews claim the metal is too thin and the legs are flimsy. Although, to be fair, many other customers are very happy with their products.
While there's not a lot to dislike about pellet smokers, it really comes down to your cooking/grilling style. Some Smoking Geeks prefer pellet smokers to traditional smokers (or even the Green Egg style smokers) testifying that flavor is superior to that of other styles of smokers within the price range – and it's hard to argue with them. While Traeger is the pioneer, there are other brands that give it a run for its money.
3 Top Recommended Home Pellet Smokers
Here are three pellet smokers that stand up to their hype of hands-off smoking with great flavor. We've selected these smokers based on price, functionality and design/quality.