I’m hardly a noob when it comes to smoking meat on the grill, but I’ve never owned a real smoker, and certainly not one that could have a conversation with me. But after a month of testing smart smokers on everything from meat, to cheese, to vegetables and fish, I’ve learned is that using a smart smoker can take all the uncertainty out of smoking your food. I’d go as far as to say that a smart app and a good smoker are the perfect marriage of technology and function, and the Brisk It Origin 580 Smart Grill with AI is the best, most functional smoker I’ve ever used.

This grill offers the most control, recipe options, temperature range and smokiness of any smart grill I’ve tested, and with the least amount of intervention necessary. It can make smoking a casual weeknight affair, and it does all this at a relatively reasonable price of $899 on Amazon (though it’s on sale right now for $629 if you order direct from Brisk It).

A solid grill body, but some flimsier details

Like every other grill I tested, the Origin requires assembly, which took me about an hour. The “brains” of the grill, as well as the pellet hopper, are located on one side, with a collapsible tray on the front. The grill itself offers 580 square inches between the active grill space and an additional grate above. Brisk It decided to forego the traditional cabinet under the grill, but I didn’t miss it much.

The steel shell build feels solid and sturdy, though I found some of the accent pieces, like stainless steel handles, broke easily and jiggled no matter how much tension I applied to the screws, and got hot quickly. The grill also comes with an adhesive backed foam you use line the lid so it closes without a bang, but the heat dissolved the adhesive quickly, so the foam all peeled off during my the first cook, though this did not seem to affect the performance of the grill in any way. Lastly, the metal on the side trays seemed to stain easily. These issues aside, I am still happy with the sturdiness of the grill. 

Wood pellets, not charcoal

Instead of charcoal, this grill uses wood pellets, which you can purchase from Brisk It (mine were supplied alongside the grill for testing) or buy in a series of flavors from any other provider. After using the Masterbuilt, which relies on manual addition of charcoal and hardwood chunks, I spent a lot of time trying to decide if I prefer an all-wood pellet smoke. The pellets earn points for ease of use—they are supplied to the grill via an auger and require no intervention except an occasional refill. This is a relatively small grill by Brisk It’s standards, yet it holds 22 pounds of pellets, and I never needed to add more while using it. Compared with charcoal, the pellets provide a far smokier cook, all the way through.

While I didn’t miss the charcoal on my hands or having to juggle items on the cooktop to top off the wood, if you are looking for a more hands on approach that allows you to play with different wood, charcoal grills offer more flexibility. If you prefer to take the easy route, this is it. 

In just two hours, this whole chicken (and chicken neck) got a crisp skin, excellent pink smoke on the interior and a great flavor.
Credit: Amanda Blum

The smartest smart grill app I’ve used

It is undoubtedly the Origin’s smart functionality that puts it ahead of others I’ve tested. Brisk It offers the most functional, feature-rich app. The grill paired quickly and easily with the app, and then updated itself, all from the full color screen located on the grill (though note it is not touch screen). Using the screen, it’s easy to set a temperature, ignite the grill, and walk away, but you’ll likely want to use when you’re actually cooking.

This is the first grill to integrate Brisk It’s Innogrill technology and Vera AI. Vera is an AI assistant you can talk to via the app about anything grilling related, including what you can make with ingredients you have on hand, what level of cook you are, how much time you have to grill. Vera can make suggestions—which I generally found usable and insightful—and send them to the grill so it can handle the cooking for you.

In my testing, I asked Vera for a simple smoked ribs recipe, and it supplied one that takes about four hours, with three steps and few ingredients. The smoking portion had three phases, all at different temperatures and smoke points. Normally, I’d need to monitor the grill, constantly checking the temperature and adding smoke at the right time. Instead, the grill preheated to the right temperature, I put the ribs in when it told me to, stuck a temperature probe into them, closed the lid and walked away. The app notified me as it moved from phase to phase, and I was able to make small adjustments as it went (at one point, I tried a “power smoke” button; more on that in a bit). You have the option to push through a phase faster if you’d like, or skip it altogether.

