Pellet Grills 101

Pellet grills have become the hottest trend on the BBQ and grilling scene. Since technology in the industry really hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years or so, people are excited about the different features and conveniences that pellet grills are adding to the market. However, in order to truly appreciate all they have to offer, it’s important to understand how they work. So, if you are new to pellet grilling or smoking and are thinking to yourself, exactly how do pellet grills work, then you’ve come to the right place! We will answer this question as well as compare pellet grilling to other traditional forms of outdoor cooking so you can better understand the differences between them and decide which grill or smoker will best meet your BBQ and grilling tastes.

What is a pellet grill?

Pellet grills are outdoor cookers that combine elements of smokers, charcoal - gas grills, and ovens. They use 100% all natural hardwood pellets are the fuel source that allows Pit Boss® Pellet Grills to provide direct or indirect heat.

How do pellet grills work?

Fuel and air flow image

Wood pellets are poured into a storage container called a hopper. The pellets are then fed into a cooking chamber by an auger that is powered by electricity. Thru combustion, the wood pellets ignite, heating the cooking chamber. Air is then brought in by intake fans. Heat and smoke are then dispersed throughout the cooking area.

Much like an oven, pellet grills give you precise temperature control digitally or with a dial, usually ranging from 180°F to 500°F. So, you can cook “low and slow” or searing hot.

Most pellet grills have a meat probe that can connect with the control board to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. Pit Boss® Grills have a patented SearZone™ plate which allows for indirect or direct heat and 8 different cooking options.

Compare: Pit Boss Grills vs Traeger Grills

How are the pellets made?

Wood pellets are exclusive to pellet grills. Pit Boss® hardwood pellets are made from 100% all-natural hardwood that is dried and ground into saw dust. The dust is then pressurized at extreme heat to create the compact pellets that are coated and held together with the wood’s natural lignin. Wood pellets are also known as the easiest fuel to use. They produce less than 1% of ash, so an entire 40lb bag of pellets will only turn into ½ cup of ash, which makes clean up a breeze. They also provide immense flavor without needing to think about babysitting the air to fuel ratio like with wood chips or chunks.

Image of competition
Pit Boss wood pellets come in a variety of natural flavors including:
Hickory
Maple
Pecan
Mesquite
Apple
Blended flavors

How long do the pellets last in a pellet grill?

Like every road trip, when you make sure there’s gas in the truck, your first step is to double check you have more than enough pellets in the hopper. A good rule of thumb is to have 2 lbs. of pellets for every hour of smoking low and slow or 4 lbs. for every hour of grilling hot and fast.

Related: read all about Starting Up Your Wood Pellet Grill

Why pellet grills?

Smoking on a Pit Boss® is unlike smoking on any other grill. With the burning of hardwood pellets, everything gets infused with a real wood smoky flavor. That’s because whether you’re using direct or indirect heat, Pit Boss® pellet grills feature fan forced convection. Which means no matter what, there is still hot smoky air circling around in the grill creating an even cloud of flavor inside.

Aside from adding smoky flavors, you can smoke foods low and slow for hours. Some Pit Bosses even leave their grills for hours while at work or sleeping at night so they can achieve perfectly smoked foods without needing to babysit them. This makes smoking typically complicated cuts like Brisket, a breeze to cook. a breeze to cook. Everyone loves brisket when it is cooked, now you can love cooking it as well.

To do this, you would simply set up your grill as recommended in the “Pellet Grill Setup” portion, leave it on the “smoke” setting, and track the progress using a remote thermometer or a meat probe.

Image of meat probe

In addition to smoking and “low and slow” BBQ, a Pit Boss Pellet Grill can get hot enough for you to grill and sear. And who doesn’t love a nicely seared steak? For this reason, Pit Boss Pellet Grills are considered 8 in 1 grills that can deliver any BBQ option you can dream of. Not every wood pellet grill can do what a Pit Boss does.


Pellet grill vs smoker

Pit Boss vs Smoker

While pellet grills give you the option to smoke foods, they are different from traditional smokers in certain ways. Mainly, since pellet grills use an automated fuel and air delivery system, it is much easier to control temperatures than a traditional smoker. You might have wanted to avoid smoking food due to how difficult it can be to manage the fuel source over a long cook that can span many hours. Pellet grills can eliminate this frustrating task, making the smoking process a virtually “set it and forget it” one. Now you can enjoy the flavor benefits of smoking without needing to be an experienced BBQ pitmaster

Pellet grills also give you the convenience of combining many different cooking options into one unit. A traditional smoker only smokes, so you would have to buy a separate unit if you wanted to grill, bake, or roast your food.


Pellet grill vs propane (gas) grills

Pit Boss vs Gas Grill

Both gas grills and pellet grills offer convenience to the consumer. And when Pit Boss® bursted onto the scene a few years ago, they both offered affordability as well. However, there are some major differences between the two types of grills.

Gas grills are great for cooking at mid to high to high temperatures. However, due to poor insulation, gas grills typically don’t perform well at low temperatures. Gas grills need proper ventilation and because of this they don’t typically perform well as smokers.

Pellet grills also offer more flavor options due to gas itself being flavorless. The wood pellets, on the other hand, can come in a variety of natural flavors that help enhance the food.

It is also a little easier to control temperature on a pellet grill. Each gas grill has a “dialing in” process with the user but a pellet grill can be set to the temperature you desire within a 15°F variance.


Pellet grill vs charcoal

Pit Boss vs Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills have long been considered the classic way to grill food. You’ve probably had or at least used a charcoal grill at some point in your life. There are a variety of different types of charcoal grills (Kettle, Barrel, Kamado, etc) but there are only two fuel sources: lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes.

Cooking on a charcoal grill can be a slow process that takes a lot of practice to master. This is because it can be difficult to control temperatures on a charcoal grill. Pellet grills offer a much simpler approach to temperature control which is what makes them so appealing. They are also much easier to clean up than charcoal grills as a 40 lbs bag of wood pellets produces less than ½ cup of ash


Pellet grill vs electric smoker

Pit Boss vs Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are modern takes on classic smokers, offering ease of use and more control than its traditional cousins. Instead of bricks of wood or charcoal, electric smokers heat wood chips in order to get that smoky flavor. Like pellet grills, they are very convenient to use, allowing cooks to set it and forget it. However, most electric smokers don’t reach high enough temperatures to grill and sear (between 450°F and 550°F). They do get hot enough for most other outdoor cooking techniques so if an electric smoker is something you’re interested in, take a look at Pit Boss’ Electric Smokers. Our smokers can reach temperatures of 400°F offering 5 in 1 options for outdoor cooking.

Pit Boss pellet grill chart

Pit Boss Pellet Grills

If you’re looking for the Biggest, Hottest, and Heaviest pellet grill on the market that is backed by a 5-year warranty, then look no further. A Pit Boss Grill is your best bet. Our grills come standard with our patented SearZone™ technology that offers the direct heat you need for that perfect sear. Or, turn your grill on smoke and you can go low and slow for fall off the bone brisket all while you set it and forget it. Click here to view our latest wood fired pellet grills.

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