Everything You Need to Know About the p Setting on Pit Boss Grill

August 21, 2022

The p setting on Pit Boss grill is a way to maintain the temperature of the smoker, allowing for more even cooking.

As a BBQ addict, I do have several grills and smokers that I rotate between, but the Pit Boss grill continues to be a favorite for me and over the years, I have perfected my handling of it.

In this post, I will break down what the Pit Boss p setting is, how to use it, and even some tips and tricks to make it work for you. Let’s get started!

p setting on pit boss

What is the Pit Boss p Setting?

Let’s first start with what the p setting actually is. Now, this setting is pretty unique to the Pit Boss pellet grill. You can only activate this feature when the smoke setting is on.

The p setting option allows you to have complete control over the temperature and smoke output while the grill is in smoke mode. This helps to offset other variable features such as:

  • pellet fuel type
  • pellet quality
  • ambient temperature
  • humidity
  • wind
  • environmental changes
brats on a grill

In having greater temperature control, you can reduce the risk of temperature fluctuations, resulting in better control and a more predictable end result.

How Do You Use the p Setting on a Pit Grill?

Before I get into the how the p Setting button functions, I first want to give you the lowdown on how pellet grills work, just in case you don’t know.

A pellet grill, which is sometimes referred to as a smoker, operates by heating a cooking chamber. The air circulates in this area, heating the wood. Pit Boss pellet grills use wood pellets that are burned at the bottom of this chamber. This area may also be known as a burn pot or fire pot.

The food, on the other hand, is placed at the top of the chamber. As the pellets are used up, an auger motor system pushes the pellets stored in a hopper. The pellets are moved down the chute and into the center of the chamber.

Here is where the Pit Boss grills p setting comes into play:

When the p setting button is pressed, the auger system turns continuously, feeding pellets inside for four minutes. Once this period is up, the auger will feed pellets based on the p setting cycle that has been chosen.

This is why this function is sometimes referred to as the pause setting. Depending on the p setting that you choose, the pause time can increase or decrease accordingly.

The fuel quantity and the amount of smoke produced changes as you adjust the p setting and the pellet flow changes.

High p Setting

A higher p setting means that the auger slows down, so that there are longer cycles in between each feed. This results in lower temperatures – creating a “low and slow” cycle.

The high p setting produces a deeper smoke ring and more smoke flavor. The cooking time is increased as well.

Lower p Setting

When you lower the p setting, you are increasing the frequency of the pellet cycle. This causes the temperature to increase as the fuel feed goes up. While this does speed up the time it takes for the food to cook, it also reduces the overall smoke flavor.

The Different Settings – What Do They Mean?

As mentioned above, adjusting the p setting will determine how much smoke and heat is created. This means that it is organized according to auger cycle – the number of seconds that the auger is feeding the pellets and the number of seconds it is “off”.

bbq grill closeup

Here is the breakdown of the p setting chart:

  • P0 – 18 seconds on, 55 seconds off
  • P1 – 18 seconds on, 70 seconds off
  • P2 – 18 seconds on, 85 seconds off
  • P3 – 18 seconds on, 100 seconds off
  • P4 – 18 seconds on, 115 seconds off
  • P5 – 18 seconds on, 130 seconds off
  • P6 – 18 seconds on, 140 seconds off
  • P7 – 18 seconds on, 150 seconds off

Now, it should be noted that the factory default setting on the Pit Boss grill is P4. Most manuals will tell you to stick to this setting and not change anything. Of course, this all depends on how you want to smoke your meat.

There is something that you should know about adjusting the p setting to any extremes:

At the highest setting, there is an increased risk of the fire going out completely. Despite this, pellets will continue to be fed into the burn pot. However, as there is no flame, the amount will simply build up here.

This can cause an issue with grills that have an igniter. When the igniter does come on, there is likely to be a big fire due to all the pellets being stacked on top of each other.

The lower setting, on the other hand, does have a benefit. It can reduce temperature swings in the grill, making it easier to maintain the desired temperature.

How Do You Adjust the p Setting?

