Six Things to consider before buying a Pellet Grill
Youâve been thinking about it again, havenât you? You can almost smell it now, that savory scent ofÂ smoked meats wafting through the air. You can almost taste the unparalleled flavor of smoked ribs,Â brisket, beef, chicken, and more. Just thinking about it all makes your mouth water. Finally, you settle onÂ the matter. You have to upgrade your grill to something that delivers more flavor and versatility. YouâveÂ decided you have to have a pellet grill. But before you rush online or over to your nearest retailer, thereÂ are plenty of important details to consider when searching for the right pellet grill. With this in mind,Â read on to learn what you should look for and why.
Why a Pellet Grill?
Perhaps you havenât quite reached the pointÂ outlined in the hypothetical scenario above.Â Maybe youâre considering a pellet grill for theÂ first time, or maybe youâve heard your friends orÂ colleagues talking about them and youâveÂ decided to research the matter yourself. Great,Â thatâs why weâre starting this article byÂ answering this important question: why areÂ pellet grills such a great choice for barbequing?Â Whether you know the answer already or not,Â this brief buyerâs guide will both create andÂ reinforce a decision to invest in pellet grilling,Â and it will go over all the matters you need toÂ consider when searching for the right pellet grill.
For starters, pellet grills are fueled by burning small compressed pellets of real wood, and are perhaps the single best barbequing option for the backyard barbeque fan. Itâs important that you choose pellets wisely to keep ash off the food and save money. Read more about premium pellets in our article âTaste the Premium Wood Pellet Differenceâ. Pellet grills are better than traditional grills for three distinct reasons, and those reasons are: flavor, ease-of-use, and versatility. Together these characteristics make a pellet grill an exceptional investment in your barbequing future. Thereâs no replacement for or equal to the flavor of smoked meats, and this is something easily accommodated with a pellet grill. If you think the only way to produce quality, smoked meats is by using a large and elaborate stick (log) burning grill like the pros use, think again.
A pellet grill produces the same, great, smoked flavor as the large, aforementioned alternative, and itÂ does so with far less hassle, which brings us to the next selling point: ease-of-use. You see, if youâreÂ going to smoke meats with a large and expensive stick burner, then you better be well versed in whatÂ youâre doing, and you better be ready to devote a lotÂ of time to monitoring your cooking. With traditionalÂ smokers and stick burners, you have to truly monitorÂ the entire process in order ensure that your smokerÂ remains within the proper temperature range. WhatâsÂ more, you have to know how to change theÂ temperature when it begins to fluctuate, when to addÂ another log, adjust air flow, etc. Learning this artÂ takes a lot of time, and perfecting it takes evenÂ longer.
-Ease of Use-Â
With a pellet grill, however, you can forget about having to dealÂ with any of that. Pellet grills work with the push of a button and theÂ dial of a knob. And thatâs no exaggeration. Push-button ignitionÂ lights the flame thatâll keep your pellets burning, and arrows orÂ knobs are used to adjust the temperature setting. The right kind ofÂ pellet grill is extremely accurate with its temperatures too.Â Variances in your set temperature are likely to be as little as 10Â degrees, give or take. In addition to being easier to use than a stickÂ burner, pellet grills are also much easier to manage than yourÂ common charcoal grill. Make no mistake, your average stick burnerÂ or charcoal grill does offer great, smoky flavor to whatever yourÂ smoking/grilling, but it all comes at the cost of long hoursÂ monitoring and tweaking the flame and temperature, not toÂ mention it makes for a considerable amount of cleanup too.
Imagine all the flavor of traditional smoking or charcoal grilling without the hassle associated withÂ either, and youâve just imagined what a pellet grill offers. Itâs the cheat mode of grilling. Pellet grills come with all the convenience ofÂ gas grilling, without the need to store or refill on propane, and all the flavor of traditional smokers.Â Subsequently, they also offer far more versatility than traditional smokers, charcoal, or gas grills. GasÂ grills, for example, are fine for cooking hot dogs, burgers, and steaks (albeit they still lack the flavor of real wood barbeques) but if youâve ever wanted to cook something bigger, like a whole chicken, your gas grill isnât going to cut it. This is often the same case with charcoal grills, except that they add great flavor. Conversely, a stick burning smoker isnât something youâd ever use for cooking a few burgers or chicken thighs. Pellet grills, on the other hand, can handle both smoking and grilling jobs. Whether you want to slow cook/smoke your meats, or you want to quickly grill up some patties or chicken drums, a pellet grill is a convenient answer. Whichever option you go with, you get savory, real-wood flavor. With all the different pellet options available, you can cook with convenience and variety, from hickory toÂ Applewood, pecan, classic alder, and more.
