Pellet smokers have quickly become a new staple for the classic American barbeque. The low and slow cooking action of a pellet smoker allows the flavorful smoke to completely penetrate your meat, creating an extremely tender and savory barbeque experience that traditional pellet grills just cannot live up to.
Pellet smokers come in a wide variety of different sizes and styles to accommodate several different cooking methods. Today we will be looking closely at the best vertical pellet smokers. A vertical pellet smoker differs from other smokers in that it is taller in stature and used only for smoking which means there is no grill combo in these types of smokers.
Meat in a vertical pellet smoker is generally cooked for a very long period of time at a low temperature. The vertical build of the smoker allows several layers of meat to be thoroughly penetrated by the smoke to create a rich, smokey flavor that is unmatched by any traditional grill.
The pellets, which are placed into the vertical pellet smoker, come in several different types and flavors which allows users to personalize their meat flavoring, making their own unique taste.
Here, we have taken the guesswork out of vertical pellet smokers by narrowing down your search to the very best choices that accommodate a variety of budgets.
Carry on reading to find our vertical pellet smoker buyer’s guide or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
- What Should I Look For When Buying Vertical Pellet Smokers?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Vertical Pellet Smokers
- #1: Camp Chef XXL Wifi Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Overall)
- #2: Pit Boss Grills 5.5 Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #3: Louisiana Grills Series 7 Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Large Model)
- #4: Masterbuilt 340 (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Pit Boss Sportsman Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker (Most Versatile)
- Budget Options
- Are Vertical Pellet Smokers Any Good?
- How Does a Vertical Smoker Work?
- Verdict: Your Best Vertical Pellet Smoker
What Should I Look For When Buying Vertical Pellet Smokers?
Before going out to purchase a new vertical pellet smoker, there are some important criteria to consider when buying a vertical pellet smoker. Each model and brand comes with different features and capabilities so it is very important that you find a model that fits your specific cooking style and will accommodate the goals you have for your new smokers.
Here, we will break down 5 of the most important criteria to look for so that you can begin a well-informed search for the best vertical pellet smokers for you and your cooking.
Generally, vertical pellet smokers are designed to cook meat very slowly at a low temperature, so it is important to find a smoker that can provide you with the ideal level of low-temperature cooking. However, it is also a nice option to own a smoker with the capabilities of higher-temperature cooking when needed.
Another excellent temperature feature that some models possess is the internal temperature checks. This allows you to keep a close eye on the internal temperature of your meat from the outside of the smoker which saves time and energy by providing you with accurate temperature ratings without having to open the smoker and check meat temperatures manually.
Number of Cooking Racks
Due to the vertical structure of these pellet smokers, they are designed to be tall and accommodate several, stacking rows of meat. Unlike a horizontal smoker which cooks meat side by side on a very long smoker, the vertical smoker allows several layers of meat to be stacked with adequate spacing between rows to allow for maximum cooking and flavoring.
Buyers who choose vertical pellet smokers tend to choose them for their space-saving capabilities. Vertical smokers can cook a large quantity of meat, without taking up so much space on your deck or patio.
The number of cooking racks that vertical smokers hold varies greatly by size and type. Generally, the more racks that a smoker holds, the more expensive the smoker will be. This feature is really dependant upon your specific cooking goals for your smoker. If you are looking to smoke meat for your family now and then, a 4-5 rack smoker will fit the bill. However, if you are perhaps a business owner and need to smoke large quantities of meat at a time, a larger model with up to 15 racks for plenty of room would suit you better.
Thankfully, the market for vertical pellet smokers is wide and several different choices can fit the needs of any buyer. We will highlight several different types in our product overviews below to help you find the smoker that is just right for you.
Cooking Space / Capacity
The cooking space of a vertical pellet smoker refers to the total square inches of cooking space that the smoker provides. The cooking capacity refers to the amount of meat the smoker can accommodate at a given time.
These criteria differ among all types and brands of smokers, so it is important to find a smoker that fits your unique needs. As a general rule of thumb, most buyers will want to look for smokers with 1,500 square inches of cooking space. Anything less would not be enough to make the long and slow cooking process worth the wait.
Every smoker comes equipped with a hopper which is a large container that holds your wood pellets. The hopper slowly feeds pellets into the smoker in which they are heated in a way that makes them produce the flavorful smoke and heat that cooks the meat.
Vertical smokers are designed to cook meat for an extended amount of time at a low temperature. This means that a very large quantity of wood pellets is needed to complete the entire cooking process.
