Last updated January 21, 2019
Disclosure: REC TEC provided me this grill at no cost. Opinions are my own.
Note: This grill is no longer in production. It was replaced by the Trailblazer RT-340.
When I meet women who aren’t sure how to grill, I usually find that their idea of cooking barbecue is with a crock-pot.
Pouring a bottle of barbecue sauce into a slow cooker with meat does not equal BBQ.
But making good, authentic barbecue can be that easy.
The easiest, no-fail way to make tender, smoky meat is with a pellet grill. While the steps are really similar to a crock-pot, the flavor is so much better.
REC TEC Mini BBQ
No assembly required
Plug it in
Add meat and cook
No assembly required
Plug it in
Set temperature and cook
Enjoy – kind of
I say “kind of” because really the only great thing about crock-pot meat is that it’s tender. But if you were to chill the bowl of “barbecue,” you would probably find a half-inch of coagulated fat on top because the fat doesn’t have anywhere to go during the cook.
The results with a REC TEC Mini Wood Pellet Grill are actually leaner because the fat drips onto the drip pan during the cook, but you don’t lose flavor. In fact, you gain flavor because while the fat is saying, “Bye bye bye,” the smoke is saying, “Hello, baby. Nice to meet you.”
There are many different pellet smokers on the market. Most are in the $1,000 price range. As a grill master, those models are worth it to me, but if you don’t need to cook more than 15 burgers or six slabs of ribs at a time, I recommend going with the REC TEC Mini.
At only $499, it can easily cook enough food to serve a family of eight and a small tailgate crowd.
You’re probably asking yourself, why would I spend that much on a grill when slow cookers are so much cheaper. Well, along with making better barbecue, the REC TEC Mini can also grill, bake, sear and dehydrate. Homemade beef jerky anyone? So if you’re looking to up your grill game anyway, why not go with an all-in-one.
How Does It Work?
The first thing I love about the REC TEC Mini is that there is no assembly required. You simply open the box, lift the grill out, unfold the legs, and plug it in and go.
All pellet grills have a hopper, which is a fancy name for a box that holds the pellets. This is where your smoke comes from.
Pellets are made of compressed real wood and come in a variety of flavors. I usually use a bag of mixed pellets that includes hickory, cherry, maple and apple woods. This blend works nicely with every type of meat.
The hopper on this grill holds 15 pounds, which will yield about 15 hours of cooking. And don’t worry, you don’t have to use them all in one cook. When the grill is on, the pellets feed into the fire pot. When the grill is off, they don’t. You can just keep them in the hopper until your next cook.
Some pellet grills have a pellet feed button to feed pellets if they get stuck. After at least a dozen cooks, I’ve never had a problem with pellets sticking. The only time the feed would have been nice was during my first cook. It took 15-20 minutes for the pellets to feed to the fire pot because it’s located in the center of the grill (unlike some grills that have the fire near the hopper). I like the fire pot in the center, because it, combined with the flame deflector, create an even flow of heat to all areas of the grill.
Smart Grill Technology™ Controller
Before pellet grills, we were forced to tend to our charcoal or wood fires to ensure that the temperature stayed in the right zone. If the fire got too hot, our meat could dry out. If it got too low, we had to add a couple more hours to the cook.
With Smart Grill Technology™, this grill controls the heat for you. The digital controller can be set from 180F to 550F degrees in 5-degree increments. Once you set your temperature, there is a probe inside the grill that communicates the actual temperature to the controller. If your grill is running too hot, it backs things off. If it’s running too cold, it feeds more pellets in to increase the heat.
This is great for when you want to cook a brisket slow and low overnight. You no longer have to sleep with one-eye open.
There is a toggle on the controller that will even show you the set temp and the actual temp. On the REC TEC Mini, there is another button on the display, but it doesn’t function on this model. It’s called Xtreme Smoke, but don’t worry, the feature still exists. If you set the temp between 180-250F degrees, you get that extra smoke automatically.
- 304 stainless steel
- Baked-on enamel porcelain lid
- 341 square-inch cooking area
- Folding legs – It’s so portable that it fits in the back of my Jeep
- Temperature probe port hole (pictured above)
- Limited 2-year warranty
- Excellent customer service
- Searing kit – a must for sexy grill marks on your steaks
- Second interior shelf – for even more grill space
- Bottom shelf
- Grill cover