Scouting Report: The Z Grills Pioneer 450B pellet grill is the perfect tool for beginner smokers. It’s easy to set up and is the best thing to have for a family that loves smoked meat.
You know those guys who can spend seven or eight hours hanging out with their smokers? They’re lovingly tending the coals, adding chunks of applewood or hickory or maple or woods on a carefully planned schedule, and slowly smoking whole chickens, racks of ribs, or slabs of brisket to tender, juicy, and of course smoky-flavored perfection. Must be nice to be those guys, but most of us don’t have half of our waking hours to give, and if we did, well… I mean don’t get me wrong, slow-smoked foods are amazing, but there’s other stuff to do, right?
To be honest, while I love good smoked meat, I just don’t have the time to tend to a smoker. Fortunately, the smoker I have needs no tending. And no real experience to use it, either. That’s because the Z Grills Pioneer 450B pellet grill is a digitally controlled smoker that removes all guesswork from the process.
Z Grills 450 B Pellet Grill
The short story is that if you can plug in a power cord, dump wood pellets into a hopper, and turn a dial to the desired temperature, you can smoke great meats (and fish and veggies and such) in this pellet grill. Oh, and you’ll need to know how to tell time, too, but you have that part covered already, I’ll wager.
The longer story starts with time, as it happens. From the time I sliced open the tape on the top of the box in which my 450 B smoker arrived, it took me just under 53 minutes to assemble the entire pellet grill (and yes, I timed it) If you’re the least bit handy, assembling this smoker will not be the least bit challenging. If you’re wildly inept at things like IKEA furniture, then budget two hours and you’ll still be fine.
Once assembled, there’s a bit of a process to get it calibrated, involving running the grill on high, then switch to the smoke setting. After that, you add in the interior racks and such and run it on high again. Once it’s cool, you’re good to go. While it may seem tedious (not gonna lie, it kind of was), it’s worth it to keep your newly smoked food from tasting like the inside of the factory the grill was manufactured in.
As for the actual use of the Z Grills 450 B smoker? Once you have chosen the right pellets for your meat (and there is an Alexandrian library’s worth of reading you can do on what type of wood pellet to use with what type of food, if you want to go granular with it, but that’s not our jam right now), just fill the hopper with pellets, press the power button, and set the dial to your desired temperature (and again, you can go deep here – two hours at 275º for a smoked half chicken? Or three at 225º? 12 hours for a 16-pound brisket at 275º or 10 at 300º?), and place your meat(s) in the smoker chamber.
And then… you wait. Seriously that’s it, your work is done. Resist the urge to lift the lid, let the smoke do its thing, and that’s really all there is to it, aside from perhaps topping off the pellet hopper as the supply dwindles, the grill’s auger dutifully moving pellets into the combustion chamber.
One pro tip I’ll share is to coat the large curved drip shield in tin foil (and even to line the drip bucket) to make cleanup easier, and one minor complaint I have is that given the overall size of this smoker grill, the actual cooking area isn’t that big. You could fit three racks of pork ribs, three or maybe four chickens, or a decent slab of brisket (with some space on the upper rack leftover) but if you’re smoking for a large group, more than six, I’d say, you may need a bigger smoker.
That said, if you’re cooking for your family (like I do) or for a smaller crew and if you love smoked foods but really don’t want to do a deep dive into the whole slow smoking way of life (also you don’t have time regardless), then this affordable and refreshingly simple smoker is a great choice.
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