If you’re feeling disappointed by the lack of smoke flavor you’re getting from a pellet grill, then you’re not alone. This is a common complaint amongst pellet grill users, but there are a few easy ways that you can remedy this problem.
If you want a more noticeable smoky flavor from your grill, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to show you how to increase the smokiness that your pellet grill imbues into your food.
Read on for our tips about how to get more smoke flavor from pellet grill and what you need to know for the best-tasting food.
- Increasing Your Pellet Grill’s Smokiness
- Pellet Grills Don’t Produce Much Smoke – Here’s Why
- Don’t Rush When Smoking
- Pick the Right Cuts
- Cooking From Cold – the Secret Smoking Trick
- Direct Heat Can Reduce Smokiness
- How Much Smoke Should You See When Grilling?
Increasing Your Pellet Grill’s Smokiness
Here are a few simple tips to increase the smokiness when using a pellet grill.
Reduce your cooking temperatures
You’ll find that your pellet grill produces lots of smoke when you cook at low temperatures. There’s going to be far less smoke when you cook at 450° than when you cook at 255°, for example.
If you’re following a specific recipe that requires cooking temperatures above 250°, then you can increase the cooking time by a couple of hours at 225° before increasing the temperature for the last few minutes.
Try to experiment using a lower temperature when preparing your meats on your grill and see if and how that affects the taste of your foods. You just might find that your meats end up tasting far smokier.
Experiment with different wood pellets
The primary benefit to working with a pellet grill is getting to use wood pellets, which often come in a variety of flavors depending on the type of pellet that you’re using. For instance, apple-scented wood offers a mild smokiness that won’t overpower the flavor of your food, while oak will imbue meats with a robust smoky flavor.
Play around with different wood types from different brands until you find one that gives you the level of smokiness you’re looking for. There are plenty of options on the market, and we don’t doubt that you’ll be able to find one that suits your palette.
Consider adding a smoker tube
Smoker tubes are stainless steel pipes that you fill with pellets, which you can attach to any smoker or grill for smoking.
Adding this smoke tube increases the quantity of smoke your grill produces while cooking, which naturally leads to a smokier flavor. It’s essentially the same as placing a piece of wood on the coals of a regular charcoal grill, as the pellets smolder and will produce smoke.
Smoker boxes are another tool you can use to add smokiness. They are small metal boxes that sit on your grill grate and you fill them with wood pellets or chips. The heat created by your grill will smolder the pellets, causing them to produce plenty of smoke.
If your grill has a ‘smoke’ setting, use it!
Some manufacturers include a specific ‘smoke’ setting on their pellet grills, and this setting does exactly what you think it does.
Traeger’s Ironwood and Timberline pellet grills are two examples that have this feature. It’s called Super Smoke, and it greatly increases the smoke that your grill produces when cooking at temperatures of 165°F – 225°F.
Naturally, this is an excellent way to imbue your foods with smoky flavor when you’re grilling at lower temperatures. The grill will automatically produce more smoke at these temperatures and hold it until you reach your desired cooking temperature.
Check for leaks
Some of the cheaper pellet grill models out there will release lots of smoke into the air when cooking – smoke that could otherwise have been absorbed by your food. Not only does this dampen the food’s flavor, but it also wastes your pellets.
If your grill is experiencing a smoke leak, consider adding a silicone sealant that resists high temperatures. You can also install a gasket, which will seal the smoke in and ensure that it all goes into your food.
Keep your meats unwrapped
It’s a common practice to wrap meats in aluminum foil when grilling them. The idea behind this technique is that it helps the meat retain moisture and while this is true, it also prevents smoke from penetrating the meat.
It goes without saying that this prevents your meat from coming out and tasting smoky! So, if you want to make sure that your foods absorb as much smoke as possible, skip the foil wrapping. Instead, use a smoker box or even just a piece of foil folded into a little pouch. This lets the smoke penetrate your food and imbue it with a delicious smoky flavor.
Pellet Grills Don’t Produce Much Smoke – Here’s Why
Pellet grills are specially designed to cook food as efficiently as possible. As such, they automatically turn off when they reach your desired temperature – a design feature that is completely different from regular coal burners, where the smoke is more continuous.
Wood pellets are also far more efficient when it comes to burning and produce far less smoke than a wood chunk left to smolder on hot coals. As such, the smoke flavor that they produce is also far more subtle.
Because pellet grills are not constantly producing heat throughout the cooking process, they are not able to produce as much smoke.
Don’t Rush When Smoking
It’s easy to rush a burger, hotdog, or stir fry, but there’s no rushing when it comes to smoking your meats. The trick to getting perfectly-smoked meals is patience – you want to avoid raising the heat to rush the process as much as possible.
You also don’t want to constantly open and close the lid to check the cooking process. Try to be as patient as possible. The longer you leave your meat on the grill to cook, the longer the smoke flavor will have to develop.
It goes without saying that you won’t want to overcook your meat either! But, the greatest rewards come from giving the flavors enough time to develop.
Pick the Right Cuts
Before you even begin cooking on your pellet grill, you need to be proactive with choosing your cut of meat. Stay away from meat that’s too fatty or too lean. The best cuts for smoking are those that have just the right ratio of fat to meat.
When cooking larger cuts, try to steer clear of those with thick layers of fat on the outside. Cuts with a layer that’s just ¼ of an inch thick or more will prevent that coveted smoky flavor from entering the meat since the fat acts as a barrier between the meat and the smoke.
Cooking From Cold – the Secret Smoking Trick
If you’re in the habit of leaving your meat out of the refrigerator to marinate before putting it on the grill, you may be sabotaging the smokiness of your food.
Instead of leaving meat out, try putting it back in the fridge an hour or so before you put it on the grill. The thinking here is that when the meat is cold, it takes longer to heat up on the grill, which means it spends more time soaking up all of the smoke that your grill creates without it overcooking.
Direct Heat Can Reduce Smokiness
When smoking any kind of food – not just meat – your food really should never be touching the flames. So, always make sure that your meat is a good distance away from the flame.
If your grill has several shelves, and you find yourself only ever using the bottom-most shelf, then consider trying one of the higher shelves to see if you’re able to achieve an even smokier flavor.
Cooking your meat away from the flames will prevent overcooking while also allowing more smoke to enter the food.
How Much Smoke Should You See When Grilling?
When you initially start it up, your pellet grill will produce quite a fair amount of smoke. However, once the flame establishes and settles, and the temperature has had some time to settle closer to your desired point, you should see minimal levels of smoke.
In fact, too much smoke can actually ruin the flavor of your foods, leaving them tasting bitter. More smoke isn’t always better!
If you aren’t seeing any smoke at all, then the temperature of your grill might be too high. However, if you only see a slight amount of smoke, don’t fret – smoke can be difficult to see in conditions with lots of light.