As the name suggests, pellet grills are a type of grill that uses wood pellets for fuel. They have been around since the 1960s and have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Pellet grills are unique from other grills because they have a hopper where you can store your pellets and an auger that feeds them into the firebox where they burn. The auger will automatically feed more pellets as needed to keep the fire going and regulate the temperature.
Pellet grills come in different sizes and styles, but they all have in common: they’re easy to use, clean up after (if you clean them properly), and maintain. They also have a lot of great features that make it easy to cook on them without worrying about things like temperature control or smoke management.
If you’re interested in getting a pellet grill for yourself or someone else this holiday season, check out our guide below!
What Is a Pellet Grill?
Pellet grills burn sawdust, wood chips, or pellets made from compressed sawdust and other wood. They can be gas, electric, or charcoal-fueled.
Pellet grills are known for their high heat output and low ash production, which makes them ideal for smoking meats and vegetables. This is because they burn at a very high temperature—around 750 degrees Fahrenheit—and the food being cooked gets hot enough to kill bacteria and germs while preserving nutrients.
The smoke produced by pellet grills is rich with the aromas of whatever you’re cooking. It also has a higher density than traditional charcoal grills because it’s not burned off in the air like gas or charcoal-powered grills do when opened up before cooking. This means there’s more flavor available for your foods!
Pellet grills can braise, bake, roast, grill, and smoke. And courtesy of a digital controller, they can automatically maintain the user’s preferred cooking temperature for hours and are extremely easy to operate.
How Do Pellet Grills Work?
They’re essentially outdoor cooker that requires electricity to run. When they’re plugged in, and the digital controller is activated, a rotating drill delivers pellets to a cylindrical fire pot that houses an igniter rod directly from the hopper. Combusting pellets then produce smoke and heat, which are diffused by a blowing fan and metal plates on the grill grate.
Most pellet grills burn wood pellets as fuel to flavor, smoke, and cook all types of proteins and meats. They span larger than usual household appliances and can accommodate larger quantities of food.
A pellet grill appears like a conventional offset smoker, with hoppers mounted on the side where a firebox would go. It is also called a country smoker sometimes, as it’s versatile enough to manage any grilling recipe. Other names for a pellet grill include electric smokers, smoker grills, wood-fired grills, and pellet smokers. These labels indicate the same appliance of food: a pellet grill with a shining wood fire.
Pellet grills make hosting events, as well as feeding crowds, easier to achieve. Using them is a quick learning process because most models come with robust temperature controls (along with a plethora of other features), making them ideal for novices who do not possess prior cookout experience.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Pellet Grills
- They preheat quick. Just like gas grills, only the preheating process requires 10-15 minutes at maximum.
- Some pellet grills give you pinpoint temperature control by enabling you to regulate the temperature in 5-degree increments. That is done with the help of a thermostat that sends accurate signals from the cooking chamber to the control and plays the role of a pellet delivery regulator.
- The grill is versatile. It can roast, grill, smoke, barbecue, and even braise or bake various foods. Examples include braising short ribs to barbecuing crisp chicken wings.
- It’s hard to overcook things on a pellet grill because they cook so evenly. Also, compared to the acrid smoke produced by charcoal or wood fire, the smoke flavor generated by a pellet grill is subtler.
- As a pellet grill’s function is similar to that of a convection oven, the user can load up cook chambers without stressing over uneven cooking. Also, soaked wood chips can be kept directly on the head diffuser plate in pouches.
- They have limited portability because they rely on electricity. In a power outage, the user needs access to an inverter or generator.
- Though they’re known as “grills,” they don’t produce dark sears or grill marks, as fan-driven heat is used to run them. Hence, they’re often referred to as smokers. That said, a cast iron grill grate can increase the quantity of caramelization outside of cooked food.
- Less smoke will be generated at high cooking temperatures. Most smoke flavors come from smoking at below 250 degrees.
- Any sort of grill featuring electrical components or moving parts is vulnerable to breakdown, a shortcoming that’s not present in wood-burning grills. Pellet fuels can disintegrate when exposed to moisture, so it’s important for those residing in humid climates to keep their pellet smokers in dry places.
- Prices start from a few hundred dollars and go up to $5000.
What Makes a Good Pellet Grill?
It doesn’t matter if you’re gearing up to grill beef, salmon, or chicken. You have to pick the right pellet grill for the job. While the answer depends on your needs, preferences, and budget, it helps to gain knowledge of the factors that make up the best pellet grills. Below are some important elements that go into buying a pellet grill.
- Temperature Controller: A pellet grill’s ability is largely based on its control board, which is the central nervous system of the grill. Different controllers, including ones that feature an LCD and one-touch button, allow users to create great food. Ideally, the control should offer temperature control between 180°F and 425°F.
- Cooking Area & Size: Small pellet grills usually feature 450 square inches of primary cooking area and 100-150 square feet of the upper rack. It’s almost the same as larger variants that feature 500-700 square inches of primary cooking area. A primary surface of 350-800 square inches for larger families should be enough.
- Construction: The best pellet grills are made from high-quality, powder-coated steel. They’re painted using a paint that can survive high heat without going pale. The body should be painted well, as the steel can easily rust once exposed. Higher-end options are constructed from stainless steel, which is more durable and rust-resistant.
Consider Choosing the Right Pellets
When it comes to choosing pellets for your pellet grill, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First and foremost, make sure you’re buying the right kind of pellets for your grill. If you have a grill that can only use wood pellets, don’t buy propane or natural gas pellets!
Second, check the size of the pellets. If you’re looking for more heat, larger pellets will do the trick, but smaller pellets are your best bet if you want something more subtle.
Third, consider what flavors go with what meats. Try experimenting with different kinds of wood to see which ones work best with certain cuts of meat or food like fish or veggies (though this one is more subjective). You might even find some surprising combinations that turn out amazing!
How Much Are They Really?
Pellet grills are becoming more and more popular. If you are considering getting one, you should know the cost.
The average price for a pellet grill is about $400-$2,000. The cost will depend on what features you want and the size of your grill. The more expensive models include more features and larger cooking areas.
Many people consider pellet grills an investment because they last longer than others. They are also easy to maintain because they require less gas or electricity than other grills.
Pellet grills are a great option for anyone who wants to add a little variety to their grilling routine. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that works for your needs and budget.
Whether a newbie or a grill master, you’ll always benefit from more information about the pellet grills you might consider. We hope this guide has helped you make a better-informed decision about which grill is right for you and your family.