Jeff’s Recommended Smokers

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Jeff’s Recommended Smokers

The following smokers are ones that I own or have cooked on and found to be ones that I would like to recommend. There is not one smoker that is perfect for everyone.. this decision is based purely on preference, lifestyle, and what type of dwelling you live in.

For instance, apartment dwellers are probably going to be looking at electric smokers due to possible restraints on open fires and the use of charcoal while folks who live in a house with a backyard may opt for a charcoal smoker.

Regardless of where you live, if you have a really busy lifestyle, you will probably be most happy with a pellet grill or electric smoker due to their ease of use. If you like using REAL wood smoke flavor, you might opt for a pellet grill such as the Camp Chef Woodwind due to the all wood pellets that create the heat that cooks your food and the smoke that flavors it. Take a look at the smokers I have listed and see if one of them fits you perfectly.

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2018-06-14T03:29:39+00:00By |40 Comments

About the Author:

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!


  1. Ted L Sanderson December 23, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    I have a masterbuilt and I bought A-Maze-N smoker tray for it. Don’t know why but can’t keep the A-Maze-N smoker tray smoking. I let it smoke about 20 minutes before putting it in the smoker,after putting it in the smoker it quits smoking after 15 minutes.

    • Jeff Phillips December 24, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

      The tray has to be getting an ample amount of air to stay lit. If your Masterbuilt has the side chute, you can place the tray right next to it and prop the chute open or slide it out depending on your model so air can get to the pellets and keep them going.

  2. Colin Kelly August 16, 2018 at 9:16 am - Reply

    I have been a follower of Smoking meat for many years now and I have purchased the recipes and used many of your suggestions and recipes over the years, all great teaching tools. Thanks so much!
    My question is do you have any suggestions regarding the REC TEC Grills? I have considered the Camp Chef and Traeger but wonder how the REC TEC compares. Watched loads of videos and now wonder if you have further information. I use a Tru infared by Char Broil since 2012 to grill and add chips for the smoke flavor. Just recently rebuilt this grill and love the way it preforms but am looking to the future for my upgrade. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much

    • Jeff Phillips August 21, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply


      I use the REC TEC Bull (RT-700) and it is a nice unit with a lot of stainless steel. It also has a very fancy controller that holds the temperature right on the money. The controller can also be manipulated from anywhere once it’s connected to your wifi network so that’s also a nice feature. I like it and you can’t go wrong purchasing one if you have room in your budget. It’s the only pellet smoker that I am aware of that holds a steady temperature. All of the other pellet smokers like Traeger, Camp Chef Woodwind, Pit Boss and Grilla hold an average temperature i.e. they fluctuate above and below the set temperature by 20 degrees or so just like your home oven. I really like the Camp Chef Woodwind SG personally due to the side searbox and dual full size cooking grates but you could always sear in the house or on another grill if you decide on the REC TEC and it only has about 100 in.² less in cooking space. I have a pellet grill comparison chart at

      • Colin Kelly August 23, 2018 at 7:55 am - Reply

        Thanks for the reply and insight. I had been thinking the woodwind would be nice but was considering the the heavier build and temp consistency of the REC TEC, I feel the the additional cooking area would certainly help out in the Camp Chef. Thanks again

  3. Don Reiter May 13, 2018 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I’ve been using the same Brinkmann Pro side fire box for about 20 years. About 5 years ago I had it converted to propane. It works perfectly and holds temp up to 300 degrees F in the winter in the Northeast.

  4. Rob April 23, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    I’m debating between the camp chef woodwind with sear box and a smokepro sg and adding a sear box. Do you think the upgrade to the sg is worth it? Or is the woodwind just as good? Just curious if the sg is more of a gimmick or actually useful. What other difference is there? Thanks

    • Jeff Phillips April 23, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      The SG has 241 more square inches of cooking space than the WW.. it comes with 2 full cooking levels (4 half racks). It also holds 22 pounds of pellets, 4 more than the Woodwind. I like the slide and grill feature but it doesn’t do as good of a job as you can do with the sear box in my opinion and the flames that come up in grill mode do not cover the full grate.
      And last but not least, it comes with (2) probes instead of just (1) although I usually don’t use them.. I have the Thermoworks Smoke with the Wifi Gateway and that is my thermometer of choice since I can carry the receiver with me wherever I go.

      My favorite features on the SG are the extra cooking space, the larger hopper and the legs seem to be a little beefier.. the sear box is still what I use to sear burgers and steaks.

      The features that I like on the SG + the sear box are worth the extra money in my opinion but you’ll have to decide that based on your funds.

  5. Patrick April 14, 2018 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Does the campchef woodwind replace my propane Weber grill? or is it just for smoking meats. I know it says it grills but does everything taste like smoke?

    What if you wanted to cook something that you don’t want smoke flavored?

    It says it can bake pies but how does the pie thing work over wood or does the whole thing also have propane like the the side searer?


