Moving from Propane Master Built to Pellet ideas

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 29, 2016
Bolivar, Ohio

My Propane Master built smoker is a few years old now, the burner area is starting to rust out (my fault for leaving it outside), and there's a few reasons I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on buying a new smoker.

For the Master built, although it can hold a good amount of meat with it's 4 shelves, they are square and fairly small - Ribs, for example need to be cut in half in order to fit.  The wood chips tend to start on fire once in a while, the water pan is kind of a pain, and most important (for me) is the temperature regulation tends to be really difficult.  

I'm not complaining about the Masterbuilt.  I've used it for a few years, and have had great results.  It is, by anyone's standards, the low end of smoking equipment - I paid a lot less than $200 for it.

But, like I said, I'm thinking of moving up to something else.

I've watched a lot of you tube video reviews on pellet smokers and with the price range of around $600 to $700, it seems to me like the 'Camp Chef' brand has a whole lot of options that make it a better choice than Traeger.  

But, I'm not sure about moving into a pellet option - in general.

One thing about my Masterbuilt, you definitely get a nice, smoke flavor.  I've heard that pellet smokers are not a 'real'.  Not as tasty from a smoke perspective.  And I've also heard that the brand of pellets make all the difference in smokey flavor.

I'd like to know if anyone can respond to that concern.

Also, I understand that although they advertise pellet smokers as something that can do everything, I know not to expect it to perform as a 'gas grill'.  But I wouldn't expect it to.  However, it seems like dumping pellets in a hopper, putting the meat on, and setting the temperature would be a nice change to the challenges I've had with the Master built.

Look.  I like to smoke.  I've certainly learned that the art of smoking meat is much more than just, uh, smoking meat.  And I've learned so much from this forum that I appreciate.  But I'd like to hone my skills at technique in preparing the meat/food, recipes, and finishing the cooking with results of things like - ribs falling off the bone, pulled pork that's really 'pulled pork' and not sliced because it's too tough, and things like that.  I've achieved all great results for the food I like to smoke, but I'm not planning on signing up for a 'Pit Master' BBQ contest.  I just want to get great results for dinners that I prepare for me, my family, and my guests.

To that point, what are the thoughts on using a pellet smoker, and does this Champ Chef seem like a good option?


I started on a Treager abouot 10 years ago and eventually upgraded to my Memphis Elite.  I also have to MES40's  1st gen and newest gen.  I prefer my pellet smoker for all bbq and my MES40's for sausage.  My personal thought is get the biggest you can afford,  check out Craigslist, I got all my smokers from CL,  used and new.  Can find some good deals.   

Treager ribs  :

Memphis Elite pork butts

I love the performance consistency and not having to baby sit and having great results.  For your price range get what best fits yours needs, size, options etc.  Good luck!
Howdy Wayne, I am going the same route, I have a MB XL40, that I have been very proficient on, an By my photos i have posted here, my fixings have been very consistent and the temp control and wood flavor has been spot on, so I was hankering to get my 1st pellet smoker (want not need), and as always, I research the crap out of anything I buy, and all the reviews too, I have come to the conclusion that the one i;m going to get (ordered it already) is the GrillaGrill Silerbac..Hands down the best construction and feature's I have seen, and the comparison to the $1000 Trigger, couldn't even share its shadow.(IMO)...Mark has videos and alot of hands on set ups and cooks online...

I keep checking in to see if i get a email on it being shipped yet....AARRG , waiting is killing me...

Quick question about the differences between pellet and propane (gas) fired wood.

I am not criticizing, but I can't help but notice something different in the finished product.

At the top of this thread, there's a fantastic photo of Pork Butts that are finished on a pellet smoker - submitted by Lothar1974.

In comparison, when I finish a Pork Butt/Should on my Master Built propane smoker, the meat has got a real nice, crusty bark - fairly thick and dark brownish/black in color - mainly all black.

