The Recteq RT-590 has to carry a lot of weight for a medium sized pellet grill, and it does so. Rec Tec (now known as Recteq, as of August 2020) has a monster of a following. Their owners are more akin to fans, and they aren’t afraid to voice support for their favorite brand of pellet grill. Though their flagship offering–the RT-700 (once known as “The Bull”)–is definitely known for its bombproof stainless steel construction and advanced controller (see our review), don’t overlook their mid-sized pellet grill, the RT-590. Note: the RT-590 was once known as The Stampede, but Rec Tec has since gone back to using numbers for model names.
One downside if you want this grill quickly: you can’t buy it at your local big-box store. Rec Tec doesn’t use retail or resellers. You can buy it at Amazon, but only as part of a package. Your best bet is to buy directly from Rec Tec. Either way, you’ll have to wait a few days to get one.
Their owners are more akin to fans, and they aren’t afraid to voice strong support for their favorite brand of pellet grill.
However you acquire one, based on our reviews and on general owner satisfaction, it will be worth the wait. This is a solid grill, with unequalled support from the company to back it up.
Recteq RT-590 Basic Features
The RT-590 stands stocky and solid and has probably the most angular build amongst pellet grills, akin to the Yoder’s straight lines. The overall look is black and shiny stainless steel. The stainless steel is evident on the grill barrel, though the lid is powder-coated black steel. The Recteq RT-590 signature polished bull horn handles give this grill a unique look. One downside compared to other Recteq grills is the logo. Rather than the large stainless steel slab bull logo, the RT-590 instead has the logo debossed on the steel lid. It doesn’t pop near as much as on their larger and smaller grills.
We rated the overall appearance and impressions as excellent, with a slight ding to the score for the debossed logo on the lid and for the slightly undersized legs and rotating caster wheels.
The RT-590 has one cooking level, split into two hefty stainless steel grates. Our measurements put the surface area at 27.75″w x 19.25″ deep for an overall grate area of just over 534 sq inches of cooking space. Rec Tec does offer an optional second shelf, which adds over 150 more sq inches of cooking space.
How we determine actual cooking space: We give a max amount, based on packing items edge to edge on the grate. A pellet grill, however, has hot spots at the front and rear edges of the grate that aren’t over the drip pan. Any food that is directly above this gap will burn. The effective capacity, then, is the number of items that fit on the grate area above the drip pan. In other words, it’s the capacity without being affected by the hotter edge zones of the grilling chamber.
As you can see, the RT-590’s capacity is 18 standard sized burgers. We use a 4.5” wooden disc as the standard size for burgers. The grill should easily hold 4-6 mid-sized pork butts, 4-6 racks of baby back ribs (more with a rib rack) and at least two normal sized turkeys.
Rec Tec uses the more advanced PID controller technology, which reaches and maintains the temperature more precisely than a conventional controller. All controllers pellet feed rate and fans to reach a temperature range, and then control the feed rate and sometimes the fans in order to maintain that temperature. A PID controller, however, uses machine learning via constant feedback from the cook chamber in order to more finely maintain the desired temperature. PID controllers can better adjust to outside variables like ambient temperature, so that it doesn’t overshoot or undershoot a temperature and so it maintains that temperature more accurately. To summarize, a PID controller offers more automatic fine tuning so that the temperature you set is indeed more accurately maintained.
Notable Features and Conveniences
- Many stainless steel components
- PID controller with wireless on/off, temp settings, and grill and probe alarms
- One-step startup and shutdown
- 2 built in monitored (via app) food probes
- 30 lb pellet hopper
- 4 year warranty
- Main Grate Area: 590 sq. in.
- Chamber Capacity: 5,510 cubic in.
- Hopper Capacity: 30 lbs. of pellets
- Overall Height: 43.5 in.
- Overall Weight: 150 lbs.
- Warranty: 4 years, comprehensive
Recteq RT-590 Hands-On Review
We tested a fully assembled grill in our offices, using our standard testing protocols. Our final summary ratings appear at the end of this review.
If you didn’t already know, Rec Tec is pretty much unmatched when it comes to materials and construction quality. The RT-590 is no exception to this known. All cooking surfaces are hefty stainless steel, as are the handles, the barrel, and major components. Only the lid and legs are powder-coated steel, but even these are noticeably beefy. This grill should last years, if not decades, with proper care.
