Best Vertical Pellet Smoker – (Updated June 2023)

Hi, I’m Chris. About Me

So with this post, I want to specifically discuss vertical pellet smokers. If you are not sure if a vertical smoker is your best option, check out my horizontal vs vertical pellet smoker article. In the simplest terms, where a horizontal pellet grill can both grill and smoke, a vertical pellet smoker is designed for purely ‘low and slow’ smoking/cooking. Below we are going to look at the most advanced and best-value vertical pellet smokers currently on the market from brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef and Cookshack. However, I’ll also link to my other articles on the best vertical pellet smokers for a set budget.

Best Vertical Pellet Smoker
Read on to find out which I think is the best vertical pellet smoker of these five contenders

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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Introduction To Vertical Wood Pellet Smokers

As I’ve stated above, this article is focused on the best vertical pellet smokers. In the future, I will be writing set budget-related articles, for instance, the best vertical pellet smoker under $500.

However, for the moment, this article is focused on the best overall vertical pellet smoker currently on the market.


1st Contender – Camp Chef XXL Pro

Currently, Camp Chef sells just one vertical pellet smoker, the XXL Pro which is essentially the third generation of their vertical pellet smoker, which replaced the XXL WiFi.

Where the Camp Chef XXL is unique from the other vertical pellet smokers below is its smoker box, where you can place wood chunks, chips, or even lumps of charcoal.

Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Pellet Smoker
The Camp Chef XXL Pro is currently the only vertical pellet smoker with an additional smoke box for wood chips, chunks or charcoal: Image – CampChef.com

The Camp Chef XXL Pro also features PID temperature control technology with 5-degree temperature adjustment and a one to ten smoke setting, giving the user precise control over the cook.

Camp Chef XXL Pro Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 2,408 sq.in (over 8 racks)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 30 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 150 to 350 degrees
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $899
  • Availability = CampChef.com & BBQGuys.com

2nd Contender – Cookshack FEC100

If you are looking for a made-in-the-USA vertical pellet smoker, well, the only contender that applies is the Cookshack FEC100.

However, along with the fact that this is also a full stainless steel vertical pellet smoker, its significantly more expensive than the rest of the contenders.

Cookshack FEC100 Vertical Pellet Smoker
The Cookshack FEC100 is currently the only full-stainless steel vertical pellet smoker on the market: Images – BBQGuys.com

As I’ve previously discussed in my Cookshack article, they are producing some really high-quality equipment.

For their price point though, I would really expect them to be fitted with PID/WiFi-enabled control panels, which currently isn’t the case.

However, the FEC100 is a proven performer which has been on the market for over a decade.

Fast Eddy, the designer of the Cookshack FEC100 vertical pellet smoker showing it in action

Cookshack FEC100 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 1,564 sq.in (over 4 racks)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 140 to 400 degrees
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $5,880
  • Availability = BBQGuys.com

3rd Contender – Louisiana Grills 7-Series Vertical Smoker

Louisiana Grills is the premium brand of Danson LLC, Pit Boss (below) is their more budget-focused brand.

The Louisiana Grills 7-Series vertical pellet smoker has been available for quite a few years now. As such, it is not fitted with the latest control panel technology.

Louisiana Grills 7-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker
The Louisiana Grills 7-Series is yet to be updated with their latest PID/WiFi control panel: Images – Louisiana-Grills.com

The 7-Series has a reasonably competitive cooking area and a very large pellet hopper capacity to meet the needs of any smoking session.

However, for the price, it now struggles when compared to the other contenders. As such, the Louisiana Grills 7-Series vertical pellet smoker is in need of an update.

Louisiana Grills 7-Series Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 2,059 sq.in (over 6 racks)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 60 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 150 to 450 degrees
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $999
  • Availability = Louisiana-Grills.com

4th Contender – Pit Boss Pro Series Elite Vertical Smoker

I have a separate article on the best Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers, and of those contenders, the winner was the Pit Boss Pro Series Elite which is part of the Pro Series Gen 3 range.

The reason that’s the case is the Pro Series Elite offers not only PID temperature control with 5-degree temperature adjust and WiFi, but it also features VST (Variable Smoke Technology).

Pit Boss Pro Series Elite Vertical Pellet Smoker
The VST (Variable Smoke Technology) of the Pit Pro Series Elite is a tick in its favor: Image – Lowes.com

As with all Pit Boss Pro Series models, as I discuss in my Traeger vs Pit Boss article, they are a Lowes exclusive product range.

Therefore, there is no shopping around for the best price, its whatever Lowes is selling them for. You can also not purchase Pro Series models directly from Pit Boss either.

Pit Boss Pro Series Elite Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 1,529 sq.in (over 5 racks)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 70 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 130 to 420 degrees
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $899
  • Availability = Lowes.com

5th Contender – Nexgrill Oakford Vertical Pellet Smoker

You may not have heard of Nexgrill before. They are a relatively new brand of pellet grills/smokers, and they have also come to market with a vertical pellet smoker, the Oakford.

