Hello All,

In my quest for shopping for a pellet grill a question keeps popping into my head.I own a WSM and I was wondering what is the “smoke”taste in a pellet grill vs a WSM?I have noted a few posts in this website speaking of a lack of smoke flavor on a pellet grill.

Thanks

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2011, 10:21:44 AM »

Use the search function for “smoke”, “smokiness” and “smoke flavor and you’ll find lots of posts on this topic.

To give your question a short answer:  Most pellet cookers are not designed to impart a heavy smoked flavor.  They burn wood cleanly, producing “blue smoke” which is flavorful but light.  If you want heavy smoke flavor you can do that in a WSM by using a lot of chips or chunks and inducing “white smoke” during the cook.  Be careful.  This can be easily overdone and give your meat a bitter taste (sometimes likened to “tasting like lighter fluid”) and leave you belching smoke for a day or two.

You can add a SmokeDaddy or other device to some pellet cookers to increase smokiness, but based on the food I’ve had from Memphis, MAK and FE cookers they don’t need it.  The smoke level is perfect as is IMHO.

Great BBQ (at least in competition) is an artistic balance of the meat, the cooking method, and the spicing along with superlative skills from the cook.  If all you want is smoke, just overload a WSM and you’ll get it beyond all belief.

WSM vs Traeger Comparision Video

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2011, 10:25:11 AM »

I have a WSM and a Memphis Pro.  Depending on how many chunks of wood  and the type of wood you use in the WSM you can get a little or a lot of smoke flavor.  I would say the Memphis produces a very pleasant (to me) level of smoke flavor but not a pronounced strong smoke flavor.  I will add that the Weber Smokey Moutain is permanently parked in the garage as I find the Pro much more fun to play with and much more versatile in what you can cook.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2011, 10:51:39 AM »

What an interesting question.  I also have a bullet style smoker I used for years (Brinkman Gourmet Electric) before getting my pellet grill.  I used to put deep smoke flavor into briskets and pork butts with mesquite and hickory chunks – of course, I got very smoky flavor into steaks in minutes on the Weber kettle grill with lots of wet mesquite chips.

I’ve read the posts about lack of smoke flavor, but frankly, I’ve not had any problem developing smoke flavor in the limited briskets and pork butts I’ve cooked on my Traeger.  I know from other reading here that there are tricks to getting the most smokiness:

1) the meat probably won’t absorb much smoke if it’s too cold (let it warm up before putting on the grill)

2) the meat probably won’t add more smoke late in the cook (use low smoke setting on the front end)

3) some pellets yield more smoke flavor than others:  high smoke = mesquite, black walnut, hickory (a bit less)

4) people who use 100% flavor wood pellets report better flavor (not necessarily smokiness, though).  Realize that most pellets are at least 2/3 oak, alder, or some other base wood.  These are true hardwoods that produce good heat and consistency, but not necessarily great smoke (though in central Texas, all the great Q joints use post oak).

5) multiple products exist to enhance smoke production for those that feel they need it.

6) MOST IMPORTANT – pellet grills don’t put out much smoke at all when temps are above 225, perhaps best around 150 – 180.  This is why they all have a “SMOKE” setting at the bottom of the dial.  If the recipe calls for a straight cook at 350, don’t expect smoke flavor.  OTOH, many recipes can be adjusted.  A few weeks ago I cooked my regular oven meatloaf recipe on my Traeger, and I let it smoke for an hour before cranking it up to 350.  It had a 1/4″ well-defined smoke ring and a very delicious smoky flavor (used a 50-50 mesquite/hickory pellet mix).

I say “probably” on the first 2 items above, because many will debate these effects, and I’ve not seen any science on them.

Another thought – if you are used to using charcoal + wood chips or chunks on your WSM, it’s possible that you have become accustomed to the flavor of charcoal, which contains many odd chemicals.  Pellets don’t have these, and it’s possible this is what you will miss.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2011, 01:18:00 PM »

Quote from: deubster on April 29, 2011, 10:51:39 AM

Another thought – if you are used to using charcoal + wood chips or chunks on your WSM, it’s possible that you have become accustomed to the flavor of charcoal, which contains many odd chemicals.

Just as not all pellets are good for q’ing neither does all charcoal contain chemicals….just keeping the record straight…..

