You’re in the market for a new grill… And you’ve been hearing a bunch of hubbub about pellet grills.
They’re not like the gas or charcoal grills of old, you’ve heard…
But you’re still not really sure what they’re all about.
Which is making you wonder…
What is a pellet grill?
It’s an important question to ask. With all manner of pellet grills dominating the market these days… You don’t want to miss out on a good thing.
So in this article, we’ll be detailing everything you need to know about a pellet grill. What they are, how they operate, benefits, comparisons… The whole deal.
Why should you trust us to speak on the topic?
We partner with a premium pellet grill manufacturer and we understand their product at an intimate level… We’ve reviewed and compared several prominent pellet grill brands… And many of our team members own and operate a pellet grill on a regular basis!
So let’s just say… We’ve got it covered from all sides.
Ready to dive in?
- What is a Pellet Grill? And How Do They Operate?
- 7 Astounding Benefits of a Pellet Grill You Haven’t Heard of
- 5 Surprising Drawbacks to Keep in Mind
- The Best Dishes to Make with Your New Pellet Grill
- But First… Who is a Pellet Grill For?
- The Best Pellet Grill to Consider for Your Backyard
- How to Better Optimize Your Pellet Grilling Experience
What is a Pellet Grill?
Let’s start with the basics.
At its core… A pellet grill is a grill that uses wood pellets as its fuel source.
Shocking, we know!
But that’s not the only thing that defines these grills.
Pellet grills also come equipped with fans to bring your grill to a specific temperature. In this way, it works more similarly to a convection oven than a traditional grill.
This opens up a whole world of cooking versatility… But we’ll get to that later.
Now, let’s see how a pellet grill works.
Want to bring your idea to life?
How does a Pellet Grill Work?
First things first, you’ll be pouring wood pellets into a hopper.
This hopper leads to an auger… Which meticulously transports your pellets into the fire box.
The pellets will be ignited in the fire box, and begin to preheat to your set temperature.
As the fire’s going… Fans will be circulating heat and smoke evenly throughout the grill. This is what creates that convection oven effect throughout the cooking chamber.
Rinse and repeat!
Your pellet grill will continue to go through the cycle of adding more pellets and circulating heat as you cook.
This means you’re able to maintain consistent temperatures without any effort on your part… And achieve tantalizing, smoky flavors!
Which leads us to…
Impressive Benefits of a Pellet Grill
Now that we’ve gotten the order of operations out of the way… How about some fun stuff?
What are the unique benefits of a pellet grill… That you can’t get elsewhere?
Well, let’s take a look.
Versatility is Unmatched
Gas and charcoal grills better step aside… Because they can’t hold a candle to the versatility of a pellet grill!
Let’s be honest…
These days, you expect more out of your appliances. Why get a unitasker grill… When you can get a grill/smoker/convection oven all in one?
That’s what you’re upgrading to when you get a pellet grill.
You can grill burgers and steaks with that classic, wood-fired flavor…
Whip up some hickory smoked ribs that sing with the savor of smoke…
And even bake a tender pineapple upside down cake for dessert! (Or whatever else your heart desires, for that matter.)
Point is, you can truly do it all with a pellet grill.
So if you want to explore absolutely everything the outdoor cooking hobby has to offer… A pellet grill should be a top contender for purchase.
But that’s not all.
Technology Lovers: Rejoice!
New technology gets a lot of love (and a lot of hate), but in the case of your pellet grill… It’s cause to celebrate.
Most pellet grills offer incredible tech upgrades to make your grilling experience far easier.
WiFi or bluetooth connectivity are a prime example.
This allows you to operate your pellet grill from an app on your phone… So you can check temperatures and make adjustments without moving a muscle!
Plus, most pellet grills include meat probes. Which means, you can even check what temperature your meat is without ever lifting the hood of your grill.
Speaking of convenience…
It’s the Pinnacle of Convenience
Thanks to technology, a pellet smoker truly couldn’t be simpler to operate.
You add your pellets, set the temperature you want… And let the grill do the rest.
