Pellet grills have exploded in popularity over the last decade, and for good reason. These cookers are versatile, easy to use, and most importantly – they can make some incredibly delicious food.
When it comes to pellet grills, two of the top brands in the game are undoubtedly Camp Chef and Rec Tec. Both of these brands are unique in their own ways, but they share a certain level of quality that you love to see in any type of grill.
In this article, we’ve created a complete comparison of Camp Chef vs Rec Tec pellet grills. By the end, you should have a feel for each brand, what they’re all about, and which one is the best fit for you. We’ll also go over a few reviews of each brand’s most popular grills in this article.
A Quick Look at Our Top Picks:
- Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi with Sidekick – Favorite Camp Chef Grill
- Rec Tec RT 590 – Favorite Rec Tec Grill
- Camp Chef Smoke Pro DLX – Top Camp Chef Value Choice
- Rec Tec RT 700 – Lots of Cooking Surface Area
- Camp Chef PPG 20 – Best Portable Pellet Grill
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec – Brand Overviews
If you’re an avid outdoorsman, you’ve likely come across the Camp Chef brand name at some point in your lifetime. Founded in 1990, Camp Chef initially aimed to create high quality cooking equipment catered towards campers, hikers, and adventurers. They initially started with a product line of camp stoves, portable grills, and flat top grills. These cookers were received extremely well pretty much across the board, so Camp Chef began to expand their operation as their sales grew.
In short, they’ve had massive success with their line of pellet grills – which can be attributed to Camp Chef’s expert craftsmanship and attention to detail. They also pride themselves on having great customer service and support, which over time has generated them a sterling reputation in the grilling community.
Back in 2009, avid pit masters and friends Ray Carnes and Ron Cundy absolutely loved cooking on pellet grills but had a little bit of a problem. They felt like the equipment on the market could be better.
So they did something about it and turned their passion into a business, and exclusively focus on pellet grills. Since inception, Rec Tec has consistently strived to be at the forefront of technology and coming out with new ideas for their pellet grills (they were one of the first to develop an app which allowed you to control all aspects of your grill from a phone). They started out with only one pellet grill on their assembly line, but have since expanded their operation to about a dozen pellet grills of various sizes.
Rec Tec is a company that creates bona fide premium pellet grills. Every single component of their cookers are made with high quality materials and expert craftsmanship, and because of that you can expect a Rec Tec grill to last you quite a long time.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec – Side by Side Comparison
To kick off our Camp Chef vs Rec Tec comparison, we’ll take a side by side look at a few different aspects of each brand’s pellet grills.
I should add here that in this section we are going to really split hairs – and just because one brand is a “winner” doesn’t mean that it’s the best fit for you. At the end of the day, both of these brands are great and make high quality grills – so we really have to dive deep to highlight the differences between the two.
Pellet grills are famous for their versatility – you can grill, smoke, braise, roast, and even bake all with the same cooker.
Being able to control your temperature on the grill is also one of the most important factors when it comes to making delicious food. You have to be confident that your grill can remain at a consistent temperature if you want your food to turn out the right way.
So when we look at temperature control in the Camp Chef vs Rec Tec comparison, we’re really talking about two things. First, how precisely can you set your temperature? And second, how well does the cooker retain heat and maintain a consistent temperature?
Camp Chef pellet grills are made extremely well and do a fantastic job of retaining heat across the board. In terms of cooking conditions, you can almost certainly expect perfectly consistent heat in a Camp Chef grill. When you look at the precision side of the equation, older models of Camp Chef pellet grill temperatures can be set in 25°F increments – which is pretty standard. New Camp Chef grills that feature their WiFi technology however can be set in 5°F increments.
Rec Tec pellet grills also do a really nice job of heat retention. In terms of general quality and craftsmanship, Rec Tec and Camp Chef are pretty similar in that no corners are cut in the manufacturing process, and only premium materials are used. Because of this, Rec Tec grills are incredibly reliable and retain consistent temperature very well.
Temperature precision is where Rec Tec and Camp Chef frankly blow the entire pellet grill market out of the water. You can also set Rec Tec grill temperatures in 5°F increments, which is an incredible amount of precision for a pellet grill.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Temperature Control): Tie
Both of these pellet grill brands do a really nice job with heat retention and holding consistent temperatures. And you can’t deny the impressive temperature precision that comes with each brand of grill.
One of the next main factors to consider when comparing pellet grills is the temperature range of each grill. After all, if they are being sold as all in one outdoor cookers, the temperature range capabilities need to support it.
For most smoked meats, the ideal temperature to smoke low and slow is between 225°F and 275°F. On the other end, searing occurs at temperatures of 400°F, but ideally you’d like for direct heat searing to happen at even higher temperatures than that.
Camp Chef pellet grills have a very wide temperature range of 160°F to 500°F. This wide range gives you an incredible amount of versatility on the grill, and unlocks an entire world of recipes and cooking styles for you to work with.
