Southern Pride SPK-500 Review


The Southern Pride SPK-500 is one of their more popular smokers combining features, footprint, capacity and price into a package that is just right for many applications. The rotisserie design features five hangers with three 12" x 42" cooking racks per hanger. SP claims the 500 can handle 80 butts (recently renamed Boston Roasts), 75 slabs of baby backs, 120 chickens or 40 packer briskets. Construction is all top grade 304 stainless steel inside and out.

The racks move slowly on a rotary carousel as a single convection fans circulates heat and smoke around them. Not only does the rotary motion promote more even heat, it allows meats to self-baste as drippings are recirculated to the racks below. The rotary motor stops automatically when cooks open the doors. A foot pedal to advance the racks when the doors are open comes standard. There is an easy access convection fan door to facilitate removal of built up creosote. The video below is salesy but informative and shows how these commercial capacity smokers operate.

The SPK-500 may be ordered mounted on a trailer. Integrated venting options for indoor use are also available.

Our posted MSRP is for basic model SPK-500 which is a simple and standard design: a gas burner, a rotisserie and a fan system with digital thermostatic control. But SP offers some interesting options. Digital Cook and Hold allows you to program cooks by time. When the duration of the cook is reached, the unit can be set to automatically shut off or drop down to a set hold temp. A BBQ Competition Switch is available to comply with competition rules that don't allow gas. After the wood or charcoal is ignited, flip the switch. It disables the gas burner but still allows the blower fan to work in conjunction with the digital thermostat. Pretty nice! Since a solid fuel wood fire tends to be dryer than gas, they offer a three gallon water tank with a manually operated valve that allows water to drip onto the fire box for additional humidity.

Warranty is one year for parts and labor.

Southern Pride does not sell direct. They have a network of distributers and service providers.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: 
Primary Function: 
Propane Gas
Natural Gas Capable
Primary Capacity: 
7,560 square inches
Main Burners: 
Made in the USA: 
Heat Flux: 
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
Review Method:

Looked Closely At It

We have seen this product up close and we have also gathered info from the manufacturer,  owners, and other reliable sources.

Southern Pride BBQ Pits and Smokers

Southern Pride manufactures a range of units - small, medium, and large - for any size restaurant. Some are electric, but most are gas fueled. You'll find them in such famous restaurants as Sweet Baby Ray's, Famous Dave's, Smoky Bones, Sonny's, and County Line. All models can be ordered mounted on trailers. Many of these restaurants also have BBQ Teams who love to haul their Southern Pride cookers to competitions. They even have a "Competition Switch" that over rides the gas burner to comply with competition rules.

Southern Pride began in 1973 when Mike Robertson built an oven to improve efficiency at his BBQ restaurant, The Hickory Pit in Decatur, IL. It worked and by 1976 Mike had teamed up with his dad, B.B. Robertson to start building and selling the first Southern Pride Smokers.

Application of leading edge technology to consistently produce high yield authentic BBQ while realizing operational efficiencies is Southern Pride's claim to fame. They now operate a 117,000 square foot, high tech manufacturing facility in Alamo, TN. Their equipment is UL, ULC, ULEPH and NSF approved. To address the mission critical needs of their commercial clients, they offer 24/7 tech service.

Southern Pride does not sell direct. They have a network of distributors and service providers.

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Max Good

As's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, Max Good is the man in charge of finding the best products for the Equipment Reviews section. Max loves barbecue so much that he took his barbecue sauce recipes, had them bottled, and now sells them around the country.

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