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Best Vertical Pellet Smoker Reviews: Our Top Choices and Guide

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When it comes to wood pellet fueled cookers, there’s a type of smoker that flies a little bit under the radar – the vertical pellet smoker.

While they’re a little less common than some other types of smokers, the vertical pellet smoker is a great piece of cooking equipment that combines some of the best features of pellet grills and vertical smokers.

In this article, we’ve rounded up a list of the best vertical pellet smokers and reviewed each one so you can compare them side by side.  You’ll also find some helpful tips and knowledge to help you get the most out of your cooker.

In a Hurry?  Here’s Our Top Picks:

  1. Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker – Top Choice!
  2. Pit Boss 7 Series Vertical Pellet Smoker
  3. Pit Boss Copperhead 25″ Vertical Pellet Smoker – Best Budget Pick!
  4. Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker

A Quick Note On Vertical Pellet Smokers

Before we dive into product reviews, I thought it would be worthwhile to touch on a few specific features of vertical pellet smokers – and what makes them capable of cooking delicious food.

First and foremost, these smokers utilize wood pellets specifically designed for grilling and smoking as a fuel source.  Wood pellets are essentially compressed capsules of sawdust and repurposed wood – and they give you access to delicious wood fired flavors.

The wood pellets are fed through an auger and into a firepot, where they are ignited – the ensuing heat and smoke rises vertically throughout the cooking chamber, simultaneously cooking and flavoring your food.

The other feature of these smokers that differentiates them from “normal” pellet grills is the vertical cooker design, which functions similar to other vertical style smokers like electric smokers, propane smokers, and vertical offset smokers.

We’ll touch a little bit more on the benefits of the vertical design later in this article, but the short of it is that vertical smokers don’t take up very much space on your patio – but they allow you to cook a lot of food at once.  They’re also very efficient users of fuel.

Best Vertical Pellet Smoker Reviews

Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker

When it comes to the best vertical pellet smoker, you ideally want to see a combination of quality, great price, and lots of features.  The Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker checks all of those boxes and provides a complete cooking experience.

First and foremost, it features a whopping 2,408 square inches of potential cooking surface area to work with across 8 wire racks.  You can also remove some of the racks to make room to smoke taller cuts of meat if desired – either way the cooking chamber is huge.

Four standard cooking racks come with this vertical pellet smoker, followed by three jerky smoking racks and one hanging rack that features 12 sausage hooks.  Between all of these, you’re afforded an incredible amount of versatility as far as which foods you can make.

Dual meat temperature probes are also built in, which is an absolute must have when you’re smoking.  These temperature probes allow for you to easily monitor the internal temperature of your food so that you know exactly when they’re done.

The Camp Chef XXL also includes a few features designed to make the clean up process as easy as possible.  There’s a built in grease management system which funnels grease drippings into an easily removable bucket.  A pellet hopper purge and ash clean out system also help to keep the unit running smoothly and minimizes ash build up.

On top of all of that, this smoker is backed by a 3 year warranty and comes from Camp Chef – which is one of the most trusted brands in the outdoor cooking scene.

Things We Like:

  • 2,408 potential square inches of cooking area
  • Comes with standard cooking grates, jerky smoking grates, and a sausage hook rack
  • Dual probe thermometers built in and included
  • Easy to use, intuitive control panel with digital display
  • 3 year warranty included
  • Reasonable temperature range of 150-350°F

Things We Don’t:

  • The hopper only holds a maximum of 18 pounds of wood pellets at once

 

Check Price on Camp Chef  Check Price on Amazon

 

 

Pit Boss 7 Series Vertical Pellet Smoker

If you’re looking for a little more size, the Pit Boss 7 Series Pellet Smoker is definitely worth some consideration.  It shares a lot of the same qualities as the 3-Series but has more cooking surface area and hopper size to work with.  It also comes equipped with a probe meat thermometer, so you don’t need to buy one of those on the secondary market.

The smoker has 5 porcelain coated cooking racks that total 1,830 square inches of cooking surface area to work with.  The hopper can hold up to 40 pounds of pellets at once, which is enough to get you through multiple days long cooking sessions.

Your temperature range here is also 150-450°F, so in addition to smoking you can also make all of your roasting and braising recipes in this cooker too.

The control panel is simply designed and incredibly easy to use.  All you have to do is press a button, turn your temperature dial, and just like that you’re well on your way to delicious BBQ.

Things We Like:

  • Great price point for how much cooking surface area you get (1,830 square inches)
  • 40 pound hopper capacity
  • Intuitive and easy to use control panel
  • Wide temperature range of 150-450°F
  • 5 year warranty included

Things We Don’t:

  • A few customers have noted that their products aren’t the most consistent when it comes to holding a temperature

 

Check Price on Pit Boss   Check Price on Amazon

 

Pit Boss 3-Series 25″ Vertical Pellet Smoker

If you’re looking for a budget smoker, the Pit Boss 3-Series 25″ vertical pellet smoker gets our nod.  It’s the most affordable option on this list, and still provides plenty of cooking power and area to work with.

The cooking chamber features 800 square inches of cooking surface area across 4 adjustable cooking racks.  It also includes a water pan and heat deflector that are specifically designed to enhance the flavors you can achieve on the smoker.

A digital LED readout and easy to use control panel makes setting up and monitoring your cook incredibly easy.  No matter what level of experience you have with smokers, you’ll find the Pit Boss pellet smoker simple to use.

