How Does a Pellet Grill Work
Pellet smokers are the ‘set and forget’ option when it comes to smoking food. The cooking process is pretty simple - you make sure there are pellets in the smoker, set your desired temperature for cooking and then put the food in when the BBQ has brought itself to temp. Pretty easy and convenient - especially for people who would like to be able to cook up delicious brisket, ribs, pulled pork etc. more often than a charcoal smoker would allow them the time to do.
While they are straightforward to use, the inner workings of pellet smokers are a little more complex. Here’s the rundown.
The two main parts of a pellet grill are the hopper and the cooking chamber. The hopper is where the wood pellets are poured. The cooking chamber is where the smoking and cooking of meat happens. When you set a cooking temperature on the smoker, the temperature sensor in the cooking chamber sends information to the ‘brain’ of the smoker where the moving parts of the operation are controlled.
The moving (and heating) parts
Aside from the aforementioned brain, the smoker’s important parts include an auger, fan(s) and a firepot with a heat rod inside it for starting the pellets burning as they drop in. The fire pot on most pellet grills is located close to the middle of the floor of the cooking chamber. The auger (a rod with a spiralled screw that moves pellets when it turns) runs between the hopper and the fire pot and speeds up or slows down the delivery of the pellets for heat and smoke as the brain controls the cooking chamber temperature and smoke levels according to your desired settings. The fans control air moving into the fire pot to allow the fire to grow or cool.
So basically, the cooking process in a pellet grill works just like any other fire - controlling air and fuel to control the temperature - just with a brain, an auger, fans and a hot rod in a firepot. But all you need to know is that it’s as easy as pouring in the pellets, setting the cooking temperature and smoke and waiting for the meat to be perfectly done. And good news - the brain can check the meat for you on most smokers too, so relax and enjoy.
by: Mat Holbrook