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Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance



From the posts on social media, it appears many people received pellet grills/smokers this holiday season. Or are intending to buy one for themselves to take advantage of current sales. Collectively, we here at Steven Raichlen, Inc., have experience with many brands of pellet grills, from Green Mountain Grills, to Traeger, to Memphis, to Z Grills. Here, we’re pleased to share some of our best tips so you can get maximum enjoyment out of your new acquisition.

18 Pellet Grill Tips for Beginners
1. Season your new pellet grill.
Season your new pellet grill according to the manufacturer’s directions (a process that usually takes 45 minutes to one hour). This burns off any residual oils from the manufacturing process.

2. Allow yourself some time to get acquainted with your new grill/smoker.
Allow yourself some time to get acquainted with your new grill/smoker. We know you’ll be anxious to try it out, but don’t be overly ambitious. Instead of a whole brisket, which could take 15 hours or more, or a budget-busting prime rib roast, start with chicken (parts, such as breasts or wings, or a whole bird), pork loin tenderloin, or blade (shoulder) steaks, Cornish hens, salmon steaks or fillets, or other relatively inexpensive cuts that can be completed in 2 hours or less.

3. Identify any hot spots—most grills have them.
Identify any hot spots—most grills have them. Preheat your grill to medium-high as directed by the owner’s manual, then lay slices of cheap white bread shoulder to shoulder across the grate. Watch carefully, then flip after a few minutes. Take a photo of the results. The darkest bread will indicate where the temperature might be hotter. (Print the photo out and add it to your owner’s manual for reference.)

4. Don’t let your meat come to room temperature before cooking.
Whatever meat you select, put it on the preheated grill/smoker straight from the refrigerator. Do not, as many recipes suggest, allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.

5. Invest in a good meat thermometer.
A laser-type thermometer such as this one will give you a more accurate temperature reading at grill level than a built-in dome thermometer. Determine the temperature range of your grill model from lowest to highest (180 degrees to 500+, for example).

6. Take advantage of your pellet grill’s searing capabilities.
Many pellet grills feature searing capabilities, meaning they can reach temperatures over 500 degrees. Again, check your owner’s manual for information on your specific model.

7. Use lower temperatures to generate more smoke.
You’ll generate more smoke at lower temperatures, particularly in the “low and slow” range between 225 and 275.


8. Use the reverse sear method. 
Don’t be afraid to smoke your meat at a lower temperature, then finish it at a higher temperature. This two-step approach is especially useful for smoking chicken with crisp (not rubbery) skin, or the “reverse sear method” often employed for thicker steaks or prime rib (for more information, click here).

9. Never allow the pellets in the pellet hopper to run out.
Never allow the pellets in the pellet hopper to run out. If this happens, consult your owner’s manual before relighting the grill. If you must, set a timer to remind yourself to top off the pellets.

10. Use your pellet grill just like an oven. 
Your pellet grill/smoker can be used just like an oven, capable of baking, braising, roasting, etc. But the addition of wood smoke gives food much more intriguing flavors.

11. Experiment with pellet flavors.
Experiment with pellet flavors. Some brands of pellets are fairly subtle.

12. Invest in a smoking tube to supplement the smoke generated by your grill. 
If you want to supplement the smoke being generated by your pellet grill, or even cold smoke, invest in a smoking tube or maze such as the one by A-MAZ-N.

13. Position your grill at least 6 feet away from your home. 
Position your grill at least 6 feet from any walls, trees, overhangs, etc. (This is true for ALL grills and smokers.)

14. Clean your grill frequently. 
Clean your grill frequently to avoid the build-up of ash or grease. A shop-type vacuum is a necessity, as is a putty knife or sharp-bladed spatula. Don’t forget to clean the chimney or exhaust.

15. Use heavy-duty foil for easier clean up.
Use heavy-duty foil to cover the grease tray and/or to line the grease bucket. (Empty cans, such as tomato or coffee cans, can also be used as bucket liners.)


15. Always store pellets in a dry place.
Always store pellets in a dry place. Otherwise, then will turn to sawdust, and if in the augur, to something akin to cement!

16. Remove the grease bucket after each cook.
After each cook, remove the grease bucket from the side of the grill and store it in a safe place to keep it out of the reach of dogs, raccoons, or other hungry critters.

17. Use the upper rack of your grill to cook something that’s prone to drying out. 
Your pellet grill provides both convection and radiant heat. If you are cooking something that’s prone to drying out, such as chicken breasts or thin fish fillets, position them on the upper rack to protect them from the heat radiating from the bottom. If your unit didn’t come with an upper rack, you can balance a wire rack on fire bricks or purchase after-market racks. You can also put a pan of water or other liquid on the grill grate to generate moisture.

