Igniting And Using Traeger Pellet Grills In Cold Weather

Igniting And Using Traeger Pellet Grills In Cold Weather

Traeger pellet grills are known for smoking meat with little to no effort.

Simply toss some meat onto the grill, plug in the Traeger, fill the hopper with pellets and you’re smoking meat!

This means a nice summer day can be topped off with some delicious smoked meat.

Pellet grills, much like any cooking method, work great when the ambient temperature is relatively warm.

However, what happens when it’s winter or cold outside but you still want to smoke some meats?

Do pellets grills work in cold weather?

Traeger pellet grills will work in cold weather as long as the grill is receiving electricity to ignite the pellets. However, the pellet grill will burn more pellets in cold weather in order to heat the grill unless the grill is insulated.

If the grill is uninsulated then the pellet grill may burn pellets at a faster rate to maintain cooking temperatures.

So the good news is that pellet grills do work in cold weather but they will consume more pellets.

How Long Do Traeger Pellet Grills Take To Ignite?

On a typical warm day with temperates ranging from 60°F to 90°F, Traeger pellet grills will ignite in about 3 to 5 minutes.

To start the ignition sequence of a Traeger:

  1. Check that the hopper is full of pellets
  2. Turn the Traeger on
  3. Set the dial to “Smoke”
  4. Wait 3 to 5 minutes

The Traeger’s auger will begin feeding pellets into the firepot so you should hear a motor noise from the Traeger.

After about 3 to 5 minutes, the grill will begin smoking and the temperature should start increasing above 100°F.

How Long Do Traeger Pellet Grills Take To Ignite In Winter?

In colder temperatures, a Traeger pellet grill may take around 10 to 15 minutes to ignite.

A user on the Traeger forums reported that it took 12 minutes for his Traeger to begin smoking (ignition) with ambient temperatures of 30°F and wind chills of 20°F. After 15 minutes, the Traeger had reached 100°F.

Here’s a time table comparing how long it takes for a Traeger to ignite and reach 100°F, 200°F, and 275°F when the air temperature is cold (20°F to 30°F) vs warm (60°F):

Time To Cooking TempSmoking (Ignition)100°F200°F275°F
Warm Air Temp (60°F)3 min4 min5 min5.5 min
Cold Air Temp (20°F to 30°F)12 min15 min17 min22 min

So you can see that the Traeger can ignite and reach cooking temperatures a lot faster when the air temperatures are warm (60°F and above) as opposed to colder weather.

Can You Leave Pellet Grills Outside In Winter?

Traeger pellet grills are intended to be used outdoors in any condition.

This means pellet grills can be left outside in the winter.

Below is an image from redditer take_me_with_youuu that is proudly show how to still use a Traeger outdoors even when there is 16 inches of snow.

Traeger pellet grill outside in 16 inches of snow

Keep in mind that the Traeger will consume pellets at a faster rate when used in snowing or extremely cold conditions. However, you can still smoke meat and grill food even in the middle of Winter.

Pellet Grill Tips For Cold Weather

Using a pellet grill during the winter is possible but it does require a bit more planning and equipment to make sure it works efficiently.

Pellet grills can work at freezing temperatures but it will be highly inefficient for the grill to maintain cooking temperatures without some help.

Redditer troywillard66 compiled these helpful tips for using a pellet grill in the winter which has helped me smoke foods during cold weather (30°F).

  1. A welding blanket helps a lot. It will not only help save pellets, but also help the recovery time if you open the lid. I bought one from Princess Auto (In Canada) for $29.99. Other users have got them off Amazon or Harbour Freight. I folded it up and used zip ties to hold it together. Traeger also sells their insulation blankets, but this is more expensive than a welding blanket.
  2. Dry your pellets before use. This may not be specific to cold weather, but it certainly helps them burn better. I make sure to empty the hopper after every use during the winter. Before I go to use the Traeger, I’ll take a big scoop of pellets in a tupperware container and microwave them for 2 minutes MAX. I’ve found this to be really helpful in getting higher temps. Make sure you’re stirring your pellets more often too.
  3. Keep your RTD temp sensor really clean. A LOT of people don’t do this. It is very, very important to ensure the controller works properly. Take an SOS pad or some steel wool and scrub it until it is nice and silver.
  4. Install a lid gasket. I have found this has helped with windy days earlier this fall when I wasn’t using the welding blanket. It prevented wind from getting in between the lid and the grill itself.
  5. Firebricks. I don’t do this, but I have heard of a lot of people doing it to help retain heat. Note that your grill will take longer to heat up if you have these.
  6. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.

The underlying theme of using a pellet grill during the winter or cold weather is to help the grill maintain temperature.

If the grill is exposed to the colder air temperatures then the grill will have to burn more pellets to compensate for the grill body getting colder from the air, rain, or snow.

Can I Leave Pellets In The Hopper?

Wood pellets can be left in the hopper of a pellet grill as long as the hopper is protected from water and moisture.

So pellet grills stored indoors or stored outside with a cover can have pellets leftover in the hopper.

Wood Pellets Cannot Get Wet

Wood pellets cannot get wet or be exposed to moisture since they will expand and lose their shape.

Below are wood pellets that I soaked with a tablespoon of water in a bowl. After about 5 minutes, the pellets exposed to water were fully expanded and unusable for a pellet grill.

The dry wood pellets (left) and wet wood pellets (right) are visibly different.

Wet wood pellets will not ignite properly and there is a chance these mushy pellets will get stuck in the auger. So make sure to discard any wet wood pellets before turning on a pellet grill.

Final Thoughts

Traeger pellets grills can be kept outdoors during the Winter. These are versatile grills that are meant to be used in any condition.

However, pellet grills contain electrical components and are expensive so try to keep them as protected as possible. Otherwise harsh conditions will take their toll on the pellet grill.

Moreover, pellet grills will ignite and can be used in cold weather. A pellet grill can fire up and cook food without any extra accessories, however, these extra items greatly improve the cooking experience.

For example, a welding or insulating blanket will help the grill maintain cooking temperatures during cold weather. This way the grill will not have to continually burn pellets in order to maintain your desired cooking temperature.

So with a little planning, you can fire up the pellet grill and get to smoking during any cold, rainy, or snowy days. After all, a little cold weather shouldn’t keep you from cooking some delicious smoked meat.

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I'm learning how to catch, grow, and cook my own natural food and my goal is to help others eat more food from nature. Eating natural food can taste great, be affordable and accessible with a little planning. Don't get me wrong, I still eat taco bell and pizzas every so often, but I'm trying to eat more dank food from nature! So let's eat tasty natural food together.

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