Nearly half of U.S. adults (45%) plan to purchase a new grill or smoker in 2018. That was one of the most important results of a study recently released by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. So the good news is that there is endless information on which is the best smoker or grill, but the bad news is there’s endless information on which is the best smoker or grill. There is a good chance you’ll slip into info-overload and decide on nothing.
If you’ve been searching a while you’ll know that REC TEC make some of the best smokers on the market. REC TEC is the only grill with Smart Grill Technology. This patented technology adjusts the rate at which pellets are added to the fire pot so the desired temperature is kept even and it does it automatically, so you don’t need to be monitoring the heat. They produce several models - each with their pros and cons. This guide will review all the models and take you through the differences so you can make buy the one which suits your needs best.
The BULL of all grills
REC TEC Grills Bull | RT-700 Reviw
Like its name implies, the RT-700 takes the bull by its horns. For a couple of years, the RT-680 has been the standard by which other pellet grills were judged until the introduction of the RT-700. It offers the same quality components and precision craftsmanship that REC TEC customers have grown accustomed to, on top of several innovative features and upgrades.
The Bull features a stainless steel build (from controller shelf to bucket hook), so you will never have to worry about the paint on your grill ever cracking or peeling. While most other grills use a dial button, this one comes with a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller on top of a state of the art, custom-made touchpad. The PID controller is very handy in correcting changes or errors made in the desired temperature.
The Bull also includes a new Wi-Pellet Wi-Fi technology. This technology lets you control your cook from a distance using the REC TEC app that can be downloaded from the play store. Once you set the temperature, the grill maintains it evenly, always giving you consistently excellent results.
One of the key features on the Bull is the extreme smoke button. It creates more smoke by turning on/off oscillation from the fan, allowing you to smoke at low temperatures (180-250 degrees Fahrenheit). The grill also comes with a pair of meat probes, allowing you to prepare two different meals while monitoring both probes simultaneously. Additionally, the automatic light will save you a lot of hassle.
Setting up the unit is a breeze as it comes with an instruction manual complete with diagrams detailing every step. Ten minutes after you open your package, the grill will be up and ready to use.
- Easy control panel
- Even heat distribution thanks to the inbuilt heat vents.
- HotFlash ignition.
- Limited portability.
- Most expensive of all REC TEC models.
Great for grilling on the move
REC TEC Grills Matador Review
With a heavy duty stainless steel construction with a high-temperature powder coat, the Matador is a very sturdy and durable unit that can resist fading, chipping, and scratching for a very long time. It's 22” surface gives you more than enough room to place all your cooking essentials in whatever temperature zone you prefer while you cook other items. To further enhance its sturdiness, its tough collapsible four-legged design can provide secure footing on most surfaces ranging from concrete driveways to campsites.
The Matador gives you the ability to cook in two heat zones: the front row, and the Bull Ring. This feature makes it perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner as the Front Row is ideal for low-medium temperatures and warming while the Bull Ring is for high-temperature cooking. With a weight of 38lbs, this is one of the most portable REC TEC grills.
One feature that stands out from this grill is its integrated windscreen. It allows you to cook and maintain the level of heat regardless of the wind by protecting the flame.
Setting up a grill couldn’t possibly get simpler than with the Matador. It will only require you to remove the three pieces from the packaging, open and lock the four legs into place, and place the cooker on top. Now you are ready to connect your LP gas and begin creating your masterpieces. At a height of 28”, it can be used by both short and tall people comfortably.
Being exceptionally portable, easy to use, and storable even in the tightest of space, the Matador is the perfect grilling system if you enjoy tailgating, ice fishing, camping, hunting, and of course barbeques.
- Very portable.
- Resistant to wear, lasting a very long time.
- Perfect for spaces constraints.
- Easy to set up and operate.
- Not ideal for large parties and family gatherings.
A Seriously Good Grill
REC TEC Grills Trailblazer | RT-340 Review
The Trailblazer does a very good job in maintaining the tradition of REC TEC products – precise engineering and build quality.
For certain, the flavor of food prepared over a wood fire cannot be replicated. This is what the main go-to feature of the Trailblazer is based on. It delivers the best charcoal-grill flavor, with the convenience of cooking with gas. With a simple flip of the switch, it will start burning real wood pellets, giving you that sweet, smoky flavor.
