The new $257 Asmoke promises all the barbecue flavor of a full-size pellet grill, packed inside a portable cooker. The Indiegogo project is due to ship in July, after having exceeded its $10,000 funding goal to the tune of more than $500,000, with more than two weeks left.
According to its makers, this compact smoker burns real applewood pellets, yet it weighs just 45 pounds. It's also small enough to fit onto a table top or drop into a car trunk for easy transport. The Asmoke provides a total cooking area of 256 square inches. That should be enough room for one large rack of St. Louis cut ribs, or up to four smaller racks of baby back ribs.
Put into other food terms, the cooker can theoretically handle up to eight burgers, or 12 hot dogs at once.
How this pellet grill works
The Asmoke is essentially a standard wood pellet grill built to a smaller scale. It functions the same way as larger pellet grills from Traeger, Weber, and Cuisinart do. On one side of the machine (left) sits the pellet hopper. Below the hopper is an auger that slowly turns to drive pellets into the grill's fire box.
When it's lit, the fire box supplies both heat and smoke flavor to food on the grill grates above. You decide how hot the grill gets with a digital control board. The Asmoke's cooking temperature ranges between a low 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 Celsius) and a hot 500 degrees F (260 C) that's good enough for a decent sear.
The grill's pellet hopper has a 4-pound capacity, rated to fuel it for 13.3 hours (0.3 pound per hour) while smoking at low temperatures. Cooking at high heat burns pellets at a faster rate, at 1 pound per hour
A Traeger killer?
Looking at the Asmoke's price, size and capabilities, it's clear that it was built to challenge one backyard smoker in particular. That's the $299 Traeger Scout. It, too, is a portable pellet grill tipping the scales at 45 pounds. The Scout also has a 4-pound capacity pellet hopper.
One advantage for the Asmoke is the Scout's smaller 184-square-inch cooking area. It's priced higher, too, which on the surface makes the Asmoke appear to be the better deal. I'll reserve final judgement until I get the chance to cook with both grills side-by-side.
The Asmoke portable pellet grill at a glance
Shipping in July 2020
Weighs 45 pounds
4-pound pellet hopper
Can use either Asmoke proprietary or third-party pellet brands
Has meat probe port and probe thermometer
External grease collector
As always, please note that CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies -- in this case, Indiegogo -- to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.