Cuisinart has recently released a new pellet grill/smoker into their range, the Clermont. As with their previous offerings the Woodcreek & Twin Oaks, Cuisinart are selling this pellet grill/smoker exclusively through Walmart. As I’ll discuss below the Clermont does have some advantages over the Woodcreek, however, its also currently priced quite a bit higher. I also think the Clermont has some missed opportunities in terms of features. My general thoughts on the Clermont match the phase ‘two steps forward, one step back’. Hence, there is some progress here, however, its not where it needs to be on price/features.
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Introduction To The Cuisinart Clermont
Cuisinart is still a relatively new player in the pellet grill/smoker game. They do have some units which are basically identical to several Z Grills models. However, it was the introduction of the Woodcreek and Twin Oaks which were the two first unique Cuisinart pellet grill/smoker offerings. And for their price as you can check out in my article above, I actually think they are pretty impressive. The Woodcreek, in particular, offers a lot for under $500. Hence, with the Clermont coming in at just under $800, I’m not sure it offers that much more over the Woodcreek. Furthermore, at $800 the Clermont is also in direct competition with another Walmart exclusive, the Pit Boss Lockhart.
So as you can see from the image/video above, the Clermont is not a traditional horizontal pellet grill/smoker design. Its basically a cross between a horizontal/vertical smoker with an upright cooking cabinet with two french doors. There is a benefit to this approach over say a typical horizontal pellet grill in that you can watch the cook through the doors. However, the Cuisinart Clermont is not the first pellet grill/smoker to follow this design, as you can see from the image below the Pit Boss Lockhart has a very similar design.
The Cooking Area Of The Clermont
So let’s discuss the cooking area provided on the Clermont. Well, Cuisinart state that a cooking area of 1,400 square inches is provided. However, with cooking areas on pellet grills/smokers, you always have to take the figures in context. Going ‘low and slow’ and high-temperature grilling are two very different things. So while the Clermont has a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees, it won’t be achieving those temperatures on those upper cooking racks, they are only ever going to be suitable for lower temperature smoking.
So how much of that 1,400 square inches of the cooking area is actually the main cooking grate, hence can be used for grilling? Well, currently I’m not sure. I’ve checked the Cuisinart sales literature/manual and the size of the main cooking grate is not stated. As I’ve referenced above, the Pit Boss Lockhart is the main competition for the Cuisinart Clermont.
I’ve previously done a Pit Boss vs Cuisinart comparison article where I reference that Pit Boss also doesn’t state the main grate size on the Lockhart. From the look of the two grills, I actually think the main cooking grate on both products is probably very similar in size. However, the Pit Boss Lockhart provides a total cooking area of 2,136 square inches, hence quite a bit more than the Clermont.
Where the Cuisinart Clermont is now competitive with the Pit Boss Lockhart unlike the Cuisinart Woodcreek is with offering direct-flame access. Hence, while the control panel on the Clermont maxes out at 500 degrees, higher grilling temperatures around 650 degrees should actually be possible above the Sear Zone. The direct-flame access on the Clermont works in a very similar fashion to Pit Boss grills with a leaver used to open/close groves on the grease tray.
A 40lb Pellet Hopper, Really?!
So the previous pellet grills/smokers from Cuisinart the Woodcreek & Twin Oaks featured a 30lb pellet hopper. Well, now the Clermont comes with a 40lb pellet hopper with a pellet sensor to boot. A 30lb hopper is well above the industry average, but a 40lb hopper is really far larger than you actually need. I’ve gone into detail in my previous article on pellet usage/consumption, but I’ll briefly explain here why a 40lb hopper is overkill.
So in general, most pellet cookers will use between 1-2 lbs per hour when smoking. With insulated pellet cookers such as the Kamado Joe Pellet Joe, pellet consumption while smoking could actually be under 1lb per hour. However, in the case of the Cuisinart Clermont 1-2 lbs per hour is more realistic. So let’s presume the worst-case scenario and say it will consume 2lbs per hour when smoking. Well, a 40 lb hopper will therefore last 20 hours.
No one should be leaving their pellet smoker unattended for 20 hours even with WiFi functionality, more on that below. First off, there are very few cuts of meat which would require a 20 hour+ cook time. Furthermore, even if they did, without attending the meat over that period of time there is a chance the pellet smoke could dry out the meat.
You may be thinking ‘So what?! It just means I don’t have to refill the hopper as frequently?!’ Well, the thing is, if you were using the pellet grill constantly every day, sure, the larger the hopper the better. However, that’s not really how most owners will be using the Clermont. This is a residential grade product that will likely be used at weekends etc. Well, in certain cases you don’t want to leave pellets in the hopper. If the pellets start to absorb moisture from the air, you’ve potentially got problems. Hence, in most cases filling a 40lb hopper means if you want to keep the pellets in a good condition you are going to be emptying it pretty frequently.
Temperature Control Panel With WiFi, But No PID?
So the good things first, I do like the large screen on the Clermont providing clear temperature information etc. I also like the large temperature dial, very similar to the temperature control panel on the Cuisinart Woodcreek and Twin Oaks. Also, while as I discuss above that I don’t think a very large 40 lb pellet hopper is really necessary, placing the control on top of the hopper makes it easier to read/use.
Another good feature is WiFi integration. The Cuisinart Woodcreek & Twin Oaks only feature Bluetooth and not WiFi. As I discuss in my article on WiFi pellet grills/smokers, Bluetooth connectivity is not as useful as WiFi. This is where the Cuisinart Clermont actually has a one-up over the Pit Boss Lockhart which only currently features Bluetooth connectivity. However, the Pit Boss Lockhart does feature a PID temperature controller, where it doesn’t appear that’s the case on the Cuisinart Clermont.
If you’re not sure what a PID control panel is, and importantly, why you want one, my article linked above explains more. Put simply, a PID control panel can regulate the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker much more precisely. This means two things, first, you get a better cook, but you also don’t waste pellets heating the grill to unnecessarily high temperatures.
Conclusions On The Cuisinart Clermont
As the Clermont has only just been released there aren’t any customer review videos I can add into the article. Though once they are available, I will add them. So what are my final thoughts on the Cuisinart Clermont? Right, I don’t think its a ‘bad’ product, I just don’t think its worth just under $800. At that price, as an overall package, the Pit Boss Lockhart offers pretty much the same package and more (minus WiFi) for under $750. Once the Clermont is on sale for below the price of the Lockhart, that could make it more appealing as direct competition.
The missing PID functionality of the Cuisinart Clermont I do think is not great on a pellet grill/smoker for this price. From this point forward, I pretty much think any pellet grill/smoker over $500 should feature a PID control panel. Though as I’ve said above, I do like the general functionality of the control panel with its easy to read screen, control dial and high location on the grill. I do also like the built-in surrounding work surface, that could be very handy for food prep and the sear zone is a good feature to have.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found my summary of the features on the Clermont interesting useful. Now, while I obviously reference the Pit Boss Lockhart quite a few times above, there are obviously lots of pellet grills/smokers to choose from. Hence, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide for a full picture of all your options. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.