Rec Tec Grills also have a wide temperature range of 180°F to 500°F. Similar to Camp Chef, this wide of a range truly allows for you to smoke, bake, sear, grill, and roast all on the same cooker.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Temperature Range): Camp Chef
This one really sounds like splitting hairs, but Camp Chef gets the temperature range nod thanks to a little more depth on the low end of the spectrum. While it might not make a difference for some, the extra 20°F of range on the low end will definitely make a difference for some recipes, especially for making different types of jerky.
Price is obviously a big consideration for the Camp Chef vs Rec Tec debate.
Both Camp Chef and Rec Tec have robust lines of pellet grills, and each makes just about any size of a grill you could want, from portable all the way to extra large commercial sized grills.
Since both have options for just about every level of cooking surface area, what we really care about is how much bang for your buck you get in terms of cooking surface area. In other words, which is more expensive per square inch of cooking surface area?
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Price): Camp Chef
Across the board, your dollar goes quite a bit further with Camp Chef in terms of cooking surface area. If you have lots of mouths to feed, or if you regularly cook large cuts of meat like ribs or a brisket, then you’ll want to have a grill and smoker with plenty of cooking area to work with. And you can simply acquire more cooking surface area for less cost with a Camp Chef compared to a Rec Tec.
Hopper capacity might not be the highest concern on your list, but it’s one of those things that can definitely make a difference in the long run.
Too small of a hopper, and you’ll be constantly having to refill your wood pellets – maybe even mid cook if you forget to do it. The last thing you want is to run out of fuel in the middle of smoking some BBQ.
Camp Chef has smaller pellet grills which have hoppers with 18 pounds of capacity. Their larger grills have a little bit more – 22 pounds of pellet capacity.
Rec Tec grills have a more varied hopper size based on how large the grill is. Their smaller “full sized” units feature 20 pounds of hopper capacity, whereas their bigger units (like the RT 700) have 40 pounds of hopper capacity.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Hopper Capacity): Rec Tec
There’s no denying that across the board, Rec Tec grills generally feature larger hoppers compared to Camp Chef grills. With that said, the 22 pound hoppers on most Camp Chef grills are larger than most other brands and you won’t find yourself constantly running low on pellets. For reference, pellet grills typically burn through about 1/2 of a pound to 1 1/2 pounds of pellets per hour depending on how high your heat setting is.
When I look at “extras”, I personally care less about aesthetics and care more about features that actually elevate the grilling experience. In other words, what unique features does the grill have that make it better or easier to use compared to others.
Both Rec Tec and Camp Chef pellet grills have built in WiFi connectivity and an accompanying smartphone app that allows you to control all aspects of your cook from the convenience of your phone.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Extra Features): Camp Chef
Honestly, both of these grill share a lot of extras and great features like grease management systems and LED displays. Just broadly speaking, both Camp Chef and Rec Tec make incredibly user friendly products.
But in terms of extras, Camp Chef gets the slight edge here. Their grills just come equipped with a few extra features, such as adjustable smoke settings and four built in temperature probes to measure the internal temperature meat, which is an absolute must have. Without these, you’d definitely need to invest in a 3rd party probe meat thermometer.
Also, Camp Chef pellet grills can be purchased with a propane fueled sear box attachment, or a propane fueled flat top grill attachment (Camp Chef is famous for their flat top grills), which adds another layer of versatility to your grill. Check out our article on the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill for a deep dive into some of the features you can expect on these grills.
An often overlooked aspect of grills is the warranty, but to me it’s one of the first things I always look for.
A good warranty not only protects your purchase, often times a generous manufacturer’s warranty is a strong indicator of the underlying product’s warranty.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec Verdict (Warranty): Tie
Camp Chef pellet grills are covered by a 3 year warranty, whereas Rec Tec’s grills are covered by a 2-6 year warranty – depending on the grill. Generally speaking, the more expensive grills have lengthier warranty coverage periods. So this one comes down to which specific model you’re looking to get. Either way, 2 years is about industry standard.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec – Overall Winner
For our taste, Camp Chef gets the edge in the battle between Camp Chef vs Traeger. It’s not that Rec Tec’s aren’t great – they are fantastic and beautiful looking grills. It’s just that when you consider all things, especially bang for your buck, we find Camp Chef to be superior.
It’s hard to narrow it down to exactly one thing but the deciding factor probably has to be the price point. If you’re set to a budget, you’ll get a lot more grill out of a Camp Chef in terms of cooking surface area. And it’s not like you’re sacrificing much in the way of quality either! Compared to most brands, Camp Chef is a bona fide top of the line brand in the pellet grill game.
Rec Tec is a more than worthy competitor though, and if you end up with one you won’t be disappointed at all.
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec – Grill Reviews
Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi with Sidekick
When looking at the entire Camp Chef line of pellet grills, I’m partial to the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi with Sidekick. Plain and simple, it just has everything you want to see in a pellet grill plus some.
With this cooker you can definitely grill, sear, roast, bake, and smoke low and slow all on the same unit. The Woodwind also has a retractable deflector plate which allows you to switch back and forth between indirect heat and direct grilling over an open flame.
