No self-respecting BBQ enthusiast would use an electric Pellet Grill, right? Right?
Except they are and so here we are to help you out.
Wood Pellet Grills have quickly become one of the fastest-growing trends in the outdoor cooking industry. Their popularity is surging and for a good reason. They are able to give you the flavor of wood smoke, with the turn of a dial convenience of a gas grill.
Wood Pellet Smokers have even become extremely popular in BBQ competitions, and these pellet smokers have been winning top prizes at many of them.
The great thing about them is that out of all the many smoker designs on the market today, electric wood pellet smokers are the simplest to use.
They are thermostatically controlled, just like your kitchen oven. You pick a cooking temperature, and the built-in temperature controller will sustain that temp by feeding pellets into a fire pot as needed to maintain your chosen temperature.
In This Article, We’ll Explore:
Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.
What Is a Pellet Grill?
Pellet Grills are advertised as both a grill and a smoker. In my opinion, you are better off considering it mainly as a smoker, although they have come a long as grills over the last several years.
I will explain a little bit more about that in a minute, but for now, you should understand that Pellet grills cook by using indirect heat, convection (air driven) style. The smoke produced by the burning wood pellets enters your food and helps provide the barbecue flavor we are all after.
Pellet Grills burn hardwood sawdust and wood shavings compressed into cylindrical pellets that are about twice the size of a pencil eraser. They come in many different varieties of flavors like oak, mesquite, and hickory to name a few, just like wood chunks.
How Do Pellet Grills Work?
Pellet Grills have a storage hopper (a container that tapers downward and is able to discharge its contents at the bottom) on the side or back that you fill with the wood pellets. An electric rotating auger (a device consisting of a long screw-like shaft to force bulk materials from one end to the other) feeds the pellets into a firebox.
The firebox contains an igniting rod that gets red hot when you turn on the grill. When pellets are pushed into the firebox by the auger, they catch fire. The heat and rich, hardwood smoke are then diffused by a blower fan throughout the cooking chamber. A metal heat tray is placed above the firebox and under the grill grate for complete indirect heating.
Pellet grills usually have a drip plate below the main cooking grate that allows drippings to drain, generally into a pail of some sort.
You set your desired temperature just like you would an oven. The thermostat lets the built-in computer controller know when it is time for the auger to feed new pellets into the firebox to maintain the temperature. Actual temperatures will fluctuate a bit as the controller switches on and off but will hover around your set temperature.
A LED display will let you know the current temperature in your grill using a built-in temperature sensor that actually works well. Unlike built-in heat thermometers in the lids of most grills and smokers that can be up to 50 degrees off.
What Pellet Grills Do Well?
They cook your food by using great indirect heat and in my opinion, should actually be considered more of a convection smoker. They cook like an oven but with the added BBQ smokey flavor added in.
The pellets burn very cleanly and do not produce much ash. They do long, “slow, and low” cooks like a champ. When cooking at low temps, they provide plenty of flavorful smoke to your food. They make for great flavor and produce very juicy meat.
At high temps, they crisp your food but produce a lot less smoke. Long-cooking or smoked meats like brisket, pork, ribs, homemade bacon or beef jerky, salmon, and turkey come out great.
I will be honest folks, cooking with a Pellet Grill is really hard to screw up.
What Pellet Grills Don’t Do Well
So here is the thing, (yes, there is a thing), as I mentioned above, if are looking for grilled food, then maybe a Pellet Grill is not right for you.
Pellet Grills cook mainly by using indirect heat, and the ability to sear is almost non-existent. More and more models on the market now allow you to sear directly over the firebox, but even those do not compare to true wood-fired cooking.
You can still get grill marks from the heated grill grate, but in most cases, you cannot produce that charred crustiness you would be able to get from a screaming hot charcoal or even a gas grill.
On top of that, the higher the temperature you cook at, the less smoke is produced on a Pellet Grill. So, for faster cooking meats like chicken breasts and steaks, you will not get as good of a sear nor as much of a smokey flavor. On the other hand, the meat stays juicy and tender.
Why Would You Want a Pellet Grill?
