July 30, 2020

At first glance, the Cookshack PG500 looks odd because it has swing doors instead of the lift-up lids all other grills use. We were a bit doubtful about this design, but at the same time, it intrigued us because it looked promising too. So, we tested it to find out. 

Cookshack PG500 while closed

Pros

  • Rugged and durable
  • Innovative design
  • Temperature ranges from 160 - 600°F
  • Different grilling zones
  • Digital Controller
  • Warming drawer
  • Easy cleanup
  • Made in the US

Cons

  • Lacks insulation

Cookshack PG500 Features

Design

The Cookshack PG500 is different from most pellet grills, and you can already tell that from the first look. It has a stainless steel interior and exterior, which looks like it belongs in an industrial site. 

Also, it doesn’t have the usual lift-up hood that we usually find in other grills. Instead, it has two front-swing doors. This seemed odd, even for us, but when we actually used the pellet grill, it feels more convenient because the doors swing easily.

When we thought about it, one particular situation this would be helpful in is for users in wheelchairs. Because the grill has front doors, there’s no need to lift a heavy hood. That’s a big point for being more accessible. 

On the side of the grill, there’s a large 23 lb. pellet hopper. This adds in a convenience factor as well because most pellets are sold in 20 lb. bags, so you can just dump everything there at once. 

Below the hopper, there’s a pellet dump door that allows you to change flavors quickly. Just set a bucket underneath the hopper and the pellets will fall out when you open the dump door. So, you can switch out flavors at any time to match what’s on the menu.

For easy clean-up, there’s also a front ash drawer that sits under the firepot. This catches the ash, so at the end of the day, you just pull out the drawer and empty the contents. 

Lastly, on the right-hand side of the grill, there’s a standard side shelf with built-in tool hooks. This keeps your tongs, spatulas, and brushes within reach, and the shelf provides extra space for prep. 

The only drawback is that there’s no insulation on the grill’s body, meaning the exterior can get hot. However, you can still use this to your advantage, but we’ll get to that later. 

Overall, everything about the PG500 looks tough. The aesthetic might not be ideal for backyard decor, but it sure looks like it means business - and it does.

If you're looking for a high-end smoker, Cookshack also has the Amerique model which boasts of a premium design.

Cookshack PG500 while opened 

Grilling Zones

Similar to the Cookshack PG1000, this pellet grill has different grilling zones that allow you to be more flexible with the things you cook.

The left side is the 10x18 inch direct grilling space with cast-iron grates. It sits right above the pellet fire so the food is heated directly by the flames.

Not all pellet grills can have this function, and Cookshack has used its charbroiler technology to make it happen. This is also featured in the PG1000.

Even in our initial tests, we were impressed by the performance of the direct grilling zone. It reaches temperatures of up to 600°F and leaves those appetizing sear marks that make meat much more appealing. 

Beside this area is the 18x18 inch nickel-plated indirect cooking space. This is where the heat goes when it travels up from the direct zone, gets trapped in the grill, and goes back down. Also, this is where you’ll be doing most of the smoking and roasting, hence the bigger space. 

Right above these two zones is a 10x28 top rack. This can also be divided into two areas since the left side that’s above the direct zone will be much hotter than the other half. 

With all these varying cooking spaces, there’s a ton of flexibility that comes with the PG500. You get a total of 784 square inches of cooking surface, which is more than enough for the average party.

(Curious about other brands offering pellet grills? We compared Memphis and Traeger here.)

Warming Drawer

The PG500 is also equipped with a warming drawer, the purpose of which is pretty obvious. You can keep your food warm in this space as you’re trying to finish the rest of your cooking.

But aside from that, this can actually be used for cold smoking too. To do that, set the controls at the minimum temperature which is 160°F. Open the grill and take the drip pan out from the indirect grilling zone. Simply put a cake pan full of ice in there and you’re ready to go.

Simply slide out your warming drawer and put food that you want to cold smoke, like meat, salmon, or cheese [1].

At this point, since we’re talking about the warming drawer, there’s another place where you can keep your food warm. The PG500 doesn’t have an insulated body, so it can get pretty hot on the outside. This puts the grill at a disadvantage, but you can still put it to good use.

Since the grill design doesn’t’ have a hood, the top is flat. You can put pans or plates on there to keep some food items warm. Way to turn things around, right?

side of the Cookshack PG500 showing the exhaust and drain bucket

Performance

After hours of testing the PG500, we were very impressed with the performance it delivers. The front doors were innovative and the grill zones provided great versatility that not all pellet grills provide.

We were able to cook different types of meat, veggies, and even fish with the two-zone grilling scheme. It does maintain temperatures well, but the absence of insulation still leaves something to be desired. 

When it comes to the results, the PG500 has produced that authentic smoky flavor that rivals higher-end smokers. The meats like turkey tasted great and the deep mahogany finish added a good barky taste.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, the Cookshack PG500 would satisfy all types of grillers - whether you’re a beginner, a veteran, or a BBQ competition pro. 

The PG500 offers a wide range of features including a spacious cooking space, varying temperature zones, warming drawer, ash catcher, and an extremely durable build.

With its innovative design and useful set of features, this pellet grill is something that will remain on our top list for a long time.

Learn more about Cookshack and how it competes against SmokinTex here.

Cookshack PG500 while closed

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