If you just purchased a pellet grill and you’re wondering how to properly season it, you’ve come to the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guise you will learn:
- How to season a pellet grill
- How pellet grills work
- And much more!
Jump To A Section
What You Need to Know About Seasoning a Pellet Grill
You’ve probably heard that before you cook on your pellet grill you need to season it. While this may give you the image of shaking some salt and pepper on your pellet grill, this is not what seasoning means!
Seasoning is the process when you run a grill or smoker without any food in it for the first time. This process is essential to ensure your pellet grill lasts a long time as well as to ensure the meat you cook is healthy and chemical free.
Although this process may sound a bit daunting, it actually is quite simple. But first, let’s learn a few basics about pellet grills.
Why Should You Season Your Pellet Grill?
There are several reasons you should season your grill before you begin to cook food on it.
1. It Removes Impurities
Unless you buy your pellet grill used, chances are it came right from the factory where it was treated with all sorts of chemicals. Seasoning your grill can help to burn off these chemicals, as well as create a smoke barrier between your food and the outside of the grill.
2. Improves Taste
But even if you aren’t worried about the impurities in your grill, seasoning it is also recommended to improve flavor. Without this initial layer of smoke added during the seasoning process, the chemical or metallic taste from the grill itself may find its way into your food, leaving you lacking that desired smoke flavor.
3. It Lets You Learn
Chances are you won’t be a pro the first minute you turn on your new pellet grill. Running it on empty once before you cook food gives you an idea of how long your pellet grill takes to warm up, as well as how long you can expect a certain amount of pellets to last. Basically, it’s a good dry run for you as well.
Are you convinced yet? Let’s take a look at what you will need to properly season your pellet grill.
Supplies Needed to Season a Pellet Grill
Lucky for you, there aren’t too many supplies needed to season a pellet grill. So gather the items listed below and get started.
- Cooking oil (spray preferred)
- Wood pellets
Seasoning your smoker will take a couple of hours, therefore it’s best to do it at a time where you don’t have hungry mouths looking over your shoulder asking for something to eat!
How to Season a Pellet Grill
Below are the steps to season your pellet grill. Before you begin, ensure you take a look at the instruction manual for your exact model as the instructions may differ slightly.
Step 1: Clean all Parts of the Grill
It’s easiest to do this during the assembly phase, but you will want to gently wash all non-electric parts of your grill with soap and water before you start. Allow the pieces to air dry.
Step 2: Assemble Your Pellet Grill
Assemble your pellet grill and ensure all pieces are properly installed. If your grill is already put together, it’s a good idea to double check that all pieces are present and all screws are in tight.
Step 3: Coat with Oil
Lightly coat the grilling grate and the inside of the grill with cooking oil. If you don’t have the spray version of cooking oil, use a rag to lightly dab oil on the inside. Do not allow excess oil to drip. If it’s dripping, you’ve used too much.
Step 4: Fill the Hopper
Fill the hopper with pellets. You don’t need to fill it full but there should be plenty of pellets in the hopper.
Step 5: Plug in the Grill
Plug in your grill, preferably right to the power source without an extension cord.
Step 6: Turn on and Prime
Turn your grill to 400 degrees or the highest setting. Keep the lid open. Chances are nothing will happen until you press the prime button. You will need to hold it down for a few seconds until you hear the pellets drop into the fire chamber.
Step 7: Wait
Wait for 5-7 minutes with the lid open. You should see smoke coming out of the pellet grill, once there is a significant amount, you can close the grill.
Step 8: Set a Timer
Once the lid is closed, set a timer for 30 minutes. This should be sufficient to season the grill. Leave it on high heat the entire time.
Step 9: Do Not Unplug
When the 30 minute timer is over, turn the grill off but leave it plugged in to let the fan finish its cycle. If you unplug the grill too early you run the risk of the flame traveling to the hopper and lighting all of the pellets on fire.
Do note that some manufacturers require a longer seasoning process of an hour. Check the manual to be sure, and when in doubt, let the pellet grill stay on for a longer period of time to be sure it’s properly seasoned.
Step 10: Unplug
Once the fan finishes its cycle and turns off, it is safe to unplug your pellet grill. It is now seasoned and ready to use!
