How Does a Pellet Grill Work?

Doug Stephen – Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.

How Does a Pellet Grill Work?

Pellet grills are a fantastic addition to any backyard. There is no need to buy expensive charcoal continually, and you don’t have to worry about leaks from a gas tank. Pellet grills are capable of cooking in a range of styles, and because they operate almost automatically, they are perfectly designed as the ultimate tool for convenient cooking.

Pellet grills also provide the tasty smoky flavor that comes from cooking over an open fire. Let the flavors infuse with your meats, brats and vegetables, and you’ll never look back. 

If you want the taste of a traditional BBQ and the ease of cooking using modern technology, a pellet grill is a good option for searing meat too.

1. The Parts

using a Traeger Tailgater Grill

Pellet grills have several parts that combine to make an efficient and effective cooking machine. There is a hopper that usually sits on one side of the cooking chamber, and it can have a large or small capacity depending on your grill.

You can find a digital controller on the hopper, which helps regulate the cooking chamber’s temperature. It is also where you can set timers or read an LED to determine the grill’s heat level.

The lid is crucial for a pellet grill because it can hold in the rising smoke, so it permeates your meats. Usually made of steel or cast iron, they are durable and heat-resistant. When you raise the lid, you’ll find the cooking chamber containing at least one cooking grate. 

Some pellet grills have multiple levels so you can cook at different heats, but one level is sufficient for most needs. Underneath the cooking grates is a grease tray, which carries any dripping fat or juices off to one side. By preventing grease from falling into the flames, the grease tray reduces the risk of flare-ups, which can ruin your food’s taste and texture and potentially give you a nasty burn.

Nearly every pellet grill comes with an included grease bucket that catches these juices and makes it easier to clean after use. The chimney on a pellet grill releases excess smoke, ensuring the taste is flavorsome but not filled with a dense wood aftertaste. 

At the bottom of the unit is the firebox, where the pellets burst into flame. There is usually an auto-ignition switch for convenience, and this ensures you can light your grill without getting dirty and burning your fingers.

2. How Your Pellet Grill Works?

making burgers with a grill

Pellet grills are incredibly easy to use and are suitable for beginners to learn how to cook outdoors, and for experienced chefs to hone their skills.

For your pellet grill to work, it needs pellets, so the first step is to fill the hopper. It’s essential to use high-quality pellets to get the best flavors for your meal. It may seem like a good deal to buy cheap pellets, but they could be difficult to ignite, burn too fast, and not impart enough flavor to taste in your meats. 

The most efficient pellets do not use any chemical fillers and contain only wood. They are food-safe so that you can be confident there are no unhealthy ingredients in the wood chips. While most grills can use any good quality pellets, some require you to use the manufacturer’s brand, so you need to check before you buy. Keep in mind that pellets come with various flavors and aromas so that you can add specific tases to your meat.

Pressing the auto-ignition button is a quick way to start up your pellet grill, and you can set the temperature and cook time using the digital control panel. 

Pellet grills are similar to an oven in that they allow you to set a specific temperature, and then they maintain that heat level throughout cooking. Most pellet grills have a wide temperature range, enabling you to cook at a low 180°F or a higher 500°F.

The auger is the device that feeds pellets from the hopper into the firebox. You need an electricity supply, either from a wall socket or a generator, to power the auger, so you need to keep this in mind when choosing a location for your pellet grill. The preset cooking time and temperature and the internal temperature readings tell the auger how many pellets to feed into the firebox, and at what speed.

The flames in the firebox heat the pellets, and the process of combustion releases heat and smoke into the air. They rise through to the cooking chamber, warming your meat and adding that delicious smoky flavor. 

While you can adjust the settings at any time, it is possible to set your preferences and leave the pellet grill to cook your food through to perfection. They are the ultimate set-and-forget outdoor cooking grills.

3. Benefits of a Pellet Grill

Benefits of a Pellet Grill

A pellet grill’s unique cooking action provides advantages that make it a popular outdoor cooker among grilling enthusiasts. The indirect, convection cooking style is ideal for slow-cooking meat over many hours, but you can also turn the heat up and grill quickly if you’re in a hurry. The convection cooking system allows air to surround your meats, helping smoke to permeate every side of your meat for superior results.

Pellet grills also heat the cooking chamber evenly, ensuring there are no hot or cold spots that could ruin your meal. Because the automatic system regulates the temperature, there is a continuous steady heat, even if you need to step away from the grill. 

Read this article to know if pellet grills are safe.

Doug Stephen

Doug Stephen


Pellet grills marry the best of modern technology with the genuine pleasure of cooking over an open flame. They are one of the most convenient outdoor cookers available, and the convection heating system produces exceptional meals every time. With some practice, you can learn how to set your grill to cook your food to your taste and leave it to heat your meal, giving you time to relax and enjoy the sunny weather.

As a good takeaway for this page, we recommend reading our Pit Boss vs Traeger Wood Pellet Grills review which explains the pros and cons of the two pellet grill brands.