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Can someone advice me as a newbie what to buy?

pauldconyers

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I am a complete newbie to cooking of any kind, heck about the most I do is throw something in the microwave and heat something up! The house we bought has a nice deck on it and my wife wants us to spend more time on it and has been on me to learn how to cook steak, some BBQ, fish and all that. Never thought it would happen until my cousin started talking to me about how easy his pellet smoker is to use and brought over some terrific ribs and it has got me motivated to be able to do this for myself!

I am looking for a specific recommendation here based upon my criteria. With me knowing literally nothing anything you can point me towards would be a major help. Whatever I buy needs to be VERY user friendly and easy to use - EXTREMELY DUMMY PROOF! I foresee me only needing to cook for my family of 4-5 people so I do not need (nor need to spend more money on) something too large for this task. Simple maintenance and easy to clean would he ideal too. I would like to stay around $400 or so, who can make me a specific recommendation as to what models to check out?
 

jhonnichole

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Buy some good quality grills, knives and don't forget to buy whetstones for sharpening Japanese knives.
 

chef jimmyj

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You are about to get a lot of opinions based on what guys own. I dont own a pellet grill but have done extensive research looking to buy one when the funds are available. In your price range, for probably the best equipt to smoke meats and Sear Steaks, take a look at ZGrills. They are running a Sale....JJ
 

mike243

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Welcome to the site. Pit Boss is in your price range and I own 1, they come with a 5 year warranty, mine has been great,
 

chesterinflorida

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You are at the extreme bottom end of pellet smokers. There are some decent models here like the small pit boss models. Options are fairly limited though.

Is pellet definitely the way you want to go? You could get you a premium Weber kettle for under $200. Add a Weber charcoal chimney and some lighter cubes or tumble weeds and you have a more versatile setup that is easy to start. There are add on like a slow n sear and vortex that makes these great smokers and grillers. Hard to beat chicken from a Weber Kettle with a vortex. Or simply running a charcoal snake around the perimeter works well too.

The kettle is easier to clean and maintain than any pellet grill, and will last a long long time. It’s perhaps the best starter grill out there. It might take a little more skill than a pellet grill to run (not much more), but they are not hard and there are a million YouTube videos out there to teach.

One other thing that I would recommend getting, is a good instant read thermometer. The best is the Thermoworks MK4. You can usually find them for around $70. There are other less expensive makes out there that are probably fine as well, although I have no experience with the others. An instant read thermometer takes the guess work out of wether something is done or needs more time. Invaluable for a newbie,
 
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BrianGSDTexoma

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Just starting out I would just get a kettle grill to get your feet wet. Learn some basic grilling and can learn how to smoke some also.
 

smokeymose

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I also recommend a Weber Kettle. Great for steaks, chicken, burgers, brats, etc. My wife prefers my ribs on the kettle over the smoker.
Along with that instant read thermometer you may want to consider a fire-proof mat of some kind under it on that wood deck....
Welcome to the forum!
 

retfr8flyr

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PolishDeli

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Lots of good opinion here. But ask yourself some questions first.
What type of food do you like?
How much prep time and planing is acceptable?
Is smoked food really something you'd want to eat very regularly?

Smoking is "easy" but can take 18 hours.
I love my electric smoker, but lets face it - it is not a versatile tool.
Maybe a gas grill would be the biggest bang for your buck.
Food is done in no time.
It's very versatile: Meats, veggies, low-n-slow, sear, even some smoking.

FWIW, I use a webber kettle for grilling. It is great. But ask yourself: is charcoal something you want to mess with. It is not difficult, but it will steepen you're learning curve. Keep frustration low to maximize you're enjoyment.

Good luck; let us know what you decide!
 
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912smoker

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You are about to get a lot of opinions based on what guys own. I dont own a pellet grill but have done extensive research looking to buy one when the funds are available. In your price range, for probably the best equipt to smoke meats and Sear Steaks, take a look at ZGrills. They are running a Sale....JJ
I agree with JJ. I don't own one but would go the pellet route for ease of operation.
Heard good things about the Pit Boss units also. My wife would probably use one too !
Although that might be a problem lol
 

JLeonard

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If your just starting I have to agree with others...get a weber Kettle. Tons of youtube videos to learn from and for your price range you could really stock up on all the goodies. But what ever you decide on...Welcome to the forums and we look forward to seeing your cooks (we love food porn).
Jim
 

PPG1

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All great suggestions above. I'm surprised no one mention the MB charcoal gravity fed. Simple to use great for entry level into the sport.
 

