Before you can consider yourself a master of the grill, you need to know the ins and outs of all the different varieties of barbecue. Both gas and charcoal grills are relatively easy for beginners to understand, but pellet grills tend to be a bit more mysterious. Not many home grillers work with pellet grills — but this type of grill tends to be beloved amongst grill masters. So, do you need a pellet grill of your own? Read on to find out.
What Is a Pellet Grill?
A gas grill burns propane to heat up food, and a charcoal grill burns charcoal briquettes. Therefore, it follows that pellet grills use some form of pellet as their heat source. Though some amateurs assume that pellet grills are another variety of charcoal grill, using charcoal in a different form to create heat, the truth is that the pellets used in these grills are made from hardwood, like hickory, maple, pecan, mesquite or applewood. These wood pellets produce high-quality smoke that enhance the flavor of grilled foods.
Pellet grills can smoke, grill, bake and even braise. Wood pellets are transferred from a hopper to a fire pot, where they burn to produce smoke. A fan system moves the heat and smoke around the interior chamber of the grill, cooking food in various ways. Grillers can place food directly over the burning pellets for a fast char, or they can place food farther from the heat source to cook low and slow for hours. Of course, the longer a grill takes, the more pellets will need to be supplied to maintain heat; pellet grills require between 2 and 4 pounds of pellets for every hour of grilling, depending on the temperature of the grill. Fortunately, all those pellets are remarkably efficient, as a 40-pound bag of pellets will produce only a half-cup of ash.
What Are the Benefits of a Pellet Grill?
Now that you know the fundamentals of pellet grill operation, you can start to see why pellet grills tend to be favored amongst grilling experts. Some of the most notable advantages of pellet grills include:
Superior flavor. The smoke produced by the burning hardwood adds remarkable complexity to grilled foods. Even better, you can experiment with different flavor profiles by using different types of hardwood pellets.
Versatility. Pellet grills can operate at a much wider range of temperatures than other types of grills, which means grill masters can achieve whatever effect they need to complete their meal. Instead of having a grill, a smoker, an oven and more, you can do almost anything with a single appliance: a pellet grill.
Reliability. Maintaining a specific temperature range is relatively easy with a pellet grill, which can’t be said of other grill types. Once you spend some time gaining skill with your pellet grill, you should be able to reliably produce any desired grilling effect with ease.
Accessibility. You can buy a pellet grill and wood pellets to fuel it from any place you would procure a different type of grill. As pellet grills have become more popular amongst home grillers, the cost of these grills and pellets have decreased, so almost anyone can take advantage of this superior grilling style.
What Are the Downsides of a Pellet Grill?
Of course, if the pellet grill is superior in every grilling situation, no one would continue to use gas or charcoal grills. Pellet grills do have some disadvantages, which you should know about before investing in a pellet grill of your own.
Add-ons. To unlock true versatility with a pellet grill, you may need to invest in add-on attachments that allow for high-temperature cooking. This can be expensive and frustrating, as you might not know which attachments you need until after you gain some proficiency with this grill.
Location. While other grills are lightweight and portable, pellet grills are large, heavy and usually require electricity. Relocating a pellet grill is hard work, and it could cause damage to the grill, so you can only use a pellet grill in a single location, like your backyard.
A lesser-known variety of grill, the pellet grill is nonetheless a valuable tool for the master griller. If you want to take your grilled foods to the next level, you might consider investing in a pellet grill today.