Pellet grills are as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get when it comes to outdoor cooking.
There is no more trying to light a fire, waiting for the charcoal to be ready, then transferring it to the grill. Lighting an electric Pellet Grill is as easy as flipping a switch. No more fiddling with the air control vents trying to get to the right temperature. You just choose the desired temp, and the grill will stay there.
No more hovering over the grill, making sure your heat has not risen or fallen too much. You just set it and forget it. There is no longer the need to light up a fire chimney to add additional coals halfway through a cook.
The wood Pellets create very little ash and are therefore easy to clean. I just use a mini-vac every couple of weeks to suck up the light coating of ash inside and around the firebox. Then wipe it down with a wet paper towel.
Low and slow smoking is a lot of hard work and a time-consuming process. Pellet grills can produce the same or better results much easier and without all the hassle that comes with hardwood or charcoal.
Do I Personally Use a Pellet Grill?
I absolutely do. I currently own a Camp Chef and Traeger and have used many other models during my testing.
Read on for some of the foods I cook using my Pellet Grill.
I get requests for my smoked brisket at least once a month from family and friends. I smoked our Thanksgiving Turkey for many years in my Pellet Grill, and the family loves it. I’ve cooked all the traditional smoked foods like ribs, salmon, pork loins, pork shoulders, and whole chickens. Homemade bacon and beef jerky are real winners at my house too.
I especially love smoking chicken wings, shrimp, bacon-wrapped shrimp, corn on the cob, and vegetables in the Pellet Grill. I slowly roast whole heads of garlic and mix them with butter, fresh parmesan cheese, and parsley flakes to create a wonderfully buttery, smokey garlic paste for homemade garlic bread that I bake in the Pellet Grill.
That’s not all I use it for. I’ve made pizzas that have come out fantastic. I make flavorful beef jerky, homemade maple, and pepper bacon, grilled pineapple, and peaches. Homemade mac-n-cheese and any other side dishes you could think of.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. So yes, yes, I use a Pellet Grill often.
Would I Recommend a Pellet Grill?
I would absolutely recommend a Pellet Grill. Especially if you like the flavor of smoked meat but don’t want to go through the hassle and hard work of cooking and maintaining a charcoal grill. If you like the convenience of “set it and go,” but still want the great BBQ results, these Grills won’t let you down.
If you had only one selection of grills that can almost do it all, smoke, barbecue, roast, grill (sort of,) and that are practically idiot-proof, it is hard to make an argument against a Pellet Grill. All without the hassle, mess, and time spent on traditional Grills.
Anything you would cook in an oven, you can cook on a Pellet Grill with the added benefit of getting to spend time outdoors.
Top Ranked Pellet Grills on the Market (In No Specific Order)
Below you can find some of the top-ranked pellet grill brands on the market today. I’ve had the opportunity to try all of these brands and while some may be slightly better than others, they are all worthy considerations.
Memphis Wood Fire Grills
Traeger Pellet Grills
Green Mountain Grills
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill
Fast Eddy’s – Cookshack Pellet Grills
Lastly, here is another great article on Pellet Grills and an all-around fantastic website for all things BBQ.
Amazing Ribs Pellet Smokers And Grills
As always, if you find this information on Pellet Grill informative, please consider sharing it with your Grilling friends!
Do You Have a Helpful Tip to Share? Any
Advice I May Have Missed? Questions?
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I hope you have enjoyed my article and it proves helpful to you. I also hope that you are one step closer to joining me in “The Grilling Life”!
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
Wow, never really heard of wood pellets grill and this look really awesome ! Definitely will put them up on my wish list in the future.
It is a great option for anyone who wants to start smoking meat and has never done so before. It is simple and the end product is delicious! Thanks Arthur. Happy Grilling!
This is fantastic stuff, Patrick! I haven’t heard much about Pellet Grills yet but I sure learned a great deal about them from you… thank you! I’m the BBQ person in our household, as a) I enjoy it, and b) my husband gets home right around dinner. If I want a BBQ’d meal, I’m the one who has to do it – so my husband would be a-ok with me choosing the next grill for our porch 🙂 . I love “set and forget” type cooking vessels, so I think a Pellet Grill sounds incredibly handy.