Four hours later, I removed a rack of perfectly smoked ribs with an impressive bark, fantastic smoke rings, and great color all around. It’s not just the AI making this happen—the app has a deep library of useful recipes you can surf through, a feature promised but not fulfilled by any other smart grill app I’ve tried. Any of those recipes can be sent via Innogrill to the barbecue.  

It wasn’t just meat, the Origin gave these roasted eggplants and garlic a perfect sweet smokiness, and the salt at the top was imparted enough smoke to taste it on foods it garnished.
Credit: Amanda Blum

An exceptional marriage of technology and function

The Brisk It app offers a much deeper data dashboard than other apps I’ve tested, with the ability to affect even minor changes from your smartphone. You can adjust the temperature and time, see the historical data of the cook, and access the temperature probes (there are inputs for two probes that are included with the grill). You can tag your favorite cooks to easily repeat them, use the power smoke function to inject additional smoke into your cook, and activate a “keep warm” feature. One of my favorite features is stall detection. If you’re new to barbecuing, you might not know that meat can sometimes remain at a given temperature for a while, “stalling” out while cooking. With this feature, the Brisk It will notify when this happens and suggest how to remedy it.

I can confidently say that using the app can quickly help you become a more confident barbecue master, and eliminate your anxiety about ruining an expensive cut of meat or wondering if you’re “doing it right.” Brisk It handles the cooking for you (and tells you how it’s handling it) at every step. 

These ribs were a recipe recommendation from Vera, the AI engine in Brisk It that can communicate with you in casual language and then send recipes to the grill, where it handles the whole cook for you.
Credit: Amanda Blum

Easy to use (and clean)

Fancy new technology aside, the grill is well designed and easy to use. While not huge, it is a reasonably sized home grill, and can accommodate 2-3 racks of ribs or plenty of burgers and brats for a party. The auto-ignite function worked without fail. The grill is designed to achieve temperatures ranging from 165°F to 500°F, and while the Masterbuilt and Current I tested could achieve higher temperatures, they could not handle lower ones, which are essential for cold smoking. That’s something I was able to do on the Brisk It, preparing some trout over an ice bath.

You can move food farther away from the heat by using the upper grate, or closer to the heat by pushing it towards the back of the grill. It delivered more smokiness than any other grill I’ve tried, whether or not I engaged power smoke. (While you do need to enjoy a smoky flavor, it was not overwhelming in anything I made.) At higher temperatures, there was a chargrilled effect that the Masterbuilt lacked, thanks to an actual fire under the active grill area (the design includes a shield under the grill to prevent flareups from dripping grease.)

I like that the Brisk It has disposable foil shields and trays to make the grill easier to maintain. Of all the grills I tried, the Origin’s stainless steel grates were the easiest to clean using barbecue cleaning spray and a wire brush. Closing the grill down is as simple as pressing a button; the app notified me when it was finished with the shut down and cooling process. 

A spectacular value for inexperienced cooks or barbecue masters

I went into this review skeptical of the smart tech capabilities promised by the Brisk It Origin. It is certainly the most ambitious model I tried when it comes to integrating AI, but that’s something every company is throwing at its products lately, often with bad implementation. But Brisk It’s usability far exceeds any other smart grill on the market. The app and grill are easy enough to use that I felt comfortable and confident on my first use. I like that it is flexible enough to accommodate inexperienced barbecuers and grill masters alike; even seasoned grillers can use the app to fine-tune their cooks.

Also key: Considering the price point of similarly featured barbecues, including the others I’ve reviewed, you can’t beat the value offered by the Origin 580. If I were going to buy a barbecue tomorrow, particularly with the goal of smoking something, it’d be this one—whether I was shopping for a smart grill or not.