How to Manually Light a Pellet Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pellet grills are a great way to achieve that delicious smoky flavor, but what do you do when the automatic ignition system fails? Fear not, because in this article, we’re going to walk you through how to manually light a pellet grill, so you can keep those burgers and ribs sizzling even without the fancy technology. Let’s get fired up!

You can light a pellet grill manually, but it is only recommended to do so in a few situations: If you are using a portable pellet grill that requires manual lighting, or in the case that your hot rod has failed. 

Either way, lighting a pellet grill manually isn’t recommended for normal or long-term use, and you should have your grill hot rod replaced as soon as possible. Read on to learn how to manually light your pellet grill. 

When Should You Manually Light a Pellet Grill?

There are only two times you should be considering manually lighting a pellet grill. This is because doing so is not recommended in the owner’s manual and is generally considered to be more dangerous than lighting your pellet grill with the button as intended. 

1. The Hot Rod Has Failed

The part in a pellet grill that lights it is the hot rod. If you’ve marinated your meat, only to head to your pellet grill to find it turning on, but not producing smoke, it’s likely the hot rod has failed. 

The hot rod is an important part of your grill, and you need to have it replaced ASAP (you may even need to buy a whole new grill), but in the meantime, since you already marinated the meat, you can light your pellet grill manually. 

Related >> Best Pellet Grills Under $500

2. You’re Using a Portable Pellet Grill

While most portable pellet grills use the same hot rod system as the pellet grill you keep at home, some do require manual lighting. If this is you, well, we recommend you get a new portable pellet grill, but in the meantime, you can light it the old-fashioned way. 

Related >> Best Portable Pellet Grills

Materials Needed to Manually Start a Pellet Grill

Unfortunately, just a lighter isn’t going to cut it for this one. Below are all the items you will need to have on hand to manually start your pellet grill.

  • Fireproof gloves
  • Butane torch
  • Pellets for your grill
  • Vacuum (to clean out the fire pot)

Do note that you should never use an accelerant like lighter fluid or firelighter cubes in your pellet grill. They could damage the grill, and you are more likely to injure yourself while trying to use them.

You only need your pellets and a butane torch to light the pellets, we promise you don’t need any form of accelerant. 

Related >> Can You Use Aluminum Foil on a Pellet Grill? How to Do It

How to Manually Light a Pellet Grill

If you’ve decided to absolutely have to light your pellet grill manually, check out the steps below.

Step 1: Remove the Firepot Cover

Start by dismantling your grill and removing the firepot cover so you can see the firepot. In some pellet grills, you may need to remove additional components, like heat deflectors. 

Step 2: Clean the Firepot

Use a vacuum to remove any ash in the firepot. 

Related >> How to Clean a Pellet Grill

Step 3: Add Pellets

Place some pellets in the firepot, don’t fill it all the way full as this will lead to issues like a flameout. Just add enough pellets to reach the bottom of the augur. 

Step 4: Light the Pellets

The pellets will take a minute to catch, so it’s best to use a butane torch to do the job. Keep the flame on the pellets for 10-20 seconds until they light. 

Step 5: Wait

You need to let the pellet burn for a moment before you do anything else.

Step 6: Reassemble the Grill

Place all the internal parts back in the grill. You’ll need to use heat-proof gloves to prevent burning yourself. 

Step 7: Turn on the Pellet Grill

Turn on the pellet grill to the lowest temperature or smoke setting if your grill has it. If you turn the pellet grill up to high, the fan will extinguish the flame you worked so hard to establish. If it’s still not working, here’s what you can do if your pellet grill loses power mid-cook.

Related >> Best Pellet Grills for Searing

Step 8: Use the Pellet Grill

After you have waited for a bit longer, and smoke is coming from the grill, you can turn up the grill to the temperature you intend to cook with. 

And just like that, you should be able to make your dinner even though your pellet grill hot rod is burned out. Just remember that this shouldn’t be an everyday thing, and you should have your pellet grill looked at by a professional (or order a new hot rod) before you attempt to use it again. 

Related >> BEST Pellet Smokers and Grills for BBQ Mastery

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

Leave a Comment