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REC TEC - Best Smoker You'll Ever Need!
on October 2, 2014
About ten years ago a friend let me smoke a Turkey and some Pork Butts for pulled pork on his Traeger Texas smoker, which worked well. Ever since then, I've had the itch to purchase a pellet smoker for myself.
Over the past ten years I've done a LOT of research on pellet smokers. I first checked out Traegers then Louisiana Grills and then landed on Yoder because of their heavy duty build and quality craftsmanship. I mean, the Yoder is just mean looking and darn right cool looking. I was certain that I would one day buy a Yoder pellet smoker. However, price kept me from buying one. So about 3 years ago I built my own Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS), but I hated dealing with charcoal, it was a pain to clean, and I really didn't like the way the food tasted on it. Then last Christmas, I found an amazing deal on Amazon for a Masterbuilt Electric smoker. I had also bought an Amaze-N-Tube to go in the electric smoker. That worked better, but I never got the "smoke ring" on my meats. Now I know the ring doesn't mean flavor or taste, but you eat with your eyes and for me, didn't feel like authentic BBQ without it.
Then about a month ago I ran across an add for a newer brand of smoker, the REC TEC. The image of their smoker immediately caught my eye, but I'd never heard of them before. So with much skepticism I decided to check out their website and see what they were all about. The more I researched the more I began to realize how amazing this smoker was.
Finally my mind was changed from wanting a Yoder to now wanting the REC TEC. But I had questions, so I posted a simple question on the REC TEC Facebook page one Sunday afternoon. I thought nothing of it, but a few minutes later I had a response asking for my phone number so I could be called to answer my questions. I gave them my number, half expecting to never get a call, but again a few minutes later, my phone rang. And on the other end wasn't some random sales guy, but Ray Carnes, the actual co-founder of REC TEC was on the other line and quite literally chatted with me for over a half hour on a Sunday!
So after that phone call and my own research here's all the benefits that swayed me to finally purchase a REC TEC smoker:
- Large Cooking Space (702 sq inches) - For the price point, larger than most of its competitors and just the other day I cooked six (6) full sized Baby Back Ribs to perfection!
- Body Metal Thickness (10 gauge steel) - Granted not as thick as Yoder, but this IS a Good thing! (see Consumption)
- Central Burn Pot - Instead of offset like most other brands, which provides more equal heat across the entire cooking area.
- Digital PID Computer - The computer is extremely accurate and has a separate Extreme Smoke option (250 and below).
- Massive Pellet Hopper - 40 lb. capacity! The largest hopper out there!
- Consumption - Average of 1 lb pellets/hr at 225 degrees. Much more efficient than Yoder (averages about 2 lb pellets/hr).
- High Heat - 500 degrees, but final setting for "Full Heat", if desired. I can cook pizzas or sear steaks on it!
- Welded and Sealed - The worst thing about most smokers is that smoke escapes from all the joints and seams. REC TEC thought of this and most smoke only comes out the stack or top of the lid (which I put some tinfoil in to seal the lid.)
- No Dampers - This smoker has no dampers, which means that wind and inclement weather will hardly affect the temperature or performance of this smoker! It's also one less thing to worry about or mess with.
- Internal Light - This is a nice feature, though not as bright as I'd like, but at least lets you see how things are going at night.
- Roller-blade style Wheels - All 4, with two smaller ones that swivel and lock.
- Bottom Shelf - This is just nice to put extra bags of Pellets on or anything else you need to keep off the ground.
- Warranty - 6 Years (3 Years all inclusive except for rust or corrosion, and Years 4-6 covered with $99 deductible for major issues.)
- Free Freight Shipping (With Economy Bundle or higher bundle)!
- No Tax (If outside of GA)!
- Up to 2 Years Financing, No Interest (OAC)!!! (Will pay a fee up front, max $129.99 for 2 year financing and decreases as months decrease.) This was the deciding factor for me! I could get this smoker for around $40/month. Yes Please!!!
REC TEC also offers some extras that you can add onto your bundle and if you order them at the same time as a smoker bundle, you get free shipping on those items as well!
So the following Monday after speaking to Ray, I placed my Economy Bundle order, which included the REC TEC smoker, a really nice cover, and a 40 lb. bag of Ultimate Blend Pellets. I also purchased a front shelf ($98.95) and a grill grate ($79.99) that covers half the smoker. The grates are perfect for cooking steaks, burgers, vegetables, etc. Ray even offered the idea to flip the grates over and cook on the flat surface, kind of like a griddle. Though I've not tried this yet. Check out their store to see the other great accessories, rubs, and even apparel that they offer.
