Pellet smokers are becoming increasingly popular these days. There are vertical pellet smokers and horizontal offset pellet smokers. So, how do you know which grill is best for you? If you want to wow your friends and family with a perfectly smoked fish or meat at your next party, a pellet smoker is a perfect tool for the job. Pellet smokers, also called pellet grills include top-notch features even if you are on a tight budget.
In this article, we use “pellet smoker” and “pellet grill.” Both terms refer to the same thing.
What makes pellet BBQ pellet smokers great?
Pellet smokers are the simplest smokers on the market. Both vertical and horizontal pellet smokers will do everything for you. Your pellet grill will manage heat levels and the fuel. And you can count on your smoker to regulate airflow and smoke.
Using a traditional smoker, temperature control can be difficult. A traditional smoker could produce too much or not enough heat. But a vertical pellet grill will provide consistent temperature, producing evenly smoked meat.
You can even buy smokers with programmable cooking cycles that consistently deliver perfect BBQ with the push of a button. One of the many advantages of pellet smokers is that wood pellets create their own flavored smoke. With gas or electric smokers, you need to use wood chunks or chips, but that is not needed with a pellet grill.
With a pellet smoker, you don’t have to worry about oversmoking meat. Its ease of use makes a pellet grill a beginner-friendly option. Remember that a cooler fire creates ideal smoke for cooking. The “smoke mode” on pellet smokers will lower the heat to create the perfect smoke.
Vertical Pellet Smoker Pros
Owning a vertical pellet smoker has several advantages:
- Vertical pellet grills are budget-friendly smokers. If you want an affordable pellet smoker, you will appreciate the vertical designs.
- A vertical pellet smoker requires less space. Vertical smokers make sense if you need to fit a grill into a smaller space.
- Its compact design doesn’t just save space. It also makes vertical pellet smokers more efficient.
- The additional space gives you more options.
- With a vertical pellet smoker, you can expect to save energy. It is designed to be more efficient than other pellet smokers.
Vertical Pellet Smoker Cons
Unfortunately, vertical pellet smokers also have a few disadvantages:
- Smoking with a vertical pellet smoker, you have to settle for a smaller cooking area. Its design will limit the cooking space. Cooking larger cuts is more difficult.
- It can be more difficult to use, especially getting meat in and out of the vertical smoker.
- Since vertical pellet grills are dedicated smokers, they cannot be used for grilling meats and vegetables.
- Single-door vertical pellet smokers complicate adding fuel. Adding fuel is only possible after you have moved the meat.
Horizontal Offset Pellet Smoker Pros
Using a horizontal offset pellet smoker has multiple advantages:
- Horizontal offset pellet smokers double as a grill. Generally, you only need to switch out the cooking chamber crates to make space for charcoal.
- If you want more cooking space, the horizontal offset smoker is the best option for you. The large cooking capacity is ideal if you want to smoke a full brisket and other large cuts of meat.
- One of the most subjective advantages of a horizontal pellet smoker has to do with taste. Some people believe that an offset smoker delivers an authentic barbeque taste. What do you think?
- Due to its dual-chamber design, adding fuel is simple. As a bonus, when you add fuel, you don’t have to worry about disrupting the heat and smoke in the cooking chamber.
Horizontal Pellet Smoker Cons
Unfortunately, horizontal offset pellet smokers also have a few disadvantages:
- Horizontal pellet smokers have a steeper learning curve.
- Offset pellet grills are not the most fuel-efficient.
- A horizontal smoker requires more management of the smoking process. As a result, your horizontal smoker requires the careful arrangement of the meat.
- If you use the smoker in the winter, it may lose a lot of heat.
How does a vertical pellet smoker work?
In a vertical pellet smoker, the meat is positioned directly over the pellet fire. Many people find that a vertical pellet smoker produces a more intense smoky flavor due to its design. The smoker’s chimney is positioned directly above the food. As a result, the food is exposed to the same amount of smoke. For this reason, the smoke distributes around the food evenly.
Vertical pellet smokers have three critical parts:
- Heat source – The heat source is located on the bottom of your vertical pellet smoker. This compartment holds the pellets.
- Water pan – The water compartment, required to moisturize the inside of your pellet grill, is located above the heat source.
- Smoke chamber – The smoking compartment includes a stainless steel grate. You place the meat to be smoked on the steel grate.
How does a horizontal pellet smoker work?
