Pellet grills are the most popular type of grill on the market today. Since the trend began, tender steak has never tasted so good. In addition to exceptional flavor, wood pellet grills are extremely easy to use. You can set the temperature and leave the grill for hours as it cooks.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know if you’re debating buying a wood pellet grill. Let’s get started.
What is a Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is an outdoor wood-fired grill that uses hardwood pellets as fuel. They provide the versatility to smoke, grill, or bake food using direct or indirect heat. With the help of a pellet feeder and intake fans, heat is dispersed evenly into the cooking chamber. Temperature is measured constantly to control the rate at which pellets burn and the speed at which intake fans distribute air throughout the chamber.
Pellet grills are popular due to their ease-of-use, wood-fired flavor, and efficient burning. There is minimal waste while burning pellets in these grills.
The original wood-fired grill was invented by Traeger over 30 years ago in Mt. Angel, Oregon. In recent years, the popularity of wood pellet grills has exploded. Traeger is still the most well-known and popular brand, but others such as Pit Boss, Green Mountain Grills, Camp Chef, Z Grills, and REC TEC offer quality pellet grills.
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How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
Wood pellets are stored in a side container called a hopper. The pellets are then fed into a cooking chamber/fire pot by an electric auger. An igniter lights the pellets and sends heat and smoke upward to the enclosed cooking area. Intake fans blow the smoke at different speeds to evenly spread heat throughout the grill. A sensor measures temperature and sends data to the main control board. The control board adjusts the fans’ speed and the dispensing of pellets to maintain the desired temperature.
Image credit: Camp Chef
How Do I Use a Wood Pellet Grill?
The process of cooking on a pellet grill varies slightly depending on the brand and model of the grill. These are the necessary steps:
- Load wood pellets into the pellet hopper.
- Set your desired temperature on the main controller.
- Hit the ignition button to light the pellets and start cooking
- Let the grill do its magic for your desired cooking time. You can also adjust the temperature intermittently throughout the process if necessary.
What Types of Pellets Are Used?
Pellets are typically made from 100% all-natural hardwood. Be sure to use food-grade pellets meant for grilling and smoking. Non-food grade pellets, AKA heating pellets, are used in wood-burning stoves and furnaces. The types of wood used for heating will ruin the flavor of your food. Non-food grade pellets can also contain glue and chemicals that are harmful to your health.
Food Grade Hardwood Pellets Come in a Variety of Flavors Including:
Hardwood pellets blends combine different flavors. For example, Camp Chef’s Competition Blend includes a mixture of maple, hickory, and cherry.
Best Pellets For Each Type of Food
Specific flavors tend to pair better with particular types of food. Let the chart below guide you.
Image credit: Camp Chef
How Are Wood Pellets Made?
First, logs are loaded into a de-barker. This machine removes dirt, minerals, and some of the bark. The logs are then separated by species and loaded into a woodchipper. The chips are then loaded into hoppers to mix the wood. Next, the wood chips are dried and turned into sawdust. Finally, the sawdust is compressed into pellets and bagged.
Pellet Grill FAQs
Do pellet grills require electricity?
Yes. Pellet grills use pellets as a fuel source, but electricity is needed to measure temperature, power the auger, and operate the fans.
How long does it take for a pellet grill to heat up?
It depends if you are smoking indirectly or grilling with direct heat. Smoking usually takes 10-15 minutes. Direct heat usually takes 15-20 minutes.
How long do pellets last in a pellet grill?
On average, you’ll burn 2 lbs. of pellets every hour. If you’re grilling hot and fast, you’ll burn 3-4 lbs. of pellets every hour.
Are pellet grills worth the money?
The value of a wood pellet grill is a matter of personal opinion, but the consensus among most cooks is yes. There are a few drawbacks to using a pellet grill, but the ease-of-use and taste of food usually far outweighs them.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Pellet Grill
Benefits of Using a Pellet Grill
- They are easy to start (as opposed to lighting charcoal, for example)
- Food doesn’t need monitoring for extended periods
- Temperature is accurate and controlled automatically
- Heat is dispersed evenly throughout the grill
- A variety of cooking methods are available
- The wood-smoked flavor is exceptionally delicious
Drawbacks of Using a Pellet Grill
- They are usually more expensive than gas grills and traditional smokers
- Electricity is required
- Searing usually requires the purchase of an accessory
Recommended Wood Pellet GrillsShop All Traeger Grills Shop All Pit Boss Grills
Pellet Grill Description
A pellet grill is an outdoor wood-fired grill that uses natural wood pellets as fuel. They give you the option to smoke, grill, or bake food using direct or indirect heat. With the help of a pellet feeder and intake fans, heat is spread evenly into the cooking chamber.
How a Pellet Grill Works
- Wood pellets are stored in a container called a hopper.
- Pellets are fed into a fire pot by an auger.
- An igniter lights the pellets, which heats the cooking chamber.
- A fan adjusts airflow to maintain temperature and distribute heat and smoke evenly throughout the covered grill.
- A sensor measures temperature and sends data to a control board.
- The control board maintains precise temperature by circulating fans and feeding pellets to the cooking chamber as needed.
Wood Pellet Flavors
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Wood Pellet Grill
- Pellet grills are easy to start
- Food doesn’t need monitoring for long periods
- Temperature is accurate and controlled automatically by a computer
- Heat is dispersed evenly throughout the grill
- Food can be cooked in a variety of ways including grilling, smoking, and baking
- The wood-smoked flavor is extremely flavorful
- Pellet grills are usually more expensive than gas grills and traditional smokers
- Electricity is required to operate the grill
- Searing usually requires the purchase of a searing station accessory
I recommend cooking with a pellet grill since the flavor is out of this world. Now that you know how a pellet grill works, grab a beer and start cooking!
About The AuthorTommy Murata Edit profile
As Founder of Handbook of Man, Tommy Murata helps men of all ages and backgrounds reach their full potential. A self-proclaimed renaissance man, he enjoys golfing, skiing, DIY projects, and learning new skills. When he’s not playing outdoors, Tommy enjoys learning web design and playing music.SettingsAdd Social Links