How to Use a Pellet Grill? 5 Simple Steps

August 25, 2023

Using a pellet grill is quite straightforward. Just turn it on, dial in your temperature, and you’re all set – it’s that easy. But, like anything else, if you want it to last, you have to take care of it. A little seasoning here, a good scrub there, and your grill will keep on ticking, giving you that awesome smoky flavor every time. Trust me, it’s well worth the extra effort for the amazing results you get.

I’ve been using the Traeger 575 Pro for a few years now, and let me tell you, it’s the best smoker I’ve ever laid my hands on. The secret to consistently perfect temperatures? Good old-fashioned regular maintenance and correct use.

So, want to step up your game? Keep reading, and I’ll share my top tips and tricks on using pellet grills, so you too can grill like a pro. Let’s dive in!

how to use a pellet grill

How to Use Your Pellet Grill?

Let’s look at the steps required to use a pellet smoker grill.

Step 1

Make sure you start with seasoning your new smoker. Seasoning involves running your grill for the first time without any food in it.

This procedure ensures your grill lasts a long time and stays chemical-free. Bear in mind that seasoning your grill typically takes a few hours. Remember to consult your user manual for a more detailed breakdown related to your appliance.

  • To season your pellet grill, start by gathering all your ingredients. You’ll need cooking oil, wood pellets, soap, and water.
  • Mix soap and water in a water pan and gently wash all non-electric parts of the grill and allow the components to air dry.
  • Next, brush a thin layer of cooking oil inside the grill and on the grilling grate. If you don’t have cooking oil in a spray bottle, dab some oil inside with a towel. Make sure you don’t add too much oil.
  • After that, add pellets to the hopper. There should be plenty of pellets in the hopper; however, you don’t need to fill it completely.
  • Then turn on and power the grill to the highest setting. Leave the lid open and wait for the grill to smoke for about 5 minutes, then close the grill and allow it to smoke for 30 more minutes at high heat.
  • Turn off the grill after 30 minutes, unplug it, and voila, you’ve seasoned the pellet grill successfully. After seasoning, I recommend allowing your grill to rest for a day. You can season your grill before every cooking session to prevent rust and residue from building up.

Step 2

Make sure you preheat your pellet grill before grilling your favorite meat cuts. I recommend preheating your grill at a lower temperature of 225°F. This process should take about 10 minutes before you add the meat.

Step 3

Using tongs, place your proteins or vegetables on the grill. Note that placing your meats in the right spot on the grill is crucial to your pellet grill’s effectiveness. Typically, vegetables belong on the higher shelf, and meat is in the center of the bottom grate.

Step 4

Now, it’s time to close the lid of the smoker. Although it may be tempting to check on your meal regularly, the pellet grill won’t cook your dish properly if the lid is open.

Once the dish is done, take it out of the pellet smoker and set it aside. Bear in mind that it can be challenging to detect when your food is done, so a food thermometer is a must-have. Simply stick the temperature probe into the thickest portion of the dish. Make sure the thermometer does not touch any bones when taking the readings.

Step 5

Lastly, shut down the pellet grill correctly. It is crucial that you always shut down your pellet grill correctly after using it.

To do this, turn off the grill first, then wait for the fan to finish its cycle before unplugging it from the outlet. This will reduce the likelihood of the hopper catching fire.

Meat and Sausages are Grilling on the Pellet Grill

Tips for Using a Pellet Grill

Here are some extra tips on how to effectively use a pellet grill.