Here’s a quick note about the P setting button:

The button is actually recessed and appears indented as a result. Due to this, you can’t really press it like a regular button. It is designed in such a way so that you don’t accidentally change the settings while using the smoker.

To activate the p setting, simply use a toothpick or a similar long, thin tool. Poke it through very gently as this doesn’t require that much pressure to be turned on.

You start off by setting the temperature dial to the Smoke setting. With this setting, the auger will work closer to that of a manual mode instead of a preset mode.

The next step involves gently pushing down the p set button. When you do this, the p setting will be displayed on the LCD screen and the screen will begin to flash. You can then select your desired cycle as the numbers move upwards.

After P7, the cycle will start back from P0 again.

With some grills, you can use the p setting with a temperature dial preset.

For this, you should first preheat the Pit Boss grill on the Smoke mode. Then, select the desired temperature – once this is reached, then the p setting will be activated.

When Should You Use the p Setting?

One of the reasons that a lot of people ignore the p Setting is not just because they dont know how to use it, but rather because they aren’t sure of when the right time is.

I will typically use this setting whenever there is an extreme drop or rise in temperature while I am smoking. As such, I am far more likely to use this function in the dead of winter or summer.

loaded grill

When the weather is very cold, I will use the lowest setting. This causes the pellets to burn at a higher temperature and cook the food faster. Conversely, when it is really hot or humid out, I will use the higher setting.

I would always advice you to start on the lowest setting available or to use the default setting. It will take some tinkering to figure out the perfect setting for you.

Do All Pit Boss Grills Have p Settings?

No, contrary to popular belief, not every Pit Boss pellet grill has a p setting. While the Pit Boss p setting is synonymous with the brand, the newer models are doing away with this function. Thus, if you are investing in a pellet grill only now, this feature may not be available.

The easiest way to know if the p setting is on your grill is to take a look at the control panel and dial. You should see a ‘p’ on it. If this isn’t there, then that model doesn’t have it.

Top Tips for Using the p Setting

Here are some tips for using this feature properly on your pellet grill so that you can improve temperature control:

Examine the Burn Pot

This is something that you should do regardless of whether or not you are using the p setting. With time, burn pots can develop holes or similar types of damage. This is likely to happen if the smoker isn’t maintained well.

Remember that holes let heat escape and you will notice temperature swings as a result. Thus, you should check on this ahead of time. If there is any damage, then this piece will need to be replaced.

Monitor Internal Smoker Temperature

If you want to prevent mild temperature swings, then you will need to monitor the grill’s temperature once the lid has been shut. This will ensure that the p setting is actually working as it should and meeting the required temperature.

To do this, use a dome thermometer. This may not give you an exact reading but it is accurate enough to help you keep track of any fluctuations.

Despite using a dome thermometer, try to avoid opening the smoker door too often. This is something that a lot of people are guilty off, regardless of whether or not they are using a thermometer.

The problem with opening and closing the door, though, is that you let the heat escape every time. This messes with the temperature inside the smoker, particularly if the ambient temperature is very hot or cold. In, it makes it harder to maintain consistent temperatures.

So, do yourself a favor and keep the door shut as much as possible.

Track Internal Temperature of Meat

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – stop using sight or time to tell you if your meat is done. These aren’t accurate measurements.

The best way to know for sure if your meat is cooked all the way through is to use a meat probe. This is also known as a meat or food thermometer. You stick this into the meat, making sure to avoid any bone. Then, read the internal temperature to know if your food is done or not.

Use High Quality Pellets

I understand the reluctance to not splurge on wood pellets that are going to be burned to a crisp anyway. Nevertheless, make sure to use good quality pellets. They are more likely to burn more evenly, allowing for better control.

They can also produce higher quality smoke, ensuring that your food smells and tastes better as a result.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to choose the most expensive brand out there. Instead, look for a good brand with a good, mid-priced option.

There you have it – all that you need to know about the Pit Boss p setting, temperature control, and more. If you have a suitable grill, it is now time to make use of this smoke setting and to perfect your BBQ game. It can take a minute to get the hang of this feature but once you do, you are sure to be hooked!

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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