When you have your pellet grill seasoned, you’ll want to clean it as minimally as possible, this means while you will want to clean up any messes you make, you want to be careful not to scrub away the layer of smoke you’ve just put on the inside of your pellet grill.
Additional Ways to Season Your Pellet Grill
Believe it or not, there are actually a few additional things you can do when seasoning your Pellet Grill that changes the flavor of the meat you will cook later.
One of these things is you can use different flavored wood pellets based on the item you think you will grill the most. For example, some people choose to season their pellet grill with hardwood pellets instead of fruit wood pellets.
You can also put a few fatty pieces of bacon in the pellet grill as it seasons instead of coating the interior with oil. This will give it a more robust fatty taste than the oil.
Feel free to experiment a bit, just be sure if you use anything edible during the smoking process it gets thrown away and not consumed. (Which might be ridiculously hard if you try the bacon trick!)
Should You Re-Season Your Pellet Grill?
Unfortunately, try as hard as you might, you will likely have to re-seasoning your pellet grill at some point during its life. This happens because you will eventually need to clean out your pellet grill which will remove parts of the smoke layer on the interior of the grill.
If you don’t clean your grill, you may lift the lid one day to find mold growing inside–something which is very common in warm and moist climates. If this happens, or you spill something in the pellet grill you need to clean, use a degreaser to do so.
After using the degreaser, you will want to re-season your grill. Even if you don’t clean your grill it is still a good idea to get into the practice of re-seasoning your grill on a regular basis to ensure you are able to produce the best flavored food possible. It is recommended to re-season your grill once per year.
Pros and Cons of Seasoning Your Pellet Grill
Although there are many pros to seasoning your pellet grill, there can also be some cons, so let’s take a moment to look at those now.
- Boosts smoke flavor for future grill sessions
- Seals the grill
- Rids the grill of some of the chemicals from manufacturing
- Teaches you how to work the grill
- Helps food not stick to the grate
- Takes time
- May need to be repeated
- Can add carbon to your food
As you can see there are more pros than cons and here at TheGrillingDad we definitely recommend taking the time to season your pellet grill!
What is a Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is a type of grill that functions with a combination of wood pellets and electricity. When the grill is plugged in and turned on, it will automatically feed pellets from a hopper into the fire chamber.
Once in this fire chamber, the pellets are burned. Because they are made of compacted wood, they burn slowly, creating smoke which goes up towards the grates of the grill and the food cooking there.
Because the food is cooked in a combination of heat and smoke, cooking with a pellet grill gives you similar results to a smoker without needing a second unit in your backyard. But like a smoker, you need a nice layer of smoke in the pellet grill before you begin to cook food.
Can You Use Wood Chips to Season a Pellet Grill?
You’re all excited to season your pellet grill when you realize you don’t have any pellets! Can you just use wood chips instead?
No! If you attempt to put wood chips in a pellet grill, it will jam it. If you really want to use wood chips on your pellet grill, the only way you can do so is by using a smoker tube.
Smoker tubes can be loaded with wood chips, lit on fire, then set on your grill grate. This is a great option if you want to add extra smoke flavor to something, or if you want to cold smoke something like cheese.
How to Get Your Pellet Grill to Produce More Smoke
Are you having trouble getting your pellet grill to produce enough smoke to season it? While the seasoning process is generally recommended to be carried out at the highest heat setting, turning down the grill will actually increase the smoke.
Switch the dial down to 225°F and see if more smoke begins to billow out. If you aren’t seeing any, then chances are something went wrong during the priming process. You will want to turn the grill off, then back on again and attempt to re-prime it.
If the second time around, your pellet grill still isn’t producing smoke, then it’s a good idea to call the customer service line for your brand of pellet grill to get their opinion on steps to take next.
If you have some smoke, but you want more, try using a smoke tube for your pellet grill.
Final Thought on Seasoning a Pellet Grill
Although it isn’t required, you should definitely take the time to season your pellet grill before you use it. Not only will this give you a more superior flavor, but it will also rid the grill of any unhealthy manufacturing residue.
When you season your pellet grill, you’ll want to do it as the highest possible setting for 30-60 minutes. You’ll want to repeat this process in the future as well, probably once a year to keep up the nice layer of smoke you will have in your grill.
Of course you don’t have to season your grill, and there are a few other ways you can do it, but take it from us that letting your grill do a little dry run before you start really is the best and easiest way to season your grill!