Consistent temperature control
Many unique features
Pellet feed issues
Somewhat narrow dimensions
Camp Chef is a Utah-based company that has produced outdoor and camping cookware for 30 years, starting with camping stoves and adding cast iron pans and more recently pellet smokers to their offerings. The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX sports many features that other budget-priced pellet smokers skip. We set out to see if these features could set this Camp Chef pellet grill apart in the category, cooking everything from dry rub chicken drumsticks to lightly smoked salmon to low ’n’ slow classic pork shoulder over several weeks.
Setup: Simple build and standard seasoning
Like most large standalone pellet smokers, the SmokePro DLX requires a bit of assembly. Upon unboxing all the pieces and parts, it seemed like an intimidating build, but we soon found it’s arguably easier than the average piece of furniture from IKEA.
Included tools meant we technically didn’t even need to own any to complete the project, but we did save a bit of time and hassle with a socket wrench set. After attaching the legs, handles, and the hopper/burner assembly, we basically just needed to place the remaining components (including heat shield and grill grates) inside the barrel.
Following the manual’s instructions, we performed an initial “Feed” to get pellets into the auger and firebox. The process was straightforward but required a few button combinations and holds that weren’t obvious from looking at the buttons and dials.
A standard seasoning process followed. We ran the grill at high heat for around 45 minutes to burn off any manufacturing residue and prepare the grill for actual smoking.
Design: Nothing flashy, care in the details
With an all-black motif similar to most smokers, the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX didn’t immediately stand out in terms of aesthetics. (However, we did like the subtly glossy finish of the stainless steel grill lid and hopper lid as opposed to basic matte.) Where the SmokePro DLX did stand out was in the details, from a secondary staging shelf to a built-in bottle opener.
Having another spot to set trays and tools is a minor addition that felt like a major convenience while we were juggling tasks and setting up our smoker projects.
The nonstick porcelain grill grates are attractive and much easier to clean than chrome or steel, but unfortunately, this material wasn’t used on the smaller upper warming/smoking rack.
The secondary steel side shelf complements the working space offered by the hopper lid, which is the extent of the on-grill staging area for most budget smokers. Having another spot to set trays and tools is a minor addition that felt like a major convenience while we were juggling tasks and setting up our smoker projects.
The magnetic latch on the hopper lid might not make a better brisket, but it keeps the lid from flopping around when moving the grill and suggests the company pays attention to little annoyances their customers have reported.
Most of these are functional features as well as aesthetic choices, but overall the build quality and placement make the grill feel thoughtfully laid-out.
Performance: Tighter control for smoking precision
Camp Chef claims its more advanced controller unit keeps temperatures within 20 degrees of the set temperature, and thankfully, this smoker delivers on that promise. Traditionally, backyard chefs had to accept that their smokers would fluctuate as much as 60 degrees above or below the desired temperature. These swings aren’t as critical when dealing with more forgiving projects such as a pulled pork roast, but they can have large impacts on touchier meats such as racks of ribs or salmon.
We didn’t have to question if the set temperature matched the actual cooking temperature for our meals.
In testing with standalone grill thermometers, the SmokePro DLX actually stayed within 10 degrees of the set temperature most of the time. Additionally, the measured temperature at the grill surface was much closer to the readout temperature display than other smokers in this category. This told us we didn’t have to question if the set temperature matched the actual cooking temperature for our meals.
The DLX also offered some useful temperature options absent from other budget smokers. Since the DLX is a relatively low-smoke cooker, Camp Chef gives users a 160-degree low-smoke option as well as a 225-degree high-smoke option for when you really want to douse your food with flavor. The DLX’s range is also a bit wider than most standard pellet smokers, stretching from the 160-degree setting to a “High” setting that flirts with 500 degrees, a full 50 degrees hotter than most of its competitors.
Our one gripe with the SmokePro DLX’s performance is actually with the pellet hopper, which failed to deliver pellets when low. While the pellet level viewer is another example of the small touches that set the DLX apart, the error message we sometimes got despite there still being pellets in the hopper was an annoyance. One solution is to keep the 18-pound hopper well-stocked so gravity pushes the pellets down, but we can’t help but wish Camp Chef had addressed this issue—especially considering the otherwise extremely well thought-out design.
Price: Pro-level features at a budget price point
Though the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX has an MSRP of $699.99, it can often be found for around $500. Walk into any big box store, and you’ll find lots of options for pellet smokers in that range. However, very few of them will have the precise temperature control and features of the model we tested.
If you’re okay with fewer bells and whistles and want to save a little, there are some slightly cheaper options. But at $500, it’s hard to beat the SmokePro DLX if you’re shopping for a medium-sized pellet smoker.
Unique Features: Ash clean-out system
The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX offers many attributes that are normally only available on much pricier grills. They made the product much more enjoyable to use.
The ash clean-out system made cleaning the grill and removing any stray pellets much simpler. With other smokers that lack this feature, we’d need to clean the grill after about 50 hours of smoking, and that usually involves disassembly and a vacuum.
The ash clean-out system made cleaning the grill and removing any stray pellets much simpler.
We’d probably only use the pellet purge system rarely, but it came in handy if and when we needed to clear the hopper and auger for transport or cleaning.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX vs. Z Grills Pro 7002B Smoker & Grill
Z Grills is a relatively new player in the budget pellet smoker space, and the Pro 7002B offers a bit more cooking surface area than the SmokePro DLX for roughly the same price.
However, the Pro 7002B is a much simpler grill that lacks the precise temperature control and many unique features of the SmokePro DLX. If you value the 20-percent-larger cooking area more than the features you get on the SmokePro DLX, it might be worth considering the Pro 7002B. Though serious cooks will appreciate the options granted by the SmokePro DLX, beginner smokers many find them confusing and feel more at home with a streamlined grill.
- Product Name SmokePro DLX Smoker & Grill
- Product Brand Camp Chef
- SKU 033246212623
- Price $699.99
- Grilling Area 570 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity 18 lbs.
- Warranty 3 year