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Best Vertical Pellet Smokers

You probably know about pellet grills, but what do you know about vertical pellet smokers? A good vertical pellet smoker is more specialized than any pellet grill. These units are designed to smoke and smoke very well. You can get lower temperatures, greater precision, and a more efficient design.

Best Vertical Pellet Smokers
Best Vertical Pellet Smokers

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Best Overall

Fast Eddy's by Cookshack FEC100 Pellet Smoker Oven

Best Value

Pellet Pro 2300 Vertical Pellet Smoker

Cheapest

Pit Boss Sportsman Vertical Smoker

Pellet Smoker vs. Pellet Grill

The biggest difference between a pellet smoker and a pellet grill is the shape and size of the cooking chamber. Pellet smokers come in a vertical configuration and look like most electric smokers or gas smokers. This block style maximizes smoke exposure over heat exposure. Pellet grills try to balance the ability to smoke a brisket with grilling a hamburger or steak.

Pellet Grills put the heat closer to the food in a horizontal configuration. They give you a single, wide cooking surface and work best when you cook (or smoke) in this area. While pellet grills are good smokers they frequently trade a more precise low cooking temperature for a wider range of temps.

Pellet Smokers are configured for smoking. Foods can be placed far from the heat in a chamber designed to hold in smoke. They also work at lower temperatures with greater precision. You can do better low and slow smoking with a temperature you can trust better. Pellet smokers also give you a more versatile space to work with. Most have four racks and can be expanded. You have plenty of space if you are smoking foods like ribs or jerky. In fact, you can smoke up to a dozen racks of ribs with most of the pellet smokers on this list.

Why Buy a Pellet Smoker?

The first reason to buy a pellet smoker is that you are only interested in making low-and-slow barbecue or smoking jerky, fish, or other items. Vertical pellet smokers are a great addition to your grill, regardless of that grill’s fuel type. A good pellet smoker lets you focus on one style of cooking while also being able to do a lot of it.

When it comes to low-temperature cooking, these smokers excel. Most will hold a steady temperature of around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The FEC-100 (which is the most expensive) will go as low as 130 degrees. With some modifications, you could do cold smoking as well. All of these units can also hit temperatures of 400 degrees. This allows for faster smoking or, even better, multiple-temperature smoking. Start low and slow, bring the temperature up for maximum smoke penetration or go hot and fast, then bring the temperature down for a juicer barbecue.

Size Matters!

Vertical pellet smokers offer you more cooking space than most pellet grills. But there is an issue to point out. Height. The cooking chamber on the Camp Chef XXL listed below is about four feet. It can hold up to seven racks for cooking, but the distance between them is very small. You could still smoke a lot of jerky or ribs, but if you are trying to smoke large pork butts, you will only be able to fit about six at best. So, take note. These smokers list plenty of square inches of cooking space, which does not reflect the actual smoking capacity.

Still, you will be able to smoke more in these units than most pellet grills or even most of the electric or gas smokers out there. The only way to get more capacity would be to move to an offset charcoal smoker.

The Best Vertical Pellet Smokers

Pit Boss Sportsman 5-Series

Pit Boss Sportsman Vertical Smoker
Sportsman Vertical Smoker

Pit Boss, a division of Dansons, became the biggest pellet grill maker in the world. At the same time, they have been expanding into every part of outdoor cooking. Grills, smokers, and griddles. They also make a number of vertical pellet smokers. This model, however, is the one to buy today based on price and capacity.