There’s absolutely zero fuss with managing a fire or fiddling with temperature control.
It’s like driving a car with an automatic transmission, rather than manual.
You still have to actually cook the food (or drive the car), but the rest runs itself.
This grill is as “set it and forget it” as it gets!
Pellet Grills are the Most Beginner-Friendly Solution
New to the grilling and smoking world?
While some dishes might seem simple… The reality is, this hobby can often be a lot harder than it looks.
That’s especially true if you’re trying to smoke out-of-this-world briskets or pork butts.
A pellet grill takes a massive amount of stress off your shoulders.
You need hardly any skill or grilling know-how to create a delectable result.
Like we said previously… These smoker grills run themselves.
Set the temperature, follow the instructions of your recipe… And reap the reward!
Obviously, there’s more fine-tuning you can get into.
But for just getting started… There’s no easier introduction than a pellet grill.
It’s also not going to break the bank.
Inexpensive Entry to Hobby
While it’s true that inexpensive gas and charcoal grills are a dime a dozen… Pellet grills offer you a far greater value for your dollar.
These days, you can get a budget pellet grill for as little as $200 – $300.
Will it last you forever? No. But it will give you a taste of what the hobby is like… Without having to sell your kidney for it.
And if you do decide that you’ll be a pellet griller for life… You can upgrade to a premium option without much grief.
Keeps Your Home Cool in the Summer
Here’s a benefit you likely haven’t considered!
During blistering hot summers… The last thing you want to do is heat up your home with the oven or stove.
But a pellet grill can act just like an outdoor oven.
Which means you can still enjoy a warm meal… Without turning your home into a dry sauna!
Our very own Social Media Manager, Lauren Conrad, uses her pellet grill with this intention in mind.
“Living in Arizona, it’s a huge bonus to not heat up the inside of the house during summer. We even cook our son’s frozen pizza and chicken nuggets on it”, she explains.
Even if you don’t necessarily have the time to prepare a full meal… You can still save yourself from having to endure a hot kitchen during the dog days of summer.
But you know what the most important benefit of a pellet grill is?
High Quality Results
Wood pellet grills reliably dish out delicious results… Again, and again, and again.
The smoke flavor won’t match that of a true offset smoker… But you will still get a stunning bouquet of smoke on your proteins.
Same goes for grilling. The flavor will easily outperform your gas grill… But it might lag slightly behind a charcoal grill.
And if you’re a seasoned home cook or baker… You’ll be more than pleased with the baked goods a pellet grill can produce.
Seriously, you can have your cake and eat it too.
You’ll get 5 star results, even if you’re not a pitmaster!
And while this all sounds amazing so far (because it is)… There are some downsides to pellet grill ownership.
Drawbacks of a Pellet Grill
The reality is, there is no perfect solution for anything. And a pellet grill is no exception.
While we believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages… They’re still worth discussing.
So let’s go through the cons with a fine toothed comb.
Not Every Model Can Sear
While this drawback isn’t universal… Most pellet grills are unable to sear well.
Unfortunately, many pellet grills just don’t get hot enough. Traeger grills and Z Grills are two critically acclaimed brands that fall into this category.
The vast majority (if not all) of their grills have a maximum cooking temperature of 450°F – 500°F.
These temperatures just aren’t quite enough to get a stunning sear on your steaks.
Thankfully, there are pellet grills that can do both… But we’ll circle back to that later.
Long Lasting Outdoor Kitchen
With all the focus on wood pellets being the fuel source… Often, much not thought is given to how those pellets are ignited in the fire pot.
It’s gotta catch on fire somehow.
And that fire will be ignited with the help of good ol’ electricity.
If you have easy access to electricity outdoors… This won’t be a problem.
But not everyone does!
So keep this in mind before you buy.
Technology is a Double-Edged Sword
Just as technology can be an incredible and convenient time-saver… It can also turn into a frustrating, baffling, time-suck.
And while the WiFi functionality and digital control panels of most pellet grills are fantastic… They can be immensely annoying when things go wrong.
