Pellet Grills 101

When it comes to grilling there has traditionally been two main choices – charcoal and gas. Both have their pros and cons, with charcoal being viewed by many as the quintessential way to barbecue food, while others believe you can’t beat the convenience and low maintenance of gas grills. 

Regardless of your preference, there is a new kid on the block and it’s taking the grilling world by storm, with the wood pellet grill offering many benefits and very few drawbacks! Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about pellet grills:

What is a Pellet Grill? 

A pellet grill is an outdoor cooking device that uses hardwood pellets to generate heat and smoke for cooking food. Small hardwood pellets are stored in a hopper at the side of the grill, which feeds the pellets into a fire bowl and then ignites them.

The smoke and heat produced from the burning wood is then dispersed throughout the cooking chamber via an electric fan, cooking the food via convection heating. When using the low and slow cooking method (i.e. smoking) smoke from the pellets enriches the flavor of meats and fish, with different types of wood used to create various flavor notes. 

Pellet grills use a digital temperature control system, usually ranging from 180 to 500F, so you just need to set a temperature and the auger will automatically fill the grill with pellets to maintain the desired cooking temperature. 

Why Use a Pellet Grill? 

A good pellet grill makes smoking food easier than ever. You simply set the temperature you need, place the food inside the cooking chamber, and then let the grill take care of the rest. This means easy slow cooking of all your favorite BBQ foods like brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey, fish, or pork. 

However, a pellet grill does more than just smoking. If the model can reach high enough temperatures, it’s great for searing, while it can also be used to grill and even bake, making it one of the most versatile outdoor cooking devices around. 

The use of wood pellets is another key advantage of a pellet grill. Available in various woods like hickory, cherrywood, and applewood, the pellets infuse an authentic smoked flavor like you’d find in a restaurant. It’s hard to beat this flavor quality on other grills! 

Types of Pellets 

As mentioned, there are many types of hardwood pellets you can use in a pellet grill, giving you the option to create many mouth-watering smoky flavours. Here’s a quick overview of some of the best wood pellets to use on your pellet grill:

Hickory: The staple hardwood for smoking, it’s a versatile flavor that works well with almost any meat, including pork, beef, and poultry. If smoking for the first time, this a good pellet to start with. 

Apple: Provides a subtle sweetness to the food without tasting too overwhelming. Works well when combined with other pellets, especially those with a deeper smokiness. 

Cherry: Like applewood, it offers a pleasant sweetness that’s not too powerful, pairing especially well with fish. 

Oak: Provides a heavier smoke flavor that is perfect for dark meats like brisket.  It’s less popular, but some of the most recognizable Texas BBQ names use oak, especially Post Oak.

Maple: Less heavy than oak, maple pellets produce a moderate smokiness that pairs nicely with pork. 

Alder: The go-to pellet for smoked salmon, although it works really well with most other fish.

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