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2011, 01:49:30 PM »

Thanks so far for the responses.I have read some posts here complaining mainly of a LACK of smoke taste.I have learned over my usage of my wsm when to put the meat on(not on while white smoke is billowing out).Me and my family’s taste buds are accustomed to a light smoke flavor.So far from what I have seen on this postings there shouldn’t be a problem.My best bet is to see if I can find a demo cook going on in my area on a pellet grill and taste for myself.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2011, 01:51:41 PM »

I think you’ve come up with the best idea yet.  Solved your own problem.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2011, 06:22:17 PM »

I think the smoke flavor imparted by a pellet grill is a bit different than a stick burner, which is different form a charcoal burner, which is different depending on lump or briqs, etc.  Great idea to try out some samples and make your own choice/decision.  Visit a nearby comp or two and ask questions, maybe get a sample or three!  Where are you located?  Maybe someone is nearby that would offer to let you check out their cooker.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2011, 07:42:12 PM »

As you have probably heard before it is often the cook not the cooker but I will share my experience over the last three months as I benchmarked my Traeger 075 against my Kamado Joe ceramic cooker.

I used a modified Harry Soo method, changing times and temps a bit, going for comp finish and presentation.  The Kamado Joe made delicious ribs, with much deeper smoke flavor but drier than the Traeger.  The Traeger produced a more brilliant color and much more juiciness.

I did blind tests on the best rib from each rack and to be honest with you, the Traeger won every time.  I used exact time and temps as well as rubs.  I even added juice or water to the Kamado to see if it made any difference.  They were both amazing, but as much as people bash pellet cookers, it still was a better rib with brighter color, juicier and pulled off the bone better.  Granted I have only had my KJ for 8 months, but I have put it through countless cooks and tests, looking for the perfect rib production, Traeger still beat it for taste, texture and appearance.  Not any bias at all, I actually expected the KJ to crush it on the final product.  Maybe I just have more learning to do on the KJ but the Traeger is still putting out amazing quality ribs, not to mention the other meats.

For bbq chicken and steaks…KJ, hands down.

Here’s a shot of one of the benchmark tests Traeger ribs on the left, KJ on the right after two hours

Here’s a shot of a plate of Traeger ribs finished and ready to eat.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2011, 07:44:54 PM by GreenDrake »

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2011, 12:38:42 AM »

Looks good greendrake.Actually what is interesting is that my ribs look like the trager ribs when I cook them on my WSM.

I live in harrisburg NC Phrett

My local dealer that sells woodmaster grills already told me that when I’m ready to call him and he will throw some meat on his demo grill to let me taste the food before I buy.I’m assuming that food off of one pellet grill should mimic quality of all pellet grills right?

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2011, 07:47:53 AM »

Please demo the WoodMaster — it’s a good unit.  However, assuming that one pellet cooker cooks like all the others is a big leap.  There’s still a lot depending on the skills and experience of the cook.  A great cook could could make championship chow on an FEC110, a Traeger Little Tex, or a K-Mart charcoaler after experimentation, trials and time to perfect recipes to the cooking medium.  So, take that fact into consideration also.

Last year Art (ACW3) and I attended Rod Gray’s (Pellet Envy — 2009 KCBS GC) cooking school where he cooked exactly the same meats (KCBS standards) on both his FEC 100’s and his Jambo (high class stick burner).  The differences were slight at best and often I couldn’t tell any difference.

“Lack of smoke flavor” on a pellet cooker is a unique perception of each individual and the smokiness of the meat produced will vary by pellet type, method of smoking, temperature used, cooking time and the cook’s skills (know your pit) in addition to the brand and model of cooker.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2011, 09:43:00 AM »

I have both and enjoy cooking on both.  Here is a cook where I detailed cooking the same meat on both at the same time:

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2011, 02:08:03 PM »

Quote from: SmokeyDan on April 29, 2011, 01:18:00 PM

Quote from: deubster on April 29, 2011, 10:51:39 AM

Another thought – if you are used to using charcoal + wood chips or chunks on your WSM, it’s possible that you have become accustomed to the flavor of charcoal, which contains many odd chemicals.

Just as not all pellets are good for q’ing neither does all charcoal contain chemicals….just keeping the record straight…..