The temperature range here is also really nice – you can go as low as 150°F or you can crank the heat up all the way to 450°F.  With that range, you can easily get into baking and roasting temperatures which opens up a lot of possibilities for what you’re able to cook.

One of the best features here is the hopper – it has a 35 pound capacity which is quite generous, especially considering the smaller size.  A side window into the hopper also lets you easily gauge when it’s time to refill your wood pellets.

Things We Like:

  • Great price point
  • 35 pound hopper capacity with side viewing window
  • Intuitive and easy to use control panel
  • Wide temperature range of 150-450°F
  • 5 year warranty included

Things We Don’t:

  • Only 800 square inches of cooking surface area, which is definitely on the smaller end for this type of smoker

 

Check Price on BBQ Guys

 

Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker

If you’re looking for a heavy duty experience, the Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker can get just about any job done that you need it to.

It features 2,059 square inches of total cooking surface area across 6 cooking racks – which is a lot of space to cook multiple cuts at once.  Temperature wise you can achieve a steady range of 100°F to 420°F, so you’re not limited to certain cooking techniques by the temperature range.

It also has the largest hopper capacity of any cooker on this list – you can fit 60 pounds worth of pellets into the hopper.

This smoker also comes with two built in probe thermometers which read out on the LED control panel, so you can easily monitor the status of your food while it cooks.

The cart also has locking heavy duty caster wheels on it, which make the smoker easy to move around.  When you’ve found its home, the wheels sturdily lock into place.

Louisiana Grills also backs all of their pellet smokers with a 5 year warranty.

Things We Like:

  • Heavy duty construction
  • 60 pound hopper capacity
  • Temperature range of 100-420°F
  • Cover included with purchase
  • 5 year warranty included

Things We Don’t:

  • It’s on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of price

 

Check Price on Amazon

 

Pros and Cons of Vertical Pellet Smokers

Now that you’ve had a look at our list of the best vertical pellet smokers on the market, let’s have a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of outdoor cooker.

Pros

  • Vertical pellet smokers are a set it and forget it style of smoker.  They’re designed so that you don’t have to babysit a fire or constantly check in on your food while it cooks.  You simply set your temperature dial and sit back while your food smokes low and slow for however long you need to.
  • Wood pellets are easy to use, widely available, cheap, and deliver some pretty tasty smokey flavor to your food.
  • The vertical design means that these cookers have a slim profile and therefore have a minimal footprint on your patio.
  • Even with the slim profile, you’re afforded a large amount of cooking space.  Many vertical pellet smokers feature well over 1,500 square inches of cooking racks to work with.
  • Compared to regular pellet grills, vertical pellet smokers are generally on the cheaper side and are often more affordable.

Cons

  • Most vertical style pellet smokers don’t have the widest temperature range (meaning you can’t sear or roast), so you sacrifice some versatility compared to a pellet grill.
  • For some reason, lots of lower end vertical cabinet designs can have trouble holding a steady temperature from time to time.  The truly reliable and steady temperature holding smokers can get pretty expensive.
  • Not ideal for use in extreme cold weather due to relatively poor insulation.
  • Vertical pellet smokers rely on electronics to run properly, so if they are cheaply made they can be prone to break down.

Best Vertical Pellet Smoker – Features to Look For

When you’re comparing different models, here are a few key attributes to be on the lookout for:

Hopper Size

When you’re smoking BBQ, your food could be on the smoker for upwards of 10 hours.  The last thing you need is for your fuel source to run out and your cooker to stop heating your food mid cook.  On top of that, it’s just generally nice to not have to frequently refill your hopper.

So in that regard, one of the first things to look for in the best vertical pellet smoker is the hopper size.  Generally speaking, pellet smokers will burn through about 1/2 to 1 pound of pellets per hour on lower temperatures.  So look for a model with a hopper size that will accommodate enough pellets to get you through multiple cooks.

Price

Obviously, price is a big consideration when it comes to any large purchase.

Price wise, expect to pay about $400-500 for a cheap, more entry level vertical pellet smoker.  On the expensive side you might see some models around the $1,000 price range.  Commercial vertical pellet smokers can run up to $5,000.

Cooking Surface Area

One of the most attractive features of these cookers is the amount of food you’re able to smoke at once.  Thanks to the vertical cabinet design, most cookers will be equipped with 4 or 5 racks to place your food on.

Many of the best vertical pellet smokers feature at least 1,500 square inches of cooking surface area – so that’s a good starting point for expectations.

Warranty

Any time there are electronics involved, you run a risk of your product breaking down after some use.  The best way to protect your purchase is to make sure your smoker is backed by a warranty.  Industry standard warranties typically last 2-3 years or more, so if you can’t decide between two different models choose the one with the better warranty.

What Can You Cook on a Vertical Pellet Smoker?

You can cook all of the traditional meats you’d smoke for BBQ on a vertical pellet smoker.  Common choices include ribs, chicken, brisket, and much more!

Depending on the temperature range of your smoker, you might also be able to use it to bake and roast on it too.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to cook, take a look at our pellet grill cookbook!  Many of the recipes will translate perfectly to a vertical pellet smoker:

Final Thoughts

If you came looking for some advice on the best vertical pellet smoker, I hope you feel like we’ve helped guide you in the right direction!  These cookers are a fantastic choice for a lot of reasons, and can make a welcome addition to any outdoor cooking set up.

Which one did you end up getting?  How do you like it?  We’d love to hear more from you in the comments section below!