I have a few questions. How often do you have to clean out the ashes? Is it easy to do? And, I’ve never mastered “smoking” my meat… we have a simple electric grill. I love the idea though – would a pellet grill be easy to use for someone new to smoking?
Thanks! Have a great day!
So glad to meet a fellow BBQ’er and happy to provide information that was new and helpful. These grills really are so easy to use, and the learning curve is as easy as following a simple recipe. It that is not enough, there are tons of youtube videos online that show step by step instructions for every type of cook you could think of. I use them all the time for tips and recipes. The learning curve is really very small as Pellet Grills really do most of the work for you. If you have any other questions, I would be happy to help out. Just send me an email, and I will make sure to get back to you.Happy Grilling.
Very interesting review, I do not have much experience eating or cooking smoked meat, but this entices me. What would you recommend for tips on getting started? How long would you say you should cook it to get that perfect smokery meat? How long per side?
Also noticed one of those grills in the suggestions, the Memphis grill has a wifi logo above it, does that mean it can be controlled via phone or something?
A pellet griller is a great option for anyone who wants to start smoking meat and has never done so before. It is less challenging than using charcoal or wood but the end product is great. Low and slow is always the way to go for smoking meat. Every cook will be different depending on the type of meat, the weight, quality, outdoor temperature just to name a few. The best advice I can give is to use a meat probe to gauge the internal temperature to the desired doneness. One of the really cool features of many of the newer and higher end Pellet Grills is that they are adding built in wifi. That means you can adjust the internal temp and see what temp your meat is at all from your mobile device. Pretty amazing. Happy Grilling.
Hi thanks for sharing this wonderful article really enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, don’t forget to stop by again as I will be adding more info on Pellet Grills soon. Happy Grilling.
Hi Patrick, in South Africa we love BBQ. We call it “braai”. This seems to be a wonderful way to BBQ and I like the idea that you can set it up and then it basically cook with little supervision. I must say the models also look beautiful. It didn’t see any in South Africa yet. Keep well.
Hi Roux and thanks for stopping by. I am ashamed to admit that I have never heard of “braai” before and had to look it up. Part of the reason I write and share what I know is to hopefully learn new things and increase my knowledge as well. I thank you for the education today. 🙂 If you have any questions I can help you with regarding Pellet Grilling, don’t hesitate to ask. They really are convenient and beautifully made pieces of machinery. Happy “braaing” my friend!
This just blew my mind and can be very helpful for me and the men within my family. My uncle, cousins, me, and others are always by the grill, doing it all manually and missing out on some fun things going on. In my family we have a tradition for cookouts and parties during the summer or even throughout the year.
The men always work the grill, sometimes I dislike seeing my uncle alone while everyone is enjoying themselves, I keep him company then take over. I will be sharing this with my family members and see what they think, I personally think this is very beneficial.
Thank you for posting this!
My family is a lot like yours. The men hover over the “Que” while everyone else is off enjoying the party. I bet they hear “Is It Done yet?” more times than they can count also. These grills helped change all that at my house. Now with the convenience of set it and forget it, I am right in the thick of things and enjoying everyone’s company. Not to mention with the built in wifi that came with my grill, when someone asks is it done yet, I just show them the accompanying app on my phone and let them see for themselves. I’m glad you like this and don’t hesitate to share it with anyone you might think would be interested. Thanks for stopping by and happy grilling!
I had not heard of a pellet grill before. I am intrigued. I eat mostly vegetables, fruits and grains so when I started reading I wondered if veggies would turn out all right on the pellet grill. Then you started talking about garlic bread, corn and pizza on the grill and I suddenly got very hungry! My favorite grilled item is pineapple. Have you tried that? I like that you can leave it and not worry and that it is easy to clean. Sounds like a winner.
I love veggies on the grill. One of my favorites for sure. Grilled pineapple is the only way I will eat it as a matter of fact. It comes out great on the Pellet Grill. Anything you can think of that you would cook with your oven will work on a Pellet Grill, but with a BBQ flavored twist. Let me know if you have any moe questions. I am always happy to talk grilling.