912smoker

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I mentioned and love the MB gravity flow but he mentioned pellets and a $400 price range

edit
no mention here that was another post
 

apn73

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I think you'll be needing some cookbooks, Joy of Cooking for the basics, and Steve Reichlin or the Weber cookbooks for grilling. Your collection will grow over time, trust me on that. You may want to ease into barbecue/smoking, it can get very expensive. A $400 pellet grill will be a piece of junk in my opinion, you'll need to spend double that to get a good one.

Some food for thought, you can grill and smoke on a Weber kettle, and for under $400. Managing charcoal is kind of like driving a car with a stick shift. A pellet or gas grill will be like driving an automatic, but the food isn't going to have the nice woodsy flavor you'll get from a charcoal burner. Which would you prefer? I have an upright (or ugly) drum smoker (UDS) that I built myself for around $130, and that includes the cost of a used donor kettle for the grates and cover. You can buy a low cost gas or charcoal grill, and then build your own smoker. The UDS is not hard to build, and there's instruction available all over the internet.

As for makes and models of grills, here's my recommendation, go over to amazingribs.com and look through their product recommendations. Craig "Meathead" Goldwin and his crew over there test the heck of every kind of grill you can imagine, and rate them a platinum, gold, silver or bronze scale. You can go to consumer reports, but they're pretty limited in what they test. The amazingribs crew tests darn near everything that burns meat that is commercially available.

Welcome aboard and best of luck,

Adam.
 

BrianGSDTexoma

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Memorial sales start soon. Good time to get anything BBQ related. Some thing you will want: If you go charcoal get a Weber Rapid Fire chimney to light charcoal. Set of heat proof gloves. Instant read thermometer. I buy a year supply of charcoal as it usually dirt cheap somewhere.
 

Colin1230

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I am a complete newbie to cooking of any kind, heck about the most I do is throw something in the microwave and heat something up! The house we bought has a nice deck on it and my wife wants us to spend more time on it and has been on me to learn how to cook steak, some BBQ, fish and all that.
Knowing this, my recommendation is a Weber Spirit gas grill, a good grilling cook book and an instant read thermometer. Just about anything else you would need should already be in the kitchen.
Welcome to SMF.
 

BigW.

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I think a Weber Kettle will produce the tastiest food, but if easy is #1 then a pellet will work fine. Z grill or Camp Chef should treat you well. Let us know what you purchase.
 

normanaj

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If you are truly looking for simplistic and quality at the same time this what I would really recommend:
A propane Weber Q grill,a quality instant read thermometer and this website.

Why would I recommend this?The Q's are ultra basic and built like tanks,a good quality instant read therm lets you know when your food is cooked properly and/or to your liking and the people here can answer your most basic questions without you having to deal with going thru a cookbook.

This is just my opinion.

Oh and welcome to the site from RI.
 

slapaho_injun

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I would say first of all, never put a grill on a wood deck, unless it is your only option. I’ve seen where that’s been proven to be a bad idea. Scorched/ melted siding is the least of what can happen. That said, I have a gas grill on my wood deck. Always >10’ away from the house and I’m an old guy who isn’t afraid to reach in and shut the gas valve off, if stuff gets squirrelly, or I’ll literally throw the grill off my deck and into the yard before it can catch the deck on fire. I would suggest you start with the basic Weber charcoal grill . That’s how I started and still to this day, I have three Weber’s I use when I have a family BBQ. I say start with this because I also learned to smoke baby back ribs and pork butts on them too. You can smoke anything in a Weber that you can in a true smoker. Just throw your coals/smoking chips or chunks on one side of the bottom of the grill. Then put a water pan directly above that. Put your meat on the other side, so you are using indirect heat. Buy yourself a remote (dual probe) heat probe (like a thermpro) so you can monitor your smoke temp and your meat temp. Start off with store bought rubs like McCormick Applewood rub. Pay attention to meat and smoke temps. Look up the 3-2-1 baby back ribs method. You can always tweak it. I smoked a pile of stuff on a Weber, way before I took the jump to a stick burner fridge smoker. I even had a masterbuilt 30” electric smoker for about 6 mos. those are great little entry level smokers too but expensive to run ($1/hr) and I wasn’t impressed with the results I got vs the Weber. Good luck.
 

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