So from time to time I get asked about BBQ and smoking meat. I consider myself a pretty good judge of what makes a great chopped pork sandwich. I was a HUGE fan of our local (Blytheville) BBQ joints and the type of BBQ they sold there. I think Blytheville had some of the BEST BBQ in the WORLD at one time (i.e. Penn’s)…and still have some excellent BBQ places like the Kream Kastle (been in business for almost 70 years – click here for history of Kream Kastle) and Yanks. My expertise (no, I’m not really an expert) is with eating BBQ and not smoking meat. However, I moved away from Blytheville a long time ago and now live in Searcy…here the BBQ is mediocre, but not really GOOD BBQ. My only recourse was to start smoking my own meat and so began the quest to learn to smoke (I was never a cook, and definitely not a pitmaster). That brings me to this review of what I think is the best medium priced, best quality, and reliable smoker on the market.
Bear with me for just one more little blurb here about my experience with smoking and smokers prior to my purchase of my recteq Pellet Grill. I was never a “cook” per se, and I sure as hell had never smoked meat of any kind prior to 2013. I went through 5 smokers before I settled on my recteq, and with each of these smokers I had various issues. For the electric smokers…I had to use wood chips and also the pull out drawers always resulted in a mess on the backyard deck, for the stick burner…feeding wood all night long was NOT fun. So I did about 30 days worth of research and narrowed my choices down to just a few smokers, and they all ended up being pellet smokers. After even more research and some phone calls I pulled the trigger on my recteq. That decision changed my way of smoking meat, as well as made almost 100% of my cooks successful in that I always got compliments. With that said…here’s the review of my recteq!
I purchased my recteq on June 22, 2015. After all my research, I found the recteq smoker/grill to have the best quality, the best overall value, the best reliability than the other smokers I researched. In fact the company (recteq) had the ABSOLUTE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE of any company I ever dealt with (including my time as a lab equipment purchaser). They were just great. So I placed my order for their best model (at the time), the RT-680. The features of this model was consistent temperatures, a 40lb hopper for pellets, and ease of cleanup after use. My new RT-680 arrived at my house about 10 days later, and I put it together that afternoon in about an hour.
Once I set it up, the next step was to turn it on and “season” the smoker. The recommendation is a couple of pounds of bacon at 250 degrees until it’s done. (Hmmmm good BLT sandwiches). Everything worked fine and the 250 degree temp NEVER fluctuated. The bacon was cooked perfectly and tasted just as good and much better than frying it. So over the next few weeks I think initially I did only a couple of cooks. Even the very first butt turned out better than ANYTHING I cooked in the electric smokers. Just no comparison! The bark, the texture of the meat, the ease of smoking…everything was SO MUCH BETTER. Anyway, in the beginning I didn’t use it that often…maybe a couple of times a month.
But as I got more familiar with what the RT-680 (now updated and called RT-700) could do, I began to use it more and more. I was smoking butts, ribs, tri-tip, turkey, chicken, and yes even meatloaf. In fact, although the recteq is a smoker…it’s really a grill too. Think of it kinda like a “glorified” oven. I can cook jalapeno poppers, mushroom bombs, pastas, macaroni, bbq bean, corn on the cob…even pizza. I started using it much more often…now on average about once a week, sometimes more and occasionally less. But I don’t think I have ever gone more than 2 week without smoking or cooking something (including during the winter).
Now for operation. The recteq uses about 1lb of pellets per hour @225 degrees. If you cook hotter, you’ll use more pellets. The drip tray can be lined with aluminum foil or just scraped (like I do)….the firepot needs to be cleaned out about 5-6 long cooks (some do it more often, I have even gone longer). To do a major clean up on the grill takes me about 15 minutes and I do that about ever couple of months or if I cook a lot…after about 5-6 cooks. In the entire almost 6 years I have my recteq, I have had ZERO issues, not a one!
The smoker has a controller which controls temperatures very accurately either on the smoker itself, OR by the use of an app on your smartphone. Pretty danged convenient! You can use the smoker year round and in any weather (including snow), but I do have mine in covered open area which makes more comfortable to use. Every part on this smoker is modular…in as much as it can be easily replaced by the owner. A couple of years after I bought my smoker, they upgraded the controller (computer/brain of the smoker)…I obtained it and replaced my old controller in about 10 minutes…easy peasy. The hardest thing about this smoker is pulling the trigger. You might think for the price it might not be worth it for you, admittedly I thought that too and I worried a great deal about “buyers remorse”. I can safely say, I have not a second of buyers remorse and never regretted my purchase at all. There are cheaper pellet grills out there (Traeger, etc) and more expensive ones out there too…The recteq gives you the best of all the other smokers combined. A fair price, EXCELLENT quality build that lasts, and the best reliability around. You will not be disappointed. And the great thing now is that they have several sizes of grills to choose from (only 2 sizes when I bought mine 6 years ago). Using my smoker over the past 6 years has not only made me a better cook and pitmaster, but it’s put a smile on my wife’s face (and that has gotten harder to do in our old age). LOL
The company talks about “RecTeq Lifestyle”…and it’s a real thing. They have BBQ academy classes several times a year to show how to get the most out of your smoker, but also even better they show you how to COOK with your recteq with award winning smoker recipes and have a great staff. They even have a couple of great chefs on staff. They have HUNDREDS of recteq YouTube videos (daily) that shows them cooking on their grills. So yeah, it really is a lifestyle. I love my smoker, I love the company and I love the people in the company…many of which I have become friends with.
So there you go. I’m a cheerleader for the company and the smoker. I don’t get anything for it, I don’t want anything for it…I’m just telling you my HONEST and TRUE experience with the recteq line of smokers. I will answer any question that anyone has…just message or email and I’ll tell you the truth. If you decide to purchase a smoker from recteq, let me know. I can share some tips and tricks and also some recipes and recipe ideas.
And lastly, although recteq has larger smokers, and other products here is direct link to the smokers/grills I recommend and have some experience with:
RT-700 – Probably their most popular smoker/grill (I have the older model). 40lb pellet hopper. Cost: $1199
RT-590 – Midsized smoker/grill. 30lb pellet hopper. Cost: $899
RT-340 – Smallest of their barrel smokers. 20lb pellet hopper. Cost: $799 BUNDLE (includes 6 bags pellets)
I can get 9 big boston butts in my smoker (RT-700), or 6 racks of ribs, etc. The RT-590 can do about 6 butts or 5 racks of ribs, and the smallest RT-340 can do about 2 butts or about 2-3 racks of ribs.
And just to give an idea of how my evaluation of my smoker has not changed… here is what I blogged about only about a month after I bought it (July 2015). The blog post was called NEW SMOKER GRILL.