Ditto, Smokey! Tell him to try a bag of WGC brics, or a load of Ozark Oak lump and compare it with Kingsford’s “Light de bag” stuff.       OD

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2011, 08:48:43 AM »

I think a big difference would be to test the WSM using a lump vs a briq fuel.  Most lump has a nice woodsmoke flavor even without wood chunks, the briquettes don’t have that flavor.  Not even the Stubbs all natural ones.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2011, 11:15:27 AM »

Interesting article about Kingsford and lump charcoal can be found
here.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2011, 01:18:11 PM »

I tend to use REG K in my wsm rather than royal oak just because it is easier for me to find.I just made up a batch of ribs last night and they came out great but i was chained to the cooker all day.It was a very windy day and my temps were all over the place.That is mainly the reason why I am looking into pellet grills I can set it and forget it pretty much.But I have come to a level of bbqing that I expect every time that I cook.I am afraid of the lack of smoke flavor that me and my family(FANS) have bcome accustomed to.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2011, 01:59:55 PM »

Quote from: smoking_pellet on May 02, 2011, 01:18:11 PM

[…] but i was chained to the cooker all day.

Take a look at a Stoker or DigiQ — I have a Stoker hooked to a Chargriller (well, my son’s off with it trying to learn to compete) and can do an all nighter without messing with the pit.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2011, 05:35:43 PM »

I have both but if I could only choose one it would be a pellet grill,hands down.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2011, 05:59:19 PM »

Hey, Smokey, did you modify that Char the way Meathead recommended? You gona get a pellet pooper in the near future or are you just Forum Floating, til you save enough jingle to get that Gator pit?      I never had a off-set, but I cut my smoke gums on bullets (WSM, Masterbuilts). You need to get to the “Dark side”, at least wise, to have it on your resume!

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2011, 06:09:23 PM »

Quote from: Over Dunn on May 04, 2011, 05:59:19 PM

Hey, Smokey, did you modify that Char the way Meathead recommended? You gona get a pellet pooper in the near future or are you just Forum Floating, til you save enough jingle to get that Gator pit?      I never had a off-set, but I cut my smoke gums on bullets (WSM, Masterbuilts). You need to get to the “Dark side”, at least wise, to have it on your resume!

OD

I got the idea on the Stoker when I saw a guy with one attached to a WSM, never knew his name — I covered my CG in a similar manner as instructed by a fellow on another site by the handle of Meat Popsicle.  If I was into competition I’d get an FE100 and have Yoder build it into a trailer with one of their offsets similar to Lotta Bull’s rig.

And yes — I’m probably gonna get myself a YS640 for my deck.

BTW folks, why does the KCBS allow pellets but not electric smokers?  I mean, if you pull the plug on a pellet the fire goes out from fuel starvation unless you have a manual crank set up and one big ole bellows attached.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2011, 06:11:10 PM by SmokeyDan »

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2011, 06:12:54 PM »

pellets are wood, like sticks and charcoal. Electric is, well, not wood, same as gas.

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2011, 06:26:46 PM »

Quote from: Phrett on May 04, 2011, 06:12:54 PM

pellets are wood, like sticks and charcoal. Electric is, well, not wood, same as gas.Well, as you say — a pellet ain’t gonna go without the electric.  Do you really think that if Brinkman electrics were allowed that contestants would use it without adding wood?

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2011, 06:35:38 PM »

Quote from: SmokeyDan on May 04, 2011, 06:26:46 PM

Quote from: Phrett on May 04, 2011, 06:12:54 PM

pellets are wood, like sticks and charcoal. Electric is, well, not wood, same as gas.

Well, as you say — a pellet ain’t gonna go without the electric.  Do you really think that if Brinkman electrics were allowed that contestants would use it without adding wood?

You gotta admit, the man’s logic is right up there with Confucius!     OD

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2011, 07:34:50 PM »

They should let people use crock pots and George Forman grills, if they can beat me, more power to them…

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2011, 11:35:35 PM »

Quote from: BM on May 04, 2011, 07:34:50 PM

They should let people use crock pots and George Forman grills, if they can beat me, more power to them…

Now I really like that attitude — that’s a man that is confident in his ability.  Smoke ’em up…

Re: WSM vs Pellet Grill?

« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2011, 06:11:38 AM »

Quote from: BM on May 04, 2011, 07:34:50 PM

They should let people use crock pots and George Forman grills, if they can beat me, more power to them…

I couldn’t agree more!  I’ve said it many times before:  A great cook can make championship chow on a $99 K-mart gasser.  The method (pellets, sticks, charcoal, electricity, kerosene, cow chips or solar mirrors) is NOTHING compared to the skills of the cook.  A true Pit Master just says, “Give me some meat and heat and turn me loose”.

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