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Outdoor Cooking Appliance Question
Old 12-13-2018, 05:02 PM   #1
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Outdoor Cooking Appliance Question

Okay, just posted on a rather depressing thread about the state of health care in America. Done with that.

Baring my soul here, so asking for compassion instead of criticism.

I have been using a cheap ass Char Griiler hybrid for a few years. Its and all in one (gas, charcoal, offset smoker, side burner). Gets everything done, but is a PITA for smoking. Struggles to get to 225-240 unless it is warm (60+) outside. I drug it out of a local Walmart when they put all grills 50% off in the fall. Very happy with that price point.

So, fellow friends of the fire, here is my dilemma... I live in NC where **BBQ (smoked critters - - - - - -and some veggies) is the second religion.

What next? Dedicated smoker and grill? Pellet cooker? Big Green Egg (or cousin)? UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker)? Other? Brand is secondary to method.

To the multimillionaires here, my budget (if I want harmony with DW) is $500 to under $1K. I'll pass on the Viking (et al) $53K backyard ensemble.


**Delicious, tender, smokey eats. Not an appliance, nor a gathering. That's okay where you live, but not here. Never.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:11 PM   #2
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I would be looking at a Traeger. (I have zero personal experience with this brand).
https://www.traegergrills.com/shop/g...-%20Bing%20Ads
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:16 PM   #3
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I would be looking at a Traeger.

+1. I have one and itís a great smoker. Uses pellets.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:21 PM   #4
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BGE. A large is a grand.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:33 PM   #5
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IMO this forum is not the best place to ask.

Start here: https://amazingribs.com/table-of-contents to read tutorials and equipment tests. He also has a book but I don't know if its focused on equipment.

Here is where the serious BBQ crowd hangs out: The BBQ BRETHREN FORUMS. - Powered by vBulletin Endless threads on equipment and lots of advice, mostly good, if you post your question(s).

Personally, I like pellet grills. I have a Traeger L'il Tex at the lake home and a Camp Chef DLX in the city. The Camp Chef has a number of features that make it IMO slightly superior to the Traeger. Both are basically smoky ovens with limited/no capability to sear a steak. If you are looking to real bbq that is no big deal but if not you will need to look for some kind of searing device. My solution is a Weber Performer with the lazy man feature of LP gas ignition of the charcoal. Meathead (amazingribs.com) will have ideas for you.

CraigsList is your friend. In our area it is common to find nearly-new cookers at very good prices. Brand new ones show up from time to time, too. If you have CraigsList, set up an automatic search that will notify you when cookers come up for sale, then sit back and be patient. Spring seems to be the best time.

FWIW I am a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge and do a little 'cue at home now and then. Sunday I'll be cold-smoking 12# of pork belly curing in my fridge right now. The best bacon is home made.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:35 PM   #6
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It depends what you want to do, and how long you have to do it. I have two gas grills that I use most of the time for simple BBQ ( steaks, chicken, brats, hamburgers). I also have an electric smoker for the long, slow cooking (ribs, pork butt, chuck roast, turkey). In my limited usage, the UDS is a compromise on both, unless you have the need to do some very low temp, indirect smoking.

I have heard a lot of good things (all second hand) about the Traeger pellet smokers, but have never used one.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:46 PM   #7
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BGE. A large is a grand.
And if money is a concern and if you want to be able to move it around (ceramic cookers are heavy), go with a Weber smoker. All you need to know is here:

The Virtual Weber Bullet - For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker enthusiast

If you want a ceramic cooker, there are less expensive versions than the Green Egg that get pretty good reviews.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:56 PM   #8
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This is an interesting discussion to me too.

Everyone I know with a BGE loves them, except they are heavy and expensive.

Traegers look cool for the automation. However, there seem to be a non-trivial amount of mechanical or electronic failures. And the Home Depot customers routinely complain of shipping damage. *Edit: looked on Amazon and the same shipping damage complaints abound. Sounds like bad packaging.

So, I'm still looking and pondering.

I'm also in NC BBQ country. I think my neighbors' smokers have given me the bug. On calm weekend days, the neighborhood smells great.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:59 PM   #9
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Take a look at the Broil King 5000. Poor/cheap mans version of the Big Green Egg. I've had mine for about 7 years and love it. Was previously called the Big Steel Keg and Bubba Keg. Available Amazon Prime for $855. Does everything the Green Egg does and equally well for a lot less $$$.
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:02 PM   #10
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Plus one for amazingribs.com.

I have a Master Forge, about $180 from Loweís. Does a commendable job. Has a lower door for adding wood chips or more water, reducing heat loss in the upper portion. Does, however, suffer the same issue with maintaining temperature when itís cool/cold outside; it is sheet metal, after all. Iíve seen the suggestion online to use welderís blankets for makeshift insulation, though Iíve not tried. I have placed an iron skillet full of lava rocks on the top shelf (when not used for food), in an attempt to stabilize the temp. No proof it helps...

