Pellet Grill 101: Smoking the easy way

When most people get ready to buy a new grill, they’re usually thinking they’ve got two main choices: gas or charcoal. However little do they know there are other options, and one of those options happen to be the pellet grill.

 

How Pellet Grills Work

louisiana cs-450 pellet grill 3

The pellet way of grilling starts with filling the hopper with hardwood pellets and setting your cooking temperature. The computer sensor monitors the heat, while the pellets are automatically fed into the fire at the rate required to maintain your chosen temperature. A fan then keeps the fire burning by circulating the hot air throughout the cooking space to evenly cook your food and to evenly distribute that wood-fire flavor.

Think this is the grill for you? As with all other types of grills, there are some pros and cons to pellet grills that you’ll want to consider before you make your decision.

Pellet Grill Pros

  • Temperature Control: The pellets are fed into the system only as needed to maintain the desired temperature. This allows you to relax while you grill. If you get caught up in conversation, you can return to the grill knowing your food is cooking exactly as you intended. Your pellet grill will cook consistently, so it’s just up to you to perfect that barbecue recipe!
  • Versatility: You can make just about anything on a pellet grill: smoke a brisket, grill some wings, or bake bread or dessert. Really. You can adjust the temperature from about 150 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit (and even higher, in some cases), and it stays constant throughout the cooking process.
  • Smoky Flavor:  There’s nothing like cooking a meal under a wood fire! By using a pellet grill to cook, you’re improving the taste of your food by adding that smoky flavor that you don’t get when you cook with gas or charcoal grill.
  • Easy to Use: A pellet grill is much easier to use than gas or charcoal. Simply load the pellets, set your temperature, and enjoy the company of your family while you cook! It’s perfect for someone who is new to outdoor cooking.

Pellet Grill Cons

  • Moisture Can Destroy Pellets: Humidity can affect the pellets so remember to store them in a cool, dry place.
  • Requires a Power Source: Pellet grills need electricity to run. This isn’t a big deal as long as you have an outlet handy on your patio.
  • Greater Risk of Breaking Down: Since there is an automatic electrical component, you might have maintenance issues with a pellet grill that you wouldn’t normally have with a gas or charcoal grill.

Popular Pellet Grills

  • Memphis Wood Fire Grills: The who’s who of pellet grills: Manufactured in the U.S.A, Memphis has several different models available, including a built-in option. Made of stainless steel with a dual-fan convection system, you can get a Memphis suitable for your family, or one that’s large enough to feed a backyard full of guests.
  • Louisiana Grills: With all the convenience of a pellet grill at a lower price, these Louisiana models are designed with porcelain-covered cast iron, stainless steel handles and steel burn grates.
  • Green Mountain Grills: The Davy Crockett model is light, easy to transport, and offers Wi-Fi control giving you internet access on the go!
  • Z Grills: This pellet smoker is built to last; it’s sleek, stylish, and easy to clean.

What You Need to Know About Pellets

Though both hardwood and softwood pellets can often be used in a pellet stove to heat your home, it is not advisable to use softwood pellets for your grill. You only want to use food-grade hardwood pellets to avoid unhealthy additives. Besides, certain softwoods will cause your food to taste unpleasant.

Pellets come in a wide variety of flavors:

  • Hickory: Probably the most widely used pellets in barbecue, hickory pellets release a strong flavor and complement most meats. Some people find hickory can be a little strong and like to mix it with a milder pellet like oak or apple.
  • Apple: Most often used with poultry and pork, apple wood pellets offer a lightly fruity smoke that helps enhance mild flavored meats.
  • Mesquite: A favorite of Texas BBQ, Mesquite pellets infuse your meat with hearty smoke flavor.
  • Pecan: Deliciously nutty and even a little spicy, Pecan pellets are great with beef, pork, or poultry. They add a great depth to baked goods as well
  • Oak: Oak is a great middle ground as far as smoke intensity goes. A little stronger than cherry or apple, and a little lighter than hickory.
  • Cherry: One of the more flavorful pellets, cherry wood lends itself to application where you want to add a hearty smoke flavor.
  • Maple: Mild, with a hint of sweetness, maple pellets are great on pork and especially turkey.

Experiment with different foods and mixtures of pellet flavors to find your favorite combinations! You can use any brand of food-grade hardwood pellets in any pellet grill you choose; though many grill companies make their own, you can try them all and see which flavors from which brands you like the best.

If you like wood-fire flavor and want a versatile, no-fuss grill, a pellet grill is a great addition to your backyard. If you have any more questions about the benefits of a pellet grill, let us know. We’d love to help you find the best grill for you.