What to Look for in a Pellet Grill
Now that itâs apparent why pellet grills are so great to use in your barbequing, itâs equally important toÂ know what to look for in a pellet grill. Consideration of the subject begs to question: are all pellet grillsÂ created equal? The answer: no, they arenât. As is the case with just about everything, there are varyingÂ levels of quality and features from one pellet grill to the next, and itâs important to know why quality is aÂ must and what features are necessary for a grill to be a great pellet grill.
Speaking on the subject of quality, itâs worthÂ mentioning that quality is always important.Â Some grills may look real pretty on the outside,Â but on the inside, they lack the same attentionÂ to detail. Sometimes, a grill will be constructedÂ of high grade stainless steel externally while itsÂ guts are made of lower-grade metals. This isÂ problematic not for aesthetic reason, but forÂ functionality and longevity. In other words, ifÂ the heart and soul of your grill isnât made well,Â youâll burn through it over time, literally.
-Functionality and Efficiency-
As far as functionality is concerned, you want a unit that is well built, with efficiency in mind. Thereâs a fine balance to strike between encasing a grill (particularly the burn pot) in a sufficient wall of steel verses a grill thatâs made bomb proof. If the grill casing is too thin, then it wonât retain heat as well, and as a result, youâll burn through more pellets, especially in colderÂ temperatures. On the other hand, you can overdo it. A super thick-walled grill (a.k.a. bomb proof) will be too heavy to move around because of the shear weight. If you look at a traditional, industrial-grade smoker, youâll find that the walls are rather thick, and thatâs a necessary thing, in order to regulate temperature. However, since a pellet grill has an internal computer regulating temperature, additional thickness isnât needed.
If you want to take efficiency to an even higher level you can wrap your grill friend in a blanket that will keep her warm year round. That can reduce pellet consumption by up to 50% during the winter months, and save you money year round. Donât worry, the blanket is built to handle the heat.
-Precise Temperature Control-
Speaking of temperature-regulating computers, we come to our next point; and thatâs temperatureÂ controlâ¦precise temperature control to be specific. When shopping for a pellet grill, temperatureÂ control is a necessity; else you lose the convenience that comes with using a pellet grill. Thereâs moreÂ than one way to approach temperature control, but the commonality among high quality grills is the useÂ of computer-regulated temperature control. Not all manufacturers have durable control units so check out the reviews before buying! Whether itâs PID (proportional, integral, derivative)Â temperature control or some other equivalent,Â the name of the game is precision. FluctuationsÂ should be within 10Â°F, give or take. This mean youÂ want to steer away from grills that boast of heatÂ zones. Heat zones are nothing to boast about. ItÂ simply means that the grill is incapable ofÂ maintaining a fairly narrow temperature range and instead can only maintainÂ temperature within a broad âzone.â Youâll also want to avoid pellet grills that use baffles or any otherÂ manual form of air flow for temperatureÂ regulating purposes.
-Fuel Containment and Cooking Surface-Â
For a pellet grill, your fuel is pellets, which is great for all the reasons mentioned in the beginning of thisÂ article. Being that your fuel is pellets, youâll want to make sure the pellet grill of your choice has aÂ containment unit (known as a hopper) that is large enough to hold the amount of pellets youâll need. AÂ good size hopper, somewhat of the standard among good pellet grills, is 18 lbs. With an 18 poundÂ hopper, you can cook for a long time, enough for the long slow-cook times associated with smoking yourÂ meats. But if you have a hopper much smaller than this, youâll have to refill with pellets more often.Â Another important quality to any grill is the cooking surface. First off, you want a cooking surface that isÂ made of high-quality metal, as already mentioned. But you also want a cooking surface that isÂ sufficiently large for the amount of cooking youâre going to want to do. Camp Chef pellet grills come in aÂ range of sizes, from 429 sq. inches to 875 sq. inches. So whether youâre going to do small amounts orÂ large amounts of smoking and grilling, we have an option for you. Another important thing to consider is looking for a pellet grill with convection style circulation. All Camp Chef Smokepro pellet grills come standard with a continuous convection fan that significantly reduces natural hot spots typical of grills in the marketplace. Think of it as cheat mode. You donât have to figure out where to place your meat since the temperature is very close no matter where you place it on the grill grates.
