Homeowner’s Guide to Buying a Pellet Grill
Want the ease of a propane grill with the flavor of a charcoal grill? Then it's time to consider a pellet grill.
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Everything You Need to Know About Pellet Grills
Pellet grills are a popular type of grill that let backyard cooks easily grill or smoke food with that great wood fire taste. If that sounds like the combo for you, read on to learn more about pellet grills.
Plus, here’s how to clean grill grates in a snap:
What Is a Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is one of the newest types of grills on the market. Pellet grills are popular because they’re easy to use and function as a grill and a smoker. One could argue they should be called pellet smokers! Check out the best electric smoker grills for 2020.
These grills get their name from the pellets used as fuel, made from compressed wood shavings. An electronically-controlled temperature sensor feeds pellets to a fire pot under the grates, heating and then maintaining the set grill temperature. The burning pellets produce the wood-fired grill taste so many people love. Pellets are sold at most stores that sell charcoal.
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Pros and Cons of Pellet Grills
Pellet grills offer several advantages over other grills.
- Better temperature control. Pellet grills have an electronic temperature gauge that operates like the one in your oven. You choose the cooking temperature, give the grill 15 minutes or so to heat up, then start cooking. No need to open or close air vents like with a charcoal grill.
- Food grilled on a pellet grill has the flavorful wood smoke taste you can’t get with a gas grill.
- Pellets made from different woods — hickory, apple, cherry and mesquite, to name a few — add a variety of flavors to your food.
- Pellet grills can also cook at low temperatures for long periods of time. Long, slow cooks like brisket and pork shoulder work well in a pellet grill.
- Many pellet grills offer built-in temperature probes that let you monitor whatever you’re cooking.
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Disadvantages? There are a few.
- Some people say the smoke taste isn’t as prominent with pellets as with a charcoal grill or smoker. If you like a heavy smoke taste, you may not get it with a pellet grill.
- A pellet grill requires electricity so you need access to an outlet or a generator.
- Because of the electronic parts, pellet grills cost more than other grills.
Features of Pellet Grills
There are many features to consider when determining which pellet grill is right for you.
- What temperature range do you need? To sear meat, your grill needs a high temperature range. The suggested searing temperature is often between 450 and 500 degrees F, although some pellet grills can heat up to 600 F.
- How many temperature probes do you need? The more you have, the more foods you can monitor at one time.
- Do you often plan to use different flavors of pellets? Some grills have a pellet bin (hopper) that is easy to clean out. Those without one require scooping the pellets by hand.
- How easy is it to clean out the ash and grease? Pellets are made of wood, so they do create ash. Manufacturers offer various methods to clean their grills. Find out how to clean any grill before you buy it.
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How Much Do Pellet Grills Cost?
Pellet grills start at a few hundred dollars and go up to more than $3,000. All pellet grills are made of metal, but the thickness and design are significant factors in the price. The lower-end grills offer few features and less durable construction. The highest priced grills come with sturdy frames and large rubber wheels for easy transport. Higher-end grills are also more airtight, minimizing temperature fluctuation.
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Almost any grill can be purchased online, but you’ll probably need to assemble it once it arrives. Pellet grills are sold at most retailers that sell grills, including home centers and big box, hardware and sporting goods stores. Many sell assembled grills at no additional cost, and some will deliver an assembled grill to your home.
Still need to install some outdoor lighting? Add these magnetic barbecue lights to your grill to help you cook dinner in the dark.
Practice Makes Delicious
Remember that cooking is like anything else — the more you do, it the better you get. Be patient when you start using your pellet grill. Once you get the hang of it, you may wonder why you didn’t buy one sooner!