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What Is A Pellet Grill?

What is a pellet grill? In short it is an fantastic cooking appliance that can infuse meat with AMAZING flavour.

They are easy to use and even a barbecuing novice can deliver fantastic tasting food.

So let’s delve a bit deeper.

If you love barbecuing, chances are that you’ve probably heard of or even used charcoal, electric or gas grills before.

These are the most common barbecuing appliances that have been around for ages. With time, more people began to view such grills as primitive, messy and inefficient. These sentiments led to the development of the pellet grill.

So what is a pellet grill?

Well pellet grills can be described as an outdoor cooker that blends the features of charcoal and electric grills to create an extremely versatile cooking appliance.

How Do They Work?

Pellet grills cook food by burning wood pellets which are basically tiny pieces of compacted sawdust. The wood pellets are first fed into a hopper. Beneath the hopper is a hollow shaft with spiral groves.

This shaft is called an auger, and when it rotates, pellets drop down from the hopper into the hollow part where they are transported along the spiral grooves into a combustion chamber.

This is where the magic happens.

Inside the combustion chamber, the pellets are ignited by a heated rod. Electricity is used to heat the rod; this is why pellet grills have to be connected to a power outlet.

Like any other grill, continuous supply of air is necessary to sustain combustion and to ensure that heat is evenly distributed inside the pellet grill.

An induction fan is positioned directly below one end of the auger where the pellets are drawn in. Air is sucked up by the fan from outside the grill and delivered to the combustion chamber along with the pellets through the hollow part of the auger.

Now things get interesting.

The grill plate for holding the food being cooked is placed above the combustion chamber. A tray is positioned between this grill plate and the combustion chamber.

This main function of this tray is to trap food particles and oil dripping from whatever is being cooked to prevent flare-ups. The tray also protects the food from coming into direct contact with the flames below.

Technological Brilliance!

At this point you may wonder how temperature is controlled inside a pellet grill?

It’ll blow your mind.

Pellet grills are meant to be fully automatic. It would be absurd to tout them as technological marvels if one had to do everything manually.

These grills are fitted with a computerized digital temperature control unit. This unit is programmed to automatically calculate the amount of pellets to be fed into the combustion chamber to maintain the required temperature.

It is simple.

All you have to do is use the digital controls to set the appropriate temperature, feed the pellets into the hopper and wait for your food to cook.

How Are They Different From Other Grills?

Pellet grills have unique differences compared to other grills including how they cook food and how they are operated. Here are some distinct features;

  1. Pellet grills are the only grills that use wood pellets.
  2. Pellet grills are fully automatic.
  3. Other grills are powered by a single energy source such as charcoal or gas. Pellet grills combine two heat sources in their operation. Electricity is used to heat up the wood pellets which burn to cook the food.

Why Get A Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills are becoming an increasingly popular choice for barbecue lovers, and there are plenty of reasons why. Here are a few reasons why pellet grills are truly amazing:

They Are Fully Automatic

Other grills require constant attention when cooking food to add fuel, regulate temperature and fan the fuel to keep the fire burning. This can be tiresome for most people.

But:

With a pellet grill, you only need to fill the hopper with enough pellets, set the desired temperature and sit back while your food cooks.

They Are Remarkably Versatile

They can be used for roasting, smoking and even baking. The digital control feature lets you set the cooking method and temperature for the specific food and from there everything else will be handled automatically by the grill.

There Won’t Be Any Flare-Ups Or Charred Food

These grills are fitted with a drip tray which stops the oil dripping from the food from getting into the combustion chamber.

What does this mean?

This effectively ensures that no flare-ups occur in the grill. This tray also shields the food from the naked flames which can cause charring.

You Get A Unique Taste

The smoke produced when these pellets are burned infuses the food being cooked with a pleasant smoky flavor.

No other grill can produce a flavor similar to the one achieved when using a pellet grill.

Choosing The Perfect Pellet Flavors

Pellets can be made using different varieties of hardwood trees. Each tree will produce a unique flavor of varying intensity and richness. The type of food being cooked will determine the most suitable flavor of pellets to go for.

