Best Vertical Pellet Smoker
This year (2023) Louisiana Grills made it very easy to determine the Best Vertical Pellet Smoker. With their new Black Label series of pellet grills and smokers, which includes a vertical model, they made it easy to win our hearts over in this comparison. The Pit Boss Copperhead 7, Camp Chef XXL and (new entrant)…
This year (2023) Louisiana Grills made it very easy to determine the Best Vertical Pellet Smoker. With their new Black Label series of pellet grills and smokers, which includes a vertical model, they made it easy to win our hearts over in this comparison. The Pit Boss Copperhead 7, Camp Chef XXL and (new entrant) Nexgrill Oakford 1400 are good options but Louisiana Grill’s Black Label brought more functionality to the table.
Vertical Pellet Smokers provide some obvious benefits over the traditional horizontal pellet smoker layout. Being vertical, you can naturally put more in them. If you utilize the available racks, you can smoke various types of meat without being over crowded. If you remove all the racks, you can hang long coils of sausage. Vertical pellet smokers are all about capacity and they bring a lot.
For years we have done an annual sausage making party. Typically we make over 100lbs at a time. Our weapon of choice are vertical pellet smokers. Over the years we have used all kinds of vertical smokers, including old fridges converted to smokers. We have learnt what vertical smokers perform.
This year we will be using the Louisiana Grills Black Label vertical pellet smoker to smoke our sausage, and for one main reason. It has WIFI connectivity and we can monitor our temps and cook time from the ease of our mobile device. It also has a very low smoke temp of 150F which is ideal for fish.
So, read on to learn more about the top vertical pellet smokers.
Angry BBQ’s Top 5 Vertical Pellet Smoker Picks:
|Louisianna Grills Black Label Pellet Smoker||CHECK PRICE|
|CampChef XXL Pro||CHECK PRICE|
|Pit Boss Copperhead 7||CHECK PRICE|
|Nexgrill Oakford 1400||CHECK PRICE|
|Pit Boss Copperhead 3||CHECK PRICE|
Vertical Pellet Smokers – A Brief Overview
I would be surprised if you don’t already know what a pellet grill is, but in case you’ve been asleep for the past decade, 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.
Historically pellet grills/smokers have always been built in a horizontal format much like a typical offset smoker. Vertical orientation makes the smoker resemble an oven more than a grill. With several trays made available you can have various cuts of meat with good separation. Having separation is important to allow the smoke to move around the food properly. You do not want the smoker stuffed and the food overcrowded.
Our Top Upright Pellet Smokers
The following vertical wood pellet smokers 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.
1. Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker – Black Label 4-Series Review
Originally introduced in 2021 is the Black Label 4-Series from Louisiana Grills. The previous models are discontinued and the Black Label brings a bunch of new tech to the forefront. Smoke iT WIFI & Bluetooth connectivity is standard and you can control the temps and monitor your food temp all from you smart phone. We feel the new Black Label Smoker is the best vertical pellet smoker on the market today. No one else has the WIFI/Bluetooth capability to the market yet. Kudos Louisiana Grills.
Cooking space is down from the previous model by quite a bit, though this is still a large smoker. Total smoking area is 1110 square inches. Keep in mind these companies base cooking space by the amount of racks they come with and the size of the rack. 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 420F.
Take note of the 150F smoking temp. This is not typical in a lot of smokers. I find smoking salmon at really low temps is the best way. Most smokers start at 165F.
The digital controller, coupled with the well-insulated body can keep the temperature at your preferred setting with very little wavering and the display is easy to read. Included are two meat probes which can be monitored right on your smart phone as well. Four trays give you a lot of flexibility to smoke various sizes of meats at one time.
It is nice to see that Louisiana Grills is innovating and not falling behind the competition. Camp Chef was the only vertical smoker with WIFI capabilities and now Louisiana grills has caught up.
what We like…
- Smoke iT – Wifi Connectivity
- Very large hopper capacity
- 5-year Warranty
- Large temperature range
What Makes Us angry…
- Not as large as the previous model
- Sometimes backordered, hard to get
2. Camp Chef Vertical Pellet Smoker – XXL Pro
We’ve long been fans of Camp Chef’s XXL vertical pellet smoker, but as has been a theme for Camp Chef in the last two years, the company wasn’t happy with standing pat. So the designers took the Smoke Box from the Woodwind Pro and put it in the company’s top-of-the-line vertical pellet smoker to give us the XXL Pro.
