How to Start Your Pellet Grill (5 Easy Steps)

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If you’re wondering how to start your pellet grill for the first time or just need a refresher, you’re in the right spot!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide you will learn:

  • About pellet grills
  • How to start your pellet grill
  • And much more!
wood pellets on fire

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What You Need to Know About Starting a Pellet Grill

So you’ve purchased your first pellet grill, and now you’re ready to have your first cookout. But then you realize you don’t actually know how to start a pellet grill. Or maybe you have already tried and you can’t seem to get it to start no matter what you do.

Don’t panic, as these grills are some of the most user-friendly and are typically easy to use–once you start them for the first time that is. The first light of your pellet grill may take a bit, as you’ll have to learn exactly what works for your pellet grill and what doesn’t. But once you get the hang of it, you won’t have a problem at all! 

Supplies You Will Need to Start a Pellet Grill

The good news is, once you have your pellet grill there isn’t much else you will need in order to light it. But, before you begin you will want to gather the following supplies. 

  • An outlet
  • Pellets (of your desired type and flavor)
  • Grease bucket
  • Grilling tools/gloves

Do note that if this is the first time you are ever using your pellet grill, it is suggested that you season it before cooking for the first time. Seasoning a grill involves running it without any food in it the first time. You will not need the grease bucket nor grilling tools if you are seasoning your pellet grill

Related >> How to Clean a Pellet Grill

How to Start a Pellet Grill

Ready to start your pellet grill? Here are the instructions below!

Be cautious, however, and always double-check with your owner’s manual as some pellet grill brands need to be started differently than others. 

Step 1: Plug in Your Pellet Grill

You won’t get anything cooking if your pellet grill isn’t plugged in! For best results plug it directly into an outlet and not an extension cord. 

Step 2: Fill with Pellets

Fill the hopper with the wood pellets of your choice.

Step 3: Prime Your Hopper

Press the prime button to feed fuel into the firebox. If this is the first time you are using your pellet grill the priming process will take a while, possibly up to 10 minutes for the device to feed enough pellets into the firebox. 

If you came to this article because you are troubleshooting your pellet grill, priming for a few extra minutes is the place to start! 

Step 4: Turn on the Grill With the Lid Open

Use the control dial to turn your pellet grill to the smoke setting. If you do not see this setting on your specific model, reference the owner’s manual for the comparable setting. Leave the lid open until you see smoke coming up from the grill. If you do not see smoke, return to step 3.

Step 5: Close the Grill to Allow it to Heat

Next, close the lid to your pellet grill. If this is the first time you are using it, you will want to run it this way for a few hours to season it. If this is your second or third time, wait 5-10 minutes for the grill to fully preheat then you can begin cooking.

Ensure the drip pan or grease bucket is in place before you put the meat on the grill to catch the drippings. And just like that, your pellet grill is on and ready to use! 

fact about wood pellets

How to Extinguish a Pellet Grill

Now you’re done cooking, and you’re wondering what exactly you do to turn your pellet grill off? It’s actually quite easy, but it does require a bit of patience. 

Step 1: Turn the Dial

Start by turning the same dial you turned to power up your pellet grill to the ‘off’ position.

Step 2: Wait 

Because a pellet grill is powered by pellets being fed into the fire chamber, you will have to wait until the pellets currently in the chamber to burn out before the grill will officially power off. This process could take 5-10 minutes depending on your model.

Step 3: DO NOT Unplug Your Grill

Do not unplug your pellet grill until the fan unit has shut down completely. If you unplug the grill early, this could cause burnback, a situation where the flame travels to the hopper and lights all of your unused pellets. The fan stops this from happening–as long as it is allowed to run. 

Step 4: Unplug Your Grill

Once you are 100% sure the shutdown procedure is complete, you can unplug your grill from its power source. 

Step 5: Clean the Grill

Grills work best when they are kept clean! Take the time to empty the drippings bucket (using gloves) and scrub the grill using a grill brush. Your grill is now ready for round two whenever that may be! 

It is best to store your grill and wood pellets somewhere dry if you can, because of the electrical components. If you can’t store your pellet grill in the garage, consider getting a cover or tarp to keep it safe from the elements. 

Tips for Using Your Pellet Grill

Like anything in life, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using a pellet grill. Here are some of our tips for getting the most out of your pellet grill. 

1. Know Your Wood Pairings

One of the best parts of having a pellet grill is you can change up the flavors of the wood depending on what you are cooking. Wood that goes well with a brisket isn’t the same as the wood you should use for a slab of salmon, or a chicken breast. 

Get to know these pairings and keep a bag of each on hand so you will always have options. 

2. Store Your Wood Pellets Properly

Water destroys wood pellets. For best results, you should store them in airtight containers. 

Even if you are storing the bags in your garage, or your basement, you never know when some unexpected moisture might get into the bag and ruin your investment. Airtight bins are truly the way to go. 

3. Don’t Store Pellets in the Hopper

Storing the pellets in the hopper is just asking for disaster. If you don’t want to empty the hopper, see if your grill has a cold smoking option and follow up your grilling sessions with some smoked cheese!

What Should You Cook on a Pellet Grill?

You can cook anything on a pellet grill that you would cook on a normal grill!

In addition, a pellet grill can be a great way to cook larger pieces of meat, like a pork butt or brisket, that benefit from the smoky flavor and the low and slow cooking style. 

Many pellet grills have the additional option to cold smoke, making them an excellent choice for making smoked cheese or salmon. 

Pros and Cons of Using a Pellet Grill

Like anything in life, a pellet grill can be a great addition to your home, but it can also have some downsides. Below is our evaluation of the pros and cons of a pellet grill. 

Pros:

  • Excellent temperature control
  • Cooks evenly
  • Typically comes with a drip pan or grease bucket to help control flare ups
  • Easy to use
  • Food can be left somewhat unattended

Cons:

  • Not water resistant
  • You won’t get the cool grill marks on your food
  • If one piece breaks, the whole unit is unusable
  • Not portable

Honestly, whether or not you shout get a pellet grill will depend on your cooking style and activity level. If you are looking for a grill for tailgating, this probably isn’t it, but if you want some amazing slow cooked meat for a family event, this is the appliance you need!

Final Thoughts on Firing Up Your Pellet Grill

By now, you should have a decent idea of how to start a pellet grill. If you are still experiencing difficulties, it is best to call the customer service line for your brand of grill. Sometimes they may have a better idea of a technical difficulty you may be experiencing. 

Just keep in mind it’s always best to season your pellet grill before you start cooking on it. Then once you do start cooking, follow the tips in this guide for storing, using, and shutting down your pellet grill and you should have no difficulties at all as you learn to make some amazing meats!

Hope Davis

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!

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