Most smokers use about 1 pound of pellets per hour, which means for a 10 hour smoke, the smoker would use up to 10 pounds of pellets.
It is important to find a smoker that comes with a large hopper that can be filled with several pounds of pellets. This makes the cooking process more convenient for you so that you do not have to worry about refilling your smoker’s hopper throughout the cooking process.
Finding a smoker with a 20-30 pound hopper capacity is generally a great range to start at.
Finally, the last, but perhaps the most important, criterion to look for when planning to purchase a new vertical pellet smoker is the price of the product. With just about any major purchase, the price of the product reflects the overall quality of the product itself.
A smoker is definitely an investment because with a higher price tag comes much more features and higher smoking capabilities. This does not mean the lower-priced options are low in quality, however. It just means that it is important to develop a price point before you begin your search so that you can find the smoker that works best for your lifestyle and your budget.
Here we will be highlighting excellent smoker choices that can fit every budget. When it comes to pellet smokers, there is an option for everyone.
So, without further ado, let’s get cooking and help you find the pellet smoker that will bring you cooking enjoyment and countless delicious meals for years to come.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Vertical Pellet Smokers
To give you an in-depth and comprehensive look at the best vertical pellet smokers on the market today, we have compiled a list of several different styles and brands that fit a variety of different budget types.
By grading each smoker to our list of valuable criteria as well as customer reviews, our list can be the single source of the information you need to make your next pellet smoker purchase.
#1: Camp Chef XXL Wifi Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Overall)
The Camp Chef XXL with full Wifi capabilities is our "Best Overall" choice because of its all-around functionality and versatility. This pellet smoker is easy to use and easy to clean making it a great choice for buyers that are new to smoking or who are picking it up as a hobby. See our review below.
The Camp Chef XXL vertical pellet smoker has a little bit of everything and boasts impressive specs. It has also received 5-star reviews across the board from both enthusiasts and beginners alike.
Smoking meats require extensive temperature control and monitoring. This pellet smoker makes temperature control a breeze and frees the buyer from the task of “babysitting” their smoker which can be a major inconvenience when smoking meats for a long period of time.
The Camp Chef XXL comes equipped with a Wifi compatible, PID controller. PID refers to a temperature meat probe located within the smoker itself, and it stands for “Proportional, Integral, Derivative.” This temperature probe allows you full access to the temperature control of your smoker as well as the internal temperatures of your meats directly from your phone through the Camp Chef app. This unique feature allows you to monitor your smoker and the condition of your meats from virtually anywhere, making it extremely convenient.
With 2,408 square inches of cooking space, this vertical smoker can house a wide variety of different meats allowing you to cook easily for a large crowd. It comes with four standard smoking racks, three jerky racks, one hanging rack, and 12 sausage hooks. There is literally nothing that cannot be cooked in this smoker!
The Camp Chef XXL Wifi vertical smoker features a temperature range of 150-350 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect machine for achieving low and slow smoking. Unlike other smokers, however, it is not able to achieve a higher temperature range which is important to keep in mind during your buying process.
The pellet hopper capacity of this smoker is 18 pounds worth of smoker pellets, which means that this particular unit will be able to smoke continuously for about 18 hours before needing to be refilled.
#2: Pit Boss Grills 5.5 Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Pit Boss is a very well-known and reputable brand amongst meat smoking enthusiasts, and their Copperhead 5-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker is considered the best vertical pellet smoker for a variety of reasons which we will explore in-depth in the sections below.
Reason #1 – Cooking Capacity
This Pit Boss Grills smoker features a cooking capacity of 1,548 square inches. This makes it an excellent size for average family use while also holding the ability to cook larger quantities of meat as needed.
Even though this model is a bit smaller than some of the other units we have been reviewing, it has been a popular choice amongst average homeowners who are looking for a great smoker to add to their barbeque collection.
Because of this unit’s smaller size, it is also much easier to move as needed, and it fits better on household decks or patios.
Reason #2 – Porcelain Coating
Porcelain coating is a high-quality feature on any smoker and is highly sought after for its excellent heat distribution and non-stick capabilities. The Pit Boss Grills 5.5 pellet smoker truly goes above and beyond when it comes to quality coating. Compared to some of our more expensive models, it just cannot be beaten. This model comes equipped with five, porcelain-coated cooking grids as well as a porcelain-coated water pan which provides users with excellent temperature control and stabilization.
