Rec Tec are a hugely popular manufacturer of grills based in the USA. Their products are almost always offered at the higher end of the grill market and come with an unbeatable reputation for customer service and support.
I must say, I’ve never really considered spending $500 on a grill. I guess I’ve always been on the cheaper end of the grill spectrum and never even given higher-priced products a thought!
For the past week, that’s all changed! I’ve been testing the REC TEC Mini Portable Grill and the slightly larger REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill.
REC TEC Grill Reviews and Ratings
Read on to learn more about REC TEC grills. Overall you can’t go wrong, REC TEC is a solid brand.
I thought I would start my review by using the mini grill. I’m a camper and beach bunny at heart; smaller grills have always been my thing.
The REC TEC Portable Grill offers a temperature range running from 180F to 500F, not a bad range at all. It comes with a decent pellet hopper that stores up to 15 pounds, that’s more than enough for a decent cook out and even though this is the “mini” grill in the range, it should cope with small parties.
Power is provided by a mains lead, which might put some users off because you’ll need to be near a power socket; however, this is a grill more suited to the garden party crowd, rather than camping or travelling.
Setting It Up
It’s worth mentioning, that even though this grill isn’t really a full-on 12v camping smoker, it is easily portable. The folding legs underneath the grill stow easily out of the way and carry handles make moving the grill easily.
As for transporting the mini grill, it should fit into a standard hatchback car. Pictures you’ll see online of this grill give the impression of an unwieldly beast that can’t be moved. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
For those of you who worry about weight, it comes in at just under 100 pounds. It’s a two man lift but no more.
Like most pellet grills, getting the grill up and running is easy, partly due to the mains power that the REC TEC comes with. Fill the hopper and set the grill to light up mode and you’ll be cooking in under 10 minutes.
The capacity of the mini grill is impressive. It will happily take a full-size turkey or a decent quantity of ribs. I would say that a party of 8-10 could easily be catered by this grill alone.
One thing that does impress, is the temperature stability. As an owner of somewhat cheaper grills, temperature fluctuations of 20 degrees are never that uncommon. With the REC TEC Portable, the temperature never moves more than a degree or two from your setting.
That’s a pretty solid indication of quality and design right there!
The REC TEC comes with extremely solid instructions and from what I’ve heard from friends, the customer service is second to none. In with the packaging, you get an information card with contact details, open 7 days a week! For most people who do their grilling on the weekend this must be a huge plus point.
One thing I like about the grill, is the fact you genuinely can set it and leave it. No temperature fluctuations mean you really will get a stable cook out and the large pellet hopper means you can leave it for hours without too must hassle.
So far, I’ve cooked ribs, which came out perfect, the meat literally falling off the bone. I also tried a complete roast using the smoker which again, came out succulent and juicy. My calculations show that you’ll use 1 – 2 pounds of pellets an hour when running the grill at about 300 degrees. That’s not a bad consumption at all and probably points to a cooker that’s burning efficiently.
I did try cooking a brisket using the smoker; however, I stupidly burnt it! Please don’t take that as an indication of quality though. It was my mistake – well all them!
One thing that’s useful, is that the REC TEC comes with a “cool down” feature. This gets the grill right back down to a safe temperature after cooking. It even lets you know when you can safely clean out the grill and store it away.
The portable version is easy to clean up and unused pellets can be tipped out, another plus point for a portable grill that needs a full clear out before putting back in your car/motorhome/RV.
I alluded to this earlier but it should be pointed out again. This grill is genuinely portable. Realistically this is the two-person grill to move; however, it folds up to store in a car boot easily. I fitted this grill into my Prius (don’t laugh) with plenty of space to spare.
The folding legs take a little getting used to; however, once you get used to the way the legs swing underneath you’ll find the REC TEC design a joy to use.
Pros: A tiny little grill that packs a punch with features that’ll make your life easier.
Cons: The only con is the price at about $500, it’s worth splashing out on though.
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill
This grill is the larger cousin of the portable grill, and as the name suggests it’s not quite as easy a grill to move about. This grill is going to be suited more for gardens and yards where you’ll be entertaining a lot of guests.
Once again, the Wood Pellet Grill comes with Smart Grill Technology that keeps the temperature at a steady level. The design is like the portable grill, just a little larger.
The hopper on this grill is huge, at 40 pounds. That’s massive and pretty much sets out what this grill is for. You’ll be able to cook all day long with this grill and cater for huge parties. I would say 20 people with relative ease!
