What is a Pellet Grill/Smoker and How Do They Work?

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Green Mountain Grills Pellet Smoker_daniel Boone

This Daniel Boone Series Green Mountain Grill is a wifi enabled Pellet Smoker. Pretty Sweet!

This is a contributing post written by Grill Girl’s Dad, Eddie Medlin. You can read all about him here! 

I remember a bbq friend of mine telling me about he had seen a smoker that uses compressed hardwood pellets as fuel for the heat. This was foreign to me since I had always used either charcoal or wood. Then about a month later when I was in a Myrtle Beach Costco a gentleman was demonstrating a Tex Elite Traeger Grill/Smoker and yes you guessed it, after talking my beautiful wife into it, I purchased the last Tex Elite he had with him.

Wood Pellets in the smoker box.

Wood Pellets in the smoker box.

Today, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) reports that wood pellet grills are one of the hottest trends in industry, giving consumers the flavor of wood smoke along with the turn-of-knob convenience of a gas grill. The popularity of the pellet grills/smokers is on the rise.




what is a pellet smoker?

Here is a pic of my Dad’s Traeger pellet smoker.

Ok, what is a Pellet Grill? The Pellet Grill process is as follows:

CONVECTION PROCESS
An induction fan circulates rich, hardwood smoke throughout the cook chamber for even heat and epic flavor distribution.

AUGER
It fuels the fire, moving hardwood to hopper to fire Pot. Briskly for hot and fast, or gradually for low and slow cooking.

ENERGY ECONOMY
Powered by a standard, household outlet, it uses 300 Watts for the first four minutes and only 50 watts for the rest of the cook.

HOPPER
Load the hopper to the rim with 100% hardwood for hours of smoking and grilling without reloading.

FIREPOT
A hotrod at the bottom of the firepot ignites the hardwood pellets, keeping the fire going so ou can relax and enjoy a cold one.

SHUT DOWN
This sweet setting keeps the induction fan running for 5 minutes to lift residual ash from the fire pot and shuts off automatically.

In 2008 only two companies manufactured pellet grills ( Traeger and MAK), both based in Oregon). But due to the expiration of Traeger’s original patents, it opened the market to competitors. Now there are more than 20 brands of pellet grills available in North America. Some BBQ competition teams have started using the Pellet Smokers and are winning.

The question is, is the Pellet Grill right for you?

ADVANTAGES

• Pellet Grills consistent temperature gives you consistent results.
• You can craft food rather that tend to the fire.
• Pellet grill manages the temperature for you which removes a major variable in achieving consistent results.
• Pellet grills ease of use and simple controls let you focus on your food and family.
• The digitally controlled convection heating system simplifies wood-fired cooking, allowing for easy temperature settings, just like your oven.
• Pellet grills are versatile in that you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise & BBQ.
• Like gas grills, pellet grills preheat fast (10 to 15 minutes). The design discourages flare ups.
• All natural wood pellets come in a variety of flavors. Mesquite, hickory, cherry, oak, pecan, apple, maple and alder.
• Ease of pellet grill clean up verses charcoal and wood smokers.
• Suggested brands to check out: Yoder Smokers, Traeger Pellet Grills, Mak Grills, Memphis Wood Fire Grills, Rec Tek, Green Mountain and Fire Craft.

DISADVANTAGES

• The higher the temperature the less smoke it generates. You get the most smoke at temperatures below 250 degrees.
• Pellet grills are dependent on electricity, which limits their portability unless you have a generator and interruption of your cook if you have an electrical issue.
• If pellets get wet they will disintegrate. It is important that you keep your pellets dry. I suggest keeping them in an airtight container.

COST: $300-$10,000

If you are not crazy about barbecuing with a gas grill, love the thoughts of cooking with real wood, and want convenient temperature control, you should join those that call themselves “Pellet Heads”.




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    Robyn

    My focus is on healthy, simple and creative recipes on the grill. I encourage women to learn to grill as it is a great way to create healthy, flavorful dishes without all the fuss and clean up in the kitchen.

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    ckh - December 20, 2016 Reply

    The pellets contain questionable substances, which is one of the reasons for using real charcoal. Using a kamado gives you the majority of the speed, easy usage and flexibility.

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