Pellet grills are the hottest trend in grilling. People are switching to pellet grills rather than sticking to gas or charcoal grills because this type of grill infuses their meats with a wood-fired, smoky flavor but also heats up fast, maintains temperature precisely, and cleans up easily. These gills seem to be everywhere these days, but the real question is how do they work? And what to look for when investing in one? In this pellet grill buying guide, we break down everything you need to know about pellet grills before you buy one.

Part 1. What Is a Pellet Grill?

It's an outdoor grill powered by wood pellets and electricity. Imagine a side-hopper in place of a firebox in a traditional smoker. It is fueled with cylindrical wooden pellets – about one-quarter -inch wide and one inch long – consisting of compressed hardwood(sawdust). The sawdust is exposed to extreme heat and pressure, which activates lignin, "a natural glue" inside it. Pellets don't add any additives apart from the flavor added through the addition of vegetable oil. They burn clean, leaving incredibly minimum ash.

Pellet grills can be used to fry food lightly "braise," bake, roast, and Grill. Also, through the digital controller's help, you can easily maintain and automate the cooking temperature for hours and are extremely easy to operate.

Part 2. How Do Pellet Grills Work? 

Once they're plugged in and the controller is activated, the rotating auger starts moving the pellets to the fire pot that houses an igniter directly from the hopper. For some time, the rod glows to set the pellet on fire, combusting the pellets then producing heat and smoke, which is then diffused by the induction fan and the grill grate's metal plates.

Most pellet smoker burn wood pellets as fuel to produce smoke, flavor and cook all types of food. They also can smoke and cook larger quantities of food and span larger size than the normal household appliances.

Externally, a pellet grill smoker looks like a conventional offset smoker, with the hoppers firmly fixed sideways and the firebox. It's also referred to as a country smoker sometimes as it's versatile enough to manage any recipe. Other names for a pellet grill include smoker grills, electric smokers, pellet smokers, and wood-fired grills. 

Pellet grills make crowd-feeding much easier to achieve. It gives you access to a much easier process as the models come with temperature controls (along with other features, making them perfect for novices who do not possess prior cookout experience.

Part 3. What Makes a Good Pellet Grill?

So, you've been barbecuing on propane (gas grills) and charcoal, but what is that people keep telling you about pellet grills? What the heck are pellets? Most importantly, what is the best grill to invest in? Who makes the best pellet grill? And What Makes a Good Pellet Grill? If you're too shy to ask people about it, we're here to help. Below are some of the important elements that make a good pellet grill:

A. Build Quality

Only pellet grill smokers with heavy-duty steel build are to be considered as the best pellet smokers. Smokers with low price tags are often made out of wrought iron, and they end up either getting rusted or broken up due to the slight mismanagement and are less durable.

B. Temperature Control

A pellet grill's ability is largely based on its control board, the Grill's central nervous system. Different types of controllers, including ones that feature an LCD and one-touch button, allow users to produce great food. Ideally, the control offers temperature control between 180 Fahrenheit 450 Fahrenheit. In addition, pellet grills feature P.I.D. Temperature controller. So, What is a P.I.D Temperature Controller?

P.I.D. temperature controllers are the rage in the pellet grilling community, and for a good reason. They regulate temperatures in a different way than a regular, timed control, which helps lessen temperature swings. The controller stands for Integral, Derivative, and Proportional. The controller adds more positive features to the regular temperature control method of measuring temperature and feeding the hopper with pellets to reach the desired temperature.

How Does a P.I.D Controller Work?

A normal controller will time the wooden pellet feed to the firepot to reach the expected temperatures; a P.I.D., the controller, add in Integral, Derivative, and Proportional variables to control the timing of the feed more precisely. These variables, via an algorithm (yes, lots of math), adjust and adapt to variances in the set temperature and the desired temperature and anticipate and adjust to external influences such as environmental factors like heat and wind. The P.I.D. controller senses and adapts to these influences with more speed and precision than a standard temperature controller can, which helps mitigate the grill's internal temperature swings.

Check out Z Grills 450A & 550B pellet grills that are equipped with PID controller

C. Cooking Surface & Pellet Hopper

Cooking surface is something you should consider before you shop for any grill. It depends on what you want to use for - "larger backyard parties or small family dinners"? Also, take note of what type of food you'd like to grill. Most will comfortably fit in your typical BBQ fare, like ribs, burgers but if you want to smoke a large piece of meat, a large grill is better.

Cooking Area & Size: Small pellet grills usually feature 100-150 sq. feet of the upper rack and 450 sq. an inch of primary cooking area. It isn't much different from larger grills that feature 500-700 sq. inch of primary cooking area. For relative big families, a cooking surface of 350-800 sq. inches should be enough. 

The size of the pellet grill hopper affects how long you can leave the pellet grill unsupervised, in addition to how often you'll need to buy more pellets and refill the hopper with pellet. A larger hopper allows long smoking without having to check the grill on every second. The pellets used per hour varies based on the grill and pellet. It also varies based on the intensity of the temperature used – more pellets burn at a higher temperature versus a lower one, but lower temps mean longer cook times and more pellets.

D. Versatility

The most fascinating and modern era feature of pellet grills smokers is their ability to adapt to different activities. This means you can get an array of yummy food ready in minutes. Pellet grills can be used to cook all sorts of food, ranging from braised short ribs to chicken wings.

Pellet grills offer versatility to grill, bake, roast, smoke, barbecue, braise, char, or even sear all your favorite foods! The Z Grills 600 series pellet grill is even designed with a direct flame option. In this mode, the cooking temperature reaches up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

E. Cleanup

If you’ve ever used a charcoal grill, then you know that they’re a mess to clean up. The ash box fills quickly and often, requiring frequently cleaning. But with a pellet grill, ash cleaning is way easier. First of all, pellet grills use 100% all-natural hardwood pellets made of compressed wood, which will burn into less than 1% of ash. This means you can burn a 40-LB bag of wood pellets and have just a ½ cup of ash leftover. If the pellet grill includes an ash cleanout system, ash removal can be achieved at a pull of a lever - Simply detach an ash tray and dump the ash in the garbage.

Shop Z Grills 1000 series pellet grill with an ash cleanout system

How Do I Clean My Pellet Grill?

Once you are ready to hit the cooking grates, empty the grease bucket and get rid of the ash. The key is to wait until the grill is cold. You need to make sure it's not plugged and has had a lot of time to cool after your last cooking session.

1. Use warm soapy water to wipe away grease. Do not use oven cleaner, abrasive cleansers or abrasive cleaning pads on the outside grill surfaces.

2. Open the lid and remove the cooking grate, any extra racks, drip tray, and heat diffuser plate from inside the grill.

3. Use a shop vac to get rid of the ash. You want to make sure to get the ash from inside the firepot in addition to whatever on the bottom of the barrel.

4. Wipe off the gunk that hasn't dripped into the grease management system using a stiff, nonmetallic tool.

5. Use hot, soapy water and a rag you aren’t attached to wash the interior of your grill, as well as each piece you pulled out.

6. Empty the grease bucket. It's much easier if you have a foil liner inside, so the bucket stays clean.


Part 4. Conclusion

So, now you have all the necessary information about the pellet grill buying guide. All you need do now is to make a good choice from the plethora of options available. Ultimately, your cooking needs, budget, and occasion will determine the choice of griller and smoker you will purchase.

Grilling gets more comfortable when you have the knowledge and the right tools. Now is the right time to make your choice, and we hope you will make a sound choice with all the information at your disposal. Cheers to your Luxurious meal!