How to Use a Pellet Grill in 5 Easy Steps

Got a new pellet grill and not sure how to use it? Learn how to use a pellet grill in 5 easy steps.

The world of barbecuing has gone to new exciting heights since it has first started. The traditional way of grilling is now more accessible and has more way of infusing or adding different flavors, textures and smokiness to any meat. In fact, there are more than one way of grilling or cooking any protein with the way grills have leveled-up with the development of technology.

One of the advancements in cooking with open flame is using pellet grills. A pellet grill is also known as a type of smoker. The grill is fueled by hardwood pellets and has a system of fans to heat food to a specific degree in temperature. It is like an outdoor oven or convection oven instead of the standard gas or charcoal barbecue grill.

Pellet grills are quite popular nowadays as they can be used to smoke, grill, bake and braise food as well as anything a standard oven can cook. The heat is generated when wood pellets are placed in the chamber which is known as the “pellet hopper.”

The pellets are then placed through an auger then to a fire pot that will heat up the cooking chamber of the equipment. Heat and smoke are then dispensed throughout the grill through its fan system and provides a rich, natural woody flavor from the pellets.

Pellet grills have controllers which is an electronic component that helps you control and operate the grill. It usually comes in an LCD-style panel but there are some pellet grills that have the old-school type dial control with temperature settings marked on the grill.

Why Use a Pellet Grill?

Why Use a Pellet Grill?

Using a pellet grill allows you to have a wide array of options when it comes to cooking. You can cook something low and slow or if you need to, something faster and even hotter. Specific temperatures can also be easily set with the pellet grill so you can have a more consistent and efficient cook every time. The grill also allows you to cook with no direct contact to heat and no open flame but you can still enjoy the smokey, barbecue flavor you want without worrying about flare-ups.

Pellet Grill vs Charcoal Grill

In terms of pitting the charcoal grill against the pellet grill, what sets them apart is temperature regulation. It is easier to maintain temperature on the pellet as opposed to the charcoal grill. Pellet grills offer you the option of setting a specific cooking temperature so you can check how your protein is going in an easy and convenient way. The pellet grill is more predictable and more manageable compared to the traditional charcoal grill. You can set your meat to cook and then let the grill do all the work.

Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill

A gas grill falls short against the pellet grill in terms of imparting flavor to your meat. The hardwood pellets that are used to fuel up the pellet grill infuses natural spicy, smoky, sweet flavor on anything that you cook in it. It acts like a smoke which adds a deeper more robust flavor to whatever food you’re thinking of serving.

How to Use a Pellet Grill (5 Easy Steps)

First of all, before you start to grill, check if your grill is clean. It is important that your equipment is free of any food debris or crusted oils clinging on the grate. This will not only prove unsanitary but can get in the way of how your food will taste in the end. So, scrub that grill and grill grate clean before beginning your cook!

Also, do not forget to season your grill if it is brand new. Applying cooking oil inside the chamber as well as the grill will help protect it deterioration due to continuous, long-term usage. After seasoning, leave your grill to rest for 24 hours before you start using it. If you are using an old, already seasoned grill then you are good to go!

Wood pellets in a smoker pellet box

Step 1: Fill the Hopper

The pellet hopper is usually located on the side of the grill. You should first calculate how long you are going to cook in order to gauge just how much wood pellets you will be needing. You certainly do not want your grill to shut down halfway through the grilling because it has run out of fuel.

On average, a pellet grill will burn through 1 to 3lbs of wood pellets in an hour. The general rule of thumb is a pound of pellet for an hour of low burn and 2lbs for an hour of high heat.

In terms of flavor, you have to know which type of flavor you want to impart on your food. There are different types of wood pellets which imparts an array of flavors like: cherry, mesquite, hickory, apple and oak.

Now that you have chosen your types of pellets and identified the duration of your grilling, you may fill the hopper with it.

Preheat Your Pellet Grill

Step 2: Preheat Your Pellet Grill

Just like with any grill, you want your grate and grill area preheated to ensure even cooking. So, after you have filled the hopper with wood pellets, it is time to preheat your pellet grill. Here is how to do it:

  1. Plug in your grill
  2. Set the smoke to the specific temperature you need or your protein requires. You will hear the augur and the air fan start to kick in at this point.
  3. Check your manual to see if the manufacturer states that you keep the lid open until the initial billow of smoke has cleared. If it does not say, then leave the lid closed until the smoke coming from the vents clears out.
  4. Watch and wait for your grill to reach the desired temperature.
  5. Season your food while waiting for the grill to heat up.
Add the Meat on Pellet Grill

Step 3: Add the Meat

If the pellet grill has reached the correct temperature, it is now time to place your protein into the grate. Again, make sure that you season your meat properly before putting it in the grill so that you will not miss any of the delicious flavors you expect from that food.

Be careful not to overcrowd your grate and try not to over-fill your grill. There should be enough space between your food for the smoke and the heat to properly circulate so it cooks evenly. It is also better to keep the grill closed so you can capture the entire full flavor coming from the wood pellets and the seasoning marrying together.

If you want to yield a smokier flavor, cook longer and at a low temperature. If you want less flavor imparted, then cook at a shorter and higher temperature. If you’re cooking different proteins with different cook time, check the hopper regularly so that you can make sure that the pellets are feeding in correctly.

Check the Temperature of Your Meat

Step 4: Check the Temperature of Your Meat

It is obvious that a pellet grill is more manageable in terms of time and temperature cooking and yes, you can set it to cook for the duration your meat needs to properly cook. However, nothing beats the accuracy of having to check the temperature of your meat itself to see if it has been cooked to its proper cooking temp.

Use a temperature probe and insert it at the thickest part of your meat. Most pellet grills already come with a probe that you can use or if you want, you can buy a separate one in any home improvement store near you.

Also, keep a time and temperature chart in handy in case you forget or you are a bit unsure with your meat’s cook time or temp. It never hurts to be extra specific and sure so you will thoroughly enjoy your food.

Step 5: Turn Your Grill Off

Finally, the cooking is done and it is now time to shut down the pellet grill. Of course, safety is top priority!

  • Check and ensure that all the pellets have been put off or extinguished.
  • Check and make sure that the grill is cool to the touch before disconnecting the power supply.
  • Empty out the hopper by removing the pellets and store them in an airtight container.
  • Store your grill in a safe, dry place where it will not rust or corrode due to weather or other elements.

Now, there is nothing left to do but to enjoy the delicious, flavorful meal that you have cooked! Do not forget to try various types of cooks and recipes with your pellet grill for a more diverse, fun and delicious meals in the future!


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