Every manufacturer claims to be unique, but among its pellet grill peers, the Fast Eddy’s PG500 is unquestionably different. It looks different, cooks different, and has a different design than nearly every other model on the market. At a time when most pellet grills strive to look and cook the same, those differences have made the PG500 popular among BBQ pros and a go-to choice for those well-versed in pellet smokers.
Who is Fast Eddy?
Eddy Maurin is a retired Kansas City firefighter, former professional welder, and a passionate competitor on the KCBS circuit. Oh yeah, he also has a love for racing cars, thus earning his Fast Eddy moniker.
Over the years Eddie tired of tending to his pits during long overnight cooks. Having owned an early Traeger, he was interested in the idea of an automatic cooker that burned wood pellets. However, having built his own pits in the past, he saw ways to improve the pellet cooking experience. Putting his welding skills to use, Eddy designed his own pellet smoker in 1998. In 2003, he teamed up with Cookshack to make the Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack line of pellet grills at their Ponca City, Oklahoma facilities.
The first Fast Eddy’s Pellet Grill to be made with Cookshack (known for their insulated stainless steel electric smokers) was the PG1000, which was released in 2010. Constructed from stainless steel, with a commercial look, insulated lid, and multiple cooks zone, the PG1000 looked and cooked like no other pellet grill. At over $2000, it also cost more than many of the popular pellet grills, especially in a market that had yet to create a premium category. A year later, in 2011, Cookshack released the Fast Eddy’s PG500, a modified version of the PG1000 that featured a lower price point.
The Fast Eddy’s PG500
The PG500 is incredibly similar to the PG1000 with a couple of exceptions. Unlike the PG1000, the PG500 is not insulated. It also lacks its sizeable cart and therefore some of the work and storage area (it does, however, have a side shelf). Perhaps most importantly, though, it costs less, making the PG500 more accessible to a larger number of customers.
Other than those few changes, the PG500 retained most of what made the PG1000 different and desirable; it still had those unique features that resonated with the growing number of pellet grill enthusiasts, plus the additional advantage of affordability. At the time of its release, those features seemed remarkably innovative compared to other pellet grills. However, a closer look reveals that, more than anything, the PG500’s uniqueness is rooted in practicality.
Rugged Stainless Steel Construction
It doesn’t take more than a quick glance to realize the PG500 is a different kind of pellet grill. Compared to the majority of pellet grills that feature a drum barrel body, the PG500 has the look of a heavy-duty commercial cooker, starting with its riveted stainless steel construction.
The benefits of stainless steel are well documented and plentiful. Stainless steel is durable, resists corrosion, and looks good. Although it costs a little more, the investment has the potential to add years to the life of your grill, helping you to get more out of your investment. However, while there have always been plenty of stainless steel gas grill options, the vast majority of pellet grills are powder-coated steel.
The Fast Eddy’s PG500 is one of the few stainless steel pellet grills available. Its durable stainless steel construction isn’t just limited to the grill’s exterior, either—the fire pot and diffuser are also stainless steel. That’s significant. Because they’re constantly exposed to high heat, which weakens standard steel, those parts are vulnerable to corrosion and over time require replacement. Fast Eddy’s inclusion of a stainless steel fire pot and diffuser on the PG500 makes it unlikely you’ll ever have to replace either.
Dedicated Direct and Indirect Cooking Zones
From the beginning, Eddy recognized that most pellet grills had limited appeal because they were exclusively indirect low-and-slow cookers. That made them ideal for customers who only wanted to smoke BBQ. However those who also wanted to do high-heat grilling and searing would need a second grill. Wanting his pellet grill to be a true all-in-one cooker, Eddy designed it to do both indirect cooking and direct open-flame grilling.
When the PG500 came out, it was unusual for a pellet grill to have direct grilling capabilities. Even today, with more pellet grill manufacturers like Louisiana Grills, Memphis, and FireCraft offering open-flame options, it’s still far from the norm. But although more brands have incorporated direct grilling into their pellet grills, the PG500 continues to stand apart because of its design. While most pellet grills with a direct grilling option require you to remove a portion of the diffuser plate when you want to cook over the fire, the PG500 has a dedicated area used exclusively for open-flame grilling.
When you open its double doors, the PG500’s primary cooking area is divided in two. On the left is the direct grilling zone, where a stainless steel grate sits over the fire pot (which is exposed except for a perforated diffuser similar to those above the burner on a gas grill). This is where you grill and sear. On the right, a nickel-plated cooking grate rests above a full diffuser plate. This is where you do indirect cooking like low-and-slow BBQ. Switching between the two styles of cooking is simple, no adjustments necessary. If you’re reverse searing a rib eye, you just cook it at 225°F on the indirect side for an hour or so, then bump up the heat to 600°F and sear it off on the direct grilling side.
For those who want to be able to cook everything on their pellet grill and do it simply, the PG500’s dedicated direct and indirect cooking areas are its biggest selling point and most unique feature. eliminating the need to own a gas or charcoal grill for high-heat grilling and searing.
Inside a PG500: Direct (L) and Indirect (R) Cooking Zones
Slide-Out Ash Drawer
Ash is the enemy of any fire. It interrupts airflow and threatens to snuff out the flames. In a pellet grill, excessive ash buildup can produce temperature fluctuations or cause the grill to shut down mid-cook. That’s why it important to regularly clean out the fire pot. On many pellet grills, this requires you to reach into the grill and vacuum out the ash. However, the PG500 has a convenient slide-out ash drawer that makes cleanout simple. It’s a small thing, but a feature that makes life easier, and one you’ll undoubtedly be thankful for.
A Warming Drawer that can be Used for Cold Smoking
Many people who buy pellet grills ask about cold smoking cheese or fish.The problem is that most pellet grills have a lower temperature limit of 160-180°F and cold smoking is done at about 90°F. Therefore, in order to cold smoke on most pellet grills, you have to buy an accessory or attachment that exposes the food to smoke without exposing it to too much heat. However, the PG500 has a warming drawer that can be used to keep food warm or setup for cold smoking. It’s a rare standard feature and one more example of how the PG500 differs from most other pellet grills.
Imperfections on an Otherwise Great Pellet Grill
The Fast Eddy’s PG500 is one of a unique cooker that appeals to people looking for a true one-grill solution, an American Made pellet grill that can handle high-heat searing and low-and-slow smoking in the simplest possible way. Its well-built, durable, and cooks great. Those who have owned one have few if any complaints.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right pellet grill for every customer. For those who like to smoke a lot of food at once, the dedicated direct cooking zone comes at the expense of the indirect cooking area. On other pellet grills that offer a direct grilling option, like the stainless steel Pellet-Q450, you can use the entire cooking area for indirect cooking then convert part of it for direct grilling when you want to cook over an open flame. While it’s not as simple as grilling on the PG500, it is easy and it gives you access to the entire grill surface when smoking.
One other drawback is that, unlike other pellet grills in its price range, the PG500 does not come with an integrated food probe that connects to the controller, let alone a programmable one that can lower the temperature when food is done. However, it does have a port where you can insert an independent food probe like a Maverick ET-735 or iGrill2, but that is an additional purchase and an extra cost.