Reason #3 – Hopper Capacity
The hopper capacity of the Pit Boss Grills 5.5 vertical smoker rivals even our most expensive picks. This smaller-sized smoker does not mess around when it comes to hopper capacity. This smoker can hold up to 60 pounds of wood pellets which allows for over 24 hours of continuous cooking time.
The Pit Boss brand itself also supplies users with a wide variety of smoking pellet flavors such as applewood, hickory, and whiskey barrel. Customers rave about Pit Boss’s smoking pellets. When paired with a Pit Boss smoker, the results are sure to be a hit among all barbeque fans.
Another great feature to mention about this vertical smoker is its wide temperature range. This smoker works between temperatures of 150-450 degrees Fahrenheit, and it comes with a heat deflector to put a protective barrier between the meat and the smoking pellets in the unit.
This smoker also features a digital LED readout display on the unit itself which keeps users constantly in the know about their smoker’s temperature and internal conditions.
#3: Louisiana Grills Series 7 Vertical Pellet Smoker (Best Large Model)
The impressive Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker Series 7 features 2,059 square inches of cooking space, allowing it to easily fit several large pieces of meat such as pork shoulders, turkeys, and roasts. With 6 porcelain coated cooking racks, you can put a variety of choice meats on the racks without having to worry about the meat sticking to the racks themselves. These racks are virtually non-stick and are very easy to clean after use.
Unlike some of the other smokers, this particular unit holds a very wide temperature range of between 150-450 degrees. The versatility that this smoker’s temperature range provides is a very beneficial feature for many buyers.
Consistent temperature is also maintained throughout the use of the unit because of its state-of-the-art digital control panel which provides users with in-depth information about the unit’s internal temperatures, cook time, and meat conditions. It also features a water pan that stabilizes the temperature of the smoker at all times.
Most likely one of the best features of the Louisiana Grills 7 Series vertical pellet smoker is its incredibly large pellet hopper. This particular smoker can hold up to 60 pounds of smoker pellets which allows up to 35 hours of continuous cooking.
The size and cook time this smoker provides is virtually unmatched by other smokers in its class and the best part is that, for this smoker’s price, you are getting a huge bang for your buck in terms of size and quality.
#4: Masterbuilt 340 (Best Low Cost)
With a temperature range of 150-400 degrees, the Masterbuilder 340 vertical smoker holds a wider temperature range than some of our more expensive options making it a very versatile option for buyers. It comes equipped with four, chrome-coated smoking racks which will get the job of even heat distribution done, however, it will not be as high quality as that of its porcelain finished counterparts.
The Masterbuilt comes with a 12-pound hopper capacity which allows for an adequate time of continuous cooking, however, you may need to keep an eye on the pellet level more often for longer cook times.
With 1,830 square inches of cooking area, this vertical smoker is definitely on the smaller side when compared to some of our other choices, however, it will be just what you need if you are looking to smoke meats on occasion for your family.
One complaint that was seen consistently about this particular smoker is its lack of a viewing window. While many other models come with a door with a window to allow meat monitoring, the Masterbuilt is made with a solid door and lacks windows for outside viewing. While this may not be a big deal to some buyers, it is definitely something to keep in mind before purchasing this model.
#5: Pit Boss Sportsman Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker (Most Versatile)
Pit Boss is one the most highly sought-after brand names in the grill/smoker market, and this is for good reason. Pit Boss is committed to developing and creating the ultimate meat smoking experience, and they are constantly improving their products to give customers the best overall experience possible.
The Pit Boss Sportsman is one of the Pit Boss’s highest level smokers, and it has all that the Pit Boss brand proudly stands for. Most pellet smokers are designed to perform one function – smoking. However, the Pit Boss Sportsman can perform 5 different cooking functions which include smoking, baking, braising, roasting, and barbecuing.
This vertical smoker also allows users to simultaneously cook several different kinds of meat given the wide variety of cooking racks and meat hooks it comes with. The Pit Boss Sportsman comes with six cooking racks, six meat hooks, and six sausage hooks which allow you to cook virtually any kind of meat in this unit. It also comes with special locking wheels making it easily moveable.
With a 55-pound hopper capacity and a temperature range of 100-420 degrees, the Sportsman can fit the meat smoking needs of any barbeque enthusiast. Several reviewers have praised the Sportsman for its cooking efficiency as well saying that the unit used far fewer pellets than had been anticipated.
