If you look at the pellet grill, you’ll see the main cooking chamber and a hopper. Right below the cooking chamber, there’s a heating element that heats up once you turn the smoker on. After that, the wood pellets are dispensed out of the hopper and into the cooking chamber to burn.
These grills generally use technology to operate and to make sure that the wood pellets burn efficiently. Everything works automatically, including temperature management, which makes it very easy and convenient to use.
However, there’s always this assumption that since it involves technology, the process is complicated. This is why we wrote this article to help you use the pellet grill correctly.
So, if you have just bought a pellet grill or plan to get one, read on to understand how these grills work fully.
How Does a Pellet Smoker Work?
Let us first take a look at the two most common types of grills, the electric grills and gas grills…
Electric vs Gas
Electric grills, as the name implies, use electricity as the main fuel source. They are usually compact and can be used indoors and outdoors as it doesn’t release dangerous chemicals when at home.
These grills are regarded as the easiest to access and healthiest to use. The only problem is that it requires to be near an outlet, and it doesn’t produce that tasty smoky flavor we love. Plus, it can affect our electricity bills.
Gas grills, on the other hand, use natural gas or propane gas as a fuel source. They are best used outdoors where it’s spacious, so you stay safe. It also generates higher temperatures and brings out better flavor to the meat compared to electric grills. They are also more convenient and easier to clean as most parts can be immersed in water.
The only problem is that you need to have space to have gas grills. Propane tanks are also not the easiest things to transport from one place to another. You do have the option to use propane canisters, but that’s not enough when you’re cooking for long hours.
Parts of a Pellet Grill
What makes the pellet grill different?
Pellet grills seem to combine both functionalities of gas and electric grills. These grills mainly use electricity to run, making them safe to use even indoors. When it comes to flavor, it’s even better than gas grills as it uses wood pellets to give the meat a nice smoky flavor. It works automatically, so you don’t need to go back and forth to check on your meat. Temperature control is really great, too.
Now, let us explore the parts of a pellet grill…
Pellet grills are constructed with a concept of combining gas grills and smokers. There are five main parts:
- Pellet Hopper
- Correction Blower or the Fan
- Firepot and a heated rod
- Controller or the Control Panel
You always start by filling up the pellet hopper with pellets. Once you turn the pellet grill on, the pellets will move down the hopper and into the auger. The auger is what directs the pellets into the firepot with a heated rod.
Once the pellets get into the firepot and are in contact with the heated rod, they will immediately burn, which creates smoke and heat for your food. With the help of the correction blower or the fan, smoke and heat are distributed throughout the grill to cook the food evenly.
And you can control all of this through the control panel. Everything is automatic. So, depending on the temperature you set, the movement of the auger, and the blowing of the fan also adjusts.
How to Use a Pellet Smoker to Smoke Meat
Not everyone is good with technology. That’s why the fact that pellet grills are automatic doesn’t make it simple or easy to use on the first try. However, with a bit more practice, things may not be as complicated.
Keep it Clean
Pellet smokers use electricity to burn cleanly, so you must ensure that it continues to do so by keeping it clean. Don’t allow food residue and other waste to build up in your grill. Instead, make some time to clean the grill.
Scrape everything from the inside of the barrel to the lid and the chimney. Then clean the grates by scrubbing them until clean. Since these are usually porcelain-coated, food residue won’t stick that much. After that, throw away the grease from the drip pan and wipe the exterior with water and soap.
This is enough for fast cleaning after use. But, you also need to do a deep cleaning at least once or twice a year. To do so, make sure to empty the grill to clean the insides well, and you can also use a vacuum to ensure that everything is clean.
Use a Temperature Probe
Pellet Grills do usually come with their own temperature probe. But, even for a really good grill, these probes may not be accurate. So, invest in a high-quality temperature probe that you can use. This is very important to ensure that you get a precise temperature reading to make correct adjustments on the control panel.
Experiment with Hardwoods
You can rub your meat with herbs or marinate them before cooking, but feel free to enhance the flavor by experimenting on hardwoods.
As these grills use wood pellets, take advantage of that to add more flavor to your meat. You can experiment with blending some fruitwood and hardwoods, or you can stick to one and just try what works best with a type of meat, depending on your taste.
Just make sure to do your research first to ensure that you’re using the suitable wood for the type of meat. Because if you go wrong with this, you might end up ruining the flavor instead of enhancing it.
Use a Sear Box
Although pellet grills have great features, there is still one major disadvantage: they can’t reach high temperatures like gas grills.
So, if you have extra money on your budget, pick a pellet grill that already comes with a sear box. This will look like a mini grill on the side that produces higher temperatures than the other parts of the grill. It’s perfect for when you need finishing touches and would want your meat to have that beautiful sear.
Aim for Blue Smoke
Last but not least, always aim for blue smoke. Blue smoke is an indication that your pellets are burning cleanly. Since the pellet grill is automatic, you should have no problem achieving this.
Just remember to make sure that you’re using really dried wood pellets. If your wood pellets still have moisture in them, the firepot would spend more time drying them than burning them up, causing white smoke to show instead of blue.
Pellet Grills work like a combined smoker and grill. You have a hopper with pellets that runs down your firepot, which cooks and gives your meat a delicious smoky taste. And all of this can be easily controlled through a control panel.
These grills are really great to have in these modern times. It’s convenient, easy to use, and very versatile. It may look intimidating at first, but hopefully, you’ll realize how easy and straightforward it is to use with the help of this guide.