Pellet Grills

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by JGoodish, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. JGoodish

    JGoodish Cleared for Takeoff

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    Are these an enduring, "better" way to grill, or just a passing fad? What is the operating cost vs. propane?

    We have a 20 year old Weber Genesis propane grill which has served us well and still works. Though I have a preference for the "added value" of charcoal, the wife wanted convenience, so we ended up with propane. I've tried the smoker tubes with wood chips to get some additional flavor, and it does work, but requires some setup and attention during the cooking process so I tend to not use the smoker tube often.

    I have some buddies who have been extolling the virtues of pellet grills: one has a Traeger, the other a RecTec/RecTeq. Yet another has a GrillaGrill. I see that just about everyone makes pellet grills these days, so I'm not sure whether these are a new and passing fad, or whether they really are better.

    As I understand pellet grills, the advantages are the easy of use, mild smoke flavor, and the automatic temperature management: you can start them with the push of a button, smoke for hours without much manual intervention, and crank up the temperature for shorter-duration grilling or searing. However, I've never used one and know little about them. Not sure if I'll go broke feeding them pellets. Not sure if the difference over propane is worth it. Not sure how they handle different climates or seasons.

    What say the PoA community?
     
  2. Art Schmidt

    Art Schmidt Filing Flight Plan

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    I have had a pellet grill for about 3 years. It’s a Yoder brand smoker from...Yoder, KS! It’s built like a tank. But I’m sure any of them will work great. It only takes 10-12 min to get up to smoking temp. It’s awesome for brisket and tri-tip. As you mentioned, I think they give more precise temperature control. But I still use a Weber propane to cook steak and burgers.

    As for climate or seasons, I smoke in the winter mainly, and it will burn more pellets (especially if it’s in the wind). You can buy a cheap welding blanket from Harbor Freight to throw over it to retain heat.

    Might seem obvious, but wasn’t to me at first: A pellet grill functions as a smoker at temps around 225. Once you get above 300-350, it won’t really “smoke” anything. It’s just an indirect heat source at that point.

    Lastly, don’t plan on eating at a certain time. Each brisket I’ve smoked seems to have a mind of it’s own in terms of time to cook. It’s always an adventure. Good luck.
     
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  3. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some day I'll get one.

    There are pros and cons.

    Pro: The pellets are real wood. You can get different pellets (apple, hickory, oak, whatever) pretty easily, so you can change them out for different smoke flavors depending on what you want to cook.

    Con: They really don't get to a good searing temp, so be aware of that. Doesn't mean they won't do a good steak or burger, but it will be "different". If you want a solid sear, stick with the gas grill or maybe do a final sear in a cast iron skillet on your stove.

    I do see a lot of them on the BBQ contest circuit, and some of them will run well into the thousand$$. Most of the complaints I hear about them are "they don't travel well". The patio-style pellet smokers are not really built solidly enough to be loaded and unloaded off trucks and trailers every weekend for contests and end up getting pretty banged up.

    The other thing to look for is the thickness of the steel. Some are pretty thin, and that can be a problem on a cold, windy day, or if it's raining. There are some that are insulated or have thicker walls, but $$ is always part of the equation.
     
  4. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    My father has a CampChef Woodwind (pellet grill plus propane sear box). I put it together and it is well manufactured and very sturdy. You won't want to be traveling with it, but it's fine for rolling around the patio. It works very well compared to trying to use a smoker or charcoal grill. More of a set it and forget it for temperature unless outside temps are really cold. You can add more smoke if you want, easy cleanup (ash tray and grease bucket are both removable from outside). Newest models are all bluetooth, so you can adjust temp or see temperature probes in your food without getting off of the couch. I can't think of a bad thing about them aside from needing a power source (110V) to run the auger. Less fuel waste than charcoal since you only burn what you need, cheaper cost than propane for sure. Sear box works well for steaks and whatnot, and uses very little propane since it typically runs for less than 10-15 minutes in most cases.

    I'll be picking one up for sure when my charcoal grill is kaput.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

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    I’m keeping an eye on these as well. Several friends have them and swear by them. It’s just my wife and me and we usually do steaks, kabobs, maybe some salmon - stuff I don’t normally think of smoking. That could change if we got one, I suppose. But in the meantime this one looks like a viable option to have one’s cake and eat it (smoke it) too:

    D068BC9B-B215-4E6A-B910-6F424ECDA00F.jpeg
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My grill and smoker are separate pieces of equipment. I have a decent Weber gas grill for the quick things like steaks, burgers, brats, chicken parts, sausages, and a Big Green Egg for low and slow stuff like butts, brisket, ribs, whole chickens, etc.
     
  7. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    I've not used one, so can't answer your question, but a lot of people seem to really like them. I do envy the convenience of being able to set a temperature and let them go for fairly long periods with minimal attention.

    I opted for two units, each a little more specialized, rather than try to pick something that can both smoke and grill moderately well. I've got a big honkin' propane grill for the speed and convenience of being able to get something grilling quickly after work, and it sits next to a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (charcoal, plus lump smoke wood) for when I have time to do real BBQ.
     
