Oklahoma Joe’s Pellet Grills (Gen 1) in 2023

Hi, I’m Chris I started PelHeat.com back in 2007.

New makes and models of wood pellet grills/smokers are popping up like weeds at the moment. When I first got into wood pellets over a decade ago, it was pretty much just Traeger. Now, there seems to be a new pellet grill coming onto the market every month! In this post, we are going to look at another new player in the pellet grill game, Oklahoma Joe’s. Not a new name to the BBQ scene by any means, but new to making pellet grills. So how have they faired, are they offering pellet grills/smokers with some new ideas?

Oklahoma Joe's Pellet Grills
The largest pellet grill of the Gen 1 Oklahoma Joe’s Rider range is the DLX: Image – Walmart.com

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.

Update: I have a separate article on the new Gen 2 Oklahoma Joe’s Rider Pellet Grills.

Introduction To Oklahoma Joe’s Pellet Grill Range

The entire range of Rider pellet grills from Oklahoma Joe’s is under $1,000, the base model (600) and mid-range unit (900) are actually both under $500.

So a little background first if you are not familiar with the Oklahoma Joe’s brand, it was started by Joe Davidson in the 1980s in, you guessed it, Oklahoma, USA.

They produced charcoal and offset smokers. However, I should make it clear Oklahoma Joe’s grills are no longer made in the USA.

The company was purchased by Char-Broil in 1998. Now, if you are looking for a US-made pellet grill/smoker they are available, just click the link above to my associated post.

And while its good to support domestic manufacturing jobs, you do have to pay for it. USA-made pellet grills cost you at least double-triple what these Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills retail for.

A quick video demonstrating how the Rider pellet grill range (and pretty much all pellet grills) work

As stated above, Oklahoma Joe’s with this Rider range of pellet grills are competing with budget/economy models. Examples of competing products include Z Grills, Camp Chef SmokePro, Pit Boss Pro Series and the Cuisinart Woodcreek and Twin Oaks.

Traeger, with their latest Pro Series, is now focusing on a higher price point with their D2 Direct Drive, PID controllers and WiFire/WiFi integration.

These Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills do not use a PID temperature controller (I’ll explain more about that below) or feature WiFi integration. Though at this price point, I wouldn’t expect them to, and that’s in line with their direct competition.

The Rider Pellet Grill Range

The three models that make up the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grill range are the 600 (smallest unit), the 900 (mid-range unit) and the DLX (largest unit with the best features).

Below I’ll provide some specific details on each grill, and later on, I’ll discuss why if your budget allows you may want to consider the DLX over the 600 or 900. First, here is a quick video from Oklahoma Joe’s discussing the features of the Rider pellet grill range.

Quick video showing all three Rider pellet grills from Oklahoma Joe’s

The Rider 600 Pellet Grill/Smoker

The 600 is the smallest grill in the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider range, while being a very compact grill its not really a portable pellet grill due to the large legs.

617 square inches of cooking space is provided, divided between the primary cooking surface (380″) and the second cooking surface the upper rack (237″).

Below is an excellent walkthrough video from Oklahoma Joe’s discussing the features of the Rider 600 pellet grill, but note the lack of direct-flame access.

A walk-through of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600 pellet grill.

What I think is important to note with the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grill range is the different specifications/features between the 600, 900 and DLX.

For instance, there are certain shared features such as the same ‘Pit Contol System’ which is fitted to all three models. The temperature range, therefore, on all three pellet grills you may think would be the same.

However, you will get different performance from the 600, 900 and DLX due to the different heat deflector designs. As the 600 features a solid grease tray/heat deflector.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600 Pellet Grill
  • Total Cooking Area = 617 sq.in
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $399
  • Availability = Walmart.com

As the 600 just has a solid heat deflector/grease tray. Whereas, the 900 and DLX below provide you with the ability to let flame through from the pellet firepot below to come into direct contact with the food/cast-iron grate.

Therefore, the 900 and DLX cast-iron grates will have a much easier time getting up to searing temperatures past 450 degrees.

Now, on the 600, a set of GrillGrates would definitely help with that. However, the Rider 900 and DLX are still better suited to high-temperature grilling/searing than the Rider 600.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600 Pellet Grill/Smoker Cast-Iron Grate
While the two-piece cast-iron grates on the Rider 600 are a good feature to have, its important to note they are not the same as three-piece cast-iron grates fitted to the 900 and DLX: Image – Walmart.com

Furthermore, Its also important to note this small 600 Rider pellet grill, while it benefits from cast-iron grates, which are better for searing/grilling than thin wire racks they are not the same design as those featured on the 900 and DLX.

