How Do Pellet Smokers Work?

Jun 1, 2020

I was out shopping with my dad, trying to get an idea for a Father’s Day gift when he asks me how do pellet smokers work?

Pellet smokers work by loading tiny pellets into a hopper and setting the desired temperature. The pellet smoker will automatically feed the pellets from the hopper into a cooking chamber where the pellets ignite and produce an even consistent smoke and heat to smoke every part of the meat in a fantastic BBQ flavor.

Parts of a Pellet Smoker

Unlike charcoal or even gas grills, pellet smokers and grills have several different components. First of all, there is a box attached to the smoker’s side, called a hopper. The pellets go into the hopper. An auger, which is powered by electricity, feeds the pellets into a cooking chamber. The wood pellets then ignite via combustion, and this is what heats the cooking chamber at the bottom part of the grill. Next, intake fans bring air into the smoking chamber, dispersing heat, and smoke throughout the entire cooking area. If it sounds simple, you’re right because it is, in fact, a lot easier than many people realize. Most of the components work on their own, with little to no assistance from the owner. That means that your primary responsibility is to keep enough wood pellets in the hopper so that the next time you decide to smoke or grill something, you can get started immediately.
Pellet smoker With Hopper

Wood Pellets

So essentially, the process starts at the hopper and goes from there to the auger. The pellets ignite and heat the cooking chamber. Because the pellets are continuously feeding by the auger into the cooking chamber, the chances of uneven cooking or even burning the food are low. The pellets flow into the chamber in a slow, continuous way, so even the number of pellets that end up cooking the food consistent and produces little waste.

The pellets themselves are also unique in that most of them produce very little ash, making the cleaning of your smoker a breeze. Natural hardwood makes up most pellets, but many brands also offer different types of wood, such as maple, mesquite, alder, pecan, and even apple. Indeed, if you want your smoked meat to have a great flavor and aroma, there are many options to choose from when shopping for your pellets.

A basic rule of thumb is to have 2 pounds of pellets for every hour of slow-cooking you’re planning to do, and 4 pounds for every hour of the “hot and fast” type of grilling.

If you want to learn how to use an Electric Smoker, view our post on How to Use an Electric Smoker.

Natural Hardwood Pellets

Other Features of a Pellet Smoker

Most pellet smokers have either a dial or a digitally controlled temperature device that can set the temperature from 180° Fahrenheit to 500° Fahrenheit. Whether you want your next meal done quickly or would prefer a slow, steady cooking experience, pellet grills can provide it to you. After answering the question, how do pellet smokers work, you might be curious to find out about any special features these smokers have, and there are quite a few. Many pellet smokers, for instance, have a built-in meat probe that helps you monitor the meat the entire time you’re cooking. Some Pellet Smokers have different cooking options and even specialized plates that allow you to cook your food using either direct or indirect heat.

What Makes Wood Pellet Grills So Great?

Now that you have a basic understanding of how wood pellet smokers and grills work let’s talk about their many advantages over gas, charcoal, and even electric grills. Although the benefits are numerous, here are a few of the most important ones:

  • You get an unbelievable flavor and aroma in your food.
  • Pellet grills are versatile because you can use them as a smoker or a grill. You can roast, bake, and sear everything from steaks to burgers.
  • They are super-easy to use – press a button to start smoking or grilling.

With a wood pellet grill, the food cooks more even and consistently than other types of grills, which means a much tastier dish every time you use it.

If you want to see a full list of Smokers and their specs, view our post on how much does a BBQ Smoker weigh.

Are Pellet Smokers Difficult to Clean and Maintain?

Much like other types of smokers and grills, you do have to clean a pellet smoker regularly to keep your foods fresh-tasting and delicious. You should always do regular cleaning after each use, with a more thorough cleaning taking place every few months. You can clean your pellet smoker much the same way you do other grills. Use a grill brush to clean the grates, a special cleaner for stainless-steel grills if needed. You will need plenty of paper towels, rags, and a shop vacuum cleaner to soak up debris.

Your pellet grill will usually have a drip pan, so get some disposable drip pan liners so that cleaning up is less messy and a lot easier.

For more information on how to clean your BBQ smoker, view our post on How to clean a BBQ Smoker.

drip pan liner

Now You’re Ready to Use a Pellet Smoker

Now you no longer have to wonder how do pellet smokers work. You can relax and enjoy your new smoker. Wood pellet smokers and grills cook evenly and produce foods with some of the best taste and aroma around, especially compared to other types of grills. They work efficiently to provide you with a fun and simple way to cook and smoke your foods, and it is very little you have to do to get started except push that button and watch the grill perform its magic. Soon, your food will taste so much better than it did before that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without your pellet smoker, making this an invaluable part of your cooking experience.

We hope you found this info helpful, and please follow us to stay up to date on all of our latest posts., Inc.

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