Pellet Smoker as a grill to?

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by mrudi, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. mrudi

    mrudi Newbie

    Hi All!  Looking to get a pellet smoker (thinking REC TEC but have not pulled the trigger).  I dont have a lot of experience smokin but plan on doing more (have a MES that works as advertised but I dont like the taste).  I was thinking of a pellet smoker not only for smoking but to use as a grill as well.  Anyone use one as their everyday grill?  I have a gas grill today but dont want to have both.   I'm not an overly picky guy and can put up with most things.  I guess my biggest concern however would be trying to grill but having it take forever because...well... its not really a grill.  Appreciate anyone with good or bad experience grilling with a pellet.
  2. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    Cut from my reply on the other post:

    Temps of 350 - 400 are no problem. Gets up to 500 if needed. Grill grates will help with searing if you want that ability. It will take 15 minutes or better to get to those temps. Pellet smokers definitely have a milder smoke flavor than what some are used to. I think many people are used to over-smoked food, but that's another topic. You can supplement the smoke with a smoke tube (I use an amazen tube when I do ribs, butts and brisket). I suggest trying food cooked on a pellet grill before making the plunge.

    Additional comments:

    It can grill and do it well, but don't expect it to char like a real hot charcoal grill will.  I love to grill chicken on it.  I usually run temps around 300 - 350 for chicken and it is some of the juiciest chicken I've ever had.  You don't have to worry about flare up ever either if you are away from it for a bit.  I love to reverse sear steaks on it, but I will usually finish mine on my infrared gasser just for convenience sake.  Many people take their steaks off after smoking for a bit, put on the searing grates, crank up the grill to max, and finish searing the steaks once up to temp.  It most definitely is multi-purpose, but there is a little bit of a learning curve.  As I said in the earlier reply - if you never had food on a pellet grill, you should most definitely try it first.  It is a much milder smoke profile, but I find it very nice for most of my smoking / grilling.  Here are a few pics of my cooks on one.

    k-dog likes this.
  3. mrudi

    mrudi Newbie

    Thanks Westby.  The pics are making me hungry.  Actually one of my complaints about my MES is it tends to over smoke and create a heavy creosote taste.  I learned quickly to use the chips lightly and I never used mesquite.  I only use apple and sometimes throw in a few chips of hickory but you have to be careful or the flavor will be off.  I also think the MES gives it a little bit of a metallic taste to but that could just be me.  A light smoke flavor is what I'm looking for as many of my MES cooks were too smokey.  

    Do you have to do any other modifications when grilling besides the grates?  Like - do you have to grill without the drip pan?

    I dont know anyone with a pellet or Rec Tec so not sure how I will "taste test".  I may have to just take the plunge.
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If he don't get here soon...Shoot SeenRed a PM. He has had a RecTec for a while know and is a really helpful guy...JJ
  5. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    I've got a GMG Daniel Boone. I've done many low and slow cooks, as well as grilling. The GMG has a two piece drip pan with holes in it. For grilling I line up the holes to make them open, and my grill surface will get plenty hot enough for grill marks.
    I still have my gas grill, but I haven't used it in since spring.
  6. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks for the kind words, JJ! Thumbs Up

    MRudi, to answer your question, yes...I'm very happy with the way my Rec Tec grills and sears. Westby already covered most of this, but my RT will reach a high end temp of at least 500*. I also use a set of searing grates from GrillGrates. The way I set mine up for grilling, I pull the grease shield out (it acts as a heat shield for indirect cooking), throw some foil in the bottom of the barrel to catch the drippings, and swap the standard stainless grates on the right side of the pit with the GrillGrates. With this setup and the pit running at 500*, it takes me about 12-13 minutes to get a 14 ounce ribeye to medium. When I realized how well the RT direct-grills, I gave my gas grill to my son.

    Here is a thread that I posted some time back where I grilled some steaks:

    Hope it helps...if I can answer any other questions, just let me know! Thumbs Up

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  7. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    I was in your shoes back in June. Gas grill needed to be retired and was deciding between a gasser or pellet grill. Had two associates with Traegers who answered a ton of questions and concerns, including cold weather grilling. They were too far away for first hand experience though.

    Went with a PelletPro grill from Smoke Daddy and haven't regretted it once. Two biggest knocks on pellet grills from detractors; can't sear and not enough smoke. Work a rounds for both. Grill grates noted before work great. But if you look at recent reports this is mostly for show - not necessarily taste. Many cooking articles now push for reverse searing.

    The smoke issue - I agree with Westby on the over-smoked comment. If that's your taste supplement smoke output with a cold smoker. I have the Big Kahuna from Smoke Daddy attached to my grill. I also have an A-Maze-N tube that work great when I want a heavier smoke.

    Beauty of the pellet grill; extremely versatile, no flare ups, simple operation and very efficient operating costs. I've cooked/smoked everything from brisket to ribs, lobster to scallops, salmon to cheese and even blue cheese stuffed olives.

    Most important factor - A good controller or PID is critical. You want something that will maintain temp within a 5 deg swing. Not low, med, high. My PelletPro has an outstanding PID. Many of the other grills mentioned here do too - RecTec, GMG, Blazen, Yoder...the list goes on.

    Good luck with your search.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  8. mrudi

    mrudi Newbie

    @ mural boy
    I to am from the Chicagoland area. Any issues cooking in our climate on the pellet grill? In particular when it's cold or when it's raining. I don't have a covered area to cook under so was wondering if rain (drizzle to light rain, wouldn't cook in a downpour regardless of grill type) do you have to cover it because its electric? I'm also thinking it would be difficult to bbq during cold weather. What's the lowest outside temperature you can use the grill in?