    • Jeff Phillips April 17, 2018 at 1:22 pm - Reply

      Patrick, The smoke flavor decreases as you go up in temperature due to how efficiently it burns the pellets. Many people bake bread, pizzas, cakes, etc and I have not heard anyone complain of any unwanted smoke flavor. I have not tried a pie or cake on my Woodwind yet so I can’t speak from experience yet. The sear box is propane as you mentioned but that does not carry over to the grill.. the cooking area is totally heated by burning 100% wood pellets. You’re not going to get a strong smoke flavor unless you keep it at 225°F or less but there could be a hint of smoke flavor when you cook at higher temperatures.

  6. joe meehan March 5, 2018 at 11:10 am - Reply

    cooked that espresso brined tri tip on my campchef ,it was killer

  7. Larry Nebl February 13, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Have you tested the new CampChef that can either smoke or grill over an open flame – I and thinking about getting either it or the CampChef smoker with the sear box and would love your comments

    • Jeff Phillips February 14, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

      I just received the SG the other day and got it put together but I haven’t had a chance to fire it up. Looks like a great concept but we’ll see. I hope to log some time on it in the next couple of weeks and I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

      • Gary March 14, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

        I’m looking at getting my first smoker and have narrowed it down to the Camp Chef Woodwind and the Camp Chef Smokepro SG. Both with the Sear Box. I will be very interested in your comparison between the two. I’m leaning towards the SG because of the additional rack space and bigger hopper.

        • Jeff Phillips March 16, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

          I am testing the SG right now and I agree with you that while both smokers work great, the extra racks in the SG are really nice. I also like the fact that the lower grate on the SG is split into (2) pieces so it fits in the dishwasher much easier.

          I have not tried the searing aspect of the unit by sliding the heat shield out of the way but we’ll see how that goes very soon. I doubt that anything will top the searing you will get from the side searbox.

          • Rob April 18, 2018 at 11:04 am

            Im curious what you thought of the SG… Have you finished testing it out? Debating between that and the windwood. I like the larger rack space on it, but dont see an SG with the sear box (havent searched that hard yet, maybe you buy separate as an attachment?)

            Which do you recommend?

          • Jeff Phillips April 18, 2018 at 11:25 am

            I have it planned to do some burgers, steaks, and whatever else I’m feeling this weekend and we’ll see how the open flames do. I am really looking forward to it and hopefully it will live up to my expectations in that regard.

            The Sear box does fit on the SG.. it just replaces the side shelf like it does on the Woodwind.

            The SG does have a larger hopper (22 lbs of pellets) and comes with full upper and lower racks so a lot more cooking space.

  8. Bill Griffith January 22, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    I received my Camp Chef PG24, with the sear burner box, the Saturday before Christmas. My wife and I assembled it in about 2 hours. After running the break in of the grill, we followed the cool down instructions. On Christmas day we smoked three tri-tips. It took about a half an hour longer than planned on, but they were excellent a perfect medium rare.
    On New Years day we smoked three racks of ribs, using the 3-2-1 method. They were fall off the bone good.
    I’m glad I took your suggestion on the Camp Chef smoker/grill. We have yet to use the sear burner. May smoke some steaks this week and try the sear burner. Would recommed it to anyone.

  9. Don K. January 20, 2018 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    What about the MAK Two Star General. I have had Traegers and not in the same league as the MAK albeit the MAK is quite a bit more expensive but worth the investment

  10. Bill Richardson December 24, 2017 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Hey Jeff. I had smoked many years ago, but it was crazy.
    Then about 5 years ago I read your newsletter and jumped back in. I brought a Bradley. Unfortunately I could use it in the winter, It could not keep a decent temp.
    So After much checking I purchased a Grilla Grill SilverBack. WOW I am a smoking fool. I would love you to review the grill. No Blanket needed in below freezing temps. Did our Thanksgiving Turkey delicious. You might notice I am very happy with Grilla.

  11. Ben December 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeff,
    Any thoughts on Rec-Tec?

    • Alan January 5, 2018 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      I have a Rec Tec, been extremely happy with it. Nice long, 6 year I believe warranty, I have had 2 warranty claims (hot rod and computer module) in the almost 4 years I have had it and replacement parts were to me in just a few days. Excellent customer service, you even get the owners cell phone numbers that you can call when you need help. I highly recommend them.

    • kirk poenicke March 26, 2018 at 10:10 am - Reply

      I did a lot of research on pellet smokers and finally bought the Rec tech mini. Very good very sturdy very good very efficient temp controls, excellent customer service and very pleased. In May they are remodeling the RecTec with different sizes one that is between the mini and biggest one. Happy with my smoker and with grill grates you can do burgers and steaks. check out a Cabelas for size and build- much sturdier than a Traeger.
      Happy smoking

  12. joe meehan December 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    my camp chef dlx pro arrived today,looking forward to trying it out this weekend for the game,go pats

  13. CaptTurbo December 13, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I have three Masterbuilt 30″ units and my favorite smoker of all time, the KBQ C-60. The KBQ was a top rated smoker here until suddenly it’s not even mentioned? Why is Bill Karau’s fabulous machine missing?

    • Jeff Phillips December 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      I only recommend smokers that I have used and/or own.. unfortunately, I do not have the KBQ. I have considered adding a customer recommended section for things like this. I appreciate the feedback!

