Tool in Action
Not too long ago we reviewed the HALO Versa Pizza Oven. While I wasn’t expecting much, the pizza oven blew me away. The oven was not only easy to operate and cordless, but it was high quality and we could do so much more than just pizza. So after seeing how amazing the pizza oven was, I knew we had to try out their HALO Pellet Grill. Before we jump into the HALO Smoker Review – Cordless Pellet Grill, I want to give you a little background on the pellet grills.
You’ll probably notice in this HALOS Smoker Review I use the terms “smoker” and “grill” interchangeably. To be honest, I had to do a little research to fully understand the difference between a pellet smoker and a pellet grill. The first distinction is “Pellet grills and pellet smokers use the same fuel source: hardwood pellets. Also, both need electricity to ignite the pellets and regulate the thermostat, fan, and auger, among other smart features.” Next, in simple terms, a pellet smoker can operate at lower temperatures than a pellet grill and cooks almost entirely with indirect heat and smoke. A pellet grill also cooks with indirect heat and smoke but also (usually) offers some cooking by direct heat, and can also (again, usually) sear what you are cooking. You could almost call a pellet grill a hybrid of a smoker and a grill, and that would be a very simple explanation. I would recommend you take a look into the differences as well. It may impact your decision on which you would prefer to own.
HALO Smoker Review Overview
I don’t want to sound like a salesman and I will try not to, but HALO designs and builds products I am extremely excited about so it’s hard not to sound like a salesman. I am so tired of companies cutting corners and charging a premium and I end up getting the short stick. HALO is different. When it comes to quality, both their pizza oven and this smoker scream quality. If they wanted to, they could easily cut corners and cheap out and no one would really know, but they don’t. So to me, this says a lot. Best of all, these products are high quality but they don’t try to rip you off with the price, which we will get into shortly. All I am really trying to say is that you have many options in the market place but when it comes to a pizza oven or small portable smoker, you are not getting something that has a poor design or is build quality. You are getting what I consider the best of the best.
So let’s jump into the HALO Smoker Review.
HALO Smoker Review Features
Here it is, the HALO Prime 300 Countertop Pellet Grill. As I like to call it, the magic box. All I can say is if you want quality, this is some of the best the market has to offer. The unit is 29.16″ long by 18.76 ” wide and 17.01 tall. The unit weighs in at 48.19 lbs.
As with all pellet grills, you can plug this into your outlet and have unlimited runtime. The plug is located on the back of the unit so it doesn’t get in the way.
Wait, there’s a battery? Yes, this is the first battery-powered smoker on the market. So this is truly a portable pellet grill, the first of its kind. You can expect to get between 15 and 20 hours of runtime per battery charger which means not only can you cook anything you want on a battery, but you can do it over and over again.
The battery is a 12v 5Ah lithium-ion battery. You can either charge the batter while the grill is plugged in or you can purchase a charging dock.
For me, the charging dock is the way to go. This way when you are done cooking, you can put your grill away and charge the battery somewhere else. An interesting side note about this charger is you can connect multiple chargers together so you can charge more than one battery at a time. Very cool idea.
The base on the grill is solid. In fact, HALO uses the same feet it does on its Vera Pizza Oven. The feet are long so stability isn’t an issue.
On the front of the unit, there is a large screen that has a nice contrast so you can see everything you need, even on sunny days. The temperature digits are nice and big so again, they’re easy to see. The screen provides a lot of information such as temperature, time remaining (you can set it to any amount of time you desire), probe temperature, if the fan is on, battery status, and other useful metrics.
To turn the grill on and off, just push the large button. Press the button to turn the system on. When you set the temperature, it will automatically start the auger and ignite the pellets. Once the unit is on, you can use the dial to set various times and temperatures, which is all easy to do. When you are done cooking, just push the button in and hold. The system will go into a shutdown mode which takes 10 minutes.
On the right side of the grill, there is a small drip pan that is easy to remove. After everything we smoked, it wasn’t even a quarter full so no worries about it filling it up quickly.
On the left side of the grill, you can use the included meat thermometer. Just plug it in and the grill will recognize that it’s plugged in and you can easily read the temperature on the front screen.
While this grill has a lot of features, I really like how they used a thick, heavy-duty handle. So when you open it, it’s not flimsy at all. Just smooth and easy to operate.
When you open the grill, you will have the pellet hopper on the left and the cooking racks on the right.
Once the grill is open, you can see and access the 10 lb capacity hopper. There isn’t a quick empty area so if you want to change pellets, it’s a little cumbersome but not a big deal.
The grill offers 300 sq. in. of cooking space. You have the bottom rack and the top warming rack, which swings away so it’s not in the way.
Here is a very cool feature, searing. So if you want to sear something, just open the vent system and you can get the grates nice and hot to sear anything you want. In normal operation, just keep it closed to indirectly distribute the heat and smoke.
The drip tray pretty much covers everything up and does a great job at catching all the drippings and sending them to the drip pan outside of the grill.
If you need to access the fire pit to clean it or for some other reason, you will need to take out the screw from the vent control. Not terribly difficult, but something to note.
