If you’re wondering what the best vertical pellet smoker is, you’ve come to the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:
- Features of different pellet smokers
- What to look for when buying one
- And much more!
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The Best Vertical Pellet Smokers Reviewed
Before you go out and buy a vertical pellet smoker, it’s best to think about what you will be using it for and how often you plan to use it.
- How much meat do you plan to smoke on a regular basis?
- Is watching the meat as it smokes important to you?
- In what temperatures do you prefer to smoke your meats?
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to go shopping. Below are our top 3 vertical pellet smokers on the market with variations to suit every household.
If you are looking for the best vertical pellet smoker money can buy, there isn’t one quite like the Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker.
It’s our top pick because it’s large enough for even the biggest events, easy to use, and delivers a consistent smoking experience.
If you are looking for the mack-daddy of pellet smokers, the Pit Boss Grills 77550 is for you. It’s large enough to serve everyone at your largest BBQ and has 5 different racks so you can layer your meats.
All that meat will take a while to cook, which is no issue because this pellet smoker can cook for 24 hours. You aren’t restricted by temperature either, as it can get up to 400°F and can hold 40lbs of pellets at one time.
Additionally, this pellet smoker has a viewing window allowing you to keep a close watch on your meats without having to let out the precious heat. The only downside? Well, with 1,830 inches of cooking space this pellet smoker is quite bulky and will not be easy to move.
- Large cooking capacity
- Has 5 racks to load food on
- Viewing window makes it easy to watch food as it smokes
- Large temperature range
- Very bulky
If you are looking for something that can really cook up a feast, the Pit Boss Pellet Smoker is the way to go.
It’s our second pick because it’s the largest on the market and honestly if we hadn’t found the Pit Boss 77550 this one would have taken first place!
This smoker has 4 racks, the most on this list, meaning you can put all your meats, cheeses, and even your veggies in at the same time.
When loaded to the full capacity of 40 pounds of wood pellets, this smoker can cook for 24 hours straight, greatly increasing the range of sizes of meat you can accommodate.
It also has a huge temperature range, so you won’t be restricted in the types of meat you can cook. There is a viewing window that also makes checking on your meats easy.
Don’t rush to the store too fast, however, as this is a pricey option and you will need a permanent space to keep it as it is not very portable at nearly 100 pounds.
- Has 4 cooking racks
- Includes a meat probe
- Has a viewing window
- Large temperature range (150-450℉)
- Heavy and pretty bulky, so it’ll require a decent sized patio
If you are looking the perfect smoker for making beef jerky, it doesn’t get any better than the Camp Chef XXL.
We love this option for many reasons, but we say it is best for beef jerky for a reason-because there isn’t a whole lot of space for much else!
While all of the smokers on this list are great for a pork butt or turkey, if you want to make some beef jerky you’ll be looking for one with specific beef jerky racks. The Camp Chef XXL has one, as well as sausage hooks and a hanging rack to give you a truly versatile smoking experience.
With 2,059 square inches of cooking space, you won’t be sacrificing any room for this smoker. The only issue is the capacity of this smoker is 18lbs, meaning it is more suited for smaller smoking items (like jerky) and probably won’t hold two giant turkeys. Which is a bummer because this smoker carries a hefty price tag compared to others on the list.
Additionally, this smoker only reaches a temperature of 350°F, restricting your cooking options quite a bit. Even though it is unlikely that you will need higher temperatures on a regular basis, you will need to keep this in mind.
- A variety of racks (4 standard, 3 for jerky, one hanging, and 12 sausage hooks)
- Two meat probes
- On wheels so easier to move
- No viewing window
- Smaller temperature range
Honorable Mention Vertical Pellet Smokers
Honorable Mention #1: Camp Chef Smoke Vault Vertical Smoker
If you are looking for a smoker you can leave unattended for an extended period of time the Camp Chef Smoke Vault is for you.
It’s on our list because on a busy day there is nothing quite like monitoring dinner while on the go!