My REC TEC Smoker arrived to UT from GA eight (8) days later, to my house, via UPS Freight. Setting it up was not very difficult, but be sure to check ALL the paperwork first, as they have updated instructions that are not in the normal manual, which did clarify a few of the steps. All-in-all, set up took me about an hour and a half to complete. It was missing a wrench, but I owned one that fit, so it was not a big deal, and was only for attaching the side handle.
There is a brief burn-in/seasoning period of 400 degrees for an hour. After that, you're good to smoke!
Since setting up my new REC TEC smoker a week ago, I've smoked:
- 2 whole chickens (Turned out super moist and very tasty)
- 7 lb. Brisket (Beautiful smoke ring and pull-apart tender)
- 6 racks of Baby Back Ribs (Great flavor and not overly smoky)
And I've still got pellets left in my hopper.
I'm very excited to smoke a Turkey or maybe even two for Thanksgiving, even though you can actually fit at least three full sized Turkeys in this thing!
Now every review needs to list the Cons, which are ever so minor:
- Short - I'm 6 feet tall, so the main cooking grate is a little on the short side, but for safety and center of gravity reasons, I understand the need to keep it closer to the ground.
- Brighter Light - As mentioned earlier, maybe an LED light or two.
- No 2nd Shelf - Not that I think it should come with a 2nd shelf, but at least welded on flaps that a 2nd shelf could be added, if desired.
- No Towel - To wipe the drool away each time I use the darn thing!
The best part of the REC TEC Smoker is that it truly is a "Set it and Forget it" Smoker. REC TEC Smokers simply work and makes a BBQ enthusiast, such as myself, seem like a BBQ pit champion! If you're looking for a pellet smoker, I promise, you CAN NOT go wrong with REC TEC.
*** Update (9/12/16) - Nearly 2 Years of Owning REC TEC Smoker
I'm not sure about you, but I personally love when people post updates, as it shows how products are years into it.
And let me just say - I STILL LOVE MY REC TEC SMOKER!!!
What I've Smoked:
- 5 Turkeys (Injected with my own Cajun Sauce recipe, and rubbed with my own Cajun rub)
- Over 30 St. Louis Rib Racks (I prefer these over Baby Back Ribs - rubbed with my own Rib Rub which everyone loves)
- Dozen Briskets (Again rubbed with my own rub, which people tell me is better than any restaurant)
- 8 Whole Chickens (brined overnight)
- 60 Bratts (Smoked for a work party - and turned out super juicy and the smoke ring visible on every bite - Amazing!)
- Dozen Pizzas (I buy from Papa Murphys, which sells take and bake pizzas. Set to 425 and smoke on tray for first 10 minutes, then remove from tray and place directly on grates to finish it off and crisp up the crust.)
- Corn Bread (Smoked in an 8x8 foil pan)
- Brown Sugar Pineapple (Tastes like Pineapple from Brazilian Grill restaurants)
- Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers (My own recipe)
- BBQ Beans (My own recipe and done in a foil pan)
- Steaks, Burgers and Hot Dogs (Start out at 225 for about 15 min, then crank heat to sear)
My REC REC Recommendations:
- Buy a mini shop-vac to vacuum out the ash from the burnt pellets (some pellets leave more ash than others). I do wish there was an easier way to get at the ash and to clean out the inside.
- Cover your drip tray with heavy duty aluminum foil. I change this out each time I smoke.
- Buy a 2nd Shelf ($59.99 - REC TEC now sells one, which increases your cooking space by 352 sq inches).
- Don't smoke at 500 or higher for long periods of time. My ignition stick basically burnt out and stopped working after searing steaks and burgers at high heat for too long.
- REC TEC's Customer Service is 2nd to none! After I called and said I was having issues with my REC TEC not staying lit due to an Error Code, they sent me out a new ignitor via 2nd day air! Also, they sent me a new fan, just in case. All for free under warranty.
- The 40 lb Hopper has a divider, which I love because I can put two types of pellets in either side, and they will automatically be combined as they are fed by the auger at the center of the hopper. I often combine Hickory and Apple or Cherry pellets.
- Smoking Brisket or Pork Shoulders overnight is amazing!!! I love that I can put my meat on the REC TEC and go to bed, and know that the computer will perfectly control the temperature for me and that there are plenty of pellets that I don't even have to worry.
Wish List (if REC TEC is listening):
- Set up the REC TEC to connect via WiFi, and create an Android or iPhone (if you're into that cult) App to monitor and control the temperature settings of the REC TEC. This would be the icing on the cake, and I'd totally pay extra for it.
- Include wired probes (at least 2) to monitor meat temperatures (and include this in the WiFi and phone App.
- LED light
I hope this update helps you make the best decision you'll ever make, and purchase a REC TEC Smoker.