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Best Vertical Pellet BBQ Smokers of 2022 Reviewed

 

Finding the best vertical pellet smoker is both simple yet slightly challenging. There are relatively limited producers of this style of vertical smoker. Most of the vertical bbq smoker industry is dominated by electric smokers that use wood chips. Traditional electric smokers use heating elements to control the heat while slowly burning off the wood chips. Pellet smokers on the other hand use 100% hardwood pellets to heat and smoke your food. They require much less electricity as it is only pulling enough power for the digital readout and to turn the auger to feed the smoker. The best vertical pellet smoker will have a digital control board, a large hopper capacity, and a higher temperature threshold.

Temperature Control

When it comes to smoking, temperature control is the most important factor. When shopping for the best vertical pellet smoker, ensure you are getting a digital control panel rather than the basic setup that is nothing more than a dial that goes from low to high. The second factor is the temperature range. Having a vertical smoker that can reach over 400º may not be necessary for everyone but it is a great feature to have to finish some smoked dishes like chicken wings. Think of this as a second or even third oven you can use during the holidays. 

On the opposite side of this is the low end. These are not true cold smokers as that requires temperatures under 100º.  At 150º you can slow smoke a side of salmon to perfection but be careful of going too long at temperatures under 180º. Under this temperature, you have a higher chance of developing creosote oils which are not an enjoyable experience.

The Builds

All but one of the vertical pellet smokers listed here are double-insulated stainless steel. This is important as you want stable internal temperatures throughout your smoking process. Unlike a horizontal pellet smoker, vertical smokers are usually running at lower temperatures for longer periods. It is not uncommon to also hang your proteins like racks of ribs and sausage in vertical smokers which is not something you can do even on the best pellet smokers.  

Because these can attain high temperatures as well as sustained heat over time the finish of the smoker is important. Some are powder coated which will not peel but can be damaged while others have decorative stainless fronts.

 

Vertical Pellet Smokers Overview

The best vertical pellet smoker is determined by ease of use, basic features, and cooking area compared to the price. As much as we like the Louisiana 4 series vertical smoker it is hard for us to recommend it to everyone. It fits into the luxury line out of price point alone. Plus you can find all the same features in other vertical smokers for several hundred dollars less.

The other factor is the large pellet hoppers most of these vertical smokers offer. As appealing as a 98 lb. hopper may seem it is pretty overkill. Especially if you use multiple types of wood pellets for different cooks. Even though the wood pellets are the main heat source you still do not need that many pounds of wood pellets in the hopper at once.

How Vertical Smokers Work

The vertical design of smokers feeds the fuel source into the bottom of the smoker and then slowly rises until it escapes through the vent stack. This is why most people will hang their meats in vertical smokers as it is the best way to take advantage of the natural flow of heat and smoke. Racks of Ribs, Whole Pork Bellies, and Sausage Links are ideal for this type of smoker. Pork Butts and Briskets will have great results as well but be aware of where they are in the chamber as the bottom will naturally be hotter.

What is a PID Controller?

In its simplest of terms, this is a digital controller for your smoker. It measures the temperature from multiple sources and then translates it into Fahrenheit or Celsius. If you have a smoker that you are plugging a probe into it will be a PID controller.

Top Picks

For me, the best vertical pellet smokers are those that integrate technology with easy access to ash and grease trays. The amount of square inches of the total cooking area is not as big of a factor but still warrants a great deal of thought. What do you, or do you plan, to smoke often? How much space do you need? 

The different models offer some variety in size but with all the same advanced features you would normally get in a wood pellet grill. As for the Pit Boss Grills Pellet Smokers, I did not list the pit boss sportsman intentionally. They are nearly identical to the copperhead series with the main differences being in the colors. Not everyone loves the hunter-orange color.

Look for this stamp to see my votes for the Best Vertical Pellet Smokers.

Chef Made Home Seal of Approval in Saffron Red

The copperhead 7 is the top tier of the copperhead series. It has a large cooking area and a hopper for extended cooks. The copperhead 7 has the second most cooking surface of any of the vertical smokers listed here and nearly twice the amount of cooking surface you would find in traditional grills. If you find yourself regularly smoking for a group then this is the best option for you. The large viewing window in all the pit boss grills pellet smokers is a nice feature, especially for those that always need to take a quick peek.

Specs

  • 130 – 420º Temperature Range
  • Front Window
  • 55 lb. hopper with a 24-hour cook time
  • 1815 square inch cooking area
  • 6 porcelain-coated cooking racks
  • PID digital controller
  • high-temperature powder coat finish

  • double wall insulation
  • locking casters

If the 3 series seems too small for you but the 7 series feels like overkill then this pit boss grills smoker is for you. Ample room for smoking a variety of meats, digital controls, integrated meat probe, and 5 porcelain coated cast iron cooking racks. Great for starting long smoke sessions before the party and then using it either to store the food hot or turn it up to finish cooking your smoked chicken wings to perfection.

