Pellet grills are versatile cooking machines that can smoke ribs, sear a steak, and even bake a pizza.
These different forms of cooking (smoking vs searing vs baking) all require different temperature settings. Although pellet grills are known for smoking ribs or brisket for hours at low temperatures, pellet grills can cook food faster at higher temperatures.
A common question I hear with pellet grills is if the food takes longer to cook on pellet grills?
Food does not take any longer to cook on a pellet grill. As long as the pellet grill is set to the correct cooking temperature then the food will cook according to the recipe’s timeline.
Although pellet grills are known for slow cooking and smoking food for hours, pellets grills can reach upwards of 450°F+ depending on the make and model.
Difference Between Cooking on Pellet Grills and Propane or Charcoal
Grills should always be preheated before placing food onto the cooking surface regardless of what fuel source you decide to use.
Charcoal grills are normally preheated until the coals turn grey which allows the cooking grates and the inside of the grill to heat up. The extra heat helps the food cook from all angles.
Similarly, propane grills require a few minutes after firing up to preheat the cooking grates before food can be placed onto the grill.
Preheating Time on Pellet Grills
Preheating a pellet grill usually takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes in order to allow the cooking surface and the inside of the grill to heat up. The pellet grill ignition sequence also helps the grill produce heat and smoke through the controlled fire inside the firepot.
Altogether, preheating a pellet grill takes about the same amount of time a charcoal or propane grill should be allowed to preheat.
So preheating or waiting until the grill is hot enough for food takes about the same amount of time on a pellet grill as it does on a charcoal or propane grill.
Setting Cooking Temperatures on Pellet Grills
The major benefit to cooking or smoking on a pellet grill is the temperature controller. Generally, pellet grills will have a digital display or a knob that allows the cooking temperature to be set.
Below is an image of my Traeger pellet grill’s temperature controller along with the digital display that shows the internal cooking temperature of the grill:
So unlike most propane or charcoal grills, a pellet grill can be set to a precise cooking temperature.
Once the pellet grill has been allowed to preheat for 10 to 15 minutes at the specific cooking temperature, the food can be added to the grill. Once added the food will cook predictably which is similar to cooking food inside of an oven with a set temperature.
Pellet grills can cook food as fast or as slow as other cooking methods.
Although pellet grills are known for smoking ribs or brisket for hours, pellet grills can sear steaks and bake pizzas. In fact, similar to placing food in the oven, a pellet grill has a temperature controller that will set the cooking temperature.
Most ovens and pellet grills have high-temperature ranges of 400°F to 500°F. So pellet grills can cook food just as fast as an oven can cook food.
The benefit of cooking on a pellet grill compared to an oven is that pellet grills will leave a smoky flavor on the food. Food will absorb more smoky flavor the longer the food stays on the pellet grill.
So smoking food is usually done at low temperatures, such as 225°F, since this creates more smoke and the food will stay on the pellet grill for longer.
Regardless of what cooking method you decide to use, just know that pellet grills will not take any longer to cook food than any other method. As long as the pellet grill can reach the desired cooking temperature then the food will cook as quickly as you expect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do pellet grills cook faster?
A: Pellet grills can cook faster when set to higher cooking temperatures such as 450°F.
Q: Do Traeger grills take longer to cook?
A: Traeger pellet grills can cook quickly when set to higher cooking temperatures. Ultimately, the cooking temperature will determine how fast or slow something cooks on a Traeger.
Q: How long do pellet grills take to cook?
A: The cooking temperature can be set on pellet grills which will determine how long the food takes to cook. Generally, pellet grills have cooking temperatures ranging from 150°F to 450°F. So a steak smoking at 225°F can take upwards of an hour to cook whereas a steak searing at 450°F will cook much faster.