Personally, I really like that the wood pellets burn very clean and emit less than coal. Additionally, they don’t produce that much ash, which is always convenient because no one really likes getting down and dirty after their amazing stake. As your pellet supply burns away, you will have to open the lid of the hopper and add more. You don’t have to worry about this, however, as the hopper can fit 15lbs of pellets for more than 15 hours cooking time.
It has an entirely stainless steel build for durability and does not fade, fail or flake. Its stainless steel cooking chamber is sufficiently large and has two probe holes so you can prepare two different meals at a time. Like most other REC TEC products, the Trailblazer comes with the Wi-Pellet Wi-Fi technology that enables you to control it from a distance with its accompanying app.
The Trailblazer is by far the simplest to assemble of all REC TEC products on this guide, requiring you to only attach the lid and you are ready to cook. Coming in at 80, this unit is perfect for tailgating. Additional features that add to the convenience of the Trailblazer include the Automatic light, automatic shut off, folding and locking wheels and modular constructions.
- HotFlash ignition system.
- Gas convenience and Wood-flavor integration.
- Easy assembly and operation.
- Convenient easy access panel.
- Not entirely portable.
A seriously sexy looking grill
REC TEC Grills Bullseye | RT-B380
One of the most impressive things about the Bullseye is its build. Its exterior features a robust porcelain enamel finish, which is known for being almost completely damage-resistant. You no longer have to worry about damages such as chipping, splintering, thermal stress, and cracking. Its body is made of the conventional metal. The interior retains a lot of heat and thanks to the porcelain enamel finish, food doesn’t stick to it.
Just like the Trailblazer discussed above, the Bulleye is also built upon the preference of wood-cooked meals. With a simple flip of the switch, you can switch from cooking with gas to cooking with wood pellets. This, if not entirely convenient, I do not know what it is. Its hopper also has a capacity of 15lbs, allowing you up to more than 15 hours of continuous cooking.
Basically, a temperature dial on a wood-burning barbecue is unheard of, so this is a really cool feature. The temp can be set anywhere between 200 and 250. It is very easy to set up and operate, requiring you only flip the ignition button. To further its convenience, its easy-to-read thermometer is placed in an ideal location. With this, you won’t ever have to put the steak on your wood fire when the grill is too cold.
The Bullseye is neither the heaviest nor biggest so it is fairly portable. Plus, it has wheels that can be quickly locked into position so moving it into the garage when the drizzle starts won’t be an issue. At its relatively compact size, this grill may not work well for massive parties. However, for about 7 people, it is perfect.
As if it is not convenient enough, it comes with a nifty little storage tray under the cooking chamber. You can use it to store food, utensils, and other items.
- Exceptionally durable build
- Easy ignite system
- Sufficiently large room, enough for up to 25 burgers.
- Sweet wood-fire flavor and gas convenience
- Can be used with the lid open.
- Not ideal for large gatherings.
- Requires a supply of wood pellets.
Best 'smart' grill on the market
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill (RT-680) Review
The RT680 has a sturdy construction and eye-catching appearance, along with a 40 pound pellet hopper, 680 square inch cooking surface and nine inches of headroom, makes this one heck of a grill.
The REC TEC and Traeger are often compared because the basic body is very similar, both are large pellet smokers and priced in the same bracket.
Comparing apples with apples, right? Not so much. As much as I would recommend it and still join you for a BBQ using your Traeger, the REC TEC offers quite a bit more and so for the purpose of this review I ‘m going with REC TEC.
The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is a good-looking piece of equipment and it’s made of 304 Stainless Steel that will never warp or rust.
The fire pot, deflector shield, drip pan, hardware, grates, pull handle, bull horns, and even the logo are all 304 Stainless. The drip pan, heat deflector and fire pot are all made of stainless steel, and the seams are sealed, and powder coated to ensure longevity.
Quality and affordability hasn’t been compromised at all, and that’s what makes this one of our go-to grill.
Like the Mini, the REC TEC Wood Pellet grill uses the manufacturer’s PID algorithm and stainless steel fire pot to ensure the temperature is even and maintained throughout the cooking experience.
And just like the Mini, all of this is done with the flick of a switch.
Because the REC TEC can handle 180ºF to 500ºF in 5º increments, it allows you to make very precise adjustments, which means whether you’re grilling, baking, searing or smoking, the results are outstanding.
Once again we need to mention that the grill smoker doesn’t come with any additional accessories. As is the case with the Mini you can order other items, like the custom cover, the searing kit, cooking mats, spices and sauces, pellets and a front folding shelf. But each comes with an individual price tag.