The 600s cast-iron grates do not have the circular removable section found on the 900 and DLX. Therefore, the 600 is not compatible with the full range of Flex Accessories, which I actually think is a big selling point for these pellet grills.

The 600 is not designed to take the griddle or deep pan dish, which are part of the Flex Accessories range. Hence, the Rider 600 is not your best option to take unless your budget is extremely limited.

If you can stretch up to the 900 for the additional hundred dollars, you not only have the benefit of a larger cooking surface, but you can use the full range of Flex Accessories.

The Rider 900 Pellet Grill/Smoker

The Rider 900, as its name implies, offers 900 square inches of cooking space, hence an additional 300 square inches over the Rider 600.

What you should also notice comparing the images of the 300 above to the 600 below is the change from a single to a dual chimney design.

The benefit of a dual chimney design on the larger grill is draft for the heat/smoke is divided equally over the left and right sides of the grill. Below is another excellent walk-through video by Oklahoma Joe’s on the Rider 900.

A walk-through of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 pellet grill

So there are a couple of notable differences between the Rider 600 and 900 besides the additional 300 square inches of cooking space referenced above.

First, as also referenced above, the Rider 900 benefits from the three-piece cast-iron grate. Therefore it can properly use all of the Flex Accessories shown below. Specifically the griddle or deep pan dish.

Another important difference between the Rider 600 and 900 is the ability is access to direct heat/flames from the pellet fire through the sliding grease tray/heat deflector as shown in the video above. Therefore, the Rider 900 will benefit from improved grilling/searing performance.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider 900 Pellet Grill/Smoker

Total Cooking Area = 606 sq.in
Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650+ Direct Flame)
Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
PID Temperature Control? = No
WiFi/App Control? = No
Typical Price = $499
Availability = Walmart.com

The Rider DLX Pellet Grill/Smoker

When you compare the dimensions of the Rider 900 and DLX, you will notice there isn’t really a significant difference in their size. Yes, the DLX is slightly wider, but its less than an inch. However, what is important to note is the DLX is significantly taller than the Rider 900.

Therefore, its going to be much easier to use in general if you are above average height, but also it will be much easier to cook things like a beer can chicken.

The additional height of the Rider DLX means its possible to fit in another upper cooking rack. Therefore, the Rider DLX provides a total of 1,234 square inches of cooking space.

A walk-through of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX pellet grill.

Besides the taller body of the DLX providing more cooking space over the Rider 900, the other notable difference is in how the sear functionality works.

While the Rider 900 does have a sliding heat/deflector grease tray to let the flames and direct heat through, when you want to use it, you first have to take out the cast-iron centre grate and use the metal tool to open the slide valve.

However, on the DLX you have a slide handle on the front of the grill where you can select Smoke or Sear. A different heat deflector design is used within the DLX, which is like a rotating off-set fan design.

I’m actually very impressed with this heat deflector design to provide the option to quickly choose between indirect and direct heat.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider DLX Pellet Grill/Smoker Heat Deflector
The rotating heat deflector baffle is only featured on the DLX: Image – Walmart.com

With the handle on the front of the Rider DLX set to Sear, direct heat temperatures can apparently exceed 650 degrees, hence hot enough for proper grilling, searing and broiling.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider DLX Pellet Grill/Smoker

Total Cooking Area = 1,234 sq.in
Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650+ Direct Flame)
Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
PID Temperature Control? = No
WiFi/App Control? = No
Typical Price = $599
Availability = Walmart.com

Rider Pellet Grill Hoppers and Dry Pellet Storage

So the last thing I want to discuss about the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grill range is their hopper. Now its not the size of the hopper that particularly interests me, its more about how you can empty the hopper and store the pellet grill wood pellets.

All three versions of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills feature the same size of hopper with a 20lb capacity. This size of hopper has become pretty typically in the industry now.

Not only for the fact that with low-temperature cooking/smoking it should last over at least 12 hours, but it can also take a full 20lb bag of wood pellets in one go.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider Pellet Grill 20lb Hopper
All Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills feature the same 20lb capacity pellet hopper: Image – Walmart.com

Emptying chutes on pellet grill hoppers has only recently become commonplace within the last couple of years. Its mainly promoted as a quick and easy means to change pellet flavours, which is it.

But for me, someone who has worked with wood pellets for over a decade, it serves an even more important purpose. Pellets absorb moisture easily, its why they make excellent animal bedding.

However, wood pellets can go bad, hence we have to protect them from moisture. That not only includes liquid moisture, it includes moisture from the air (humidity).

