Over the last couple of years, pellet grills have become one of the most popular options for grilling due to the smokey flavor that they give the meats. But, what is a pellet smoker exactly? Why is there so much talk about it?
More often than not, a pellet smoker is associated with an expensive grill made from stainless steel. However, there is a relatively newer and cheaper alternative to buying a pellet grill smoker—using pellet tube smokers. Both of these, whether grill or tube, use wood pellets as fuel. These pellets are made of sawdust and shaped into small cylinders about a quarter of an inch wide.
Using different kinds of wood pellets will result in a variety of wood flavors. These flavors are then used to take grilling, roasting, and smoking to the next level. If you wish to up your BBQ game too, then this article is for you.
In this article, we will talk about everything pellet smokers including when to use them and what you can cook on them. We will also provide you with a list of its benefits and setbacks to help you decide if you should buy one for yourself. First, however, allow us to define for you what a pellet smoker is.
What is a Pellet Smoker?
A pellet smoker is an equipment that is used to cook meat. It uses wood pellets as fuel and indirectly cooks the meat via the process of smoking, which then leaves a smokey flavor to the meat. This indirect delivery of heat to the meat would allow you to cook large cuts or quantities for longer and at lower temperatures.
Before there were pellet smokers, though, there were furnaces, which were used to heat homes during the winter. It was only in the year 1982 that wood pellets were used as a form of fuel for BBQ smokers. As years passed, it evolved, and an electronically controlled thermostat and cooling system were added.
Today, we enjoy using pellet smokers not only for its efficiency in cooking meats but also for the added smokey flavor that it gives them. Unlike cooking BBQs using a grill, using a pellet smoker will provide you with more control when it comes to temperature and cook time.
How Does a Pellet Smoker Work
A pellet smoker is pretty much a very straightforward device that is made up of only a few components such as an induction fan, electric auger system, burn pot, and the hopper. Basically, you fill the hopper with your chosen wood pellets. The auger system, which is powered by electricity, feeds these pellets onto the burn pot. As it ignites, the pellets burn and produce heat and smoke.
Through the induction fan, the hot air is blown all throughout the grill, providing a steady mix of cool and warm air that results in even burn temperatures. At the same time, the smoke produced by the pellets also bathes the meat, leaving it with a delicious wood smoke flavor.
The Advantages of Using a Pellet Smoker
In addition to the smoked flavor that comes from cooking with a pellet smoker, it also offers many other benefits that more and more people are beginning to fall in love with. Here are some of them:
- Pellet smokers preheat within 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes even faster. This means that you get to achieve your desired cooking temperature in just a matter of minutes.
- There are models designed with a safety feature that prevents flare-ups, which also allows you to regulate the temperature of the grill.
- Pellet smokers work quite similar to the way convection ovens do. This means that you won’t have to worry about your food becoming unevenly
- It is impossible to over-smoke food when using a pellet grill.
- Wood pellets come in different types, where each one produces a different kind of flavors such as apple, maple, cherry, and hickory.
- A pellet smoker allows you to cook a wide range of meats including turkey, salmon, ribs, pork chops, briskets, and other smoked Additionally, you can also use it to smoke burgers, sausages, and some vegetables.
- This cooking equipment offers a wide temperature range, which, in turn, would allow you to cook your meats to perfection.
- Wood pellets used in pellet smokers burn clean and do not leave too much ash.
The Disadvantages of Using a Pellet Smoker
Like any other device, using a pellet smoker also comes with its own set of drawbacks. If you are unsure if a pellet smoker is for you, then check out these minor cons to find out:
- If you want your meat to have grill marks or a dark sear, then a pellet grill may not be the best option for you. This is because a pellet grill is more of a smoker than it is an actual grill.
- It is not the best equipment for cooking steaks.
- As we have mentioned above, the mechanism that feeds the pellets onto the burning pot runs on electricity. Thus, a pellet smoker needs electricity to work, making it not very portable.
- Pellets that are exposed to moisture tend to disintegrate. If you live in an area with a humid climate, then you would store your pellets in air-tight containers. Alternatively, you can also just purchase them when you need to use them.
So, do you now know what is a pellet smoker? Often times, the terms pellet grills and pellet smokers are used interchangeably. However, these two are not the same. A pellet smoker cooks food through indirect heat, whereas a pellet grill uses direct flames.
Now, you may have some doubts whether a pellet smoker is a worthwhile investment for you. After all, pellet smokers can be quite costly. Additionally, the smokey taste it delivers is also a bit different from what you would get from a charcoal grill.
Nevertheless, if you already have a grill in handy, you can always invest in a pellet tube smoker. This small device allows you to turn your grill into a smoker and achieve the same flavors you would get from a real pellet smoker. Besides, it is pretty cheap too!