Specifications

  • 1,513 square inches of cooking surface
  • Five 309 sq inch adjustable porcelain-coated smoking racks
  • Powder-coated steel construction
  • Temperature range from 150°F to 420°F
  • 55-pound rear-mounted pellet hopper with pellet level view window
  • Digital control board with LED display
  • Two temperature meat probe ports (one probe included)
  • Front access removable grease tray
  • Four locking casters
  • Six stainless steel hanging sausage hooks
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • Weight 132 pounds
  • Assembled Dimensions: 28.9″L x 27.9″W x 53.2″H
  • Model #PB5000SP
  • Manufactured in China by Dansons

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Good starter smoker
  • Comparatively small footprint

Cons:

  • Less than precise temperature control
  • Lightweight construction
  • Smaller than most vertical pellet smokers

Louisiana Grills 7 Series

Louisiana Grills 7-Series Pellet Smoker
7-Series Pellet Smoker

Louisiana Grills is also a division of Dansons. While Pit Boss is widely distributed at more budget-friendly prices, Louisiana Grills is designed for specialty retail and a higher level of clientele. The question is, buy the Louisiana Grills or the Pit Boss. The truth is, there is little difference between the two other than size. All of the parts that actually do something are the same between these two smokers.

Specifications

  • 2,059 square inches adjustable porcelain-coated cooking racks
  • Six 343 square-inch cooking grates
  • Powder-coated steel construction
  • Temperature range from 150°F to 420°F
  • 55-pound rear-mounted pellet hopper with pellet level view window
  • Digital control with LED display
  • Two meat temperature probe ports (one probe included)
  • Grease tray drawer with front access
  • Sits on four locking casters
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • Weight 154 pounds
  • Assembled Dimensions: Width 28 7/8 x Depth 27 7/8 x Height 57 3/4 Inches
  • Model # 65700
  • Manufactured in China by Dansons

Pros:

  • Large smoking capacity
  • Comparatively small footprint
  • Large capacity pellet hopper

Cons:

  • Many plastic parts
  • Large temperature fluctuations
  • Low vertical height

Cookshack FEC100

Fast Eddy's by Cookshack FEC100 Pellet Smoker Oven
Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack FEC100 Pellet Smoker Oven

The FEC-100 may not think of itself as a vertical pellet smoker, but it is. In fact, it is the first. This is a competition-level smoker, designed by BBQ legend Ed “Fast Eddy” Maurin. It is also very expensive. To pay this price, you want to be into catering or competing, but it is an excellent piece of cooking equipment. You can find it used in a number of BBQ joints as well.

With all 304 stainless steel construction and double-walled insulation, the FEC-100 is highly efficient and precise in its temperature control. It is also programmable, so you can create smoking profiles and let the cooker do the work. This smoker can easily handle 100 pounds of meat. The biggest problem? The technology is at least a decade out of date.

Specifications

  • 1,564 square inches of total cooking area (expandable to 2.737 inches)
  • Four 391 square inch nickel-plated steel shelves (three more can be added)
  • Stainless steel construction with fiberglass insulation
  • 130°F to 400°F temperature range
  • Double-walled, insulated body rated to 850°F
  • 20-pound side-mounted pellet hopper
  • PID-type programmable digital temperature controller
  • Single meat temperature probe port (probe included)
  • Large grease tray mounted under smoking chamber
  • Mounted on four locking casters
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Weight 415 pounds
  • Assembled Dimensions: 42″W x 23″D x 65″H
  • Manufactured in the United States by Cookshack

Pros:

  • Excellent smoking capabilities
  • Very large capacity
  • Great construction quality

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Primitive technology
  • Less than attractive appearance

Pellet Pro 2300 Vertical Double Wall Cabinet Pellet Smoker

Pellet Pro 2300 Vertical Pellet Smoker
Pellet Pro 2300 Vertical Pellet Smoker

Like the FEC-100, the Pellet Pro from Smoke Daddy is a serious smoker. The all-steel construction is heavy and holds heat very well. This unit gives you plenty of space to work with and the look and feel of an old-school smoker. This smoker has more of a learning curve, but it can do serious cooking without much effort. This is also great value, costing considerably less than the FEC-100. If you are serious, you want to take a long look at the Pellet Pro 2300.