If a part on your gas or charcoal grill fails, it’s simple to replace.
Unfortunately, that’s not so with a pellet grill.
As Lauren put it, “As simple as it is to use, it is more complex to troubleshoot.”
Which means you’ll be at the mercy of the customer service department… And it might be a while before things get fully resolved.
Point is, technology is finicky. (We all knew that, right?)
So while the benefits are well-worth the risk in our minds… It’s still a reality that you’ll be dealing with at some point down the road.
Watch Out for Jams
You can also encounter mechanical issues with your pellet grill. And most likely, this would be caused by the auger getting jammed.
And how would the auger get jammed?
As our own DSS Team Leader, Alan Morse, explains, “If your pellets get wet they will jam your auger, and that is a huge pain to fix!”
You’ll end up having to pull out the auger unit and get it unjammed… Which often requires a lot of time and elbow grease.
Thankfully, the issue is simple to avoid as long as you’re vigilant.
Don’t let your pellets get wet!
So that means keep your pellets bone dry before they go into the grill… And don’t leave any in the unit after you’re done grilling.
Humidity in the air will cause the pellets in your grill to swell if left to sit. So just save yourself the headache and keep your pellets dry!
Is Cleanup Ever Fun?
We’d say not. But cleaning a pellet grill can prove to be a bit more labor intensive than other grills.
“You have to make sure to vacuum out the fire pot before each cook to make sure the igniter can efficiently combust the pellets during the startup phase”, Alan explains.
You’ll need to keep your pellet grill squeaky clean to ensure smooth operation!
And unlike a gas grill… Pellet grills will accumulate lots of ash. So you’ll need to clean out the ash tray on a regular basis as well.
Overall, it’s not too complicated. But due to all the aforementioned finicky tech… Taking extra care during cleaning will prevent problems with your pellet grill.
But that’s enough for the cons.
If you’re beginning to get your heart set on a pellet grill, you’ll want to know…
What is a Pellet Grill Good for?
We’ve been hammering home the versatility of a pellet grill… So it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.
How versatile is a pellet grill, really?
In our minds, it’s truly a jack-of-all-trades.
You can grill, sear, smoke, and bake… But let’s demonstrate with some of our team’s favorite dishes.
Our Team’s Favorites
While there’s nothing wrong with the classic burgers and hot dogs… Your pellet grill can accomplish so much more.
On Alan’s side of things… His favorite pellet grilled dish is reverse-seared ribeye steak.
You’ve got stunning smoke flavor, great caramelization, and a beautifully rendered fat cap. (Now we’re talking!)
Our Brand Manager, Jayme Muller, throws a few more tantalizing dishes into the ring.
Her husband is partial to grilled pizza and seared steak… While her favorites are grilled pickle-marinated chicken, grilled seafood, and smoked eggs.
Bet you didn’t see those coming! (Sounds incredible though, right?)
Lauren prefers some lighter fare. She’s been digging all sorts of grilled salads to beat the Arizona heat!
As you can see… The versatility of your pellet grill goes way beyond standard proteins.
Just about any dish you enjoy can be made better with the help of your pellet grill.
Yes, even dessert.
You Can Make What in a Pellet Grill?
You might think smoky flavors and dessert don’t mix… But applewood smoked bacon dipped in pure maple syrup would like to have a word with you.
Seriously though, light pellet smoke can truly take your desserts to another level.
Both Alan and Lauren have baked classic chocolate chip cookies in their pellet grill… With fantastic results.
Jayme’s most unique pellet grill creation was smoked apple pie.
But you can’t just use any apple pie! “We recommend that the baked goods be homemade vs. store bought for optimal smoky flavor”, Jayme explains.
And trust us when we say… It’s worth the effort.
But of course, these aren’t the only desserts you can experiment with. (Smoked pecan pie or cheesecake would be something else!)
We’ll let you daydream about desserts in a moment. But for now… Let’s address a key question.
Who is a Pellet Grill For?
