If you haven’t heard about pellet grills yet – then where have you been?
These grills are one of the newest and fastest-growing trends for those who enjoy barbecuing and outside cooking in general.
These are fast overtaking other types of barbecues and smokers, and with good reason too.
Let’s have a look at what pellet grills are and why they are so increasingly popular.
What Are Pellet Grills?
Pellet grills are exactly what they sound like – they are a type of outdoor grill that utilizes wood pellets as fuel to create heat and smoke.
These are not only outdoor grills, but they also combine traditional barbecues with a smoker and an oven.
They use wood pellets as fuel and can cook with direct radiant heat – in the case of grilling – or with indirect radiant heat in the case of smoking.
There are a few parts to a pellet grill.
The wood pellets are stored in an area called the hopper, which is normally on the side of the grill. The hopper is connected to the cooking chamber by a tube called an auger that slowly feeds pellets into the main cooking chamber where they are burned.
Controlling how many go into the cooking chamber and at what rate allows the grill to precisely control how much heat is generated and the temperature of the cook.
The pellets within the cooking chamber are burned by an electric heating element, which creates the heat. There are fans on the inside of the cooking chamber that bring in air to fuel the flames and circulate the heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooking chamber to cook food evenly.
Pellet grills also come equipped with a useful digital thermometer, allowing you to monitor and control your cook precisely, even allowing you to control everything remotely from a smartphone app on many models.
Why Are So Popular?
There is no doubt that pellet grills are becoming the most popular choice for anyone who wants to do some outside cooking, but why exactly are they so popular?
Well, the first reason is their ease of use.
Because they are built with so much technology, they are a truly hands-off outdoor cooker with almost push-button simplicity.
Pellet grills can cook well at any temperature you set them to, whether that be low, medium, or high, and all you have to do is make sure the hopper is full of fuel and that you set the right temp on the controller. No learning curve or fire management.
Take a gas grill in comparison. These types of grills have historically been very popular as they perform well when cooking in a higher range of temperatures, and they do this very well. However, they do not cook well at a lower temperature, so if you wanted a low, slow cook, you would be unable to do this effectively on a gas grill and would need to monitor and nanny it through the cook.
And when it comes to charcoal grills, the most traditional type of grill, their use is even harder.
While they do impart a taste to your food that can be hard to match, they do have their drawbacks. You need to be able to start a fire, manage it, and charcoal grills are renowned for being incredibly difficult to control the temperature on, so cooking food to how you want it can be very hit and miss and takes a lot of attention and skill.
Both gas and charcoal have their drawbacks as fuel too.
Gas is a fossil fuel that is non-renewable and is not considered advantageous for the environment. It can be quite costly and will certainly start to become more expensive as it begins to run out in the coming years.
Charcoal is slightly better on the environment front, as if it is sourced responsibly, comes from a renewable source. However it is challenging to control the temperature with charcoal, and it leaves a lot of ash to clear up, which wood pellets do not.
There are many different pellet grill models available, and each may have features that you may or may not need, but there is bound to be one that matches your requirements of size, temperature range, cooking capacity, and more.
All of these features are discussed at length in this buying guide to the top models available here: https://www.barbecuelogic.com/best-pellet-smokers/.
What About Taste?
This is a valid concern when choosing a new grill, as grilling is all about getting as much flavor into your food as possible.
Gas grills don’t add much in the way of flavor via smoke, so all the taste has to come from whichever spices or marinade you decide to use.
Therefore, many people favor the charcoal grill, as it adds that distinctive charcoal taste to food. The pay off for this is the lack of consistency in cooking temperatures, and the big clean up that is always needed after.
This is where pellet grills really come into their own. They provide the convenience of a gas grill in terms of ease of use, and the added tastes that you get from a charcoal grill.
Wood pellets can be purchased in a whole range of ‘flavors’ depending on your preference. There are endless different flavor woods that can be used, that include, but are not limited to apple, maple, hickory and pecan.
There are so many to choose from, and you can even purchase blended pellets to get a more complex flavoring.
What About Smoking?
The great thing about pellet grills is they not only can grill but can also be used as a smoker if that is how you wish to cook your food.
Of course, log burning smokers and electric smokers are available, and these may be more suitable for you if you do a lot of food smoking, but if you are only doing it now and again, you can absolutely use your pellet grill to do that.
The range of temperature control on a pellet grill means a low n slow smoking temperature can be maintained for a long period of time, having the perfect slow-cooked meat available to you at the end of the cooking process.
Are Pellet Grills A Fad?
This is a common question, especially with how fast-paced the world is these days – are pellet grills just the newest fashion, and this time next year, will anyone still be using them?
The answer to this is no, pellet grills aren’t a fad. They are a very popular form of the outdoor cooker, and as you can see, combine the effectiveness of a gas grill with the taste from a traditional charcoal grill.
They can also be used as smokers, meaning you only have to buy one item instead of two or more.
As they are multi-use, you can cook pretty much anything on a pellet grill, and have it cooked exactly the way you like it.
They are easy to clean up, and more environmentally friendly than gas grills too.
Pellet grills are here to stay – so go and add one to your outdoor cooking collection!