    Thanks everyone for your insights/advice. Much appreciated.
  9. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    Hi MRudi

    Although I just got the pellet grill this June, I am a year round grill.  And that includes the 12 years of living in MN.  

    I'm in the same boat you are with no covered area for grilling and storage.  Just keep the cover on when not grilling.  Weather was a big concern for me as well, but after talking with a few friends with pellet grills, including one in the midwest, I went for it.  Dennis at Smoke Daddy (they are located up in Waukegan) was also very helpful.  Electronics not an issue in the rain since they are all on the underside.  Have had no trouble with the grill in all types of weather. 

    I did make a proactive investment though - bought a insulated cover from nicely on my PelletPro.  Did a 10 hr smoke on New Years weekend and only used 6# of pellets.  Didn't need it but saved on pellets.  Worth the investment.
  10. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    >You want something that will maintain temp within a 5 deg swing

    I disagree. A 5 degree swing is not important criteria for selecting a grill.  Most household ovens can have swings of 25 degrees or more around setpoint and they seem to cook food fine. Pellet grills are no different. Some, especially PID controllers can have tighter swings, but it's not necessary to produce good good. In fact, grills with bigger swing tend to produce more smoke resulting in more smoke flavor. 
  11. Take a look at the cookshack/fast Eddie PG500 or Pg1000. I have the 500 and it is the best grill I have ever had without the smoke ability. I have had several grills and one of my favorites was a Holland because of the ability to do thighs or burgers and not worry about flare ups. Almost all pellets grills give you this ability. The issue with the holland was the inability to sear.

    With the open flame area on the PGs this isn't an issue. You can get grate Temps overy 900 degrees.

    Several pellets grills will work as an all in one unit, but IMHO you can't beat the Fast Eddie lne.
  12. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    If you are investing into a technology (and yes smoking is a technology even if you are using a stick burner) - why not invest in the improved end of that technology. My friends who own older pellet grills strongly recommended the more advanced PID's.

    Pellet grills don't produce a heavy smoke but there are ways to work with that. But they do offer a consistent cooking environment with a great deal of flexibility
  13. I Have a Yoder 640, and love it. The grill grates are a must, I can hit 500-600 degrees easily with the drip pan out. Best steaks I've ever had.
  14. mrudi

    mrudi Newbie

    Again, thanks everyone, this is very helpful.  This is really tough decision.  I think I need to take my time on this before I pull the trigger.

    As I mentioned in my post, I'm really looking for a gas grill replacement that can smoke as well.  That's what originally directed me towards a pellet.  I have already ruled out the lower tier pellet grills sold at the big box retailers based on my research.  Now I'm struggling between the mid tier and upper tier.  I could spend 2500+ on a grill but I wonder if I'll be getting my bang for my buck once I go above 1500 (especially given I'm just starting out with smoking meat).  Rec Tec  appears to be the best choice for me if I were to go with a mid tier grill (customer service, warranty, construction/materials, reviews).  However, although it sounds like its capable of direct cooking its design doesn't necessarily take that into consideration (need to use grill plates, remove grease pan and line bottom with foil to catch drippings for best results).  The upper tier (fast eddy, MAC, Memphis) appear to take direct cooking into consideration and are designed specifically for this dual operation.  Of course these are the ones that cost the most as well.

    I'm assuming the smoking capabilities between mid and upper are negligible (meaning they all smoke meat well - correct me if I'm wrong).  The lack of smoke infusion does not concern me as I don't like a lot of smoke (just a enough to notice).  So that leaves the direct cooking capabilities.  If I was the only one using the grill I would go out and buy a Rec Tec today (wife and father in-law does the grilling on occasion).  I need to research the Yoder a little more as I dont know much about that one.

    Thanks all!  This is fun and frustrating at the same time.
  15. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Unfortunately, Pellet Grill/Smokers are not the best you can get at either. But they do a pretty good job and offer the convenience of buying one unit to do a variety of cooking. I have been looking into Pellet Grills as well. I am finding the KUMA Platinum SE has most of the features folks look for and falls in between, price wise, the mid and upper end models. Still a tough nut at around $1800 but you are going to pay for One Size Fits All...JJ
  16. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    I'm not saying you should not go with PID, but not all PID controlled pellet grills are designed to maintain +/-5 degree swings. There is no benefit to that kind of control so I would not list that as any kind of criteria, or you'd be eliminating some very good grills. Extremely tight control does not mean "better".

    And even newer grills without PID controllers produce very stable temperatures. But I've used pellet grills that had +/-25F swings and it produced food just as good and easy as my Memphis. 
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  17. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    I came within a day of pulling the trigger on the Kuma when a used Memphis became available. But if I were looking again, the Kuma would probably be my top choice. It has all the features I want, good smoke output, and seems well built. 

    And if slightly smaller size is what you're after, I'd take a hard look at Firecraft Q-450. I think a direct grill option may be in the works.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  18. mrudi

    mrudi Newbie

    Kuma...Firecraft?!?  Never even heard about these.  Wow I have a lot of work to do.  Thanks
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  19. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    I would estimate there are currently between 150-200 pellet grill models available today. 

    If you haven't already, I suggest you browse over at to get and idea of what's out there and members experiences.
  20. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    That is one nice looking grill - interestingly shares similar attributes to the RecTec; rear side hopper, PID controller in shelf...  No bull horns though [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016

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