  • I advise you to stick with two or three wood pellet flavors and try them with different dishes to find the best.
  • From experience, I’ve found hickory and mesquite work best with beef because of their intense smokiness. On the other hand, lighter flavored pellets like cherry and apple taste better on pork and poultry.
  • Consider smoking over indirect heat. Indirect smoking cooks at a low heat and produces the finest smoke flavor in meat with the least drying effect. Even though most pellet grills automatically adjust the heat during grilling, you may benefit from cooking your barbecue on different spots on the grill. Sometimes, I place my barbecue on one side of the grill, away from the direct heat in the center. The results usually come out delicious, so feel free to try it out.
  • Pay attention to the color of the smoke your grill produces. If your smoker produces blue smoke, that’s a good sign that everything is running smoothly and the grill is cooking hotter. However, if your pellet grill creates gray or white smoke, it means it is not burning properly. So, turn off the grill and inspect the possible causes.
  • To add even more smoke flavor to your meats, use a smoke tube. Because pellet smokers burn wood so well, some of you might discover that the flavor of the smoke isn’t as strong as you’d like. Luckily, you can use a smoke tube to enhance the smokiness of your grill. Simply ignite the pellets inside a metal tube with several holes. This will continuously emit more smoke when placed on the smoker’s grill grates. Note that this device is only compatible with a few grills, so check the user manual to verify this.
  • At normal smoking temperatures, expect to use 1 pound of pellets per hour. This way, you can estimate that you’ll need about 5 pounds of pellets for a 5-hour cooking session.
  • Make sure you use pellets with no flavor oils and made entirely of wood. Finding a cheap deal on pellets is a fantastic thing, but you should make sure they are produced entirely of hardwood and don’t use any flavorings or other additives for flavor. All-natural flavors are, frankly, a must.

Related Reading

What is a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills, also known as pellet smokers, are appliances that combine the function of gas grills, ovens, and charcoal grills. They are therefore the ideal option for people who want their food cooked evenly and quickly while enjoying the flavors associated with grilling.

A pellet smoker, in contrast to other kinds of smokers, operates on electricity and uses hardwood pellets as fuel, which allows it to smoke meat at your desired temperature.

Moreover, pellet grills also have a wide temperature range, making them perfect for cooking different dishes such as ribs, briskets, roasts, and so on.

Compared to gas or charcoal grills, the ease of use and temperature control of most pellet grills are their most attractive features. So, chefs can cook for hours with more help from this fancy cooking equipment.

Pellets are poured into a hopper-shaped container. These pellets are then fed through a rotating auger into an electric firepot. Then, the pellets are ignited by a hot rod once they are inside the fire pot, causing them to burn.

Once ignited, heat and smoke pass into a heat baffle, where they are then dispersed throughout the grill to cook your food without burning it. Next, the inbuilt fans help spread the heat evenly through the grill to fill up the heat chamber.

Grilling Summer Sausage and Meat on the Grill

Best Dishes to Cook on a Pellet Grill

In my opinion, a pellet grill works best for cooking foods (such as pork shoulder, brisket, or a side of salmon) on low temperatures, since the temperature gauge can be precisely controlled.

Having said that, I advise using a high heat setting to cook foods like pizza quickly. You can even grill your favorite whole poultry, like turkey and chicken, in this efficient smoker.

If you want extra crispy skin on your poultry, I suggest turning up the heat for the last 15 minutes before taking the meat out of the smoker.

What is the Lifespan of Wood Pellets?

If stored properly, wood pellets can stay good for up to a year. Pellets lose their usability if they become moist and expand. So, it’s essential to store them in a dry place. Moreover, discard any pellets that grow any kind of mold because of moisture exposure.

I always recommend storing your wood pellets in an airtight container when not in use. However, you can get away with leaving it in the pellet hopper if you leave it in a dry climate.

That said, I always encourage cleaning a pellet smoker grill after 2 or 3 weeks to remove residual oils and keep it optimally maintained.


Hopefully, you now know how to operate most pellet grills for your favorite dishes. Fortunately, using a pellet grill is more straightforward than other grill types.

Remember to allow the grill to cool completely after usage. Then, clean the machine’s components, including the grill grates, grease tray, etc., using a grill brush or scraper. Lastly, keep your pellet grill in a dry, cool area so it’s ready when you next need it.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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