Anyone who loves the taste and aroma of natural, smoked wood in their meat, cheese, or grilled vegetables should seriously consider a quality pellet grill. If you already own one, then you’ve likely noticed how delicious food tastes when it’s properly smoked over several hours.
Mastering the subtleties of your pellet grill can lead to extremely rewarding BBQ dishes that will surprise you and your guests! Automated features and superior airflow make a pellet grill much easier and cleaner to use than a charcoal grill.
There’s more than one way to infuse your grilled meat or vegetables with the aroma of natural hardwood. Follow these helpful tips to get the most out of your pellet grill!
1. Your Pellet Grill Is Versatile
There’s a lot more you can do on your Traeger or Green Mountain pellet grill besides burgers and hot dogs. Braise, roast, grill, sear, smoke or bake - whatever you can do on your kitchen oven, you can do on your pellet grill.
Grilled carrots wrapped in bacon, wood-fired thick crust pizza, apple cobbler grilled over smoldering apple wood pellets, fresh gouda cheese cold smoked in winter; Bison rib slow-smoked with hickory pellets; the possibilities are limitless!
2. Short Preheating Time
A quality Camp Chef, Weber or Traeger wood pellet grill is designed to preheat in only 10 - 15 minutes. Plan your cooking based on the required time so that you don’t waste fuel or overwork your pellet grill’s combustion system.
3. Low And Slow
While high temperatures and char-broiled meat is great for burgers, smoking a 12 pound brisket or a thick Boston Butt pork butt is another thing. Smoking meat can’t be done in a few minutes. You can spend anywhere from 4 - 12 hours smoking a cut of meat, depending on its size.
Luckily, pellet grills can smoke for hours at a time. Thanks to their automated fuel and air delivery system, Temperature on a pellet grill is much easier to manage than a smoker or charcoal grill. When smoking meat, lower temperatures allow the wood pellets to smolder instead of burn, which is what they’re designed to do.
Burning wood pellets leaves behind an acrid flavor as well as harmful carcinogens that get absorbed into your food. Wood pellets are the ideal fuel for smoking. Keep the temperature on your pellet grill between 180 degrees fahrenheit to 220°F and monitor the internal temperature with a wireless meat thermometer.
4. Don’t Pre-Soak Your Wood Pellets
It may work for the wood chips in your electric smoker, but pre-soaking your wood pellets will actually ruin your smoked meat. Your pellet grill needs dry wood to produce the smoldering white smoke that will infuse your meat with flavor.
Wood pellets are made with a specific ratio of compressed sawdust and water. When heated, the water evaporates at a calculated rate that keeps the meat moist and tender on the inside.
5. Try Different Wood Flavors
Natural hardwood pellets burn clean and steady for hours, imparting a smoky wood flavor that isn’t burnt and acrid. There are, however, a range of different hardwood types that can be blended with natural wood pellets or used on their own.
6. Keep Your Smokestack Open
The smokestack provides much needed air flow for the cooking chamber when the lid on your pellet grill is closed. By keeping it open, your pellet grill will perform better, allowing oxygen in and stimulating heat circulation inside.
7. One Pound Of Pellets Per Hour
The general rule of thumb among BBQ chefs and pitmasters is that for every hour of smoking, you can expect to burn through 1 pound of pellets. That being said, a 4.5 pound brisket should require 5 pounds of pellets.
8. Get A Pizza Stone
Grilling pizza on a pellet grill is fun, fast, and easy to do. Choose your own toppings or go with a classic style in any season of the year! With a pizza stone, you’ll have the perfect surface for baking your favorite pizza without burning your crust or dripping cheese into the flames.
A pellet grill can achieve the high temperatures (180°F - 500°F) needed for baking thick or thin crust pizza. When the pizza stone is placed on the grill, the heat from the flames heats the stone or ceramic. It’s this radiant heat that bakes the pizza, providing a protective barrier from the direct flames while leaving your grates free of debris.
9. You Really Should Have A Built-In Meat Thermometer
You can’t always tell your roast or chicken breast is ready to serve by looking at it. The most accurate way to avoid the risk of undercooked food is a meat thermometer. Pellet grills that include a built-in one save you the trouble of having to get this indispensable grilling utensil yourself.
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.