  8. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've survived a long time with a Weber gas grill, Weber charcoal grill, and Weber smoker. A pellet grill would be nice for the convenience.

    It isn't really practical for me, but I want to get one of these with the pellet option. I don't need the model with the trailer hitch and rotisserie (that's what my BBQ team uses), but this one would be nice to roll in and out of the garage on weekends.

    https://www.americanbarbecuesystems.com/product/bar-be-cube/
     
  9. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I have 2 Trager's. I didnt think I would use it much, so I got the smallest and cheapest one. That one has been deemed the vegetable and small item smoker now. Cauliflower, eggs, meatloaf, cabbage, etc. It can go as hot as 450, but in the winter it burns a lot of pellets since its a "travelling" version.
    The larger one is for meats. I have done ribs, briskets, pork shoulders, turkey, etc. It has all come out very good and to good reviews with the squatters in the house, except the eggs and cauliflower as reviewed by the 8 yo. Turkey comes out extremely moist. the larger one has wifi, and the app has recipes you can search. So if you are doing a certain recipe, it will start the grill and set the temps for the grill and probe alerts. You can even start or turn off the grill remotely. It even sends alerts to my Apple Watch.
    It has gone from a thing that I didnt think we would use, to cooking almost every part of Easter dinner on them. Ham was a hit by everyone.

    Like someone said above, cook by temp, not time. I did a pork shoulder and it took 12 hours. But it was worth it. The hopper holds about 17 hours of pellets, so I can throw some meat on and have it ready in the morning.
     
  10. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    If they ran on pellets of ursine scat, would they be bear grills?
     
  11. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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  12. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I've had the Traeger Tailgater model for about 3 years now. I've only found two real cons:

    1. It will only get up to about 450-460 degrees, so you don't get a real good sear. It does burgers and steaks just fine, and they are juicy and tasty, but you won't necessarily get those grill marks and searing you would normally get.

    2. It does require a little more effort to clean the grease and smoke residue from the inside once or twice a year. Did figure out its easier to do freshly warm than cold.

    As far as operating cost, I would go through 1-2 LP tank per season normally, for $20 tank. I go through about 1 bag of pellets per season, about $18 a bag. So a wash there.

    It does give a much better flavor than gas, there is no doubt. I don't foresee going back anytime soon. Just did a 10 hour smoke on a brisket last weekend, and it was awesome.
     
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  13. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    I love my MAK 2-Star General pellet grill. The only con is it's a chore to clean, which I do after about a dozen cooks (more less, depending on what I've been cooking). If I want high heat, then I use my trusty Weber charcoal grill.
     
  14. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    I had looked at Grilla grills. USA built. But I like the idea of a combo smoker and grill, which they do not sell.
     
  15. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    This is the one I’m looking at, $399 from Lowe’s. The pellet hopper is enormous, most of the back of the unit x 4-6”. This is electric powered.

    I have a nice grill, no sense in having a combo unit.

    upload_2021-4-6_19-19-43.jpeg
     
  16. JD318

    JD318 Pre-Flight

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    I have the PitBoss smoker (Series 7) and like it. Briskets, turkeys, and pork loins have all come out great. Granted, I got the Fireboard at the same time, so keeping tabs on temps has been so easy.
     
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  17. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I've got an upright electric smoker that works really well. The only real benefit to the pellet version would be not having to refill the wood chip box several times. I'd assume you still have to keep water filled up on longer smoke times, so it's not completely hands-off.

    Sent from my SM-N976U using Tapatalk
     
  18. Busflyer

    Busflyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was looking at Traegers last year. Ended up buying a Weber Smokey Mountain. Turned out Traegers are made in China so that was a big nope for me. Been very happy with the Weber.
     
  19. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have a Grilla Chimp and love it. Pretty sure Grilla is making its stuff in China now, if not always.

    Mine works great, and smokes great. I supplement the smoke with a smoke tube, in which I mix pellets with wood chips. It hold temperature pretty well and toss stuff in, then pull it out when it is done. No muss, no fuss. It will easily go at least 15 hours on a hopper full.

    It cooks low and slow, or I'll run it at 400f when I spatchcock a chicken. As I said the temp holds pretty well, but it isn't perfect. They have a facebook page where people are always trying to get it to hold within a few degrees. Not going to happen. The lowest I go is about 210, it holds that temp pretty well over most of the cook, but you have to leave it closed and leave it alone.

    Pretty easy to run and it makes me look like a bbq genius.
     
  20. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I put mine to work a couple days ago.

    0BC169D6-AFE1-439B-BF74-EB9332000111.jpeg
     
  21. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Line Up and Wait

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    Just went over to the dark side and bought a Traeger. Before that I had a Cabelas Pellet grill which was “ok”. The Cabelas replaced a Weber Genesis that I had for 20 years. Pellet grilling and propane are two different animals although depending on your meat choices, you might end up in the same place. I’ve only used the Traeger 1 time and I am not impressed. Both of my sons have them and swear by them. My youngest uses his in Kotzebue, Alaska all year round. He has built a wind break for it and has the Traeger blanket. Swears it gets hot enough to cook with. I think his temperature cut-off is -20F.
     
