Pellet smokers can be a concrete way to get your feet wet in the BBQ game. The ease of use combined with the stunning results in terms of flavor makes pellet smokers a preferred choice for many, whether they are enthusiasts or beginners to BBQ.
Vertical pellet smokers can offer a lot in terms of enlarged cooking area, versatile cooking methods, and excellent results. Here, we are looking to delve deep into what makes vertical pellet smokers a terrific choice for BBQ lovers, how to choose the right one for your needs, and reviews of products we think represent the best of the best in this category.
So, read on to learn more about the best vertical pellet smokers you can find.
Angry BBQ’s Top 5 Best Vertical Smoker Picks:
Pellet Smokers – A Brief Overview
Pellet smokers sit midway between gas grills and charcoal grills, bringing together convenience, ease of use, and sensational smoky flavors.
The fuel of choice is pellets made of natural hardwood. These are contained in a hopper and fed to the burning area by an auger which is digitally controlled. These are then combusted to create heat and smoke, which are circulated to the cooking area through convection or with the help of a fan.
Depending on the kind of wood pellets you select, the temperature you choose, and the duration of the cooking, you can achieve a wide variety of results from low and slow smoking to grilling or searing over high heat.
Vertical Pellet Smoker Advantages
Most pellet smokers available in the market use a traditional barrel style of construction. These generally offer a single level of cooking area while being large machines that can be difficult to move around. Vertical pellet smokers, on the other hand, have a vertical cylinder design that usually divides the cooking area into multiple layers or tiers while remaining small and portable.
There are many essential benefits that you can get from purchasing a vertical pellet smoker. These include:
- Vertical pellet smokers generally give you more cooking area than horizontal ones in the same budget range. This is due to the fact that the cooking area is spread across multiple levels or tiers. With many levels of cooking racks on offer, you can get a larger amount of meat cooked with each run in spite of the smaller footprint.
- Since the heat source of pellet smokers is directly beneath the cooking area, the closer you get to the bottom, the more direct heat would be applied to the food. This gives you tremendous versatility in terms of cooking different kinds of cuts and meats. You can utilize the top racks for low and slow cooking and smoking while the bottom racks are perfect for making food that needs a quick cook. You can easily keep a low and slow smoke going on the top rack while you grill, sear, and cook sides in the bottom racks or any included sear area.
- Your vertical pellet smoker, being capable of generating sustained heat for a long time without interruption, can easily double up as an oven.
- A lot of vertical pellet smokers are designed for prolonged smoking sessions. These have larger hopper capacities so that you do not have to worry about running out during a very long smoking session utilizing very low heat.
Choosing the Right Vertical Pellet Smoker
The market is full of many models of vertical pellet smoker you can choose from. However, if you want the perfect fit for your use case scenario, there are specific criteria and characteristics that you need to watch out for. Here are a few helpful pointers:
- Size – If you are looking for something portable, it can be a prudent idea to start with the right size of the smoker. Larger smokers might be able to provide you more cooking area but might be clunky and unwieldy enough to warrant moving and setting up difficult.
- Cooking Area – This is one of the most vital things to watch out for. You might be looking for something small that can cook for a couple of people and furnish small parties. You might be looking for a large smoker that can cook for ten or more people. You might be willing to start small but have enough room to expand later on as you get better with smoking. Depending on your requirements, you need to choose a vertical pellet smoker with enough cooking area to service your needs.
- Heat Range – Getting a vertical pellet smoker that can sustain consistent heat at both low and high levels can be a great way to end up with many versatile cooking options. If your smoker can go low and high to a great degree, this lends you more flexible options while cooking.
- Hopper Capacity – This defines how long one fill of the hopper can last you. Smokers with really small hoppers might not be adequate if you are looking to smoke meat for 12 hours or more. Take a look at higher capacity smokers if you are looking to put in those long smoking sessions.
- Other Features – The competitive market lends brands to create products with a profound variety of tech, convenience, and ease-of-use features. While all of them might not be a central requirement for you, a few might be nice to have. Look out for extra features before coming to your final decision.
Now, we take a look at five products that we think represent the best of the best in the realm of vertical pellet smokers. Our discussion of these products come from our own experience with these, along with a careful look at a variety of vertical pellet smoker reviews.
Our aim is to provide you enough information so that you can find the right product for your needs.
Vertical Pellet Smoker Shootout
The following vertical pellet grills come at various price points and have their own strengths. Depending on what you are planning to accomplish with a vertical pellet smoker, choosing one from this list can certainly bring you remarkable results.
Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker
If you are looking for one vertical pellet smoker that suits a wide range of needs and portability is not high on your list, the Camp Chef XXL is a large, versatile, and feature-rich solution that can bring excellent results at a great price point.
The Camp Chef XXL is a behemoth of a pellet smoker, providing you with a whopping 2408 square inches of cooking area. The cooking chamber can accommodate a total of 8 racks stacked vertically. The four standard smoking racks can be great for ribs, pork joints, or chicken while the three jerky racks can come in handy if you are looking to create that delicious desiccated treat. There is also a hanging rack with a special attachment that includes 12 sausage hooks. With this kind of versatility, there are thousands of recipes that you can try with this.
The smoker can be set anywhere between 150F and 350F with the PID controller doing a magnificent job of keeping the temp consistent. This is complemented with a dial menu and an easy-to-read digital display. The package also includes two meat probe thermometers you can use to monitor internal temperatures. Built-in Smart Smoke technology lets you specify the level of smoke you want in the cooking area for maximum smoke penetration.
The smoker features solid steel construction and is equipped with swivel castor wheels. The huge hopper holds 18 lbs of pellets and has a side window so you can visually monitor your pellet levels.
A standout feature of this smoker is WiFi support. You can use the companion Camp Chef Connect app to set your temperature and smoke levels and also monitor the cooking temps and pellet levels using your phone. The smoker comes with a 3-year comprehensive warranty.
- Excellent features for its price
- WiFi compatibility for remote use
- Large cooking area with versatile cooking possibilities
- Smart Smoke settings
- Bulky and difficult move around when fully assembled
- The temperature range is fairly limited
- Loses heat when the lid is opened during cooking
Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker Copperhead 7
Another strong contender, if you are looking to cook a whole lot of food at once, is the Pit Boss Copperhead 7, a huge vertical pellet smoker that has many unique characteristics that can really help you cook up a storm. You get a large 1852 square inches of cooking area which is accessible via the included six racks. An innovative design choice is the racking system that supports multiple positions for every rack. This means that larger cuts can fit in quite easily with smaller ones.
The smoker features double-walled insulation which allows it a large temperature range, going as low as 100F, and as high as 420F. This opens up a range of cooking options that you can leverage for those large parties.
The included meat probe hooks up nicely with the digital controller and can be monitored through the bright display. The large viewing window of the cooking area can also allow for visual monitoring of your food. The smoker is also set high from the ground with an elevated frame that allows for easy use. There are four lockable wheels that make transport easy.
One very important feature of the Copperhead 7 is the huge 55 lbs hopper capacity. This ensures that you should not have to refill your hopper even if you are planning a 24-hour smoking session. The name comes from the attractive copper finish and the durable steel construction promises reliable operation for years. Pit Boss grills come with a comprehensive 5-year warranty.
It is important to note that this smoker is very similar to the Louisiana LGV7PC1 vertical smoker on account of the two brands having the same parent company (Dansons) and sharing a lot of the DNA that goes into building impressive pellet smokers.
- Excellent temperature range
- Solid construction and insulation
- Huge hopper capacity great for long smoking sessions
- Adjustable racking system
- No WiFi support
- Hopper is not water-resistant
Pit Boss Copperhead 3
If you are looking to get the complete vertical pellet smoker experience on a budget, look no further. The Pit Boss Copperhead 3 brings to the table reliable performance and excellent build quality and features. With the signature hammer tone copper finish and solid steel construction, this can be your gateway to vertical pellet grills and bring you many interesting BBQ opportunities.
The total cooking area the Copperhead 3 offers is 721 square inches, separated into five cooking racks that are porcelain-coated. The racking system is innovatively laid out so that you can insert each rack in multiple positions, varying the spacing between them. This means that you can adjust the distance between racks according to the size of the cuts you are cooking.
The insulated body allows you to use the digital controller and set cooking temperatures as low as 150F and as high as 421F, remarkably enhancing your options. The digital controller is easy to manage and the included meat probe can be hooked up directly to it and monitored through the LED digital display. The unit is easy to use with its relatively small size, large viewing windows, and elevated frame.
Like other Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers, the Copperhead 3 benefits from a huge 39 lbs hopper capacity enabling you to plan those long smoking sessions lasting up to 18 hours. The four locking caster wheels make for easy maneuverability and the light weight makes this smoker truly portable – something you can take outdoors. The smoker comes with a comprehensive 5-year warranty.
For its price, the Pit Boss Copperhead 3 brings a bevy of nice features to the table. Along with the sturdy construction, eye-catching design, and reliable operation, this can be an ideal option if you are looking to get started with vertical pellet grills.
