It’s nice to cook a big meal for your family or friends and have everyone praise your cooking skills, and you can use a vertical pellet smoker to create mouth-watering dishes on the holidays and weekends.
You’ll get a wonderfully smoky aroma and flavor in your cuts of meat, and the vertical design means that it’ll take up less space on your patio or in your yard. But, how do you pick out the best vertical pellet smoker?
We understand that it can be intimidating to find a high-quality vertical pellet smoker if you’re not sure what features you should keep an eye out for, and this is why we did the research for you.
We’ve picked out six high-quality options that you can have delivered straight to your door. Additionally, the buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions will help you make your final choice and pick out the model that will suit your needs.
The Six Best Vertical Pellet Smokers – Reviews
Best Overall – Pellet Pro 2300 Vertical Pellet Smoker
Pellet Pro’s 2,300 smoker gives you an impressive 10 cubic feet of cooking space, and you get four stainless steel trays that are almost eight-inches apart with a solid tray that you can slide between them to create different temperature zones.
The 18-gauge double-walled steel design is extremely durable and will keep the heat inside, and the automatic re-light setting will keep the fire going if your smoker’s temperature drops below 150-degrees.
The PID controller keeps your temperature within 5 to 10-degrees of your chosen setting throughout the cooking process, and there are three temperature gauges on the side with probe access holes lined up.
The stainless steel design resists rust and corrosion, and it comes with a heat-resistant door, two heavy-gauge latches, .52-amp motor, and four locking casters.
The daisy wheel draft damper system on the top is easy to adjust if it gets too hot inside to let the smoke out, and there is an extra storage compartment on the back of the smoker.
You’ll also get a reverse flow-style side vent with an extra-long cord for the temperature probe. You also get free cover when you purchase this product.
- Triple temperature gauges
- Holds 35 pounds of pellets
- Double-walled steel design retains heat
- Grates are very sharp
- Can’t adjust the rack heights
- Very heavy and difficult to move
Best Budget – Kinger Home Vertical BBQ Smoker
This is a unique smoker that runs on a range of fuel choices like wood, pellets, or charcoal without a problem, and it comes equipped with dual cooking grates that allow you to smoke two large items at once.
It comes designed to prevent peeling and rust at a nice price point, and the mid-section, bowl, and lid feature a durable porcelain enamel coating. You can remove the fuel door to add your pellets, charcoal, or wood when it’s operating.
Unlike traditional pellet smokers that come equipped with an auger to feed the pellets in automatically, this one requires you to manually adjust everything to keep a consistent temperature.
There is a big water bowl included that sits below the meat to help ensure it stays steamed and moist when it cooks. This isn’t an electric smoker, so you can take it out to a remote location to use it.
You will need to work to keep your temperatures consistent, and many people like this more hands-on approach to smoking their cuts of meat. It has a highly versatile design with handles on the side that make it easy to pick up and carry from spot to spot.
- Able to use it with pellets, wood, or charcoal
- Lower priced model
- Very versatile and durable design
- The door latch is flimsy
- Requires high attention to detail
- Have to manually feed the pellets in
Best Runner Up – Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker
This smoker has a very user-friendly design that makes it great for beginners, but it’s a very large smoker that can hold up to 60 pounds of pellets and run for 45 hours on a single load.
You get 2,059-square inches of cooking space with six cooking racks that allow you to cook a huge amount of food at one time. The full-length viewing window lets you see exactly what’s going on inside when it runs.
The double-walled insulation helps keep the heat and moisture inside, and there is a CRS High-Heat Coating on the smoker’s interior and exterior that prevents the paint from peeling or bubbling.
The high-temperature door seals stop heat from escaping, and it’s on heavy-duty caster wheels that allow you to move the smoker as you see fit before locking them into place.
It’s easy to increase the smoke level if you want to impart more flavor into the meat, and the internal temperature will fluctuate around 20-degrees from your desired temperature during cooking. All you have to do to start it is hit the on the button and set your desired temperature.
- Large cooking area
- Can run 45 hours between fills
- Very user-friendly design
- Pellet cleaning port is too high
- Temperature probes are prone to error messages
- Challenging to clean
Best Under $600 – Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker
Pit Boss’s vertical pellet smoker comes with a larger 40-pound capacity that allows you to cook for a long time before reloading, and the innovative pellet purge system makes it easy to empty the smoker to clean it or swap pellet flavors out.