This smoker comes with a wifi controller that you can pair with an app on your phone, allowing you to check the temperature on the go. With two smoking racks, this smoker isn’t quite as large as the others on the list, but you can still fit in full racks of ribs or an entire turkey.
The temperature range for this smoker is only 160°F-350°F so you will need to keep in mind that it isn’t ideal for the highest temp cooking methods. There is no viewing window to check on your meat as it cooks, but chances are you won’t need it thanks to the wifi app.
As far as price goes, this is a decent mid-range option for someone who wants to smoke large pieces of meat but doesn’t have the time to babysit a smoker all day long. The durable construction makes it difficult to move, but also difficult for hot air to escape so you can rest easy knowing your food will cook evenly all night long in this smoker.
- Can be controlled with a phone app
- Has 2 racks for food (one jerky smoking rack)
- Durable construction
- Decent price
- Large and bulky
- No viewing window
- Small for a vertical pellet smoker
- Small temperature range
Honorable Mention #2: Masterbuilt MWS 140S Pellet Smoker
If you are looking for a smoker you can use on a daily basis, this Masterbuilt MWS is the one for you.
This option made the list because it is a great option. While it doesn’t have as many features as others on the list, it has a lower price tag, making it more affordable.
The Masterbuild MWS 140S pellet smoker is a good option for those looking to cook an absolute feast. With 4 racks and 1,830 square inches of cooking space, you better believe you can cook up to 8 pork butts in this smoker.
With a large temperature range, as well as a viewing window, you can keep a close eye on your meat as it cooks. There are also programmable preset smoking cycles which can be used when you aren’t sure how to cook a particular meat. Be careful with these, however, as some customers report they don’t always cook the same way as the manufacturers intended.
- Has 4 cooking racks
- Includes meat probes
- Has a viewing window
- Preset smoking cycles
- Can have quality control issues
- Not the easiest to move
- Preset smoking cycles can’t be adjusted to suit personal preferences.
Honorable Mention #3: Masterbuilt MWS 330S Pellet Smoker
It’s no secret, smokers are expensive. But even on a budget there is a smoker out there for you.
Say hello to the Masterbuilt MWS 330S, slightly smaller than out #5 pick, this option is the cheapest on the list while still being a good buy.
When we say small, don’t worry too much as you will still be able to cook at least 2 turkey’s in this smoker at the same time, making it still ideal for the Thanksgiving holiday.
It’s got a large temperature range, all the way up to 400°F just like the Pit Boss. One cool thing about this particular smoker is that it has preset cycles. These can help you to get the perfect finish on a cut of meat that you have never cooked before, talk about convenient!
Sadly, you won’t be able to watch that finish take place, however, as there is no viewing window on this smoker. But when you think of the money you are saving, that may not even matter to you!
- Less expensive than most
- Preset smoking cycles
- Easier to move (not as bulky)
- 4 smoking racks
- Includes meat probes
- You can’t watch your food from the outside
- Preset smoke cycles can’t be changed to adjust for personal preferences
- Brand is known for some quality control issues
What is a Vertical Pellet Smoker?
A vertical pellet smoker is a very specific type of smoker intended for outdoor cooking, that uses compressed wood pellets in order to function.
A smoker cooks meat similar to a gas or charcoal grill, without needing to be constantly monitored. It can also be used to cook items you would normally cook in the oven, but can’t be put on a grill, such as an entire turkey.
How Does a Vertical Pellet Smoker Work?
A vertical pellet smoker functions by lighting the wood pellets in the cooking chamber, then circulating the resulting heat and smoke through the cooking area.
The user can adjust the amount of heat in the cooking area by adjusting the fan settings from the exterior of the unit. Some newer models even allow the user to adjust the temperature from afar using Bluetooth or WiFi.
The cooking area in a vertical smoker is unique because it generally contains more than one rack allowing the user to cook more items at once.