The pellet burn is either located on one side or in the center of the smoker. The location of the chimney of horizontal pellet smokers can also vary. Entry-level horizontal smokers only have vents instead of chimneys. If your smoker doesn’t have a real chimney, you cannot expect great smoking performance. That’s because the smoke can easily escape the cooking chamber. A high-quality horizontal pellet grill will force the smoke to circulate around the food, producing an authentic smoky flavor.
Look for a horizontal pellet smoker with a chimney stack. This is critical because it forces the smoke to surround the meat. For best results, you should consider a horizontal pellet smoker with a dual chimney stack.
Is a vertical pellet smoker or a horizontal pellet smoker better?
A vertical pellet smoker is a very efficient space-saving smoker. A horizontal pellet smoker is a classic design we are used to seeing. One of the biggest advantages of a horizontal smoker is that it is easy to refuel. Offset smokers are more versatile because you can also use them to grill meat. You might find that controlling the cooking temperature is easier with a horizontal smoker.
But if you want a simpler smoker, a vertical pellet smoker might be ideal for you. Vertical smokers are also less expensive than horizontal smokers. So, if you are on a budget, consider a vertical smoker.
Are vertical pellet smokers any good?
Vertical pellet smokers do a good job smoking all kinds of meat. They are easy to use and produce a juicy texture. A vertical smoker produces an intense smokey flavor. If you are a beginner, a vertical pellet smoker is a great choice.
Which type of pellet smoker is best?
The best pellet smoker is a versatile smoker. It should strike a balance between smoke quality and value for your dollar.
Make sure that you buy the right size smoker. If you entertain a lot, you might buy a 36″ model. But if you just smoke for your family, a 24″ model might be the best smoker for you.
How big of a pellet smoker do I need?
To determine how big of a pellet smoker you need, you should answer the following questions:
- How much food do you want to smoke, and how often?
- Do you travel with your smoker?
- Do you use the smoker for your family only, or do you entertain large groups?
Pellet Smokers Up to 500 Square Inch
Smokers up to 500 square inches would be perfect for a family. It’s big enough to grill a rack of ribs or a full brisket.
Pellet Smokers Up to 800 Square Inch
You can do a lot of everyday cooking on a smoker of this size. A smoker this size will enable you to cook multiple meals simultaneously.
Pellet Smokers Over 900 Square Inch
If you want a professional capacity pellet smoker, you need a 900 square inch grill. You can use it for everyday grilling or for throwing a feast.
What kind of pellet smokers do professionals use?
Professionals look for true versatility in their pellet smokers.
Professional pellet smoker features are:
- Solid stainless steel prep shelves
- Tie downs for secure travel
- Wifi and Bluetooth control system with integrated food probes
- Ceramic ignition system
- Direct over the flame grilling
Before you buy a vertical pellet smoker, consider the following:
What is your budget?
You can buy an excellent vertical pellet smoker, even if you are on a budget. Even if you have limited funds look for build quality, construction and materials.
How much space do you have for a grill?
Although a vertical pellet smoker takes up less space than a horizontal offset pellet smoker, it is much larger than a barbeque grill. Before you buy a smoker, you should take measurements to make sure it fits in the area you plan to place it. Check the dimensions before you press the “Buy” button to make sure it fits.
What is the capacity of the vertical pellet smoker?
Once you know its external size, it’s time to find out the cooking capacity of your vertical grill. The internal capacity will tell you how much meat you will be able to cook inside your pellet smoker.
Look for a vertical pellet smoker with at least a 500 square inch cooking area. But that is quite small. If you plan on inviting guests over, you should probably buy a smoker with at least 800 square inch of cooking area.
What material is the vertical pellet smoker made of?
Vertical pellet smokers are made out of several different materials. The result is different levels of durability. The construction and material will also influence its cooking properties. The most popular material used for vertical pellet grills is steel. Cast iron and aluminum are also popular materials for smoker construction.
If you want strength, you should buy a pellet smoker made of steel or cast iron. Besides strength, steel and cast iron also retain higher temperatures.
What kind of pellets should I use for meat?
Hickory is an excellent pellet for meats for multiple reasons:
- Hickory pellets add a dark color to smoked meats.
- Hickory pellets create a strong barbeque flavor.
- It has a unique smoke flavor.
- Hickory wood is great for smoking and grilling.
Which pellets are best for brisket?
Hickory pellets give the brisket a strong aroma that infuses a rich, bacon-like flavor. But, pecan and mesquite, are also excellent choices for smoking brisket.