My question is, will the pellet smokers end up with a product that's golden brown (like the above photo) all the time or can you get the meat to get a nice bark on it?  For me, that would be a deal breaker.  I would not be happy with smoked meat if it doesn't come out with the nice, thick bark that I'm used to seeing.

Also, I've read and watched a ton of videos online about how great the pellet smokers are.

It seems to me that by far, the biggest selling point in all the commercials and videos is how 'easy' it is to operate.  Basically, set it and forget it.  

Although that would be nice, if that selling point sacrifices the quality of the finished product, then it's not for me.

Thanks!  And, of course, no offense.  Here's the two photos that show the difference in finished product.

The first is the pellet smoker, the second is a photo that I assume is from a smoker that's not a pellet smoker.

You can clearly see the difference.

>Here's the two photos that show the difference in finished product.

I would not assume that is the finished product, although many folks do prefer to stop when they reach a nice mahogany color compared with the darker bark. But you can get a thick, dark bark on a pellet smoker if you want. Here's a pic of a brisket I did - I have the same smoker as Lothar.

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That looks great.

Good!  I was worried that it would be a different result.

I'm glad you sent that pic.

The pics of the butts I posted were not the finished product.  Also depends on rub you use and if you mop or spray the meat.  I only lightly use a rub and dont spray and get a nice bark. 
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I have a MB 2 door propane smoker. Used it for a couple yr with great results after a few mods.

Picked up a GMG pellet cooker. Love it. Use it all the time.
I did notice the lack of smoke flavor compared to the MB.
The amazn tube solved that issue. As well as starting a cook at the lowest setting for a hr or two.

I get great bark on my pork buts, briskets. It's almost like cheating, lol. Turn it on set the temp, and check on it once in a while.
HOT DIGGITY DOG, got an email that my new Grilla Grill Silverbac has been shipped, and the 100lbs of Lumber Jack pellets are on my front porch at home....YIPPY
Well the new Silverbac, showed up early on Thursday, and I put this Beast together and 45min, and Ya'll really need to look into this smoker if your in the market, the grates and drip pan and heat deflector probably weighs 25lbs alone...breeze to set up, did the 45 min burn in, to get rid of all the stinky factory oils...PEEWhew...well got its maiden voyage Friday...10lb pork butt for an all nighter , didnt sleep much due to being a little worried on its first long smoke, but the darn rig sat at 217* all Freaking night without a Hitch started it at 8;25 took it off at 5:00....SWEET...thanks to the Mav 733....and with the type of controller not being a PID, there was plenty of smoke that when its temp cycled it was alot of TBS coming out,... 4yr warranty , $699 shipped to your doorstep, and built like a tank, and thick stainless steel and metal....what a deal.Man im thrilled i bought it.

sorry didn't mean to Hijackthis thread...just helping you look at other smokers,out there Traeger can't even Hold a shadow to this rig..Not Hating your Traeges that really work good for ...Just my $.02
>  it was alot of TBS coming out

A lot of TBS - isn't that an oxymoron :)
SO what if i'm and Oxy moron, It was large poof of BS, then just tappers off to a steady TBS....Is that better , some of the other pellet smokers i have read is that they have to add a smokers tube to get enough smoke to to be able to see it...I'm Just Say'n....SIR  
Easy man, it was a joke. I knew what you meant.

And it really doesn't matter - TBS with a pellet grill is not important. I've seen pellet grills put out large clouds of white smoke, but the meat from them is not over smoked and there is no accumulation of creosote. The reason folks use smoke tubes in pellet grills is to enhance smoke flavor and aroma.  Every pellet grill I've seen and cooked on puts out plenty of visible smoke, but the type of smoke and conditions in the combustion chamber produce very light smoke flavor. 
i know Breg, I was being Funny also, Its all good..
I know that was a slip up on my part, and yes i was worried about getting White bitter smoke my self, But this rig just settled in real nice...I'm like'n this LumberJack all 100% straight fruite wood variety that i bought..I did this butt with pure Apple no mix, and the bark was Bi%#*N in flavor... is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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