We have mentioned the six year warranty previously, but we need to mention it again. No other product offers you this guarantee, and it one of the reasons people choose to go REC TEC.
As with the Mini, it’s not easy finding too many negatives when it comes to REC TEC grill. Feedback from fellow BBQers, comments and input on various forums all agree that it’s an excellent product, at an excellent price, with unmatched customer care and service.
Best if you have a smaller budget
REC TEC Mini Portable Pellet Grill (RT-300) Review
Don’t be fooled by the word ‘mini’.
Yes, it smaller than the RT680, but with a grilling surface of 341 sq in, you aren’t compromising much in space, for the portability and convenience. You’re still going be able to feed your family and a couple of guests.
The temperature range is 180˚F-550˚F (adjustable in increments of 5 degrees), so if you’ve ever been frustrated by the lack of heat capacity of your old smoker, or read reviews where this is an issue, the Rec Tec Mini is what you’re looking for.
A long lasting RTD controls and maintains grilling temperatures so you don’t have to and a drip pan catches fat drippings, preventing the potential of a fire.
A 15 pound pellet capacity also allows you to grill for more time, without having to worry about the fire dying down. As with its big brother, the unit uses a patented PID algorithm for controlling temperature, which is what allows the food to cook evenly.
Being portable means it needs to be able to be moved around, easily, and with the minimum amount of fuss and the lightweight frame does just that. The folding legs add to the convenience.
Some folks aren’t too happy that the REC TEC is made in China, but I can assure you the quality is excellent and at an affordable price. Something else that might put people off is that no accessories are included. Of course you can add the custom cover, searing kit, spices and a thermometer, but it’s going to cost more.
But if you chat to a REC TEC owner they’ll happily forego the accessories for the quality, portability, ease of use and the excellent value for money.
How Does A REC TEC Grill Work?
Literally, with the flick of a switch.
As soon as you turn the grill on it gets to work, with the Smart Grill processor, charging up the igniter rod, which supplies the fuel and creates the smoke. At this point, the grill begins to increase the amount of pellets that are used, allowing the heat to increase and achieve the temperature you’re wanting.
As the ever-so-clever REC TEC approaches the required temperature it automatically assesses the correct amount of pellets to be fed in order to keep the temperature and amount of smoke steady.
If you, like some, need to look busy, opening the grill, regularly monitoring the progress, some heat will be lost, but once again, the smart grill technology kicks in, and automatically makes the necessary calculations, adding more pellets to get the temperature back to where it should be.
Impressed? Not yet? The guys and grills (oh no I didn’t) over at REC TEC are so confident about their product they offer a two-year warranty on the Mini Portable Grill and a six-year warranty on its big brother, the REC TEC 680. There’s no way you’re going to find a better warranty than that, and their customer and after sales service is impeccable.
What I And Others Like About REC TEC Grills
- Easy to assemble – the grill doesn’t arrive assembled but in my own experience, and feedback from others, it takes about an hour to put together. Sometimes less because the new owner just wants to get smokin’.
- Heats up quickly – there’s no waiting around for your grill to heat up and when it gets to the temperature you want it maintains it, perfectly during windy, cold and rainy conditions. Users can adjust the temperature in five degree increments, ensuring absolute precision.
- Economical use of pellets – the assumption is that because the hopper holds up to 40 pounds of pellets, the unit goes through them quickly. But it’s definitely not the case. Usually a 20 pound bag of pellets lasts than an equal amount of charcoal.
- Easy to use – once you’ve assembled your unit, you simply plug it in, fill it with pellets, add your food and start grilling. It switches on at the touch of a button, you set the temperature and you’re good to go.The unit shows you the temperature inside of the grilling chamber, so you always know exactly how hot it is.People love that there’s no fiddling with matches, lighter fluid or gas when they light their REC TEC and the fact that they never have to worry about the temperature inside the unit, or outside.
- Easy to clean – The REC TEC grill is very easy to clean. The interior light has a lens that can be removed and washed in warm water, and it has a 12 gauge drip pan that catches all of your food drippings, which means if you cover the drip pan with aluminum foil, it makes clean up a breeze.
The steel cooking grates are durable and easy to clean and you don’t have to worry about scratching them when cleaning or cooking. The exterior of the grill has a powder coated finish, and you can use a damp rag to keep it looking spotless. If you keep the grill covered when not in use, you’ll never have problems with dirt, grime or rust. And of course there’s that six year warranty again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How even is the heat distribution?
