You may have heard of the Traeger or Pellet smokers. They are popular grills that use wood pellets to cook meat, but they can also be used in an oven mode which is perfect if you want a quick meal.
This article will focus on tips and tricks for pellet grill owners so that they can get the most out of their investment. Here’s how to make your pellet grill more efficient.
1. Use the Right Wood Pellets
Wood pellets come from various sources including pine, oak, cedar, maple trees, bamboo, and more. When using a pellet grill it is important to choose the right type of fuel as not all types are created equally. For example, the type of fuel that is best for smoking fish is completely different than what works well with beef.
The biggest difference between pellet woods comes down to moisture content. Most pellet woods contain about 60% moisture while traditional woods such as hickory, mesquite and applewood each contain around 40% moisture. The higher moisture content makes the pellet wood burn hotter and faster. It also means that the smoke stays around longer. This is great when cooking things like ribs or smoked turkey thighs because the meat continues to absorb smoke flavor even after it has been cooked.
If you are not sure which type of pellet wood to buy, check with a local supplier who sells them. There are plenty of options and you should be able to find one that suits your needs.
2. Keep Your Pellet Grill Clean
Pellet grills need to be cleaned regularly to ensure that food doesn’t become stuck inside the grill. You shouldn’t assume that because you clean the grill at least once a day that it is always clean. If you have a lot of grease build up on the top of your grill then it could start burning. This would cause your food to stick together making it difficult to remove. A good rule of thumb is to keep the surface area of the grill clean at least once every five days. If you don’t do this then you run the risk of having clogged vents.
It is also important to remember to vacuum the filter screen in your unit. This helps prevent any debris from getting into the vent system and clogging it up. If this happens then you could end up with a fire!
3. Don’t Overfill Your Pellet Grill
Overfilling a pellet grill can lead to problems. One of these problems includes the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. While CO is odorless and colorless, it is still poisonous. If there is too much gas building up in your chimney then it could cause health issues and even death.
To avoid this problem, never fill the hopper above half full. Even if you only put 1 cup of pellets into the hopper, don’t fill it more than halfway. That way there won’t be a large volume of gas collecting in the bottom.
Also, never add more than two cups of pellets to the grates at once. Any more than that will cause the temperature to drop.
When dealing with a pellet grill, it is also important to check the air flow rate. This is done by checking the number of cubic feet per minute (CFM) that the grill is producing. Pellet grills usually produce anywhere from 500-700 CFM. Any less than that and the grill isn’t going to perform properly.
4. Get Rid of Unnecessary Parts
One thing that many people forget about pellet grills is that they aren’t just for barbecuing. They are multi-functional cooking machines that can be used in the oven mode. In order to achieve this functionality, you must purchase some extra parts including a lid rack and a broil pan.
These two items allow you to place the grill on a pan to create a “baked” effect. The broil pan is placed underneath the grill to help transfer heat directly onto the food being cooked. This is great for baking bread, pizza crusts and other baked goods.
On the other hand, the lid rack allows you to rest the grill lid over the top of your food to finish off the cooking process. It also protects the lid from direct heat exposure. These racks can be purchased separately or built into the pellet grill itself.
5. Check Your Air Flow Rate Regularly
Air flow rate refers to how fast the air flows through the grill. This impacts the cooking time as well as the quality of the meat being cooked. To measure this, check the air flow rate of your grill with a digital gauge. Once you know the reading, you will be able to determine whether the airflow rate is sufficient enough to cook your food.
Most pellet grills today offer an adjustable airflow rate. However, the amount of adjustment varies depending on the manufacturer. Some models offer a range of 10, 20, 30 or 40 CFM. Others only offer 50 and 100 CFM. In either case, it is important to note that lower numbers don’t mean better performance. The ideal setting should fall somewhere between 25-30 CFM.
6. Adjust Your Heat Settings
If you own a pellet grill, you probably know that it has multiple settings. The main ones include low, medium and high. Each level represents a specific amount of heat.
Generally speaking, the higher the heat setting, the longer the cooking time. However, this is true only if the grill is set at its highest possible temperature. As soon as the temperature reaches the maximum, the cooking time starts to shorten.
So, if you want to cook something quickly, turn the heat down. On the other hand, if you want to cook at a higher temperature then increase the heat setting. This will result in a shorter cooking time.
If you own a Traeger Pellet Grill, it comes standard with eight preset heat levels. However, this feature is missing from many other brands.
There are several reasons why manufacturers leave out this feature. First, some consumers prefer to control the heat themselves. Second, the default settings are often more than enough for most users. And third, most users don’t need all 8 levels to cook whatever it is they plan to cook.
7. Cook Directly on Your Grill Grate
Many pellet grills now come equipped with a grate that looks similar to a regular kitchen grill. Instead of putting the food on a plate or tray, you simply place it directly on the grates.
While this is definitely convenient for quick meals, it is also a bad idea if you want to maximize your cooking experience. Not only does the grill have a larger surface area, but the temperature is also much higher.
In fact, the meat cooks faster and the smoke lingers on the food longer. This is especially true when cooking large cuts of meat. So, if you want to enjoy the full benefits of a pellet grill, don’t place your food directly on the grate.
Instead, use a pan to cook your food. Then, set the pan aside on the grill and place the food directly on top of it. Make sure that the meat is dry before placing it on top of the pan.