  22. JGoodish

    JGoodish Cleared for Takeoff

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    I suppose that the pellet grill's real purpose is low-and-slow smoking, and that ideally it should be supplemented with a charcoal or propane grill as some others have mentioned. I've also heard that they don't smoke as well as other methods (more mild flavor, which is fine for us). It appears that some of them go to 400-450F, but some claim to go up to 700F, which would probably be better for use as a traditional grill replacement.

    in our case, we wouldn't necessarily get rid of the Weber Genesis. I'm just trying to figure out how much we'd use the pellet grill. If we could use it for some of the same things as the Genesis, that would help justify a greater investment for the day when the Genesis finally dies, but would likely require a more expensive unit with a greater temperature range. If it's going to be relegated to low-and-slow, then the payback may take a while since I doubt that we would be using it that way every week.

    What is it that you don't like about the Traeger?
     
  23. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    My neighbor across the street has a Weber gas grill, and bought a smoker a few years ago. Pretty sure it's a Green Mountain Daniel Boone. Says that's all he ever uses now. It's a set-and-forget smoker, and apparently it gets hot enough that he can just grill burgers, chicken, etc. on it as well. I've been really tempted. REALLY tempted.
     
  24. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The pellet grill is more work than a gas grill. I just use mine for smoking, although it will get to 400 or 500 degrees I generally don't use it for grilling, and it won't burn off to clean like a gas grill. It produces ash, which I scoop out before each use and I vacuum it out every 3 or 4 uses. If you don't keep it clean it will malfunction on you. Hasn't happened to me, but I read about it all the time in forums. So not really set and forget, but pretty close as long as you maintain it.
     
  25. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Unfortunately you are correct. Grilla grills are now being made in China. They gave the usual ******** reasons of it just made us too expensive and all this other crap and how difficult a decision was. I sent them an email telling them that they just lost my business and respect.
     
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  26. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Depends on the model, but you can always add a smoker box to add more smoke flavor to the pellet grill, harder to limit the smoke in a stick burner. Some pellet grills have a direct heat option or higher grill temps, just depends on how much you want to spend. I think the pellet grills with the sear box attachment are a good mix because you can cook/smoke the meat at a decent temp then throw it on the propane powered side grill/flatiron to sear it or get the grill marks as desired. Having the pellet smoker by itself can leave a bit to desire unless you only want to smoke and not grill.
     
  27. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My USA flag came with a tag saying ''Made in USA'', but the tag was made in China. :lol::lol:
     
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  28. JGoodish

    JGoodish Cleared for Takeoff

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    I suspect that the savings many of these companies realize from moving production offshore is significant and hard to ignore. If your competitors do it, it becomes even more difficult to compete in the same segment of the market. Not everyone can be pushed upmarket into Yoder or Kalamazoo territory, for example. I try to avoid anything "Made in China," but unfortunately it is sometimes impossible, or the alternative product is inferior enough that the sacrifice isn't worth it.
     
  29. Tarheelpilot

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    I have a Traeger. When it dies I’ll probably get a rec-tek this time around.
     
  30. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    I agree. But initially they made a big deal of the made in USA thing.
     
  31. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    I have a Rec-Teq. Got it last year. I love it. It replaced a Weber charcoal grill. Had an issue with it, and called their customer service, and there was no phone tree, a human that spoke english answered immediately. Worked through my issue, and they had a part on its way to me the same day for no cost.

    My only gripe is that I have had a very hard time getting it above 500*. I think it may be because of my pellets. Going to try a different variety, and store them somewhere no humidity can get to them.
     
  32. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I refuse to buy a smoker.

    Because if I did, I'd weigh 300 lbs.
     
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  33. FormerHangie

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    When we moved in here 20 years ago, I had a natural gas line plumbed to the deck, and have been running a natural gas grill ever since. About 8 years ago I bought a Weber Genesis three burner grill, and named it Miss Kay after the matriarch of the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame. Tonight I used to make burgers, tomorrow morning I will load up a sheet pan with bacon and put it on the grill. Tomorrow night I'll be grilling pork chops and vegetables. My wife will use it to plank salmon to take to work for lunch. I'll use to cook a pork shoulder for pulled pork as well. We probably cook burgers on it 20 times a year, Saturday dinner 30 times, bacon 25 or 30 times, plus pulled pork, salmon, and the occasional lunch or weekday dinner. It has a side burner that I use to either make a side dish or to cook something that would make a mess of the inside cooktop or smell up the house.

    With one burner on low, it will hold barbecue temperatures. Tonight after I was done with the burgers, I turned on all three burners plus the sear burner, and in a few minutes the dome thermometer was reading 660 degrees and was climbing. It does have a couple of limitations, it won't give you the high temperature sear like charcoal, and you can't get it to create a lot of smoke at barbecue temperatures. For my household, that doesn't matter as no one wants their steaks charred and we don't like very smoky barbecue. As always, your mileage may vary, but for us this hits the sweet spot.