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By: Clint Cantwell
Smokin Brothers Premier 30 pellet grill is the best selling model for this family owned and operated smoker and grill company. The “made in the USA” Premier 30 is a high quality pellet cooker that maximizes its 30-inch footprint by placing the hopper in the front of the unit, thereby resulting in a total cooking surface of 792 square inches (including the removable upper cooking grid). The hopper itself is large enough for approximately 20 pounds of pellets, allowing for extended cooks without refills (using approximately ½ pound per hour when smoking), while the lid doubles as a large workspace.
As a testament to the company’s attention to every last detail, they have even included a pull out tab that ensures the firebox’s lid will remain open while cooking. Finally, a heavy gauge double steel insulated firebox helps maximize heat retention.
You can learn more about Smokin Brothers products in this informative video:
The 205 pound Premier 30 comes nearly fully assembled in its shipping box, requiring only the addition of the front handle, grease bucket, the exhaust cap, and the four heavy duty casters to the exterior of the unit. Setup is easy to complete on one’s own and took approximately 5 minutes.
Smokin Brothers provides instructions for making sure that the pellets are being properly fed to the fire pot and that the hot rod ignitor is heating them properly. Once confirmed with plumes of beautiful smoke, the remaining parts are put in place, including the deflector plate that covers the fire pot, an angled drip pan that easily fits into the braces on each side of the cooker, three primary cooking grids, and a long top cooking grid if you require additional cooking surface.
Once fully assembled, the unit’s fire up procedure is simple. Just press the power button on the digital control panel located on the front of the hopper and allow the unit to pre-heat until the red ignitor light turns off. Up and down arrows allow you to easily set precise cooking temperatures up to a maximum setting of 500°F.
An optional meat probe can also be inserted into the digital control panel for monitoring meat temperatures during the cooking process.
The control panel also features several setting options, including a 3-stage cook (smoke, cook, and hold) with various times and temperatures; a 3 speed fan that can be manually adjusted for cooking (high), smoking (medium), and cold smoking (extra low); and an auger bypass button that allows you to run the auger continuously, thereby heating the unit faster for grilling.
To shut the unit down, simply press the power button again and an internal combustion fan runs continuously to cool the unit, stopping once it reaches a temperature of 130°F.
For my initial cooking test, I smoked a pork butt at 225°F. After getting the smoker up to temperature, I placed the pork butt on the main cooking grate and let it cook until it reached an internal temperature of 195°F, approximately 14 hours. Since I was cooking overnight, the large hopper allowed me to leave it unattended for over 10 hours before I had to add more pellets. Unlike many pellet cookers that can fluctuate in temperature by as many as 10 degrees as the fire pot cycles on and off, the Premier 30 stayed relatively close to 225°F during the entire cook according to charting from a Fireboard FBX 11 remote thermometer which monitored the cooker’s internal temperature throughout the cooking process. Since the unit runs on pellets, the smoke output is quite clean versus the harsh black smoke that sometimes comes from wood burning smokers. Pellets are feed to the firebox in short increments, which means your food won’t be overwhelmed by smoke flavor. The result was a moist and tender pork butt with a nice, subtle smokiness.
Next, I tested the consistency of temperature across the entire cooking surface, smoking chicken wings at 325°F. After cooking for approximately 1 hour, the wings on the left, right, and center were evenly cooked and browned.
At higher temperatures of approximately 450°F, I did notice that the center of the cooking surface (directly above the fire pot) was slightly hotter than the two sides when I toasted slices of bread across the entire cooking grid, but the difference was negligible.
While many people don’t consider baking on a smoker or grill, pellet cookers such as the Premier 30 are perfect for this task, given the even distribution of heat and the deflector plate. To test baking on the unit, I set the temperature at 400°F and baked a puff pastry tart on a sheet pan with the lid closed for 40 minutes. The tart, which was basically a sheet of pre-made puff pastry that had been rolled out then topped with halved cherry tomatoes and a little mozzarella, was evenly cooked and perfectly browned.
Finally, I tested high heat grilling on the Smokin Brothers Premier 30. Like most pellet cookers, achieving a deep sear is nearly impossible unless using the optional BBQ Hack Griddle Insert (more on that to follow). While it is possible to pre-heat the cooker to at least 500°F, much of the radiant heat is lost once the lid is open so high heat cooking becomes more difficult as the cooking grates begin to cool.
That being said, I do recommend the purchase of the optional griddle insert if you intend to use the Premier 30 for high heat cooking (or, more appropriately, griddle grilling). To use the griddle, the deflector plate, drip tray, and grill grates are removed and the griddle is set directly above the fire pot. The griddle features a cone on the underside (as featured in this image of the inverted griddle) that channels the heat from the fire pot into the enclosed unit for maximum heat retention.
When using the griddle insert, I was able to achieve and maintain surface temperatures of over 550°F, creating excellent sears when tested with steak and sausages. A channel along the front of the griddle allows grease to flow from the cooking surface, down into the unit, and out to the grease bucket.
For routine cleanup, I found that the porcelain coated grill grates easily wipe clean once they have cooled. I do recommend, as does the manufacturer, covering the drip tray with aluminum foil for the effortless removal of any baked on fat and food remnants. The grease bucket should also be emptied periodically to avoid overflow. While the ash buildup is minimal compared to charcoal grills, the cooker does require the user to vacuum out the ash periodically to avoid the fire pot from becoming clogged. To do so, the grates, drip tray, and diffuser plate must be removed. As for exterior beauty, the entire unit is powder coated, so it can be easily cleaned to its original luster with a wet rag or bleach wipe.
Smokin Brothers pellet grills come with a 3 year limited warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship under normal residential use.
We thank Smokin Brothers for providing a Premier 30 for our review.
Smokin Brothers is a small company that started as a competitive team on the BBQ circuit then began marketing rubs and in 2011 branched out into manufacturing pellet grills. Distribution appears very limited.
Published On: 10/2/2018 Last Modified: 4/13/2021
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