- Lightweight and portable
- Huge hopper capacity
- Excellent quality of construction
- Reaches high max temp
- Budget-friendly option
- Temperature can fluctuate
- Smaller than the rest
- Takes time to get up to temp
If you are looking for a medium-sized vertical pellet smoker that offers you a large cooking area while still remaining portable, the 340B from Masterbuilt can be a meaningful option. This pellet smoker represents the perfect balance between features, cooking area, and affordable price.
The 340B offers a total of 977 square inches of cooking area divided into four chrome-plated cooking racks. This can enable you to cook a large amount of food – you can cook eight ribs or pork butts or 16 chickens at a time. If you are looking to cook for a reasonably-sized BBQ party, this one can come in really handy.
With excellent construction, the 340B can help you choose temperatures between 180F and 350F, giving you a wide range of versatile cooking options. The auger system does a stellar job of maintaining a steady flow of pellets into the burning area and the entire setup can be easily controlled through an integrated digital control panel and digital display. Through the onboard controls, you can set a total cooking time and specify your preferred cooking temperature.
This well-build pellet smoker makes use of an integrated heat diffuser to ensure even spread of heat throughout the cooking chamber and also features a water tray that sits at the bottom and ensures that the meat retains moisture throughout the cooking process. Cleaning the unit is a breeze, thanks to the removable grease tray that can be accessed from the side and a crucible-style container that stores ash and spent pellets.
While it does offer a large enough surface area, the 340B is also easy to move around thanks to a sturdy side handle and four wheels with lockable casters. The unit includes two meat probe thermometers for closer monitoring of internal temperatures. The hopper size of 12 lbs is just enough for the smoker to service those long and slow smoking sessions at low temps.
- Portable solution with large cooking area
- Excellent construction
- Easy to clean
- Water tray for moist, juicy meat
- Smaller hopper capacity
- Lack of tech features
- No viewing window for visual inspection of food
Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker
If you are looking for a well-rounded solution that allows you to cook large amounts of food at one time without any headaches, the Louisiana Grills Vertical pellet smoker can easily float to the top as one of the best in its category. The most important USP of this smoker is the humongous 60 lbs hopper size. Once you fill this one with pellets, you might not need a refill for a long time. Even those overnight smoking sessions will not be able to exhaust this huge hopper.
Cooking space is another area where this smoker offers a zero-compromise solution. You get a whopping 2,059 square inches of total cooking area that is generously spaced out between 6 cooking racks that are porcelain-coated. The double-walled insulation of the unit makes sure that there is little leakage of heat and you can set the temperature anywhere between 150F and 450F.
The digital controller, coupled with the well-insulated body can keep the temperature at your preferred setting with very little wavering and the LED display is easy to read. It can maintain temperature precisely even when the exterior conditions are windy or cold. The smoker also comes with an included cover, something that can be a godsend if you consider its sheer size and weight. There is a water tray to keep the moisture levels intact.
Apart from a few distinguishing factors, this product is very similar to the Pit Boss Copperhead 7. While the Pit Boss gives you a little more cooking versatility, the 340B from Louisiana Grills brings to the table a larger cooking area, a larger hopper, and superb competition-grade performance. The price can be a bit on the higher side. However, with the quality and versatility on offer, there is little cause for complaint.
- Huge cooking area
- Very large hopper capacity
- Strong construction
- Large temperature range
- Can be difficult to set up and move
- Lack of tech features
- Expensive for its feature set
- Can be difficult to clean out
Best Vertical Pellet Smoker Review
Pellet smokers have always represented extreme value in their ease of use and the impeccable flavor profiles they can bring to your food just by switching out the kind of wood pellets you use. Vertical pellet smokers bring even more value to the table due to the large cooking area you have at your disposal in spite of the small footprint. A lot of hardcore BBQ enthusiasts and competitive cooks swear by large vertical pellet grills, and for obvious reasons. I know when it comes to smoking sausage the vertical based smokers are best in that you can hang your sausage coils vs laying them on grills.
We feel the Pit Boss Copperhead 7 is our favorite. It wasn’t easy to to pick one as they are all quite competitive to each other.
With any of the products mentioned above, you have at your disposal one cooking tool that can don multiple hats. You can accomplish a number of different cooking techniques using this one tool and get really good at all of them. Whether you are a beginner to the BBQ world or a seasoned veteran looking to further develop your skills, these vertical pellet smokers can definitely get the job done. Keep your criteria in mind and choose wisely.
Undecided if you want a vertical? Check out the horizontal pellet smokers.