  14. Jeff Davis December 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Jeff, have you heard of Horizon smokers? They are heavy duty real wood offset smokers, made by same guy who used to own Oklahoma Joes before the sale to CharGrille. Just wondering if you had any pointers or heard from anyone in it.

  15. Ruthanne November 2, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Hi Jeff, long time visitor, first time poster. This is Re: the A-Maze-N smoker tray… Do you use the tray instead of the tray provided with the masterbuilt electric smoker? What happens to the ashes? I guess I’m just a little confused on where you would put it. I’m assuming over the heating element, but would it fit? I love the idea of not having to add wood chips every 15 minutes.

  16. Rick October 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Have you heard of the Orion brand? The one I’m using is a combination smoker and pressure cooker

  17. Rick October 14, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I have been using a Bradley now for about 10 years. Am thinking of upgrading to a Vault/Safe smoker. Pitmaker out of Houston has a small unit on a cart and it is just about the same size as my Bradley.

    I love to smoke in the winter and the Bradley just cant keep up…At the ranch I had it in my equipment shed that was heated and I plumbed the exhaust out the side of the wall. We have since sold the ranch and I do not have the luxury of a building I can use to smoke in….

    Have you had any experience with these type of smokers? And are they worth the money?

  18. Mike September 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Green Mountain Grills, smoking, quality… . They seems to provide decent suppor.


    • Jeff Phillips September 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Mike, I do not have a GMG at this time but I have heard good things about the product and the customer service. I can’t vouch for them personally.

    • justin October 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      I purchased the Daniel Boone GMG last year. I love it. I personally think the smoker is very well built and I have no regrets. If you plan on doing any smoking in the fall or winter,I would recommend you getting the thermal blanket for it.

      • David November 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm - Reply

        I also bought a Daniel Boone GMG after a co-worker purchased one. My old gas grill crapped out so I was looking for an alternative I had over a cord of Maple wood so I made a makeshift fire pit & grilled a T-bone. It was the best steak I ever had. I cooked burgers, chicken, & salmon over the Maple until I used up all of my Maple. I was looking at converting my SS gas grill to a pellet grill use the Smoke Daddy Hopper kit but with everything that I would had to rebuild it would had cost too much. What I like about the Daniel Boone GMG is that it’s portable because it runs on 12VDC it also runs from your smartphone using WiFi which can setup multi step profile using temp & time or temp to meat temp..
        My first burger was using Cherry wood I only put Sea Salt on it, iy tasted like bacon raped steak. At the moment I have a Turkey on it. It sure helps having a meat probe.which I can monitor as I type this.

  19. Toni Hight September 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeff, I came across the new Z-Grill Elite Pellet Smoker on a start up website I follow. It is also a multi function, 7 in 1 grill tjat grills, smokes, bakes, roasts, braises, sears or BBQs. The grates/grills porcelain and it has an auto feed hopper for the pellets, it also includes a 3 yr warranty. I was wondering if anyone has used one if these yet or heard any feedback. I finally got it put together but havent used it yet. I’m completely new to using amokers, I’ve only used a regular charcoal/wood chunk grill once before, it came out decent, but took forever and i had to constantly check on it and add additional charcoal or wood chunks several times. So I’m looking forward to the ease of use on my new one. I will probably the nut bag outside during the dead of winter trying to cook with it, after I feel more confident about using it.

    Love reading your emails/articles all the time. You ate very much appreciated!


    Toni Hight

    • Jeff Phillips September 14, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Toni, I haven’t heard of the Z-grill brand. I did look it up and it looks good and seems to have decent reviews so far but I am always a little careful about dealing with company’s that are brand new. They are all new at some point but when you are spending upwards of $500 you just hope they have what it takes to stay in business and offer good customer support. There’s quite a few good pellet grills out there and I hope this is one of them. Once you use it, let us know how it works for you. If anyone else has used this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

  20. Cary Prater September 14, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I’ve heard you recommend the Bradley smokers many times throughout the last few years I’ve received your newsletter. What do you think about the Masterbuilt brand and their products? I’ve heard more cons about the Bradleys than I have the Masterbuilds. What is your feedback from your experience?

    Thank you,

    • Jeff Phillips September 14, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Cary, I don’t have a Masterbuilt right now but I have used them in the past. They are good, inexpensive electric smokers and I do recommend them. The one complaint that I hear a lot is the chore of adding wood chips so often and then you may or may not get smoke. A better option for the Masterbuilt is the A-Maze-N smoker tray which is less than $25 and provides smoke for 8-11 hours straight. Truly turns the Masterbuilt type smokers into a true set-it-and-forget-it smoker.

      I also recommend the Bradley for many applications. I think they work best in milder climates.. not that great in areas where it gets really cold as the heating element struggles to maintain the heat. Having said that, here in Oklahoma, I have created some amazing food in the 4-Rack Bradley smoker as well as the new Bradley Smart Smoker.

    • Paul Javins December 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      I have had one for about 4 years really like it cooking a turkey as we speak. the price has come down a lot. in the last year seen them as low as 129 Paul

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