Hence, you should never really leave wood pellets in the hopper of your pellet grill when its not in use. Otherwise, if moisture gets to those pellets, it could lead to an auger blockage.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider Pellet Grill Hopper QuickDraw
QuickDraw release and included plastic collection bucket with lid: Image – Walmart.com

The QuickDraw release valve on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills is one of the best designs I’ve seen for being able to empty a pellet grill hopper quickly.

Furthermore, Oklahoma Joe has properly addressed the issue of protecting the pellets from moisture by providing a plastic tub to collect the pellets with a lid.

It really is simple stuff, but its so important to keep wood pellets dry and not enough pellet grill/smoker manufacturers properly emphasize it to their customers.

Hence, when I saw the QuickDraw release hopper with included plastic bucket/lid included with the Oklahoma Joe pellet grills, I was like, ‘finally!’.

I just hope more pellet grill manufacturers start to emphasize more to their customers just how important it is to keep pellets dry, apart from if you’re using charcoal pellets, that is.

Flex Accessories Range

Oklahoma Joe provides a wide range of accessories to maximise the available cooking space within the Rider pellet grills. The video below does an excellent job demonstrating the accessories.

However, its important to note, as I stated above, only the Rider 900 and DLX pellet grills can use all of the Flex Accessories.

This video demonstrates the full range of Flex Accessories for the Rider pellet grill range.

Oklahoma Joe’s Rider Pellet Grill Reviews

Whenever I do these pellet grill/smoker analysis articles, I like to add in a couple of owner reviews when I can find them. Not only to discuss features owners like about the grills but also, as was the case with the Weber SmokeFire for instance, areas where there appears to be room for improvement.

The first video review I want to reference is from Unbox Warehouse (Mike). In the video below, he does a really good overview of the features of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX pellet grill as he cooks up a rack of ribs.

Unbox Warehouse (Mike) review the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX pellet grill.

Its important to remember that several of the features seen in the video above on the DLX (smoke/sear handle) are specific to the DLX and are not found on the Rider 900 and 600. The second video I wanted to reference is from David Somerville of Be Awesome, Grill Happy.

In the video below, David has owned the Rider DLX for over 6 months, and he is very happy with the pellet grill in general. However, there are a few issues he’s having.

Two of these issues are actually likely to do with the grill pellets David is using though, which I’ll explain below.

Two of these issues are likely to do with the BBQ wood pellets David is using.

So the issues David is having above with pellets not flowing particularly well through the hopper and lots of ash coming out the chimneys is likely due to the fact his pellets contain a lot of fines/wood dust.

As I have discussed in the past with my post on if wood pellets go bad, during the pellet manufacturing process, not all of the woody raw material is successfully compressed into a pellet.

The reasons why are due to lots of factors, I have a post on how Traeger pellets are made if you are really interested. Anyway, before the pellets are packaged up into bags, they pass over a sieve that removes the dust.

However, roughly handling the bags during transportation/storage roughs up the pellets, and bits fall off. Hence you have fines/wood dust in the bag.

In a previous post, I wrote on Traeger accessories I seriously encourage the use of a sieve to remove the fines from pellets before they are placed in the grills hopper.

This advice is really applicable to all makes and models of pellet grills. Excessive fines/dust can lead to a couple of issues.

First, it will hinder the pellets from flowing through the hopper, as shown in Davids’s video above. Fines can also lead to auger blockage problems. And finally, excessive fines can lead to ash blowing out of the chimney as the combustion fan will lift the burnt fines out of the burn pot very easily.

Conclusions On The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider Pellet Grill Range (Gen 1)

For a budget/economy line of pellet grills, I really do think Oklahoma Joe’s has brought forward some very interesting and good design ideas.

I’m particularly a fan of the hopper and integrated collection bucket, as discussed above, for dry pellet storage. I also think the cast-iron grates are a good feature to have on a pellet grill to improve grilling/searing performance.

The ability to let direct heat/flames through on the Rider 900 and DLX is also a welcome feature. The Smoke/Sear selector on the Rider DLX is also one of the best examples I’ve seen of how to integrate this feature on any pellet grill, from any price bracket.

Unfortunately, the temperature controller is limited in how accurately it will be able to hold temperatures.

Its not a PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) controller which is able to constantly monitor and adjust the process to hold temperatures within a 5-degree range. The Rider pellet grill range does also not have WiFi integration.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I how you found this analysis and the reviews of the Oklahoma Joe’s Gen 1 Rider pellet grill range interesting/informative. Check up my Gen 2 Rider pellet grill article for the latest versions.

You may also be interested to read my Traeger vs Oklahoma Joe’s article. If you would like to review other makes and models of pellet grills, please check out my Wood Pellet Grills/Smoker Guide. 🙂

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

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 to Z List of The Best BBQ Wood Pellets

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.

Chris - PelHeat.com

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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