Mastering The Art Of Smoked Meat: Tips For A Pellet Smoker


Pellet smokers or grills use wood to provide foods with a delicious smoky flavor. Anyone can use this one unit to smoke, bake, or grill meat. It uses food-grade compressed wood pellets, which allows the grill to burn slowly and cleanly. The food cooks at a lower temperature, so it is ideal for briskets, ribs, and more.

Manufacturers offer a range of pellet smokers today, allowing each grillmaster to find one with the features they desire. Some people prefer a larger cooking area, while others want a smoker with a warming rack. Most models come in stainless steel, although a few cast iron options remain today. Regardless of which model a person selects, how can they get the most from the pellet smoker purchased from

Use the Low Setting Initially

The pellet smoker produces more smoke at lower settings. As the temperature rises, the amount of smoke decreases. Start all foods on the low setting. On some models, low is referred to as the smoke setting.

When a very smoky flavor is desired, keep the food at this low setting for 30 to 60 minutes. Next, turn the smoker to 225 or 250 degrees to finish preparing the meat. Leave it at this temperature for three or four hours when cooking briskets, pork butts, and other meats that take several hours to cook. Once this period passes, increase the pellet smoker to normal smoking temperatures.

Choose the Right Cuts of Meat

When choosing meat to prepare in the pellet smoker, look for fatty cuts with lots of connective tissue. Most people avoid these meats as they can be tough if cooked using traditional methods. The pellet smoker breaks down the connective tissues,  converting them to sugar. This process helps keep the meat moist as it cooks. Experts refer to this as the Maillard Reaction.

Most people choose to cook ribs, pork shoulder, and beef brisket on their pellet grills. A Boston butt or picnic roast is ideal for a beginner who is just learning how to use the pellet grill. They are easy and inexpensive. As the person’s skill level increases, new cuts of meat can be tried, including leg of lamb and prime rib. Don’t hesitate to cook a chicken or turkey in the smoker either, as they come out delicious.

Start with a Clean Smoker


Any buildup on the grill will interfere with the clean-burning wood pellets. Always clean the grill after using it and remove unused pellets. A pan with a rack makes cleanup much easier, so many people choose this cooking method.

Any residue remaining on the grill will create smoke filled with creosote. This is dangerous. Furthermore, grease dripping onto the fire will lead to smoke that isn’t pleasant tasting. As a result, the meat won’t be tasty either.

Wrap the drip pan with foil. The pan will remain clean. In fact, many people choose to line the grease bucket with a foil liner made specifically for this purpose. Why spend time cleaning the grill when these simple tips make it easy? In the case all of this is for some reason impossible for you, worry not. You can always look to buy elk jerky instead, at least until you get the means to smoke your own meat one day. Sometimes, trying out new things is the best way to eventually get good at them down the line

Try Different Woods


Many people replenish the pellets with the same pellets that originally came with the smoker. Experiment with different woods to determine which are favorites. However, there are certain guidelines to follow when choosing these woods.

Avoid apple when smoking beef. Chicken should never be smoked using maple or oak, while mesquite and oak aren’t suitable for pork. Many people choose mesquite, oak, or alder for fish, so be sure to change the pellets after cooking fish if chicken is the next meat that will be cooked on the grill. Most chefs prefer to use maple, pecan, or hickory when cooking vegetables.

However, never use pellets infused with flavor oil. All-natural flavors remain the best option. Read the package carefully to ensure the pellets don’t contain flavor oils or other additives.

Pellet Size


Wood chips should be reserved for fish, pork chops, and steak as they cook rapidly. As the chips are known for igniting quickly and burning rapidly, the meats cooked over them need to also cook quickly. Most people who will be cooking meats for hours turn to wood chunks. They burn steadily throughout the cooking process.

Consider the Smoker’s Size


While it would be nice to have a smoker with 800 feet of cooking area, many people find they need something smaller. They don’t want to limit themselves to smoking meat at home. They wish to have the smoker when camping, tailgating, and more. A smaller cooker is needed for those concerned about portability.

Cover the Smoker When Not in Use

Many people leave their pellet grill uncovered when they aren’t using it. While this may seem reasonable, particularly when the smoker is sheltered from the elements, humidity can damage the pellets.

Wet pellets are frustrating, and they can be easily avoided by taking this one step. Even in areas of low humidity, it is best to keep the smoker covered to ensure no moisture makes its way to the pellets.

Have the Right Tools on Hand


The smoker grill is not the only thing a chef will need when preparing foods using the grill. Make certain there is plenty of wood or pellets available, and have a thermostat on hand to ensure the meat has reached the recommended temperature. Nobody wants to become ill from eating undercooked meat prepared in a smoker.

A water pan is needed with the smoker to prevent the meat from drying out. Most chefs also have a spray bottle on hand to moisten those parts of the meat that may dry out before others. Avoid using a pure stream as this can dampen the pellets. Aim for a mixture of a stream and mist.

In addition, ensure the smoker has a drip pan to catch grease. This pan helps prevent a fire. A simple pan avoids these issues.

Use these tips to take pellet grill skills to the next level. Those chefs who do so will find their friends always want them to cook because everything comes out amazing. Share these tips with others so the cooking doesn’t always fall on one person. Everyone deserves to have a piece of the action.