Pellet grills have experienced a huge upswing in popularity over the past decade or so, making them a natural subject for questions and concerns. We heard your questions and gave them to our experts, who drew on their wealth of pellet grill knowledge to provide the lowdown on pressing issues like fuel storage and the capabilities of pellet smokers. With this information in hand, we believe you’ll become a more confident shopper and griller.
If you have a question about pellet grills that isn’t listed here, reach out to our BBQ experts by calling 1-866-602-9851!
General Pellet Grill Questions
Yes, pellet grills need electricity to power their digital components, such as temperature displays and control panels, as well as the auger that feed pellets from the hopper to the fire pot.
Currently, there’s no evidence to support that pellet grills are a healthier cooking alternative than charcoal or gas grills.
Because wood pellets are a renewable source of energy, don’t call for lighter fluids, and are burned using minimal electricity, pellet grills are considered eco-friendlier than gas and charcoal grills.
It totally depends on the grill. Models with designs that provide direct access to the fire pot are capable of searing, as are pellet grills that can reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Pellet grills without these capabilities will struggle to sear.
Just like almost everything else about these machines, lighting a pellet grill is extremely easy.
No, don’t ever attempt to put wood chips in the hopper or fire pot of your pellet grill. Flavored wood pellets are made to replicate the flavor of wood chips, making wood chips unnecessary for this type of cooking.
The answer depends on the make and model, but most modern pellet grills top out somewhere between 500 degrees and 750 degrees.
Yes. Though almost all models are freestanding, we carry a few built-in pellet grills for those wanting to incorporate one into their outdoor kitchen.
Yes, they do, but they’ll become less fuel-efficient the colder it is outside. When using a pellet grill in temperatures below 35 degrees, you should cover it with an insulated grill blanket to help offset increased pellet consumption. It’s also a good idea to keep the lid closed as much as possible so the grill has an easier time retaining heat.
Most people say cooking on a pellet grill produces just the right amount of smoke flavor in their food. Thanks to their pure hardwood sawdust composition and the fan-forced air inside of pellet grills, wood pellets are designed to completely combust, resulting in subtle smokiness with no bitter creosote flavor. In short, it’s almost impossible to over-smoke food on a pellet grill.
Your pellet grill should be deep-cleaned every 5–10 uses depending on the ash buildup you’ve accumulated. If you’re the kind of person who does a lot of long, all-day smoking sessions, you should clean your pellet grill more often. We recommend cleaning the grates after every cook and removing ash from the fire pot and igniter after every other cook.
Pellet grills cook a lot like smoker ovens, meaning they’ll cook at about the same rate as your indoor oven will. If your favorite roast recipe takes about 4 hours in your home oven, you should expect the same recipe to require roughly the same amount of time in your pellet grill.
It depends on how much you’d like to be involved in the cooking process. You can walk away from a pellet grill and let it run after you set the temperature; wood smokers, on the other hand, need to be managed for temperature and fuel level, which require manual adjustments. As undesirable as that sounds when compared with the pellet-grill experience, many diehard BBQ enthusiasts actually love the immersion of tending a fire and find the results much more rewarding.
In terms of ease, pork products are quite forgiving because of their overall fattiness. Ribs are also quite easy to smoke in a pellet grill. Brisket, meanwhile, takes a precise cook to get right — just a few minutes too long, and it’ll be dry — but is definitely among the best-tasting meats when smoked.
You’ve probably heard that 225–250°F is the general BBQ smoking range, and that’s generally true. But you may need to nudge the heat slightly higher or lower for different types of protein. Pork shoulder, for instance, is best done between 220°F and 230°F. Likewise, brisket shouldn’t be smoked any higher than 225°F or it’ll cook too fast and become dry and tough. Poultry, however, should be smoked in the 250–300°F range. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to read up on how to tell when meat is done cooking.
Wood Pellets Questions
The longevity of wood pellets depends on the humidity of their storage area. In a place with low humidity, pellets can be stored for up to 6 months. Areas with high humidity, however, can be used to store pellets for up to 3 months. To keep your pellets in good shape, store them in an airtight, gasketed container in a dry area. Remember: Moisture is the enemy when it comes to wood pellets.
This varies between pellet brands and from grill to grill, but on average you can expect to burn through 1–1.5 pounds of wood pellets per hour. Just be aware that you’ll burn more pellets when cooking at higher temperatures and fewer pellets when cooking on low.
Yes! In fact, this is what the vast majority of them are best at. There’s a reason all major flavors of smoking woods also exist as flavored pellets. All you have to do to smoke on a pellet grill is set the temperature controller to 225–250 degrees and treat your food as you would in any other smoker.
Not at all! You can use any brand’s pellets, though fuel from your pellet grill’s manufacturer will probably be more efficient and produce best results. If you want more pellet variety, take a look at our flavored wood pellets.
It’s technically possible, but we don’t recommend it. Without the auger in place to slowly feed pellets to the fire pot, you’ll end up with a large fire that burns through about 10 times as much fuel as a pellet grill would. If you want wood flavors in your charcoal grill, we advise you use wood chunks or wood chips.
Plan on using around 1–1.5 pounds of pellets per hour, with the expectation of needing more fuel when grilling at high temperatures.
This depends on the kind of environment you live in. If you live somewhere with high humidity, it’s best not to keep pellets in the hopper because the moisture will render them ineffective and create a mess that can be annoying to clean. In these cases, you should keep pellets stored in a dry area. If you live somewhere dry and cook fairly often, leaving pellets in the hopper between cooks won’t pose any problems. We still recommend storing pellets separately, outside the hopper, in an airtight container in a dry place.