Specs

  • 1513 square inches of cooking area
  • PID Digital Controller
  • 60 lb. hopper with 35 hour run time potential
  • Convection Fan
  • high-temperature powder coat finish
  • locking casters
  • double wall insulation
Chef Made Home Seal of Approval in Saffron Red

The smallest in the line of the copperhead series, the 3 is a good option for those that do not smoke frequently or for large groups. The cooking surface is comparable to that of traditional gas or charcoal grills so know that it will still hold one or two pork butts and spatchcock chickens with ease.

Specs

  • 18-hour run time hopper
  • 721 square inches of cooking space
  • porcelain-coated cooking racks
  • locking casters
  • PID digital controller
  • hammer tone copper finish
  • double wall insulation
Tall vertical smoker with double doors.

Pit Boss Grills has gone after the vertical wood pellet smoker market. They have more offerings than the rest of the competition combined. Depending on the features and aesthetics you are looking for they have something for you. The Platinum Brunswich is exclusive to retailers like Wal-Mart.

This heavy-duty steel construction is pretty solid. The doors swing out from the center for a commercial kitchen look and feel. The platinum model also includes lighting inside the cooking chamber which I have not seen on any other vertical smoker before. 

The massive 98-pound hopper will not only ensure you will not run out of wood pellets during your smoke but you will not have to refill very often. Just make sure to keep the lid tightly sealed and this unit away from sprinklers. Sprinklers shoot water upward to cover distance and this can, and will, cause the pellets to swell and lock up the auger.

Specs

  • 150-420º Temperature Range
  • Digital Control Board

  • Built-in Lighting

  • 98 lb Hopper

  • Heavy Duty Steel Build

  • 1160 sq in cooking space

  • 4 porcelain-coated racks

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity

The camp chef XXL has a massive cooking chamber and plenty of accessories to get you started. Although it only has a hopper that will hold 18 pounds of pellets, that is still more than enough for a 12-hour cook. I appreciate that this unit also comes with different types of racks and hooks.

The only real downside to this unit is that its thick stainless construction is only a single wall chamber. Even with this though during the summer the heat loss was not noticeable. Although the lack of double-walled insulation means it will work much harder to maintain temperatures during colder months. The other drawback to the lack of insulation is that it will be hot to the touch.

Specs

  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • 150-350º Temperature Range

  • 4 grill grates

  • 3 jerky racks

  • 2 temperature probes

  • 1 hanging rack with 12 sausage hooks

  • 2408 sq in cooking capacity

  • Camp Chef Smart Smoke Technology

Chef Made Home Seal of Approval in Saffron Red

The Louisiana Series 4 Vertical Smoker tops the list with its price tag. This unit fits into the luxury brand of vertical smokers. Boasting premium technology upgrades in an upscale design. This smoker comes with the SmokeiT phone app so you can control the smoker remotely through WiFi.

Specs

  • PID Digital controls
  • 1077 sq in cooking area
  • Smoke iT app for Wi-Fi Control
  • 4 racks
  • 2 programable meat probes
Chef Made Home Seal of Approval in Saffron Red

The Bradley uses Wood Bisquettes rather than pellets which burn for about 20 minutes each and leave no ash. This is the smaller smoker on the list coming in at only 572 square inches of cooking space. That is half the size of most gas grills. When it comes to temperature ranges this is more of a traditional smoker in that the temperature does not exceed 320º

Specs

  • 4 racks
  • Up to 8 hours of controlled smoke
  • Max temperature of 320º

Summary

If you are looking to upgrade to a vertical pellet BBQ smoker from your old Weber smokey mountain you have some good options in front of you. Transitioning from electric or even charcoal smokers is going to have some learning but the results will be worth it.

I transitioned to pellet grills, not because I was being lazy but because it gave me time back to do other things. Not having to babysit your smoker for hours on end is priceless in my world as that is what is important to me. The type of smoker you choose should reflect what is important to you as well. Thank you for taking the time to read my vertical pellet smoker review and I wish you a happy cooking.

Take a look at these related articles, they may help you with your decision making process. 

Best Gas Grills Under $500 A Chefs Review

12 Best Barbecue and Smoker Cookbooks

Beef Jerky (Best Cuts of Beef)

 

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Chad Kelley
Hi!! This is Chef Chad. I'm a former restaurant chef and turned stay-at-home dad. My wife Yvette and two amazing kids live in North Dallas and are Huge FC Dallas fans.

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