The built in control panel features a sleek LED display where you can easily set your temperature and control all aspects of your cook. This grill also comes with four probe thermometers that can (and should) be used to measure the internal temperature of your meat while it cooks.
Between the main cooking surface area and the adjustable cooking surface, this grill features 811 square inches of cooking surface area to work with.
The “Sidekick” is a special attachment to this grill that goes where a side shelf would normally go. Essentially, this accessory is a high quality cast aluminum burner that fits a wide variety of attachments. For example, Camp Chef has a pizza oven attachment that fits onto the sidekick so you can fire up Neapolitan style pizza right there on your pellet grill.
- Pizza oven
- Sear box
- Mesh rack to boil a pot of water
The best part? The price point of this grill is hard to beat – as far as bang for your buck goes, and what you’re getting here, this is one of the best value picks across most any type of grill.
Rec Tec RT 590
With the Rec Tec RT 590, you’re getting a cooker made of incredibly high quality stainless steel all the way around. The last thing you have to worry about with this grill is durability issues, rusting, or paint chipping off. With proper care, it can last for decades.
The RT 590 features Rec Tec’s signature WiFi technology, which makes it possible to start your grill and set your temperature remotely. The grill also has a port for a probe thermometer which will feed your food’s internal temperature data to the app, which will display on your phone as well.
It can also be set in 5°F increments, which lends the ultimate amount of precision and flexibility when it comes to managing your cook.
Aesthetically, Rec Tec got a lot right with their design philosophy. Their grills demand respect, and the bull horn polished stainless steel front handles are a great touch.
The RT-590 is backed by a 4 year warranty.
Camp Chef SG 24 Smoke Pro
The Camp Chef SG 24 Smoke Pro is a great choice if your heart is set on Camp Chef. In many regards, it’s similar to the SmokePro DLX – but with one big difference. The SG 24 Smoke Pro is kitted with WiFi technology and an accompanying phone app.
So with this grill you can also precisely control your grill down to 5°F increments, and you can also monitor you food with two built in probe thermometers that send temperature readings to the app.
It also features the Slide and Grill technology, and also comes with an intuitive ash management and grease collection system. That way you spend less time on the not so fun clean up process after you’re done cooking.
This grill also features 811 square inches of cooking surface area across a main rack and a raised secondary rack. The price is a little higher than the DLX, but the WiFi capabilities really take the ease of use of this grill to the next level.
Rec Tec RT 700
(Read our full Rec Tec RT 700 Review here)
The Rec Tec RT 700 is a big and bold pellet grill. It’s the sort of cooker that could easily be the centerpiece of your back patio – it makes a statement and it also makes some incredibly good food.
It features 702 square inches of cooking surface area, with an optional second shelf that can take the total cooking area to 1,052 square inches. You can get lots of food cooked at once on this grill.
Like the 590, high quality stainless steel is the material of choice for construction, which means you won’t be worrying about the durability of your grill.
And to top it all off, Rec Tec backs the RT 700 with a 6 year warranty, which is by far one of the most generous warranties I’ve ever come across.
Camp Chef PPG 20 Portable Pellet Grill
One of my favorite Camp Chef products is their Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill. Pellet grills have a lot of heavy components in them, so it’s pretty tough to pull off a portable pellet grill that works well and is durable.
Camp Chef did it here though. It’s a bona fide portable grill that you can take with you on the go, whether it’s tailgating or camping. It allows for you to bring the luxury of wood fired pellet grilling with you on the go.
The PPG 20 features Slide and Grill technology and has 501 square inches of cooking surface area – which is more area than lots of normal sized freestanding grills.
Rec Tec RT 340
The Rec Tec RT 340 isn’t quite a portable pellet grill, but it’s a great option if you want a Rec Tec at a more entry level price point. It also has a slimmer profile than their other grills, so it’s a nice choice if you’re tight on space on your patio.
It features 340 square inches of cooking surface area on the main rack, and can reach up to 511 square inches of cooking area with the optional second shelf included.
The RT 340 comes with all of the features you’d expect out of a Rec Tec. WiFi technology, precision temperature settings, excellent insulation, and a 200°F – 500°F temperature range are all features of this grill, which is backed by a 2 year warranty.
Need Recipe Ideas?
If you’re on the lookout for pellet grill recipe ideas for a new Camp Chef or Rec Tec, check out my pellet grill cookbook that I recently published – which features over 90 of my favorite pellet grill recipes and tips for getting the most out of your pellet grill:
Camp Chef vs Rec Tec – Final Thoughts
I hope you found this Camp Chef vs Rec Tec comparison to be helpful in your quest for the perfect pellet grill. At the end of the day, both of these brands have really good reputations and a longstanding history of happy customers. You can’t go wrong with either and your final decision will likely come down to some degree of personal preference.
We’ve also featured both of these brands in other articles if you want to further compare with other pellet grill brands:
Which grill did you end up with? Did we miss anything important in the article? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!