These look great and I’m in the market for one right now. I haven’t reviewed the different models yet and I am currently just trying to get more information, mainly on the comparison with conventional charcoal burners.
I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind.
1. How long does it take to smoke ribs compared to a charcoal grill?
2. Where is the best place to buy one?
Great questions Craig. Maybe I need to go back and edit my article to make it a little clearer. These Grills don’t make your food cook any quicker; they do however make it so much simpler. You will save time not having to fiddle with the air vents trying to maintain the proper temperatures and having to add additional coals for long cooks of course. Perhaps the biggest time saver is all the things you can focus on because you no longer have to hover over the grill. I usually do my weekend chores, run errands and play with my daughter all while my brisket is smoking away.
I always see great deals on Amazon, and you can’t beat free shipping if you are a prime member. I also like to check out the manufacturer sites themselves as they often have deals too. If you have a particular brand in mind or have any questions on a quality griller, send me a note, and I will be happy to do some research for you. Happy Grilling my friend.
I understand the concept is a bit different to charcoal grilling so thanks for the additional info. I think it’s a great thing to be able to leave it instead of the usual hovering and checking all the time.
I haven’t decided which brand is best for me yet but Amazon does sound like the best place for me since I am a Prime member.
Anytime Craig. Let me know if I can help with anything else. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season.
I had never heard of pellet grills before, so your blog posts are opening up a whole new world for me.
It does sound like a great all-around cooker, though I love a good sear, so presumably one would have to get another piece of equipment too. I look forward to learning more grilling techniques from you.
Hi, Jaden and thank you for stopping by. You are correct, Pellet Grills are still not your best option for hot and fast searing, although there are several newer models that are working on it. They still have a ways to go though. What these grills excel at are slow and low cooking and smoking. I have a traditional charcoal grill that I use for steaks and any other meats I want a good crusty sear on, and I use my Pellet Grill for things like Brisket and pork shoulder. Glad you stopped by. Let me know if you have any questions. Happy Grilling!
Hello Patrick, you have an excellent site.
Thanks for educating me about pellet grills, first I’ve heard of those.
– Are the pellets readily available and from where?
– How does the cost of pellets compare to firewood, charcoal and propane?
Have a Great Day,
Pellet Grills are really a great new way to cook outdoors. I pretty much covered all the pros in the article but I can’t stress enough how convenient they are what a good job they do cooking food. I usually find my pellets in my local hardware stores but have also seen them sold at Costco. They also have a really great selection on Amazon. I have yet to see them sold in my local grocery stores but hopefully, that will change soon. As far as price goes, they are comparable to lump charcoal but in my opinion, it is money well spent.
I have never heard of a Pellet grill before, thanks for this review:) I love to grill, in summertime, but I guess it’s possible to grill all year, we use charcoal mainly, gives a good taste to the food. Lovely site, great niche:)
Thanks, Linda. Pellet Grills really are a convenient way to get your grill on. I even use mine in the winter or rain. I have a covered open air patio and it works great. For me, charcoal is the way to go, but you can’t beat a Pellet Grill for convenience and ease of use. Why not have one of each.
Hi, I am a regular reader of your website. I find it very interesting and useful. You appear to be extremely knowledgeable about such things. I respect your opinion and would like to know your feedback. I am searching for a budget-priced pellet grill for home use and was looking at some reviews but I am still unsure about what pellet grill to purchase. I was reading a review and considering buying the Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite that is recommended but I am not 100% sure. What do you think? Is it really worth it to purchase? Thank you so much for your opinion and thank you for the awesome articles that you write.
For a budget-priced grill, it is not a bad choice at all. You can read my full review of the Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite here if that helps.
You got my attention when you said that lighting an electric pellet grill is as easy as flipping a switch because you won’t need to wait for the charcoal to be ready and to light a fire. This is something that I will consider since my family loves barbecue parties, and they love outdoor cooking as well. We wanted to ensure hassle-free cooking experiences, so your tips will surely benefit us. Thanks!