What is a pellet grill and how does it work? Well, in simple words, the pellet grill is the combination of the features of both grills and smokers and allows you to have more versatility for outdoor cooking.
Since you are reading this, chances are you are a novice user who needs basic knowledge of pellet grills. Okay, you are in luck because this article explains everything you know the topic. Also, there are some tips and tricks to spice up your cooking with pellet grills and an FAQ section to let you go confusion-free.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is also known as a pellet smoker. It’s an outdoor cooker that comes with a combination of several elements like smokers, gas grills, ovens, and charcoal grills. You will find it as an electric-powered, wood-fired, and automated device to cook foods.
Pellet grills burn wood pellets (that are made for smoking) and let cook your food at both low and high temperatures with radiant, indirect heat. It is an offset smoker and you will find it as a cross between a barrel-shaped grill.
If you want an idea the pricing, a small portable pellet grill costs $350 or more. And, for a full-sized pellet grill, the price range will be anywhere between $700 and $3,000. A full-sized pellet grill offers you to cook for both a small and a large crowd.
How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
After knowing what exactly a pellet grill is, let’s get to know how it does work.
Wood pellet is the fuel source of your pellet grill. Wood pellet is a cylindrical, small-sized compressed sawdust. Basically, wood pellets are made from the waste of the timber industry, they were originally being used for home heating.
Wood pellets that are used for cooking purposes made of pure hardwood as well as come with no binding agents or combustion. Ultimately, burning wood pellets is the same as burning wood. However, this is a better option compared to burning charcoal.
You will find very little ash after burning pellets as they burn really efficiently. Also, pellets are there in a variety of flavors, you can select any of them as you want. You will choose one between mild fruitwoods and extremely strong mesquite according to the intensity of flavor you want to choose.
However, you have to make sure that you’re choosing such hardwood pellets that are precisely made for cooking. If you pick home heating pellets, chances are they have softwoods or chemicals that may be toxin releaser.
The trick is the hotter you burn the pellets, the less smoke they will make. However, you will find their performance at around 250℉.
The hopper is a storage container placed on the side of your pellet grill. Basically, it contains the wood pellets and works like a repository for the hardwood pellets.
The hopper comes in various sizes depending on the model, however, an average capacity is 12 pounds. Pellets will be automatically distributed from the hopper because it’s important to regulate the preset temperature in the cook chamber.
A point worth mentioning here, you may get confused thinking whether you need to add more wood at the midpoint of your cooking session or not.
Well, you don’t need to do this like other types of smokers because here, you will find a zero heat variation during a refill.
Auger is the cooking chamber where your wood pellets will meet their fiery demise. Before feeding into the auger, wood pellets are distributed by a digital controller and dragged along. The full process is powered by electricity.
If you are the term auger for the first time, well, it is a large screw that you will see rotating in place. For this, wood pellets will move forward regarding the firepot for combustion.
The auger along with the digital controller make the pellet grills exceptional from the other cookers on the market.
The Digital Cooker
The digital controller is what makes your pellet grill much more user-friendly. Just as you operate your oven, all you need to do here is to set a temperature for cooking your food.
Although designs vary from model to model, you will find a digital temperature controller, so you can set the desired temperature. After that, you will get to see the measured temperature on a display (LCD or LED).
The ambient temperature inside your grill is monitored by a sensor probe. If the temperature is below, the digital controller will distribute more pellets to burn.
When the process goes on, the controller will be watching the situation until it’s needed again.
The maximum of the pellet grills come with a meat probe that is connected with the control board and regulates the internal temperature. That’s like a bonus point which also saves your cost of a third party (a smoker thermometer).
When the pellets’ journey from the hopper is to end, they are dumped into a firepit from the auger. After that, an electric rod will be warming up the pellets until they start creating heat as well as smoke.
You can see a deflector plate above the firepot that dispenses heat around the inside of your grill. And, the plate will eliminate almost everything without any hot spot. Moreover, it protects the firepot from any drippings (fats and oils) while cooking foods as well as prevents any flare-ups.