The Oakford features PID temperature control with 5-degree temperature adjustment along with WiFi/App integration which is impressive for its relatively low price point.

Nexgrill Oakford Vertical Pellet Smoker
While the Oakford from Nexgrill may be the new kid, for its price point and features, its a compelling package: Image – HomeDepot.com

There are a couple of nice features with the Nexgrill Oakford, such as a built-in water pan in the base of the smoker and an Auto-Warm mode which will kick in when your food reaches the desired temp.

Nexgrill Oakford Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 1,400 (over 5 racks)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 80 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 150 to 420 degrees
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $499
  • Availability = HomeDepot.com

Round 1 – Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

Most of the contenders above are fitted with the latest PID technology for more accurate temperature control, such as the Camp Chef XXL Pro, the Pit Bos Pro Series Elite, and the Nexgrill Oakford vertical pellet smokers.

However, the Louisiana Grills 7-Series and the Cookshack FEC100 are not currently fitted with PID technology.

Now, as I discuss in my PID article linked above, more accurate temperature control can come with less smoke production.

However, its possible to design a PID control panel with software to add temperature swings resulting in more smoke production, as Camp Chef has done with their Smoke Control settings.

The Pit Bos Pro Series Elite has a similar system called VST (Variable Smoke Technology) that essentially functions like the P-Setting found on some other Pit Boss products.

When it comes to smoking and temperature settings, how low the smoker can go is obviously relevant. Well, most of the contenders have 150 degrees as their lowest setting.

The most premium option of the contenders, the Cookshack FEC100, can go a little lower at 140 degrees.

However, when it comes to all-round cooking capabilities as a smoker, none of the contenders can match the Camp Chef XXL Pro due to its additional smoke box for wood chips, chunks, or charcoal.

Round 2 – Cooking Area & Hopper Capacity

When it comes to the cooking area, on the face of it, there would appear to be a clear win for the Camp Chef XXL and its massive 2,408 sq.in.

However, if you look at the images above and note that’s over eight racks, and there is far less vertical space over the racks compared to the other contenders. Hence, the Camp Chef over four racks fitted is providing closer to 1,204 sq.in.

As a result, the Pit Boss Pro Series Elite with 1,529 and the Nexgrill Oakford with 1,400 sq.in are offering a bit more cooking area.

In fact, over four racks, its the Louisiana Grills 7-Series and Cookshack FEC100, which provide the most cooking area at 1,372 sq.in and 1,564 sq.in, respectively.

When it comes to hopper capacities, its the Danson LLC products (Louisiana Grills/Pit Boss) which offer significant size advantages at 60 and 70 lbs, respectively. The Nexgrill Oakford also has a massive 80 lb hopper.

The Camp Chef XXL Pro with its 30 lb hopper is probably the sweet spot, but the Cookshack with its 20 lb hopper is undersized for some situations.

Take an overnight smoking session in winter, for instance. Consumption could be around 2 lbs per hour. Hence, over say, 12 hours of unattended smoking, that may be an issue for the Cookshack.

Round 3 – Pricing & Value

I do believe the Cookshack FEC100 is the best-made and uses the best materials due to its full stainless steel construction. However, its price point of over $5,000 means it cannot be a general recommendation.

Furthermore, as discussed above, it is missing features such as PID temperature and WiFi functionality.

While the Louisiana Grills 7-Series offers the second-largest cooking area, with its lack of PID/WiFi and a typical price of just under $1,000, I don’t think it offers great value for money.

Especially compared to the other Danson LLC product above from Pit Boss, which are likely made at the same factory. The Pit Boss Pro Series Elite is the superior product, and its a hundred dollars less.

The Camp Chef XXL Pro currently has the most advanced PID temperature controller with adjustments of temperature in 5-degree increments and independent smoke control adjustment.

At the budget end of the spectrum, I think the Nexgrill Oakford is considering for its price point under $500 as it provides 5-degree temperature adjustment and WiFi/App functionality.

Conclusion On The Best Vertical Pellet Smoker

So which of the above contenders would I recommend? Well, for under $500, I think the Nexgrill Oaksford is the best option. Its PID/WiFi feature set, split door design, and very large pellet hopper give it a lot of functionality at a relatively low price point.

If your budget can stretch closer to a thousand dollars, I think the Camp Chef XXL Pro is the best option due to its additional smoke box. However, the Pit Boss Pro Series Elite is not far behind.

That’s it! I hope you found this article on the best vertical pellet smokes interesting/informative. I also have another article specifically on the best Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers.

There is obviously a missing brand above, and as yet, there is no Traeger vertical pellet smoker. However, I’ll obviously update this article if one becomes available.

If you would like to spend more time considering whether a vertical pellet smoker or horizontal pellet grill/smoker is your best option, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. Enjoy 🙂


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