Plus, the user can place more delicate items, live vegetables, and cheese, on higher racks while also smoking meats on the lower racks. This allows for more versatile smoking without needing multiple sessions.
Vertical pellet smokers cook meat very similar to a grill would, but with an added smoke flavor that comes from burning the wood chips. Most pellet smokers have an automatic feature that feeds the cooking area more pellets, making it easier to maintain a constant temperature and leave your smoker unattended for extended periods of time.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Vertical Pellet Smoker?
Because there are so many different vertical pellet smokers on the market, there are some things you need to keep in mind as you shop.
- Size: While vertical pellet smokers tend to be large, the cooking space inside the pellet smoker can vary greatly from brand to brand. Some smokers can fit multiple turkeys, while others can’t even fit one. Think about what you plan to smoke regularly before you buy so you don’t find yourself restricted later.
- Price: Vertical pellet smokers are not cheap. You will likely need at least $200 to shop for one of these. That being said, the price can increase quickly depending on the size and brand you want to buy. It’s suggested to have an idea of what smoker you want to buy in advance so you aren’t shocked when you see the price tag.
- Features: Some smokers have barely any features, while others have a Bluetooth connection as well as preset smoking cycles. You will want to review what features are important to you before you shop.
- Ease of Use: Smoking meats isn’t always easy, and newbies may benefit from buying a smoker with pre-set cycles. You also will consider how easy you want it to be for you to change the temperature as well as to check on your meats as they cook.
- Mobility: No vertical pellet smoker is going to be mobile, but some are easier to move than others. If you have a permanent place for your smoker, this won’t be a problem, but if you plan to move yours in and out of the garage, you will want one that is portable or on wheels.
Pros and Cons of Vertical Pellet Smokers
- Amazing smoky flavor in meats
- Can be used for multiple cuts of meat at the same time
- The temperature remains stable while cooking
- Typically user friendly
- Usually large and not portable
- Preset cycles don’t always work
- Require the purchase of pellets to function
Is it Worth Buying a Vertical Pellet Smoker?
In short? Yes, buying a vertical pellet smoker is one of the best types of smokers you can buy!
They are large, easy to use, and a great investment no matter what types of food you plan to smoke. The best part is, you can even cook a large variety of foods all at once!
That being said, a vertical pellet smoker is large. You should not purchase one if you don’t have the space to accommodate one on your patio. They are typically difficult to move and will probably not be something you can take on a tailgate.
But, if you are looking for a permanent smoking installation in your backyard, a vertical pellet smoker is exactly what you need!
Can You Use Wood Chips in a Pellet Smoker?
Pellet smokers are specifically designed to be used only with pellets. If you find yourself in a bind, however, you can use wood chips.
Wood chips burn faster and hotter than wood pellets, meaning that when you use them, you will not enjoy the same consistency as well you use wood pellets.
You will also want to monitor your smoker closely, as you may need to adjust the temperature frequently as your foods cook.
Your foods will be much smokier when wood chips are used as opposed to pellets, so while the smokey flavor is great, you won’t want to use these wood chips for long cooking periods as you may find that your food gets too smokey. Not to mention that these burn faster so you will likely need to replenish the smoker with wood chips more frequently.
Therefore, while you can use wood chips in a pellet smoker, we recommend you stick to the pellets the smoker is made for in order to get the best results.
Final Thoughts on Vertical Pellet Smokers
Whether you need to make food for a crowd, or perhaps more than one Turkey for the holidays, a vertical pellet smoker is the way to go! These devices are large, and good at keeping your food cooking consistently without you needing to keep a close watch. No matter what pellet smoker you choose to buy off this list you won’t regret it.
Of course, pellet smokers aren’t cheap, however, so spend the time to research the one that has the capacity and special features that your family needs. Once you pick the one that is right for you, it is guaranteed you will spend hours smoking your favorite foods.
If you’ve never smoked meats before, don’t be shy, as it is very easy to learn. So start thinking about what you want to smoke, then head out to get your perfect pellet smoker to get started!