Somewhat size limited, so chicken or pork butt will fit, but a rack of ribs will need to be halved, and it definitely wonít do a whole brisket. Four racks, though.
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:08 PM   #11
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We have a MasterBuilt electric smoker. It's our second one of that brand and we are really happy with the product.
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:12 PM   #12
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Does, however, suffer the same issue with maintaining temperature when it’s cool/cold outside; it is sheet metal, after all. I’ve seen the suggestion online to use welder’s blankets for makeshift insulation, though I’ve not tried.
Yeah, all the metal devices have this issue. We grill salmon once per week and I have my summer timing and winter timing. I presume the thicker ceramics help avoid this issue, but then you got to let it get to temp.

Funny aside: I was reading some of the customer answered questions on the Traeger, and someone asked: "Is there an insulting blanket available?" A friendly community member responded: "Why would you want an insulting blanket when there are polite blankets available?" I had to LOL.
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:42 PM   #13
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I will also say check out amazingribs.com. Really good information there and the reviews seem pretty unbiased. I've purchased a couple of recommended products and they work great.

I don't have a Traeger personally but know people that have them. The general feeling is that they are well liked. There was some talk a few years ago of lack of quality since manufacturing moved to China. I'm going off of memory there so don't hold my feet to the fire on that one.

Personal experience is a Mak Two Star General. Made in the US. Built like a tank. Great programming and reliability. Once you get used to it and what you are smoking you can pretty much set a temp and cook time and walk away until its done. Probes to measure cooker temp and meat temp. Maintains temperature like a champ. I've cooked in hot summer and with a foot of snow on the ground and that beast will stay within about 5 degrees of programmed temperature. Great flavor. Lacks in searing capability, you would be better off getting a Weber or the like. Another downside is that it is past your stated max limit, but the 1-star is just a bit above your limit...

On Weber, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to find/replace. Maybe look into the "slow and sear" insert. Gives you the capability for great searing and also a long slow smoke time. I haven't looked at the Weber products lately, but size/capacity might be an issue.

My other product is a Pit Barrel Cooker. Great and relatively inexpensive. Can sear, can smoke. It tends to cook at a higher temperature (cooks finish faster than in my Mak) but I haven't seen a huge difference between that and the Mak. That would be with things like ribs and chicken. I haven't tried a pork butt in the PBC yet, but folks from NC wouldn't probably like smoked up pork anyway. Drawback, gives off the charcoal flavor in finished product from what I have tried. Temperature maintenance is fairly stable although I haven't tried it in the winter.
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:55 PM   #14
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BGE - You can slow smoke world class pork for 12 hours at 225 degrees or bake wood fired pizzas for 3 minutes at 700 degrees. I have had one for +20 years. FYI, I make a Carolina style vinegar sauce for my pork. BBQ threads are the best threads. Although, they can be more controversial than HC threads.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:36 PM   #15
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How much time do you want to spend babysitting your grill when you have a long term project. I was given a green egg by my neighbor and sold it. I use a Traeger for long term smoking. I have a Little Chief for smoked fish and jerky. Then a gas grill for most red meats. The Traeger is heavily used for cooking fish and poultry as you cannot fail.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:49 PM   #16
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Any real barbecue cook is not satisfied with one cooker. I have a Mastercraft electric smoker that I use from time to time.

I also have a 22 1/2 inch Weber grill when I have time to deal with charcoal. Add a Smokeanator and a set of Grill Grates and you cannot get a better rig. (See Amazing Ribs about them.)

But I have a large Kenmore LP gas grill with 6 burners that is my go to grill--quick and easy. You can also buy a cheap CharGrill at Lowes or Home Depot and add a set of Grill Grates and they're as good as any grill.

My next purchase may be a pellet grill, like one of the smaller Rec Tec pellet grills. You can buy them on Amazon.
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Outdoor Cooking Appliance Question
Old 12-13-2018, 09:05 PM   #17
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Outdoor Cooking Appliance Question

I have had Traegers, its good. I now own a Green Mountain grill. Itís better by a lot. I also have a BGE knock off, itís good but a pain for long cooks, because reloading you have to take it apart. I also use a natural gas grill for steaks and burgers.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:12 PM   #18
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Traegers are very nice, but pricey. I have been using the biggest Weber Smoky Mountain for some time an it does a good job for relatively little money. I even keep a small rack of wood separate from the mountain of firewood and make sure it stays full of whatever I get locally that is good for firing the smoker: mostly apple, some maple, the odd bit of peach, plum or oak.


Its size makes me do a bunch at once, but it was nice to be able to smoke 4 turkeys at once for a large gathering.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:19 PM   #19
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Its size makes me do a bunch at once, but it was nice to be able to smoke 4 turkeys at once for a large gathering.

Did you brine first?
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:21 PM   #20
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I get excellent ribs off a used 4 burner Charbroil propane grill I got on craigslist for $40 (including a 7 gallon tank). Just throw a smoker pouch on 1 of the burners. Thermostat would be nice, but the electronics aren't going to last very long... so I just use a remote monitor thermometer.
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