There is a built-in meat probe that comes with a digital LED readout that makes it easy to check on your food as it cooks in all lighting conditions.
The digital temperature controls are very easy to use and accurate, and you can program the unit to cook to your desired temperature before it automatically shuts off to prevent drying out the meat.
You can create a custom cook for your food, and the temperature will fluctuate slightly throughout the cooking process. The double-wall construction will trap the heat inside, even in colder weather.
The heat deflector, water pan, and cooking grids have a porcelain coating to make them more durable and resistant to damage, and there are five adjustable racks that give you a large 1,830-square inch of cooking space. You can fit ribs, chicken, a whole turkey, and more.
- Has a window on the door
- Five racks are adjustable
- Pellet purge system included
- Not suited for beginners
- Heat source and control board are too close
- Difficult to reach customer service
Alt One – Masterbuilt MB20051316 Smoker
This smoker makes propane smoking a simple and safe experience, and it doesn’t run on electricity so you can take it with you to more rural locations and use it whenever you like.
There isn’t a host of thermometers built into this design, but it uses a thermostat that will regulate the flow of gas to the burner. In turn, this smoker will maintain your desired temperature to help you cook your cuts of meat perfectly.
There are dual doors on this pellet smoker, and you use one to place the meat on the grates to cook while the other one is for the wood.
There are separate doors that help you keep the correct temperature by regulating the upper smokebox, and the doors use clamps to close to prevent heat from escaping.
The heat diffuser ensures that the heat distributes evenly along all of the racks, and you get hanging rods, stainless steel hooks, standard grill grates, charcoal basket, and a hook remover tool when you purchase this product. It has a very stable base with a larger window that allows you to monitor whatever you cook at a glance.
- Has a hands-off operation
- Racks are very spacious and large
- Larger door latches included
- Has a heavier design at over 100 pounds
- Doesn’t have a built-in thermometer
- Assembly is challenging
This smoker uses charcoal or pellets to impart that wonderful flavor profile into your cuts of meat, and it comes outfitted with a dual door that helps to minimize the heat loss while helping you maintain a stable temperature from start to finish.
There are six grates that you can adjust to cooking larger items, and they give you impressive 1,176-square inches of cooking space.
The heavy-duty steel body on this pellet smoker is very durable, and it has a powder-coat finish that prevents rust, corrosion, or bubbling from the heat.
The two doors make it easy to add your wood chips without allowing excess heat to escape, and the quick ignition system makes it very easy to start this smoker with the push of a button. It offers 15,000 BTUs of power, and this is enough to cook thicker cuts of meat.
You can cook up to 100 pounds of food at a time in this pellet smoker, and each grate will hold up to 25-pounds without bending. There is a thermostat built into the door of this smoker, and you can get a design that comes with a cover to make storage easy and fast.
- Has a heavy-duty steel body
- Runs on pellets or charcoal
- Quick ignition system
- Doesn’t work well in cooler temperatures
- Will leak smoke around the door
- The firebox is on the smaller side
Vertical Pellet Smokers – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are horizontal or vertical pellet smokers better?
A vertical pellet smoker can roast or smoke foods, but it can’t grill them because the heat source is further away. Horizontal smokers can grill, smoke, direct flame broil, and bake, but vertical smokers tend to be better and smoking cuts of meat out of the two styles.
2. Do vertical pellet smokers produce a strong smoke flavor?
Unfortunately, any type of pellet smoker doesn’t normally produce a deep smoky flavor. It doesn’t matter what pellets you use, but you can get slightly more pronounced flavors with certain pellets over others. Fruitwood pellets will burn quicker than hardwood pellets.
3. Why do you need a water pan in a pellet smoker?
A water pan helps to introduce and keep moisture in the smoker’s interior as it cooks, and this can help prevent your cuts of meat from drying out. It also helps keep an even temperature inside the smoker, and this includes keeping the temperature even on the different shelves.
4. Can you leave pellets in your smoker when you’re not using it?
You can leave pellets in your smoker for up to two weeks between uses, but most manufacturers recommend that you take them out after you finish cooking so they don’t mold, break down, or create a mess that is difficult to clean up.
5. Can a beginner use a vertical pellet smoker?
A lot of the vertical pellet smokers on the list are excellent for beginners to use, but you can get more complicated designs that require more attention to use. Make sure you check and see how user-friendly your particular smoker is before you buy it, so you don’t get something that you’re not comfortable using.