There’s no question that one of the biggest issues that faces pellet grills across the board is delivering a lot of wood smoke flavor. So Camp Chef made the XXL Pro with the Smoke Box which allows you to add actual wood chunks to the smoker. The Smoke Box that exists on both the Woodwind Pro and the XXL Pro just might be one of the biggest innovations on a pellet grill since the refinement of the PID controllers.
That’s on top of what was already a quality vertical smoker. The emphasis here is on pellet smoker as the XXL Pro does not have the widest temperature range. It can hold temperatures steady between 150°-350°F. That means you can smoke jerky or even bake brownies or cookies on this smoker.
The XXL Pro comes with three normal stainless steel smoking racks, three additional jerky racks to ensure none of those wonderful slices of beef, pork, or even game escape into the bowels of your smoker, and a hanging rack with 12 hooks for hanging sausage. This smoker has a total of 1806 sq in of cooking space with all six racks in it, each rack boasting 301 sq in of space.
As for ensuring you have plenty of time for smoking, the XXL Pro received another big upgrade from its predecessor. The previous XXL had an 18lb pellet hopper capacity while the XXL Pro’s pellet hopper has been upgraded to hold 30lbs of pellets. You’ll have plenty of time to smoke to your heart’s content.
All those pellets and all that cooking space is controlled by a Wi-Fi-enabled PID controller. You can monitor the XXL Pro’s temperature, change it as needed, and even further boost the smoke flavor by changing the Smoke Number. There are two ports for meat probes so you can keep a close eye on your meat. The controller also boasts the Fan Mode like the Woodwind Pro so you can even try your hand at cold-smoking cheese.
The XXL Pro sits on four legs and rides on four locking swivel casters. While you wouldn’t necessarily want to take this smoker on the go at 145 lbs, you can maneuver it around your backyard cooking area and then lock it in place to let the smoke roll. It even has a folding side shelf so you can have a handy place to set your platter down for cooking before folding it down to tuck the XXL Pro out of the way for storage purposes. The smoker also boasts Camp Chef’s signature ash cleanout system so you can dump the remnants of your firepot into the handy cup underneath the smoker for easy disposal.
What We Like…
- The inclusion of Camp Chef’s Smoke Box for the ultimate wood smoke flavor on a pellet smoker
- Big cooking area with included racks for versatile cooking and smoking methods
- Huge 30lb pellet hopper
What Makes Us Angry…
- Not the most widely available vertical pellet smokers on the market
- Does not reach as high a temperature as some other smokers on this list, but it does make up for it with the ability to cold smoke thanks to the Smoke Box and Fan Only mode on the controller
3. Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker – Copperhead 7 Review
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.
What We like…
- Excellent temperature range
- Solid construction and insulation
- Huge hopper capacity great for long smoking sessions
- Adjustable racking system
What Makes Us Angry…
- No WiFi support
- Hopper is not water-resistant
4. Nexgrill Oakford 1400 Vertical Pellet Smoker – Review
Nexgrill may not be the most well-known name in the pellet smoking industry, but the Oakford 1400 could very well change that when it comes to vertical pellet smokers. This smoker fits comfortably into the middle of the cooking area breakdown for this list, packing plenty of space without feeling overwhelming. The grill has five racks to hold plenty of food as well.
What sets the Oakford 1400 completely apart from the competition is its 80lb pellet hopper, 15 pounds more than the nearest competitor. There are full-size pellet grills that use a 15lb hopper, so the Oakford 1400 has plenty of pellet capacity for plenty of ribs, chickens, pork butts, or its advertised capacity of 74 burgers. You can keep an eye on the pellet level without opening the hopper with the built-in window.