The cooking area is 19.5 inches by 36, a pretty serious amount of cooking space.
Setting It Up
Coming to the grill after the portable version, it was much easier to setup. I would even say that this grill is slightly faster to get up and running. I timed the grill at 5 minutes flat to get up to 250 degrees.
As with the smaller version, the quality is superb. Every nut, bolt, adjustment and paint finish really impresses – this is one grill you can show off to your neighbours!
One thing I will say, this grill is in no way portable! It’s 250 pounds and realistically needs to be placed in your yard where it can be kept in one place. That’s not a huge problem in warm climates but might be an issue if you keep it out in the rain.
After my brisket fiasco from earlier, I decided to have another go and make sure I didn’t burn anything! I tried an 8-pound brisket and after trimming it up smoked it at just under 200 degrees overnight. I then wrapped it in foil and brought the heat up to 250 for a few hours.
Oh, my god! The flavour this grill packs in is amazing and the meat was tender and juicy.
I also tried ribs using the same recipe as the portable grill and got the exact same results. The fact this REC TEC comes with the same steady temperature technology really shows. I would imagine that all REC TEC grills are the same as they all have the same feature.
One thing that the larger grill does win on, is storage space. I understand why the portable version doesn’t have these features; however, the heated side plate and under grill storage are handy for outdoor use. If you use the portable version, you’ll need extra table space to make your life easier.
Once again, the Wood Pellet Grill has great customer service and came with extremely useful instructions. After years of trying to decipher poorly written documents from Chinese manufacturers the REC TEC way of doing this is welcome relief!
As with the portable grill, you get the same “cool down” feature. This isn’t as huge a deal with a full-size grill, as you probably won’t need to rapidly cool it down before storage; however, it’s nice to have and should mean a quicker clean up time!
The grill is easy to clean up and the hopper is detachable, making storage of unused pellets nice and simple.
Oh dear, this is where the differences between both grills becomes apparent. If the portable version can be easily stowed in a car boot, you’ll need a small van to transport the full-size version.
The legs on this model don’t swing away easily, in fact they’re bolted in place and cannot be undone without a toolkit.
Having said that, this grill is obviously not designed to move anywhere once installed. It weighs in at a sturdy 250 pounds so really needs two strong adults to carry about. This is not a grill for the beach, it’s one for garden parties.
Pros: Its large cooking space and solid temperature regulation make this a superb grill for large parties and overnight smokes.
Cons: It’s priced at just under $1000 and probably only going to appeal for people who cook out a lot! It’s also going to be restricted to the yard it’s fitted in – not portable!
Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a real cheapskate! I had no idea just how much better the higher end of the smoker market could be. Both grills have extremely accurate temperature control, and thanks to the Smart Grill Technology, you can happily leave these grills all night long without worrying about huge temperature fluctuations.
In a personal level, I would probably choose the portable version. It’s half the price of the full-size version and I can’t see myself catering for enough people to make the extra $500 worth it. Of course, your usage will differ and I can see the benefits of the full-size grill if you have a huge family and lots of friends.
For those of you who want to show off your new grill, then the full-size version is a posh piece of kit! Everything about it smacks of quality, from the paint finishes to the little wheels it rolls on. Whilst on the subject of wheels, the portable version only comes with wheels on one side. This makes it awkward and a little unsafe to move the grill about when in use. The full-size version is blessed with a really well engineered set of wheels that mean you can shuffle the grill about mid party if you need to.
That’s it really, two amazing grills that are both capable of smoking to perfection. Both operate using the same technology so you won’t lose anything by purchasing the smaller version – save for a smaller cooking space.
What it really comes down to is portability and price. The portable version is $500 and its folding legs and lower weight make it a genuine option for those who want to cook out whilst camping. Beach use is probably not going to happen due to the main plug only design (no 12v plug in).
Its larger brother is far more suited to backyard life and is by far the best option if you cook out for large parties. As I said earlier, you’ll easily cook for 20 people with this bad boy!
Normally, I would choose one grill as the winner; however, during this test it became obvious that the only choice is between larger and smaller, not on quality, as all REC TEC products are solid.
If you’ve no interest in taking your grill on the road and don’t mind the price tag, take the full-size Wood Pellet Grill. If you like your camping or just can’t justify $500 for extra cooking space then take the portable version.