Using A Pellet Grill For Everyday Grilling (Explained)

Using A Pellet Grill For Everyday Grilling (Explained)

Pellet grills are best known for being able to smoke meat at a low and slow temperature to transform a big hunk of tough meat into fall-off-the-bone goodness.

Although pellet grills can smoke meat, these grills can also sear a steak and even bake a pizza. So pellet grills are versatile cooking machines.

Although pellet grills can cook a variety of food, I often get asked if a pellet grill be used for everyday grilling?

Pellet grills can be used for normal everyday grilling such as burgers, hotdogs, and steaks. Moreover, pellet grills can slow smoke brisket, cold smoke salmon, and even sear a steak. Similar to an oven, pellet grills have a temperature control which will determine how fast food cooks on the grill.

So pellet grills can cook just about anything that would normally be cooked on a regular propane or charcoal grill. Ultimately, a pellet grill can replace a charcoal or propane grill as long as there is an electrical power source for the pellet grill.

Now let’s dive into some things to keep in mind when deciding on replacing a gas or charcoal grill with a pellet grill.For those looking to purchase a pellet grill made in the USA, make sure to checkout this list of pellet grills made in the USA

Does Food Take Longer To Cook on Pellet Grills?

The most common concern I hear with pellet grills is people asking if the food takes longer to cook on a pellet grill versus a propane or charcoal grill.

Generally, 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 estimated time.

The caveat to this rule is that most pellet grills have a maximum temperature of about 450°F. However, most recipes do not call for cooking temperatures 450°F+ so the pellet grill can cook most food as expected.

See this article that does a deep dive comparison between cooking times on pellet grills vs propane or charcoal grills.

Does Preheating Pellet Grills Take More Time?

Another common question I hear with pellet grills is if it takes longer to preheat a pellet grill.

Generally, preheating a pellet grill takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes in order to allow the cooking surface and inside of the grill to sufficiently heat up. Most propane and charcoal grills take a similar amount of time to preheat so pellet grills do not take longer to preheat.

Preheating a pellet grill is easier to do than most propane or charcoal grills since pellet grills have a temperature controller. Below is a picture of my Traeger pellet grill’s controller:

Once I turn the Traeger on, I can set the cooking temperature and walk away knowing that the grill will preheat to my desired cooking temperature.

Charcoal and propane grills may get too hot which can make preheating the grill take even longer than a pellet grill.

Pellet Grills Require Electricity

Pellet grills are versatile cooking machines that run on electricity.

Unlike propane or charcoal grills that can be used to cook food in the backyard, near the river, or when you go camping, pellet grills always need an electrical power source.

So if you plan on using the pellet grill around the home or have a car or generator that can power the pellet grill then pellet grills are a great option. However, if you want to grill food while camping and you do not have an electrical power source then pellet grills are not a good option.

Keep in mind that charcoal briquettes or lumps cannot be used on a pellet grill and pellet grills do not use propane or gas.

Can A Pellet Grill Be Used Without Pellets?

Pellet grills need two things in order to cook or smoke food:

  1. Electricity
  2. Wood pellets

A pellet grill cannot be used without pellets since the wood pellets are used to create heat and smoke.

Some electrical smokers and grills can be used indoors since they heat the food through heating wires similar to a toaster or toaster oven. Unlike these indoor electrical smokers and grills, pellet grills use a heating rod to ignite the wood pellets which creates the heat and smoke.

So pellet grills require both electricity and wood pellets in order to cook food.

Can You Grill On Pellet Grills Without Smoke?

Another question I get asked about pellet grills is if it’s possible to grill on a pellet grill without smoke?

Afterall, there may be times you don’t want a smoky flavor on your food such as grilled asparagus or hotdogs.

Grilling on a pellet grill without smoke is possible at higher temperatures such as 350°F or the “High” temp setting. Pellet grills at higher temperatures act as a wood fire oven since the pellets are made from compressed wood dust. The higher temperatures mean the food cooks faster and the pellet grill will not produce as much smoke.

So it is possible to grill on a pellet grill without smoke as long the temperature setting is on high. Keep in mind that there will be a little bit of smoke, but the food will cook quickly which means the food will not be exposed to as much smoke. 

Unlike grilling on a charcoal or propane grill, the lid of a pellet grill must always remain closed even when grilling at high temperatures. Pellet grills cook food using indirect heat so leaving the lid open will cause the food to cook much slower.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you use a Traeger as a normal grill?

A: Traegers and other brands of pellet grills can be used a normal grills. Pellet grills can smoke meat, grill burgers, and even sear a steak. Use the temperature setting to control whether the pellet grill will be used to smoke, grill, or sear food.

See this article for tips on how to grill on a Traeger without smoke. If you’re searing a steak then see this article for the perfect temperature for searing meat on pellet grills.

Finally if you’re unsure if you’re supposed to flip a brisket or a burger on a pellet grill then see this article for when to flip meat on pellet grills.

Q: Can a pellet grill replace a gas grill?

A: Pellet grills can replace a gas grill for everyday grilling. Moreover, a pellet grill can smoke meat for hours at low temperatures which is needed for smoking brisket and pork shoulder.

So pellet grills can smoke meat, grill burgers, and sear steaks which means a pellet grill can replace any gas grill.

Final Thoughts

Pellet grills are great cooking devices that can be used for everyday grilling.

However, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Do you plan on using this grill for camping, tailgating, or grilling someplace away from home?
  2. Do you have a reliable electrical power source for the pellet grill?
  3. Does your home allow smoker or pellet grills?
    • Some apartments may not approve of pellet grills and smokers due to all the smoke they can produce
  4. Do you want to smoke food such as brisket or ribs?
  5. Do you need to have a direct open flame when you grill food?

Although pellet grills can be used for everyday grilling, there are some situations where propane or charcoal grills can be better. For example, camping with a pellet grill is more difficult than bringing a tiny propane or charcoal grill.

So depending on your grilling situation and needs – you may opt for a charcoal or propane grill over a pellet grill.

However, for most folks grilling at home, the pellet grill is one of the best and most versatile cooking machines on the market. Here’s a list of pellet grills made in the USA if you’re searching for a new pellet grill.

Regardless of which grill you use (pellet vs propane vs charcoal) – just get there out, toss some meat on the grill, and have some good times.

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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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