The firebox is large which is nice because you’re not cleaning it out all the time as we have seen with other small grills.
HALO Smoker Review Performance
Before I jump into the grill itself, I want to talk about pellet grills and something to take into consideration. A large pellet grill has an easier time keeping a constant temperature as it has more space. Consistent temperature control is harder for a small pellet grill as it has less space, so fluctuations in outside temperature can be hard for smaller grills.
With that said, I used this grill a couple of times when it was around 70° and there was no issue with the grill keeping a consistent temperature. I also used the grill when it was in the 30s and a couple of times in the 50s. For the most part, the grill did a great job keeping a constant temperature in both of the lower outside temperature conditions. The only thing I really noticed was it took a little longer to get to my desired temperature at start-up. No big deal but something I wanted to note. The most important item for me was just keeping a constant temperature during the cooking process.
The unit has a nice large and easy-to-read LCD screen. The first picture is during the unit warming up. It shows that the auger is working and feeding the firebox. As you can see by the time at the bottom, in about 13 minutes, the smoker hit 533°. So it can quickly jump to a higher temperature when needed.
I tend to use the meat probe for certain cooking applications. What I like about the meat probe is the wire is long enough to move the meat around. You don’t have to worry about the wire being too short and hampering where you place the meat.
Cheese & Crackers
People are always amazed at the cheese and crackers but this is one of my staples and go-to’s for any smoker. I love to smoke Ritz crackers and cheese. Believe it or not, the cheese and crackers soak up the smoke flavor and it’s one of the tastiest treats. As you can see, the grill can hold a lot of crackers and melt the cheese perfectly.
I normally do not smoke fillets but I thought I would give it a shot. My biggest thing was to test the searing capability. I know some people really like a nice sear on their meat, but I just like a quick flash. The grill easily gets to a high enough temperature to sear a steak, so as advertised, this will sear anything you desire.
How can you not test a smoker without cooking ribs? You can easily get two racks of ribs on the tray. I have one diagonally but if you have two, you can cut them shorter and would be able to cook both of them on the grill.
Again, how can you test a smoker without cooking a brisket? I know this is usually an easy smoke but brisket is one of my favorites. You can see a nice smoke ring in the last picture.
Beef jerky is where it’s at. The recipe calls for the smoker to be set to 160°. Unfortunately, the lowest setting is 180°. No worries, I used the 180° and cooked beef jerky and it still came out great. I think it was just a little quicker. I don’t think the 20° really mattered.
I love a good chicken wing. For this, I did a dry rub. I soaked them overnight and sent them to the grill to get a nice smokey flavor. I like my wings a little crispy and where they fall off the bone. As you can see, mission accomplished. It was easy to get the wings exactly how I like them.
Salmon is one of my favorites. It’s pretty hard to mess up salmon on a smoker. As you would expect, the salmon was cooked nicely. I usually use some cedar planks but I was all out. So instead I just used some butcher paper and it still had a great flavor.
Burnt ends are another one of my favorites. What a tasty treat. Always good with a long smoke and deep bath in some beef broth juice and Blues Hog seasoning. When I cooked these, the temperature outside was about 40°. I probably went out about 6 times to check on them and each time the temperature of the smoker was within 2 or 3 degrees of my set temperature of 250°.
All in all, the smoker did a fantastic job cooking and smoking a wide range of foods. I really can’t find anything to complain about. Yes, it would be nice to have wifi and Bluetooth hook up to my phone but that would certainly throw up the cost. I really think this is the perfect little pellet grill that is perfect for the home, tailgating, camping, or any other area. Best of all, it’s truly portable and can be used even when not close to a power supply.
HALO Smoker Review Price
So let’s talk about the smoker itself as a value. If you are looking for a small smoker, yes you can find some cheaper. However, you usually get less cooking area and the quality is not going to be nearly as nice. Even if you don’t need the portability, the HALO is still a great option. So for $535, I think this is a good value and I would be willing to pay a little extra and get a lot extra with quality in a compact size.
So speaking of portability, this is truly the only portable option on the market. Sure you can get something cheaper and then invest in an inverter, but your cost goes way up, and then what you have to haul around also increases. You can buy the unit and battery for $605, but I would spend a little extra and get a battery and charger. Again, if you are out and portability is something you desire, you can’t beat this unit. 15 to 20 hours of runtime means you can do a heck of a lot of cooking. Yes, I get it, the price is creeping up to a full-size pellet smoker. But you get quality and portability, so again, I think this is a good value and worth the money.
HALO Smoker Review Wrap Up
The bottom line, I think HALO hit another home run with this pellet grill. Just like the Versa Pizza Oven, this system screams quality, is easy to set up and use, and portability makes life so much easier for those who love the outdoors or just want something small and yet still very versatile. Again, I know I sound like a salesman but it’s hard not to get excited when you find a product you can truly stand behind as you don’t see that often in today’s marketplace.
If you are looking for a small portable pellet grill, you have to at least take a look at this HALO. I think you will get just as excited about it as I am.