The simple answer is very even. The Mini and the RT-680 use a patented PID algorithm to keep the temperature even across the cooking area, and second, the RTD keeps track of the temperature to ensure it’s correct. Over and above that, the grill comes with a heat deflector built into its fire pot, and a blower fan that keeps hot spots away and the drip pan makes sure there aren’t any flare ups.
How does my food taste?
Finger lickin’ good. Food grilled or smoked always tastes better, and some say the pellet smoked food tastes better than that cooked with charcoal. Another handy tip I’m more than happy to share with you is that, like with all grills, the secret to great tasting food lies in the preparation of the grill. Before you cook, preheat the grill to between 400 and 500 F for 10 minutes and it then it should be good to go. If you want to smoke something, then bring the temperature down to 180 – 220 F, allowing you to slow cook for as long as you like.
Can I use other makes of pellets?
Sure you can but always check the quality first. Substandard pellets can lead to ash accumulation inside the fire pot and if this happens, it’s going to affect the grill’s ability to reach high temperatures or stabilize at low temperatures. In other words, the performance of your REC TEC will be compromised. I suggest if you’re going to use different types of pellets, test them first in a bag and see how they do. Doing it this way won’t cause any damage to the grill and it won’t affect your warranty.
However, it’s important that you never use genuine mesquite wood pellets because they lead to excess accumulation of sand.
Is cleaning easy?
You can bet your brisket it is. Both the models are easy to clean because of the grill. Both come with drip pans, which if covered with aluminum foil, mean you simply give it a wipe down.
Can I use my REC TEC in any weather?
Absolutely! The excellent quality and workmanship ensures no heat escapes from the grill and no cold air can get in. I suggest ordering the cover, just for added protection, ensuring your REC TEC is looking bad a$$ all of the time.
REC TEC Grills Warranty
The limited warranty on REC TEC grills covers only grills manufactured by REC TEC Industries, LLC (RTI). They carry a limited warranty of 6 years from the date of purchase by only the original owner. It applies to defects in workmanship and materials that may arise from normal day to day use. It, however, does not cover damages from corrosion, grill cover, or paint.
Some of the conditions of the limited warranty are:
- The obligation of Rec Tec is limited to replacement and repair of the defective parts, and won’t be liable any cost associated with shipping.
- It doesn’t cover rust or oxidation.
- It is based on residential use, hence won’t apply for products used for commercial purposes.
- If the claim is made between the 4th and the 6th year, the owner is subject to a one-time fee of $99.00
- The warranty doesn’t apply if you purchased the product from any other seller other than RTI, or an authorized distributor.
- It doesn’t apply if your product hasn’t been installed, operated, maintained, and cleaned as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you want the warranty service, you can contact RTI, with the accurate description of the problem, and have information on where and when you purchased your unit.
REC TEC grills dimensions
Aside from blending the old and the new and wrapping it in a beautiful package - the Smart Grill Technology – to take care of flavor and convenience needs, REC TEC products span over a wide range of sizes and dimensions. This means that no matter your stature and needs, you will find something for you from REC TEC.
Since size and dimensions is a paramount consideration when choosing your ideal REC TEC model, the sizes and dimensions of the above-discussed grills are detailed below.
REC TEC Grills Bull | RT-700
- Dimensions: 54x36x50
- Weight: 195lbs
- Surface Area: 702 SQ IN
- Hoper size: 40lbs.
REC TEC Grills Matador
- Dimensions: 36x12x28
- Weight: 38lbs
- Surface Area: 360SQ IN
- Hoper size: 15lbs.
REC TEC Grills Trailblazer | RT-340
- Dimensions: 32x18x41
- Weight: 89lbs
- Surface Area: 340 SQ IN
- Hoper size: 15lbs
REC TEC Grills Bullseye | RT-B380
- Dimensions: 38x23x36
- Weight: 55lbs
- Surface Area: 380 SQ IN
- Hoper size: 15lbs.
REC TEC Grills accessories
REC TEC grills allow you to attach and/or use the following accessories. Some of them can be used for all REC TEC grills, while others only fit specific models.
All-weather smoke vents.
On this list, these smoke vents can only be used for the Trailblazer. It, however, fits all other RT-300 models, namely, Stampede and Mini. They keep your grill resistant to all weather elements.