Open the lid and the inside is almost mirror-like, due to all the stainless steel. The ledges, the RTD temperature sensor, the barrel walls, even the drip pan are gorgeous stainless steel. That shine won’t last past your first cook, but make no mistake that the durability of these surfaces–surfaces subjected to not just high heat, but acidic smoke and fats and oils–is something to note.
- Lid: 2.7mm Powder Coated Steel
- Body/walls: 1.2mm Stainless Steel
- Grate: 5mm Stainless Steel
- Drip pan: 1mm Stainless Steel
- Heat Deflector: 1.85mm Stainless Steel
- Firepot: 316 Stainless Steel
- Ignitor Rod: Ceramic
Those 5mm thick stainless steel grates are no joke. To be fair, they are basically the same gauge steel as the Camp Chef Woodwind and the Z Grill 700 Series. But they are noticeably heavier and definitely more sturdy (and pricey) than regular steel, which is the norm in the medium-sized pellet grill category. One advantage stainless grates have over even porcelain coated grates, as in the Z Grill: stainless doesn’t chip. Porcelain can.
Even the ceramic ignitor rod is a big upgrade over the norm and has a lifespan of at least 10x over the conventional type steel rod. Another indicator of the attention to detail by Rec Tec is their use of silicone thermal caulk over the seams in not just the cook chamber, but even the pellet hopper. You don’t see this in other grills.
Overall, we rate the Rec Tec RT-590 as having excellent materials and construction quality.
Grill Operations and Controls
The Rec Tec Smart Grill Technology controller, as mentioned before, is a true PID controller, which means that it controls both its pellet feed rate and its fans in a constant fine-tuning equation to maintain a desired temperature. This has advantages over conventional controllers, mainly that it won’t be subject to wild swings in temperature some grills experience in trying to compensate for hot or cold ambient conditions. If you’ve ever had a grill spike up to 300 on a hot August day, unable to stay at 225, then you’ll see the benefit of the PID controller.
The Rec Tec control panel uses an LCD display, which means it’s visible in direct sunlight. Some controllers use LED (think red digits like an alarm clock) which are illegible in direct sunlight. The panel is backlit and very visible in the dark. Buttons are membrane-type and a bit on the small side. Temp selection is via a rotary dial and the display shows both the set point and actual temperatures, as well as both probe temperatures, all on one display. All functions are controllable via their wifi app. Temperatures are selectable in 5-degree increments with a Lo/Extreme Smoke setting, 200 up to 500 degrees, and then a Hi/Full setting. See our testing below for actual temperature performance, but the RT-590 was able to reach 500 degrees at the top end.
If you’ve ever had a grill spike up to 300 on a hot August day, unable to stay at 225, then you’ll see the benefit of the PID controller.
Startup and shutdown are one-button easy and begin pre-programmed startup and shutdown sequences. Other grills require additional steps to either start or turn off your grill. Both startup and shutdown are able to be done via the wifi app as well.
Rec Tec’s wifi app allows you to turn the grill on and off, set and adjust the temperature, and see temperature probe readings. It also allows you to set and receive notifications for temperature targets for both the grill and the two probes. One additional feature of their app is the ability to see a line graph history of your cook, including set point, actual grill temp and probe temps. You cannot, however, archive these graphs.
Our temperature tests are important because the two critical components in smoking food are time and temperature. The ability to accurately control temperature and cook time, combined with wood smoke, is what makes your food taste amazing and also makes the pellet smoker such a revolutionary backyard grill. Accuracy in temperatures, then, is vital for a successful cook and in a quality pellet smoker.
You can read more about our testing procedures, but to summarize, we use industrial laboratory grade temperature probes and data logging on multiple surface points in the smoker to record several categories of data:
- Time to reach a set temperature
- Accuracy of temperature readings (for both probe and grill controller)
- Consistency of temperature readings (swings in temps)
- Actual high and low temperatures of the grill
- Smoke produced (subjective, not measurable)
Overall, we found the RT-590 to be accurate to within 10 degrees, with actual temperatures usually within 5 degrees of what the controller on the smoker reads.
|Setting||Time to Reach||Our Measured Temp||Grill Control Says||Grill Probe Says|
At the Lo/Extreme Smoke setting, the grill did indeed produce good amounts of wispy white smoke. We noticed that the grill didn’t flame out and re-ignite at low temperatures, which some grills are prone to. When it does happen, it can produce more acrid smoke temporarily and impact flavor. This didn’t happen with the Rec Tec. As with any pellet grill, the higher the temps, the lower the smoke. At 350, little smoke was evident. This is normal.