Vertical Pellet Smoker Buyer’s Guide
What are important buying considerations to keep in mind when you shop for your new vertical pellet smoker? Are there some things that are more important and better to use when you start comparing products? The answer is yes, and this buying guide will highlight everything you should consider when you shop for your new vertical smoker.
The accuracy level of your smoker is very important because you don’t want broad temperature fluctuations when you cook because it’ll either dry out your meat or not cook it enough.
This is why it’s so important to know the best temperature and make sure it doesn’t fluctuate over 10 degrees or so from it. Getting a well-sealed smoker can help with this problem.
Automatic or Manual Feeder
Do you want to spend a lot of time feeding pellets into your smoker, or do you want to set it and forget it? Automatic feeders are nice for novices who aren’t really comfortable with their smoker yet, but manual options are nice for people who want to experience the art of smoking and be more hands-on. It’s a good idea to start with an automatic model and graduate to a manual one when you get into it.
You want to do your research and pick out a reputable brand for your new vertical pellet smoker because this can be an expensive investment.
If you go with the bigger brands, you have a better chance of getting a company that uses high-quality materials and components. Their customer service team is usually more responsive to questions or concerns you may have.
Your budget will have a role in which vertical smoker you pick because they can run up around $1,000 per smoker, and this may be out of your budget if you only plan to use it once in a while.
Decide which budget is feasible for you before you start to shop because this strategy will help you narrow down your choices right away to make it less overwhelming. You can set a budget range and stick to it to help find one that better fits your needs and has all the accessories you need.
One of the biggest buying factors to keep in mind is your smoker’s capacity because the capacity will determine how much food you can cook at one time, and you don’t want to run out of space.
You can most likely get away with a smaller one if you cook for your family, but you’ll need a larger one if you typically host gatherings or cook for large crowds.
It’s always a good idea to have more room than you need instead of not enough, so go with the larger capacity if you’re in doubt.
Your hopper size determines how long your smoker will run between fills, and the ones on our list went up to 60 pounds of pellets. Look for a pellet smoker with a larger hopper because this reduces the work you have to do if you plan to cook things for hours upon hours.
The material your vertical pellet smoker is made out of will play a direct role in how long it lasts, and this is why many smokers use heavy-gauge stainless steel or powder-coated stainless steel in their design.
Steel resists rust and corrosion while the powder coating prevents the fire from damaging it, and having a double-walled construction can trap and lock more heat inside.
All of the smoker’s important parts should be made out of durable metal to ensure your smoker lasts for years after you buy it.
Multiple Cooking Racks or Hooks
You should get between three and five cooking racks or hooks when you purchase this smoker unless they’re wider and can hold more food.
It’s a bonus if you can adjust the rack height to accommodate bigger items like whole turkeys or chickens, and multiple racks allow you to smoke different types of meat at one time. The racks should have a durable coating on them to prevent them from rusting, scratching, or wearing out.
Do you want a smoker that will automatically deliver your pellets as the smoker uses them, or do you want a system where you have to add them in manually?
The automatic option is usually more popular because this allows you to start your smoker, load it, shut it, and forget about it until you’re ready to pull your food out.
Manual options can give you more precision control over the whole process, but it’s much more hands-on and time-consuming.
There are digital temperature controllers on most vertical smokers that make controlling it much easier, but you can choose from three different styles. Each style has benefits and drawbacks associated with it.
- PID Controllers – These controllers let you smoke your food on autopilot. They’ll utilize algorithms to keep the temperature within a set range to avoid massive fluctuations.
- Non-PID Controllers – You can manually change your pellet smoker’s temperature in 5 and 10-degree intervals with this type of controller. They also come with LED displays, meat probes, and one-touch button controls.
- Three Position Controllers – You’ll get three heat settings with low, medium, and high that range from around 225-degrees up to 425-degrees. This mechanism will feed pellets into the smoker at fixed intervals to give you less control over the internal temperature. This is popular in low-end models.
You want your vertical pellet smoker to get hot enough to cook thicker cuts of meat, but it should have low settings that allow you to slow-cook ribs or brisket.
The more high-end pellet grills have temperature ranges that start around 180-degrees and go up to 500 or 600-degrees. For searing your food or hot smoking it, you’ll need one that goes up to 700-degrees on the high end.