- Stylized design redirects smoke and keeps interior chamber dry
- Easily installed (no hardware required)
- Detachable for easy cleaning
The bottom shelf allows you to keep your items off the ground by offering you a convenient storage area. It slides over your leg brackets to simplify removal when you fold them upwards.
The competition cart is very handy as it allows for maximum portability and maneuverability while giving your REC TEC a more robust appearance. If you are tall, the competition cart will simplify things as it tends to raise the height of your cooking surface.
Additionally, it has an eye-catching appearance, making it an ideal complement to your REC TEC grill.
Porcelain Lid and Stainless Steel Smoke Stack Cap
The stainless steel cap in rust-resistant, and the new lid fits RT-700 discussed above and RT-680.
- Improved durability
- Scratch resistant
- Fade resistant and maintains its gloss.
Stainless Steel Smoke Stack Cap
- 304 Stainless Steel construction.
- Rust resistant
- Warp resistant
Searing Kit for RT-B380 Bullseye
These three interlocking panels are a perfect fit for the Bullseye.
- Prevents flames from burning, charring, and drying out food
- Heat is concentrated on the raised rails leaving beautiful sear marks
- Hard anodized aluminum heats food evenly
- Moisture vaporized on the grates, surround food in a flavorful steam bath
Larger, second shelf
It is compatible with RT-700 and RT-680.
- Increases internal cooking area
- Expanded metal grate allows air to pass through while maintaining a sturdy and rigid surface
- Has a brushed stainless steel finish.
Premium Grill Pad, 60"x 30"
- Is compatible with RT-680, 700, and 590.
- Stops any drips and spills from staining your deck.
- Has an easy to clean, rubberized texture.
HOTFLASH Ceramic Ignition System
It is compatible with all the Rec Tecs on this list except the Matador.
- Up to 1,800℉ to create a fire within minutes
- Integrated ignitor shroud
- Includes hotflash ceramic ignitor rod
- Fits most REC TEC Models
- More reliable than outdated steel ignitor cartridges
Smoker Box for RT-680 & RT-700 (Bull)
To install the smoker box, you will only need to attach it using the remaining hole on your RT-700. It gives you the ability to smoke jerky, sauce, fish, spices, condiments, and even cheese. You can also use it as a warming area at the end of your cook to keep on smoking until it is time to eat.
Other accessories include:
- Custom grill cover.
- Polisher and cleaner
- Remote thermometer
- Smoke tubes.
- Cooking mat.
REC TEC Grills complaints
Every buck you spend on a REC TEC grill packs the biggest bang in terms of quality and value. You get all you paid for and more.
According to the many reviews on the company website and other forums, REC TEC products have almost zero downsides. From the moment you order yours, everything runs on smoothly. You get a well-packaged product that arrives even before your email settles in your inbox. Using them is a breeze as all the units come with a handy user manual.
Additionally, the customer service offered by the company is excellent and very responsive.
The only downside associated with some of the models is that assembly and setting them up is not as simple as advertised. It may require additional help.
REC TEC Grills mods
REC TEC Grills allow so many modifications that you almost fully customize it. Some people have modified theirs so much that it wouldn’t be right to call them Rec Tecs anymore. Some of these modifications are listed below.
- Nomex grill & hopper lid seal
- Downdraft hood
- 2 rpm auger drive assembly
- 9 hole firepot
- Folding front shelf
- Dome Thermometer
- Interior Grill Rack
- Roanoke PID controller w/meat probe
- Sawtooth controller
- Wheel upgrades (Bigger, Locking, Directional) Just depends on what you need
- Custom Painted lid and cap
- Custom internal 2nd shelf's
- Flipping the bottom shelf providing an edge to keep items from falling off
- Fire bricks to help retain heat.
A hole can be drilled in the controller housing to accommodate the meat probe jack. On top of that, you can remove the smokestack if you want to increase the airflow when the downdraft hood is installed.
REC TEC Grills location
REC TEC grew from making sales from a garage to a full production and retail location in Augusta, Georgia. They currently sell grills directly to customers all over the United States.
Hopefully, this comparison guide has helped you decide which REC TEC grill is right for you. Apart from the cooking space, there’s not much in it so only go for the bigger version if you are cooking for a large group of people on a regular basis. Aside from that – we whole-heartedly agree that REC TEC are some of the best grills around and you won’t be disappointed. If you have finished this review and the REC TEC isn't right for you, then we would suggest checking out our Bradley Smoker guide and also our Best Electric Smoker guide - we are sure that you will be able to find the right smoker for you there.