â¢ Sear box â The nature of pellet grills make it challenging to get a crisp sear so look into the max temperature, and add-on accessories that give you the ability to sear at high heat. Camp Chef makes a sear box accessory that sears meat at up to 900Â°F. No pellet grill on the market has a sear that can be compared with the sear produced on Camp Chefâs sear box. The beauty is that you can sear at 900Â°F, then cook at any temp between 160Â°F and 500Â°F. â¢ Patio Cover â Keep your grill and pellets dry the next time it rains with the SmokePro canvas patio cover. â¢ Add-on Racks â Smoke jerky, produce massive amounts of bacon, and quadruple your cooking space on these simple to install racks â¢ SmokePro Insulation Blanket â Trap the heat in with a fireproof blanket and save on pellets
Another very nice feature of pellet grills is their extreme burn efficiency. This is due to the nature of theÂ fuel used to produce the burn. Pellets actually burn far more efficiently than charcoal, and even moreÂ efficiently than logs. This means they produce a lot less waste. If youâve ever used a charcoal grill, thenÂ you know that theyâre a mess to clean up. The ash box fills quickly and often, requiring frequentlyÂ cleaning. Real wood burning leaves a lot ofÂ char too, and if youâre using a log burner,Â then youâll have substantial amounts ofÂ clean up to do.Â Hereâs the beauty of burning pellets though.Â Because the pellets are compressed wood,Â theyâre quite a bit denser than real wood.Â Because theyâre denser, they burn throughÂ easier and produce a lot less ash. Camp Chef pellet grillsÂ are by far the cleanest burning, real-woodÂ grills available. So youâll be cleaning out your ash box a whole lot less. As mentioned earlier, it may beÂ only once a year. Whatever the frequency is, youâll want to get a grill that accommodates very easyÂ cleanup. For example, Camp Chef pellet grills come with a patented Ash Can Cleanout System that is soÂ simple and easy to clean that it becomes a matter of simply detaching a can and dumping it in theÂ garbage. Itâs a big ash deal. Whatâs more, Camp Chef pellet grills have the added feature of a hopper cleanout and purgeÂ system too.
Conclusion and Recap
After everything weâve mentioned here, you can see that there is a lot to consider when shopping for aÂ pellet grill. We hope you feel a bit like an expert in pellet grills after reading through this, but for theÂ sake of a brief recap letâs visit the qualifiers of a good pellet grill one more time, in a quick list.Â Remember, the advantages of a pellet grill are: â¢ Flavor Delivery â nothing can replace that savory smoke flavor. â¢ Ease of Use â getting that smoky flavor the traditional way is difficult and messy, but with aÂ pellet grill, itâs never been easier or cleaner. â¢ Versatility â Charcoal grills are messy, and stick burners are only for really big jobs. The pelletÂ grill, however, can cook your small quantities and large smoke jobs, from burgers and dogs toÂ whole turkeys. Remember, when buying a pellet grill, youâre looking for: â¢ High Quality Construction â you want something built to last, but you donât want a pellet grillÂ built like a stick burner. â¢ Functionality and Efficiency â you want a grill that isnât going to go through pellets like thereâsÂ no tomorrow. â¢ Precise Temperature Control â temperature control is so important; you want to set and forget.Â Set the temperature and walk way without babysitting, thatâs how easy it should be. â¢ Fuel Containment and Cooking Surface â you need a hopper thatâs big enough (around 18 lbs.)Â and a cooking surface that can handle your plans. â¢ Easy Cleanup â you donât want a grill thatâs high maintenance and takes a lot of work to clean. Now that you know what to look for in a pellet grill take a moment to consider the quality pellet grillsÂ we produce here at Camp Chef. We know youâll love what you find.
More about Camp Chef Pellet GrillsÂ
Every camp chef pellet grill and smoker is designed with theÂ home griller in mind. Made of high-quality materials, ourÂ pellet grills deliver functional efficiency time and time again.Â Our built-in features simplify the process of smoking andÂ grilling, making the experience enjoyable and hassle free.Â Camp Chefâs automatic auger dispenses pellets as neededÂ for improved smoking efficiency, and the hopper purge andÂ patented Ash Can Cleanout System makes clean up theÂ easiest out there.Â Digital temperature readouts take the guesswork out of theÂ cooking process, and an advanced digital temperature chip provides the steady and consistentÂ temperatures needed for smoking. By eliminating large temperature swings, you can confidently set theÂ temperature and walk away. Additionally, the stainless steel temperature probe enables you to monitorÂ the internal temperature of your meats, ensuring that theyâre cooked to perfection.Â With our range of SmokePro Pellet Grills, you can choose the grill thatâs right for your needs.Â And with an 18 pound hopper, you can keep on smoking and grilling for hour after hour without needingÂ a refill.
â¢ Electronic auto-start ignition â¢ Easily choose your smoke setting or desired temperature (with Dual LED temperature readouts, internal cooking temps, and internal food temps available with some models) â¢ Automatic auger dispenses pellets as needed for improved smoking efficiency â¢ Stainless steel probe measures internal food temperature (available in certain models) â¢ Built in sensor gauge reads cooking temperature â¢ Included warming rack provides additional space to cook your favorite foods â¢ Clean-out ash can makes clean up simple â¢ Large capacity pellet hopper means less filling, more smoking â¢ Included recipe booklet simplifies the learning curve â¢ Pellet hopper cleanout and purge (available in certain models) â¢ 160Â° F up to 500Â° F temperature range for slow smoking to grilling