It is a revolution among grills and smokers, it combines all the advantages of the most popular grills. It offers a great authentic wood flavor of food enriched by burning hard wood pellets and is a very convenient device for meat smoking at low temperatures and for grilling at high ones. All you have to do is set the desired temperature, wait for about a dozen minutes and you can start cooking. It was discovered in 1985, today’s models differ a lot from the first pellet grills.
The traditional smoking methods require constant temperature control which is in fact very difficult. You have to control everything related to the topic throughout the entire few-hour-long meat smoking process, the amount of wood, the temperature, the level of being done etc. Meanwhile, a pellet grill makes the whole cooking process easier by reducing most of those activities to the minimum, more on how the pellet grill works below.
History of Pellet Grills
In 1985, the „Traeger Grills” company was launched, the owner of which was Joe Traeger, he was also the inventor of pellet grills and for many years he owned the patent for them which made it the only company manufacturing pellet grills for many years. Traeger grills are popular to this day, but in the recent years, thanks to the patent expiring, a room was made for new manufacturers of pellet grills.
That way, several dozen more or less famous manufacturers arrived in the market, who compete with each other, creating increasingly better and more polished and fuller of different gadgets pellet grills.
Today’s pellet grills are definitely better in every regard than the ones from 30 or even 10 years ago. All thanks to a large number of manufacturers who compete for the control over the market by introducing increasingly better pellet grills.
How does a Pellet Grill work?
A pellet grill works thanks to advanced technology which calculates and analyzes the process of fuel burning. A special algorithm calculates how many pellets have to be thrown on the fire to maintain the desired temperature.
How exactly does it work?
Wood pellets are transported from the container to the fire using a spinning spiral. Next the fan blows at the flames and spreads the smoke and heat all over the inside of the grill. Right above the furnace, between the grill grates, there’s a plate that spreads the direct heat evenly, preventing flare-ups and making conditions for direct cooking on the grill which protects the food from burning and works similar to an oven.
Just like is the case with gas grills, pellet grills have a constant fuel supply, an advanced system and the spinning spiral calculate how many pellets have to be put in the fire to maintain the right temperature. Just like is the case with traditional smokers, a pellet grill has a plate between the grates and the furnace that creates conditions for direct cooking which is perfect for slow meat smoking.
On the fuel
A cooking food grade pellet doesn’t contain any additives except for vegetable oils, which are often used as a lubricant in the production process. They are 100% hard wood, made of compressed sawdust and are 100% natural and don’t contain any chemical additives.
The advantages of Pellet Grills
- Versatility – Undoubtedly it’s a very versatile device, you can cook on it, sear meat for many hours or cook a steak at high temperatures. The digital controller in majority of pellet grills allows to set the temperature within the range of 160 to as high as 550 degrees F.
- Preheat quickly – just like a gas grill, a pellet grill reaches the right cooking temperature in just 10-15 minutes.
- Great temperature control – The latest controllers make it possible to set the temperature at 5 degree intervals. No other gas or charcoal powered grill can allow for such precise temperature control. On top of that, a special plate between the grates and the furnace guarantees the grill to warm up evenly.
- Pellets are available in different flavors – cook your food giving it different, characteristic flavors depending on the type of pellets.
- Simplicity – Instead of controlling the amount of charcoal or the power of burners, just set your preferred temperature and focus on other things, the pellet grill will do the rest on its own. When it comes to ease of use, a pellet grill is like an oven – you turn it on, you set the temperature, you wait for the right temperature, you put the food to cook and then you wait in peace the required amount of time until it’s done. Without having to constantly control the temperature and all the other important factors that influence cooking, such as wind.
The disadvantages of Pellet Grills
- It relies on electricity – Unlike a gas grill which can be started manually when needed, or a charcoal grill, pellet grills are limited when it comes to mobility. Of course there are great portable models, but they still need a source of power for the electronics to function.It is more like a smoker than a grill, a true grill offers a direct cooking method and can reach temperatures up to about 800 degrees F. Meanwhile, a pellet grill can warm up to 500-550 degrees F tops, of course it’s great for cooking things like steaks or hamburgers, but it’s not as good at that as a traditional charcoal or gas grill. However, it is unmatched when it comes to cooking for many hours at a fixed temperature using the indirect method.
- They are expensive compared to other types of grills – only gas grills are slightly cheaper. A quality pellet grill usually costs more than a thousand dollars, whereas decent models can be bought in the $400-$800 range depending on how big they are and how they are made. The most expensive models cost as much as few thousands which is a whole lot.
- A lot of electricity means possibility of malfunctions in the future – Sadly, all electric things are time-limited, pellet grills have plenty of advanced mechanisms ( mostly electrical ), that might malfunction in the future. For example, a regular charcoal grill is the structure and cooking grates, so the only thing that could happen is corrosion occurring which doesn’t prevent from further cooking. In a pellet grill, a malfunction of one of the components responsible for temperature control means inability to cook and necessity of servicing.
- You can only use pellets – You are limited only to food-grade hard wood pellets, you can’t use any other type of fuel like regular wood or some charcoal.
Is a pellet grill something for me?
It’s a great versatile device for those who want a simple and very convenient grill. A pellet grill offers more convenience than a gas grill and a flavor just as good as in charcoal grills. There are people to whom the whole cooking process is fun, which is why they love charcoal grills, and there are those who simply want to cook whatever food they like fast, easily and conveniently. Think about what it is that you really need and what type of cook you are.
If you’re really interested in this type of grill, then We invite you to read our the best pellet smokers for beginners so you can find something perfect for yourself. You will find the best currently available pellet grills in different price ranges there. Our main price range was the $300-$1500 range, so you will find a pellet grill for all beginners regardless of the budget there.