Let’s face it, everyone loves food, and nothing gets a backyard party going faster than the promise of a little outdoor dining in the summertime. A great grill is the perfect accompaniment to your amazing outdoor oasis.
However, when it comes to buying a grill, most of the advice you can find points you towards two choices: the difficult to control charcoal grill or the somewhat flavorless gas grill.
The good news is that there is another option!
The pellet grill combines the great smokey flavours of a charcoal grill with the ease of use of a gas grill. If you’re considering getting a grill this summer and want the best of both worlds, read on to learn everything you need to know about pellet grills.
What Is a Pellet Grill?
The primary difference between a pellet grill and the more traditional gas and charcoal grills is the fuel it uses and the way that fuel is fed into the grill.
Pellet grills use compacted wood pellets as fuel. These pellets are commonly a waste product from the timber industry, making them one of the more ecologically friendly forms of combustible fuel.
The wood pellets are fed into a hopper at the back of the pellet grill. When the grill is lit, normally using a push-button ignition system, the pellets are fed into the firebox using an auger.
The auger is similar to a large drill bit. As it turns, the spiral void in the auger picks up wood pellets from the hopper and delivers them into the firebox, where they are ignited. The auger is linked to a small computer known as the PID controller and a number of temperature sensors. These are used to accurately control the temperature by throttling the feed of pellets into the firebox.
This system is what sets pellet grills apart. The rest of the grill is pretty standard and, apart from the hopper on the back, it looks like any other outdoor grills.
The Pros and Cons of Owning a Pellet Grill
There are many benefits to owning a pellet grill and one of two drawbacks, including:
The Smokey Flavour
The use of wood as a fuel imparts that wonderful smokey flavour people associate with a traditional barbecue, without the difficulties of managing the temperature.
The Easy Temperature Control
The PID and sensor-controlled auger feed system mean that controlling the temperature on your pellet grill is remarkably easy.
On some models, you can even set specific recipes and the grill will automatically change and maintain the temperature for you.
A Range of Pellets
Because they are made of sawdust, the wood pellets used by a pellet grill can be made from specific wood.
As with smoking food, different types of wood impart different distinct flavours, as you might see in applewood smoked cheese, mesquite, or hickory-smoked BBQ.
Most wood pellets are a waste product from the timber industry, making pellet grills an excellent choice if you’d prefer an environmentally friendly cooking method.
Despite using physical wood fuel, pellet grills don’t need the setup time that you need to add into cooking with a charcoal grill or wood fire. Using a pellet grill means cooking faster and that means less wasted time on a beautiful summer day.
Despite using a wood-based fuel, pellet grills are far less susceptible to the temperature fluctuations that you’ll find with charcoal grills or wood ovens. This is particularly important when you’re cooking anything slow and low for a long time, like a brisket, as it ensures the food cooks evenly for maximum tenderness.
In comparison with charcoal or wood logs, pellet grills burn very cleanly and produce relatively little ash for you to clean up. They also produce relatively little smoke, so you won’t be cleaning ash off your patio or out of your above-ground pool.
Pellet grills tend to be a little more expensive than traditional charcoal or gas grills, but they more than pay for themselves in terms of their ease of use.
Price ranges for a pellet grill start at around $400 and can go well above $1,000 for more premium models.
The Occasional Jam
As with all mechanical parts, the auger system occasionally jams.
Higher-end pellet grills have auto-clearing systems, but, as you can see from this video by Traeger, manually clearing one isn’t that much harder than cleaning out a charcoal grill.
The Benefits of Owning a Pellet Grill
As with all grills, a pellet grill is an excellent outdoor dining option, allowing you to share your love of cooking with friends and family.
Mastering the easy-to-use pellet grill means you can produce a varied and exciting range of healthier food options and enjoy them in the sun with the people that mean the most to you!
Pellet Grills vs. Gas Grills vs. Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills are great, but they do come with a certain learning curve.
Because of the nature of charcoal, controlling the burn temperature can be a little tricky. Get it wrong, and you end up with the old barbeque stereotype of meat that’s burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.
The tradeoff, of course, is that using charcoal imparts a wonderful smokey flavour to all the food cooked on the grill.
However, if you’d just prefer a solution where you can have that perfect smokey flavour without all the hassle of learning a new hobby, investing in a pellet grill is a great alternative.
Gas grills are often held up as an industry leader for easy grilling. No need for messy charcoal, a push-button start, and easy temperature control.
However, while there is no denying that you can produce amazing and flavoursome food with a gas grill, they just don’t impart that same smokey flavour.
Choosing a pellet grill gives you all the benefits of the ease of use and accurate temperature control of a gas grill and the wider flavour profile of a charcoal grill.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pellet Grills
To make sure you know everything you need to know about pellet grills, we’ve gathered together some of the most frequently asked questions about pellet grills and answered them for you:
Q: What is the best pellet grill brand?
We choose Pit Boss because of the high-quality construction and durability of their grills!
Q: Are pellet grills worth it?
A: If you are looking for an easy-to-use, easy-to-control, outdoor grill that still gives you all the smokey flavours of a wood or charcoal grill, without all the fuss, then yes, pellet grills are worth it.
Q: What is the advantage of a pellet grill?
A: Pellet grills have a huge range of benefits, but the most important ones are:
- Fast, even, and accurate cooking with great control over the internal temperature.
- Easy to use and easy to clean.
- An environmentally friendly fuel.
- Imparts a great smokey flavor.
- Less acrid smoke and less ash for you to clean up.
Q: Are pellet grills expensive?
A: While the cost of pellets varies and the amount of pellets used will also vary, cooking on a pellet grill costs about $0.76 per cooking session, making it very inexpensive indeed.
Q: How do I clean my pellet grill?
A: Cleaning a pellet grill can be done in a few easy steps:.
- Empty out the excess pellets.
- Use a rubber or nylon scraper to clean the lid and inside the barrel.
- Remove and clean off the removable elements, such as the gates and drip pan.
- Wipe down the grease chute and thermometers with a paper towel.
- Vacuum out the mess with a wet/dry vacuum.
- Clean the outside with a degreaser.
Q: Where should I place my grill and is it ok to leave the pellet grill outside?
A: When it comes to placing your grill, you’ll ideally want to have it under some kind of cover. This can be an awning or a pergola or something similar.
Always site your grill away from anything with a flammable finish and away from anything vulnerable to heat, like plants or paintwork. While most grills will have a rust-resistant finish, you’ll also want to invest in a cover for your grill to protect that finish.
In the winter, when you aren’t using it as much, your garage is normally the best place to store your pellet grill.
After cooking, always remove unused pellets from the grill and store them in a sealed container to stop them from getting damp.
The Best Pellet Grill for Your Outdoor Space
Pellet grills are an amazing addition to any outdoor space, giving you all the combined benefits of a gas grill and a charcoal grill.
So, if you’re looking for a fantastic grilling option to gather friends and family around, contact Sundance Spas of Edmonton today to discuss which of our range of high-quality Pit Boss pellet grills is right for you!