After reading all this… You still might not be completely sure that a pellet grill is the right type of grill for you.
So let’s settle this once and for all.
Who is a pellet grill perfect for?
Our team had several responses that might help you decide where you stand.
Lauren says that “Anyone who loves smoked flavor, but also loves convenience” would do great with a pellet grill.
It’s an excellent point!
Just about all of us love the flavor of slow smoked BBQ ribs… But we also generally don’t want to put in all the effort needed.
A pellet grill offers a near-perfect compromise between flavor and convenience.
Jayme echoes this point by stating, “A pellet grill is for anyone who likes charcoal or smoking, but doesn’t have the time to commit to a traditional option.”
That pretty much says it all.
Pellet grills are perfect for beginner to intermediate grillers that don’t like to fret about the details. You just want consistent, straightforward, and tasty results… Without having to work hard for it.
If you ask Alan, he’ll say a pellet grill is for just about everyone!
When asked who a pellet grill is for, he said, “Everyone. No, seriously. They’re incredible! Unless you’re not that interested in how food tastes/smoking things, and all you make is burgers, I 110% believe you should get one!”
High praise, isn’t it?
Once you get your hands on one… You’ll see what we mean!
But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s work on getting you started.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Before we let you loose in the wide world of pellet grills… Allow us to suggest an excellent product first.
We’ll be the first to admit that there are a ton of fantastic pellet grill options on the market. Weber, Camp Chef, Traeger, Pit Boss, and Z Grills are just a few of the brands that you’ll encounter.
But few are as well-rounded and capable as the Coyote pellet grill.
Offered in 28” and 36” sizes… The Coyote pellet grill has an astounding set of high-performance features, such as:
- Complete 304 Stainless Steel Construction
- Convenient, Front-Loading Pellet Hopper
- 12 lb Hopper Capacity
- Digital Touch Control & 3 Meat Probes
- 175°F – 700°F Temperature Range (Ideal for Searing!)
- Heavy-Duty Laser Cut Grill Grates
For these reasons… It’s one of the best pellet grills currently available.
Plus, it just straight up looks fantastic… Doesn’t it?
Another excellent feature of the Coyote pellet grill is flexible installation.
Both freestanding and built-in units are available. But even if you start with a freestanding grill… You can choose to safely install it into an outdoor kitchen in the future.
Speaking of an outdoor kitchen…
The Optimal Way to Enjoy Your New Pellet Grill
Whether you’re slow smoking, high heat searing, baking, or even braising… Using your pellet grill is made even easier when set inside an outdoor kitchen.
Just think about it for a second.
As pellet cookers open up a seemingly endless array of cuisine options… That also means you’ll accumulate a lot of stuff.
Hardwood pellets, meat probes, BBQ utensils, butcher’s paper, aluminum foil, spices, baking dishes… Just go down the list!
Naturally, it’s much more convenient to keep it all outside than haul it in and out of the house.
With an outdoor kitchen… You’ll have plenty of dry storage to keep everything safely stowed away. (And in the right place at the right time!)
But that’s just one problem an outdoor kitchen will solve.
Prepping food for a wood pellet smoker also takes up a lot of space.
A big ol’ pork shoulder will quite literally be a table hog… And most pellet grill shelves simply don’t offer enough real estate.
Which leaves you no choice but to precariously place everything on a rickety shelf… And hope that nothing gets knocked over.
A summer kitchen will make this issue a thing of the past.
The countertops will run for what feels like miles long… And you can breathe again, knowing there’s a solid place for everything to sit.
An outdoor kitchen also allows you to add even more convenience and versatility to your backyard.
Which means you’ll spend more time outdoors, more time using your pellet grill… And will probably be hosting a lot more barbecues with loved ones!
Starting to see where we’re going here?
If so, we’ve got just the thing for you.
Play around with our free online design tool to see what your pellet grill outdoor kitchen could be like.
It won’t even take 5 minutes of your time, and if you’re interested in going deeper… Our design team will be in touch.
Well, what are you waiting for?