The Fan and Blower System
As we all know, there’s zero fire without oxygen, pellet grills contain a fan and blower. What they do is to pull air from outside to the firepot. If extra air is needed, the fan starts operating supply more air and feeds the pellets.
It’s the same process to open and close vents on a charcoal smoker in order to adjust the airflow, the thing is, you only need to adjust the temperature here.
You will notice a chimney either on the hopper’s opposite end or at the cooking chamber’s back. The chimney lets the smoke leave the chamber and prevent creating over-smoke.
Moreover, there will be an airflow for the chimney that creates a ‘draw’. As a result, the smoke will pass over the foods and then be excluded. Since the heat gets out of the chimney, it will take the stale smoke with it and let it not hang around. Therefore, nothing but fresh smoke can hit and flavor the food.
Why Switch to A Pellet Grill?
Now, if you ask why you should replace your grill with a pellet grill, this section will answer your question.
You should switch to a pellet grill mainly for 3 reasons below.
The food you will cook will get infused with an amazing smoky, real wood flavor as you burn the hardwood pellets here. The pellet grills come with a fan inside them that lets the heat and smoke circulate over your food when you close the lid.
While cooking, your foods will get infused with aroma and the mouthwatering woody flavor. Ultimately, you will get an amazing smoke flavor that doesn’t feel overwhelmed but enhances.
You can cook with your pellet grills all the food you cook with a gas or charcoal grill. Regardless of your craving for pizza, burgers, ribs, steak, pulled pork, or brisket, you can cook anything you want.
Anyone can use and maintain a pellet grill easily. To use it, all you need to do is- plug the grill in, fill it with wood pellets, turn on the grill, set a temperature, and leave it alone to cook. Wait for sometimes and then come back to see if your food looks done.
Are Pellet Grills Safe?
Yes, pellet grills are totally safe to use. Problems that other smokers carry like gas may explode, wood logs and charcoal create mess and smoke for days after use, do not happen while using pellet grills.
Pellet grills do not cook with direct between and fat drippings. Also, it cooks without flying sparks or open flames, so it’s safe. If you use a MAK grill, it will create a controlled and small in a stainless-steel firepot.
There is a stainless-steel body around the firepot and a stainless-steel diffuser that covers the firepot. The pellets are utterly consumed and released in a very little quantity.
If you make sure that you use and maintain the pellet grill properly, the chances of happening anything unwanted is away too low.
For all these reasons above, pellet grills are considered one of the safest outdoor cooking devices out there.
Pros and Cons of Pellet Grills
Along with a lot of benefits of pellet grills, there are a few drawbacks as well. However, the benefits overweigh the drawbacks, here go with the details.
Pellet Grill Tips and Tricks
When you own a pellet grill, missing these tips and tricks below is not a good idea.
Have you heard of reverse sear? It’s a fun way to cook with your pellet grill. To do so, you have to create a max smoke at low and slow of 150℉. After that, you can turn the pellet grill to 550℉. Once turned, add the sear for getting more flavor.
To get a smokier flavor from cut meat, you can remove the meat right from your fridge and place it into the smoker (make sure it is in a low setting). This will pull more smoke into your meat.
Don’t miss using the pizza attachment if you are a pizza lover. What’s the specialty of this attachment? Well, setting a unit at 275 on the digital controller allows you to have a more surface temperature on the stone. Pizza attachment comes with a dome that lets you have perfect radiant heat besides the conductive heat.
To make the most out of your pellet grill, use the upper racks of the pellet grill. These will not only provide you extra spaces inside the cooker but also reduce the radiant heat that comes off the grease tray.
You should clean your grill right after every 40 bags of pellets are finished. It will enhance the performance of your pellet grill and will be a great start for the next use. Moreover, keeping your pellet grill covered while it is in no use will add years to the lifespan of your grill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, you know the complete answer of ‘what is a pellet grill and how does it work?’. Hopefully, I could make you satisfied with the answer and not waste your time here.
Pellet grills are pretty easy to operate and maintain. Just make sure you are careful while cooking with it to avoid any unexpected situation. And, take full advantage of your pellet grills by following the tips and tricks we shared here.
Wish you good luck!