How do I best sum up how I feel about this Camp Chef SmokePro DLX with Side Sear Box? I’ve cooked on a ton of different grills – kamados, kettles, gassers, portables, trailered so let me start off by saying this is my favorite grill of all the grills I’ve ever used. It is now my go to grill. Why? Let me tell you a story.
My family and I moved into a new home in December. I own a dozen grills, but the only one I had access to at the new house when we first moved in was my old kettle. It was snowing so of course I was grilling. I slathered some ribs with some jerk seasoning and slapped them on the kettle. I hadn’t cooked on that grill in at least 5 years so I’d forgotten how much I had to fiddle with it. I was so used to setting up the kamado and not having to check on anything except the temp of the meat for the entire cook. Well, I went out to check on my ribs and I had the vents open to much and I burnt them pretty bad. I don’t have the time or inclination to stand over a grill and keep tweaking vents and air flows and adding smoke wood and moving the meat around, etc. When I got my first kamado, I actually missed that aspect, but now my schedule and responsibilities (e.g. my four kids all 8 years and younger) don’t allow me to do that.
I love my kamado until I have to clean it. What a mess. And adding smoke wood while the grill is hot is a nightmare. With the Camp Chef SmokerPro DLX, to add fuel, I have to open a trap door and pour in some pellets:
To clean it, unlike just about anyone else in the pellet grill segment. Simply pull this rod out that sits under the Sear Box:
Next, twist this cup and it will drop down:
Dump the ash (and some grease):
Most pellet smokers require taking all the guts out of the grill to get to the ash. And I mean greasy, grimey guts. Not quite greasy, grimey, gopher guts, but anyone that has had to do it knows it’s a horrible mess!
Another phenomenal aspect of the Camp Chef Smoker Pro DLX is a digital read out on the front of the pellet hopper that tells me the exact temp inside the grill. It also has a built in probe thermometer:
Plug one end of the the probe into the hopper and the other end into the meat and then hit the little button on the grill to toggle it back and forth between the chamber and the meat.
This is showing me that the internal temp of those pork chops (some time after the above pic was taken) are sitting at 131:
Let’s talk about an inherent flaw with pellet smokers. All they do is smoke. Can’t cook burgers, brats or dogs on them, right? That’s wrong, Wrong, WRONGGGGG! Well first off, don’t cook brats over high heat. You’re better off cooking them in a smoker than a ripping hot grill, but that’s another story. But I get it with steaks and burgers and such. You can do more than smoke on this bad boy! This grill has an optional Sear Box:
Pop the shelf off on one side and attach the Sear Box which is powered by a propane tank. It’s stainless steel, cranks out 16,000 BTU’s and is 180 square inches of cooking surface that allows me to do pretty much everything on one cooker without having to do much else than put meat on the grill and set the dial to heavy smoke.
But can it smoke? Boy can it. Here are some pork steaks I smoked for about 2 hours. Look at that smoke ring. Can you imagine a pork shoulder for 8 hours?
Time to get down go over the financials. The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX has an MSRP of $699. The side Sear Box goes for $249. The exact model I have costs about as much as a large Kamado, alone. Most kamado grills require a number of accessories on top of the base price of the grill itself. The price point for the Camp Chef is right about middle of the pack among the big names of this type of grill.
No grill is perfect. There are always going to be pros and cons. Some will be deal breakers. For me, I love this grill, but I must address the negatives as well.
Cons of the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX:
- It has to be plugged in – That’s not convenient for some
- It really has to stay out of the rain because it’s both electric and if the pellets get wet it’s really bad
- Start up and shut down is a little confusing at first – It takes some time to get used to the process
I just put a roof with lighting over a big chunk of my deck so I could shoot pics at night and keep myself and my grills dry. As they were running the power for the lighting I added an extra outlet near my grills, so cons 1 and 2 are no big deal for me, but they may be issues for some. If you don’t have a roof to keep it under, make sure to get a cover. The start up and shut down takes a little practice to master, but it doesn’t take long. Oh, one more thing. There was a 4th thing I didn’t like about this grill. The grill grates didn’t make the prettiest grill marks. Well, then I flipped the grill grates over and realized that I put the grill grates in upside down. So if the grill marks look like crap, it’s not the grill’s fault. Flip the grates over.
This grill is not ideal for everyone, but it’s close for me. It’s my favorite grill of all the grills I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a lot of grills from a lot of manufacturers. I wish it had WiFi connectivity. I’m not one who wants to be able to turn the cooker off and on with my phone, which means a hacker could do that too. I would just like to be able to monitor the temp from inside as well as set a threshold so the unit alerts me when my meat hits that temp.
Full Disclosure – Camp Chef paid for this review. As you know, I’m not going to be all puppies and sunshine about something I review. I’m going to show the things I don’t like as well to better let the reader decide.