Now get this:

You can even combine pellets from different trees to create the perfect flavor for to match your specific taste. Here is a list of some common pellet flavors and their ideal food pairings;

  • Apple – Beef, turkey, vegetables, chicken, pork and lamb
  • Hickory – Fish, turkey, chicken, pork and lamb
  • Pecan – Vegetables, pork, poultry, beef, lamb and fish
  • Maple – Beef, fish and vegetables
  • Alder – Vegetables, beef, pork, lamb, fish, turkey, seafood and chicken
  • Oak – Beef and seafood
  • Cherry – Pork, beef and chicken
  • Mesquite – Chicken, turkey, beef and seafood

What To Think About If You Are Buying A Pellet Grill

Here are some useful tips to guide you in selecting the perfect pellet grill:

Build Quality

The durability of a pellet grill will be determined by the type of material used to construct it. Grills made using commercial-grade stainless steel will last longer than those constructed using lighter steel.

Quality Of The Paint

Almost all grills have some kind of paint on both their interior and exterior surface. This paint helps to protect the steel parts from rust and corrosion. Low quality paint will gradually begin to peel when exposed to high temperatures.

In short:

The best pellet grills will be covered in a temperature-resistant powder paint which is more durable than ordinary liquid-based paint.

Temperature Range

Pellet grills have different capabilities with regard to the maximum temperature they can achieve. The maximum temperature can be anywhere between 180 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ideal range for you will depend on the type of foods you intend to use the grill for.

So Which Pellet Grill Should You Buy?

Luckily for you I have prepared a comprehensive round up of the best pellet grills of the year – check it out and get the best pellet grill to suit your needs!

USEFUL RESOURCES

About The Author

Steve Mann

Steve is a one time gardening hater turned into gardening obsessive. This was all thanks to going to University where a two year stint spent transforming the previously horrific garden of the student house he lived in left him addicted to all things horticultural! Now with a new house in tow and due to some fortunate circumstances he is free to test out a whole host of gardening equipment. Find out more about Steve or drop him an email at steve@suaveyards.com.

6 Comments

  1. Florence Ki

    Amazing. I didn’t know that grilling requires technology. Pellet Grill indeed interesting. I always pass by stores selling all sorts of grill equipment but just can’t rationalise the high price tags attached to each piece. After reading your review, guess is really worth the price. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

    Reply
    • Steve Mann

      Thanks Florence. Pellet Grills are really interesting and very clever bits of kit and once you know a bit about how they work you begin to understand why they cost a bit more.

      They also produce wonderful tasting food!

      Reply
  2. Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and the pellet grill looks awesome.

    We have a barbeque, but we are actually missing that, we’ve bought a cheap one and something like this wasn’t included.

    I will show this to my wife and we will buy it.

    She loves to grill more than me honestly.

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  3. Tim Bennett

    Hi Steve,

    I have been grilling for a while, but I have never heard of a pellet grill.

    They sound fascinating…

    Two questions:

    1) How much smoke do they emit?

    2) How easy are they to clean and what is the process?

    I live on a property that is very concerned about grills etc.

    Look forward to your feedback…

    Tim

    Reply
  4. Amjad

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the great guide on what the Pellet Grill is and how it works! That was really well explained.

    The fact that it is powered with electricity makes it really safer in my opinion. Also, it would make it even cheaper for you if your home has Solar Power system connected supplying you with free energy. Or maybe you can recommend a stand-alone solar system to power the Pellet Grill alone. This thought just came to my mind since I’m an Electrical Engineer who worked in this field already. 

    Also, I like the idea of the tray that is installed in order to prevent oil from dripping and causing unwanted flames.

    I think I can now consider of the Grills you recommending in the other article you are referring to.

    Thanks a lot!

    Amjad

    Reply
  5. Lady Esther

    Good day,

    Very interesting and informative article about a grill or should I say Pellet Grill.  I certainly did not know that grilling required such much preparation but then again is about food, taste and probably good healthy food….very interesting process. I myself do not do any grilling but my brother loves to grill and is always looking for or buying a new grill, I will certainly talk to him about a Pellet Grill.  Great to know that the food would not be charred, I hate charred food. I also like the idea that food can be flavored using different pellets. The idea that this grill is fully automatic is great; my brother who is the one that does the grilling is like a hawk, does not leave the grill so the food does not burn, or charred, he would love this feature. Also with this feature he can spend more time with us and not constantly checking the food on the grill.

    Thank you for such informative article, will certainly pass it over to my brother.

    Reply

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About Me

SteveHi, my name is Steve and I am the founder and editor of Suave Yards.

Once upon a time I was a complete gardening newbie, but over the last few years I have learnt a lot about yard care – all stemming from taking over a mess of a garden when I started at university!

My team and I have put together a comprehensive series of reviews and guides to help you create the perfect garden.

So please take a look around!

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