The digital controller that controls the whole operation also has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. That means you can hook up your phone using the Nexgrill app and monitor and set temperatures remotely. You can even monitor the internal temperature of whatever you’re smoking with the two included probes. The controller has a capacity for four probes, so you can plug other compatible probes in and monitor four separate items at once.
Even though this smoker weighs in at 161 pounds, the heaviest of the smokers on the list, it sits on four swivel casters to help make it easy for you to move the smoker around. The casters also lock so you don’t have to worry about your ribs suddenly rolling away either.
One intriguing feature of the Oakford 1400 is the included water pan. For people who have smoked on a vertical charcoal smoker, the water pan is an integral part of the smoker. It helps regulate the temperature inside the smoker, it catches drippings to prevent flare-ups, and helps keep moisture in the cooking chamber so food doesn’t dry out.
A pellet smoker handles all of the temperature control internally, so the need for a heat sink like a water pan isn’t a necessity. Also, pellet smokers have heat diffusers that spread the heat and smoke around while simultaneously keeping drippings from hitting the fire pot.
However, that doesn’t mean a water pan is an absolute waste. Extra moisture can improve the quality of a smoking session, so you can always give it a try to see if it makes a difference for you.
What We Like…
- Massive 80lb hopper capacity
- Swivel casters allow for easy movement around the back patio while locking when you have the smoker right where you want it
- 1400 sq in of cooking space is plenty for most people
- WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity through the Nexgrill app
- 5-year warranty
What Makes Us Angry…
- Nexgrill Who?
5. Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker – Copperhead 3 Review
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.
What We Like…
- Lightweight and portable
- Huge hopper capacity
- Excellent quality of construction
- Reaches high max temp
- Budget-friendly option
What Makes Us Angry…
- Temperature can fluctuate
- Smaller than the rest
- Takes time to get up to temp
Vertical Pellet Smoker Comparison Table
I find a table is the best way to really compare specifications. Here we detail the key specifications of the vertical pellet smokers above so you can better determine what you need and want.
|Model||Smoking Area||WIFI – App||Probe||Hopper Capacity||Temp Range||Racks||Weight||Warranty|
|Louisiana Grills |
Black Label 4-Series
|1,100 sq/in||Yes||2||65lbs||150-420F||4||154lbs||5 years|
|Pit Boss Copperhead 7||1,815 sq/in||No||0||55lbs||130-420F||6||142lbs||5 years|
|Camp Chef XXL Pro||1,806 sq/in||Yes||2||30lbs||150-350F||7||145lbs||3 years|
|Pit Boss Copperhead 3||721 sq/in||No||0||35lbs||150-450F||4||92lbs||5 years|
|Masterbuilt 330B||724 sq/in||No||0||8lbs||180-350F||4||83lbs||1 year|
|Nexgrill Oakford 1400||1,400 sq/in||Yes||2 included, capable of 4.||80lbs||180-400F||5||161lbs||1 year|
Vertical Pellet Smoker Advantages
There are many essential benefits that you can get from purchasing an upright 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.
Best Vertical Pellet Smoker Summary
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 Louisiana Grills Black Label is our favorite. It is a great pick when it comes to size, tech (wifi) and price.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Vertical or Horizontal Pellet Smokers Better?
This is like comparing apples to oranges. A horizontal pellet smoker is typically more versatile and can act like a grill and smoker. You can get searing high heats out of a horizontal smoker because the grill grates are closer to the fire box. A vertical pellet smoker is more of a dedicated smoker / oven, not capable of high searing heats to grill a steak. I prefer a vertical pellet smoker for roasts, chicken/turkey, sausage etc. You can get a lot of meat packed into a vertical pellet smoker.
Are Pit Boss Vertical Smokers Good?
Yes! Pit Boss is owned by Dansons which also owns Louisiana Grills. I feel Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills own this space. They have the most complete lineup and the most technology built into their vertical pellet smokers. With the recent Louisiana Grills Black Label Vertical Smoker available to the market, this is a prime example of how they are innovating in this space.
What Companies Make a Vertical Pellet Smoker?
There are a handful of companies in this space today. Pit Boss, Louisiana Grills, Nexgrill, Camp Chef, Smoke Daddy and Cookshack. We went over what we feel are the best on the market today.
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