The market for pellet smokers is wide which means there is an option out there to fit anyone and any budget. Here we will give a brief overview of a few “Best Budget” picks to help you further narrow down your search.
The Pit Boss Series 4 lives up to its name as it is from the same, high-quality Pit Boss manufacturer as other more expensive choices listed above.
Paired with the Pit Boss state-of-the-art app, users can monitor and control the temperature of their smoker as well as the internal temperature of their meat inside thanks to a highly sensitive temperature probe located within the cooking chamber.
This unit also holds the capability of several different cooking functions including smoking, roasting, and baking. Its 65-pound hopper capacity is one of the largest on the market making it extremely convenient for the user.
It also includes four porcelain-coated cooking racks and 1,077 square inches of cooking space. So, if you want a little bit of everything that a high-quality smoker has to offer without paying an exceptionally high price tag, this small yet amazingly versatile meat smoker may be just what you are looking for.
This small, yet mighty smoker is perfect for beginner users looking to dip their toes into the world of meat smoking. It is easy to set up and use and it includes Bluetooth digital monitoring through the compatible Smartphone app.
This electric smoker works with wood chips rather than pellets and includes 4 chrome-plated cooking racks to hold a variety of different meats.
The Smokin Tex 110 is a micro pellet smoker meaning that it is one of the smallest of its kind at only 21 inches tall. Don’t judge this little smoker until you try it though as it performs at a very high level.
This electric smoker includes a 23-pound hopper capacity and a temperature range of 100-250 degrees. While it is a lower temperature smoker, it is perfect for that low and slow cooking method that smoking achieves.
The Smokin Tex 1100 comes with three stainless steel cooking racks and even though it may seem small from the outside, the inside can fit much more than you would expect. Take this little smoker anywhere with you to create the ultimate barbeque experience. Just plug it in and start smoking.
Are Vertical Pellet Smokers Any Good?
Vertical pellet smokers are designed to be tall and thin in stature taking up less space than a horizontal pellet smoker and penetrating meat with combinations of flavor as the smoke slowly rises and throughout the unit. They provide much more even smoke and heat distribution than that of a horizontal pellet smoker.
Vertical pellet smokers are excellent at their job of smoking meats to a tender, fall of the bone consistency, and they are often very easy to manage with all of the control given to you right at your fingertips.
Vertical pellet smokers allow for constant cook time with a sealed door that locks in flavor, heat, and smoke. There are many vertical pellet smoker options, ranging from smaller units to huge units that can smoke over 50 pounds of meat.
How Does a Vertical Smoker Work?
Vertical pellet smokers are designed to give several layers of meat an even distribution of both heat and smoky flavoring.
A variety of different moving parts work together in unison to slowly cook meat results in that signature, fall off the bone, melt in your mouth flavor that everyone tries to replicate.
First, before the unit begins the smoking process, you must pick a flavor of hardwood pellets to feed into the hopper, which is where the pellets are housed and slowly fed into the burning unit. The pellets used in vertical smokers are tightly compressed pieces of sawdust from a variety of different wood types that are flavored to create a unique blend of smoky richness to your meat.
Once the pellet hopper is full, the electric unit is then plugged in, and electric ignition begins to slowly burn the pellets. The smoker’s auger slowly feeds more and more pellets into the fire in which a fan is located to keep the heat circulating and the smoke generating.
This process continues for several hours, depending on the type of meat you are smoking to create a unique and smoky flavor that is all your own.
Verdict: Your Best Vertical Pellet Smoker
Now comes the fun part, narrowing down your search and bringing home your dream smoker. Here we have summarized some of our major findings so that you can have a comprehensive list to narrow down your search.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Pit Boss 5.5 which offers users a little bit of everything including an epic hopper capacity and wide temperature range.
If you need cooking versatility, pick the Pit Boss Sportsman which offers users up to 5 different cooking functions beyond smoking, which is hard to find amongst many smokers.
If you want to keep the spend under $500, pick any of our “Best Budget” picks featured above. Each budget-friendly smoker listed has all that the everyday smoker user would need to create an excellent barbeque experience.
Now that you have the background knowledge and know exactly what to look for when purchasing a new vertical pellet smoker, the next steps are the best part – shopping and purchasing. Take a look at several different brands and models to get an up-close and personal look at how it works. Once you find the brand and type that works best for you, you are sure to become the new barbeque envy of your neighborhood.