Pellet grills aren’t meant to be scientifically precise in their temperatures, but they should be predictable and consistent and accurate within 10% or so. The RT-590 was well within this range at both low and high temperatures. We rated the RT-590 temperature performance as excellent.
Recteq RT-590 Ownership Experience
Pellet smokers are largely maintenance-free, other than routine cleaning. But there are some complex components that have been known to fail, and there are some parts that need periodic replacement, like an ignitor rod. Because of this, we like to do a review of manufacturer warranties, as well as common issues that a model might have.
The RT-590, and all Recteq pellet grills, has a 4-year warranty, which is comprehensive (the RT-700 “Bull” has a 6-year warranty). This warranty is tops among pellet manufacturers. They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee. As well, they have a toll-free customer service number for service issues or product support questions. Rec Tec is known for their customer service, and with good reason. With each grill, you’ll get a customer support card with a number to call for any questions, from assembly to cooking issues. They have near round-the-clock 7 days a week availability.
Some manufacturers only man their phones Monday-Friday, which doesn’t help when you run into an issue on a weekend–a higher likelihood than a weekday issue. Also of note: it is true that you can reach a Rec Tec owner on the support lines. You can’t necessarily call them directly, but Ray and Ron, the founders and owners, do field service calls often. Rec Tec lists their service hours on their website as Monday-Saturday, morning to evening, but when you purchase a grill, you get a special number to call anytime.
We called with a simple question on a Wednesday afternoon. The call was answered by a person after one ring. The person that answered the phone was able to diagnose a (made up) technical issue. In other words, we weren’t subjected to a call tree, being transferred around, or a person that was simply looking up answers on a web page. This is real customer service by knowledgeable employees who are (we asked) actually sitting in a chair at Rec Tec’s headquarters. We were offered a quick fix to our (fake) problem, with a very quick offer to replace a part free of charge if the fix didn’t solve the problem.
The hype around Rec Tec’s customer service that we’ve read about seems absolutely real, and deserves our top rating.
Ease of Ownership
Many people buy an appliance like a grill hoping that nothing goes wrong. They assume that if something does go wrong they’ll probably have to buy a part and fix it. Maybe it’ll be covered under warranty. Maybe they’ll be able to Google a solution to their issue.
If you own a Rec Tec, you can be sure of two things:
- Rec Tec will go to great lengths to make things right
- The Rec Tec community is knowledgeable, easy to find and join, and loves helping each other. I’ve seen this fanbase referred to as the “Rec Tec Mafia” due to their level of engagement and enthusiasm. (see the Recteq Forum for examples of recipes and general help for specific grills)
Purchasing a Rec Tec, it seems, is like buying an Apple product. Perhaps better. It may cost more up front, but it comes with rock solid peace of mind and performance.
Dependability, based upon a deep deep collection of owner feedback, seems to be very good with Rec Tec. With the RT-590, one issue seems to be the most prevalent, and is preventable: moisture in the grill. This is due to the fact that the smoker doesn’t have a chimney, but rather has three open exhaust ports at the rear of the grill, which will let moisture in if left uncovered in the rain. Moisture in your grill can affect its ability to maintain temperatures due to wet ash, pellets, etc. The fix: cover your grill.
Overall Rating of the Recteq RT-590
It’s not perfect, but it’s darned good. There are minor issues with this grill, but they’re mostly aesthetic. The only real performance issue is the exposed vents, which is preventable with a cover or with Rec Tec’s vent ports (sold separately.) The MSRP of $899 is definitely not the cheapest mid-sized grill on the market. But it’s a step above comparable grills like the Camp Chef Woodwind ($799 w/wifi) or the Traeger Pro 575 ($799 w/wifi and actually a smaller grill) because of its build quality and customer service. That $100 difference is easily justifiable based on just the amount of stainless steel you’ll be getting, much less the peace-of-mind from the superior ownership experience Rec Tec provides. Add in a full additional year of warranty (4 yrs vs. 3 for the Camp Chef and Traeger) and we think this is the class leader of medium-sized pellet grills.