Specifications

  • 2,940 square inches with all seven racks in use (three come standard)
  • Three 420 square inch stainless steel cooking grids
  • Powder-coated double-walled 18-gauge steel construction
  • 160°F to 420°F temperature range
  • 35-pound side-mounted pellet hopper
  • PID-Type digital controller
  • One meat thermometer probe port
  • Front access door access to grease tray
  • Mounted on four locking casters
  • 7-year limited warranty
  • Weight 200 pounds
  • Assembled Dimensions: 42″ x 26″ x 54″ (L x W x H)
  • Manufactured in the United States by Smoke Daddy Inc.

Pros:

  • Great smoking capabilities
  • Large capacity
  • More versatile than most of the others

Cons:

  • Higher low-temperature hold point
  • Can require more maintenance than other vertical pellet smokers
  • Low-tech pellet controller

Camp Chef XXL

Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker
XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker

Camp Chef is known for making affordable outdoor cooking equipment, yet this isn’t the least expensive vertical pellet smoker on this list. However, the Camp Chef XXL is the only vertical pellet smoker with a WiFi enabled controller, so you can monitor it from anywhere. Aside from that, there is little that stands out about this smoker.

Specifications

  • Up to 2,408 square inches of cooking space if using all seven racks
  • Four 344 square-inch nickel-plated meat racks
  • Three 344 square inch nickel-plated jerky racks
  • 150°F to 350°F smoking range
  • 18-pound capacity side-mounted pellet hopper
  • Wi-Fi-enabled digital temperature controller
  • Two meat temperature probe ports
  • Small, bottom-mounted grease catcher
  • Set on four wheels
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Weight 145 lbs
  • Assembled dimensions: 24-inch width, 15.5-inch depth, 55-inch height
  • Manufactured in China by CampChef

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi-Enabled controller
  • Small footprint

Cons:

  • Limited Warranty
  • Lightweight construction
  • Very small grease catcher
  • Small capacity pellet hopper

Pellet Smoker vs. Electric Smoker

An electric heating element produces only heat. Burning wood or even charcoal produces heat, smoke, and water vapor. So electric smokers burn wood chips (or wood pellets) in a small pan. These smolder. A vertical wood pellet smoker will give you more smoke than most electric smokers. However, you can simply plug in an electric smoker, and a large bag of wood chips will last you a dozen cookouts. Electric is easier, but pellet is more flavorful.

Electric smokers can be very inexpensive.

See my list of the Best Electric Smokers

Pellet Smoker vs. Gas Smoker

Like an electric smoker, a gas smoker needs wood chips, chunks, or pellets to produce smoke. Gas (almost always propane) is a very efficient fuel, so a gas smoker will cost you less to operate than a pellet smoker. However, you still have limited smoke production. I should also point out that there are few high-quality gas smokers out there. But for the price, gas smokers are considerably less expensive.

See my list of the Best Gas Smokers

Final Thoughts

Vertical pellet smokers have a lot of potential and I believe that more should be done with this design. However, most people pick grills over smokers, and the companies that make only pellet grills will tell you that they are great smokers. They are not better smokers, and a good pellet smoker can produce better barbecue. It is my hope that more companies start producing dedicated pellet smokers in the near future.

About Me

I have been writing about Barbecue & Grilling for 25 years. I have cooked on almost every grill or smoker ever built. In that time, I have endeavored to match people with the grill or smoker that is right for them. I believe that the right product is the one you find easy to use, capable of doing everything you want, and has all the reliability you need. If you have a good first experience, you will be back for more. In this way, we grow barbecue for the next generation. I want you to make memories that your children will cherish.

Affiliate Disclosure

This article and the website it appears on use sales affiliates to cover the cost of operation. If you choose to purchase a product through the links provided, a portion of that sale will go to me. It helps me create content to help you and others have the best barbecue experience. I am grateful to all my readers over the years who have been so kind as to assist me in exploring outdoor cooking. Thank you.

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