18. Smoke vegetables and side dishes on your new grill. 
Do smoke or grill vegetables or side dishes on your new grill. (You can preorder Steven’s latest book, How to Grill Vegetables, here.)


Did you learn something new? For the seasoned pros, what are your tips for first time pellet grill owners? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram!

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By: Cialina TH
Title: Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance
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Published Date: 12/28/20

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Cooking Tips

Strip Steak Tacos Recipe – How to Cook New York Strip Steak Tacos



Strip Steak Tacos Recipe – How to Cook New York Strip Steak Tacos

Strip steak makes an excellent meat for fajitas. These fajitas are easy to prepare and require little clean-up. The steak is already seasoned, so you don't need to marinate it before cooking. You can even freeze it for 30 minutes before you start cooking it.

If you plan on frying or baking the steak in tortillas, you should first marinate the steak before you begin cooking it. The marinating process will make it tender. Also, top sirloin steak is more tender than bottom sirloin. You can also purchase beef tenderloin, but it is more expensive than the other cuts.

First, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers. Cook until they are soft but not browned. Once they are soft, add the steak and stir-fry until it is no longer raw. Remember that the steak doesn't need to be cooked all the way; it will finish cooking when you add the vegetables.

Strip steak is a great option for fajitas because it has a great flavor and is easy to cook. Whether you want to use it in a taco or as part of a fajita, strip steak is easy to prepare. You can grill it to your liking and then serve it with grilled vegetables. You can even add your favorite toppings to it.

Once the steak has been marinated, you can cook it on a hot grill or cast iron skillet. For medium-rare steak, you should cook it for about four minutes per side. If you don't have a large enough skillet, you can cut the meat into thin strips.

In addition to flank steak, you can also use skirt steak for fajitas. Skirt steak is tougher than flank steak and requires more time to cook. It is also tougher to chew, but the flavor is more intense than that of flank steak. It can be served with grilled vegetables, salsa, and cilantro.

Strip steak is a higher-end cut of beef. It is made from the short loin subprimal and comes with the backbone, but the backbone is usually removed. The more marbling, the higher the quality. As a result, strip steaks are one of the most expensive cuts of beef.

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Cooking Tips

How to Prepare Crusted Steak With Lemon Butter Steak Sauce



How to Prepare Crusted Steak With Lemon Butter Steak Sauce

Crusted steak is a popular dish at steakhouses, which is easy to make at home. You can grill or bake it, depending on your preference. First, you need to bring the steak to room temperature. Then, mix the crumbs with herbs and sprinkle them over the meat. Cook the steak until it is cooked to your liking.

When cooking steak, use a thermometer to check the temperature. The internal temperature should be at least 150°F. You can also add sea salt, if you want to. Continue to cook the steak until it reaches a perfect medium rare or well-done level. When you're finished cooking your steak, you can move it to the cool side of the grill away from the coals. It'll finish cooking slowly over gentle heat, ensuring that it is just right.

After heating the steak, prepare the butter. You'll need it for the final crust, which helps with the magic char. If you don't like butter, you can use beef tallow or butter alternatives. You can also brush the steak with melted butter on one side, then the other side. Remember to turn the steaks every few minutes to achieve the final crust. If you're not careful, you may end up with a burnt steak.

Peppercorns are also an essential ingredient for the crust of the steak, as they add additional flavor and texture. Crushed peppercorns can be crushed using a rolling pin, mallet, or spice grinder. You can also include tomato or balsamic vinegar to the mixture. If you have a conventional grill, you can use this method to cook steak on it.

If you're looking for an easy way to prepare a steak with a crispy crust, you'll want to try a Parmesan Crusted Steak. The combination of spices, herbs, and cheese in this recipe transforms the steak dining experience. Serve it with grilled vegetables and a glass of red wine to make the most out of it.

Another easy method for preparing a crusted steak is by using blue cheese. It adds a bit of texture to the steak and also helps bind the ingredients together. It also pairs well with balsamic-glazed caramelized shallots, which add a nice balance of flavors.

To prepare the steak crust, you first need to make sure you have a skillet large enough to accommodate the steak. After that, you can place the steak in the oven for a few minutes to get the bottom part of the steak hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, it should rest for about five minutes before serving.

When preparing a steak crust, you should always consider the cut of beef you're using. It's important to choose a cut with the right fat and lean meat. You may also want to make the steak as thin as possible to reduce the risk of it being overcooked.

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Cooking Tips

Hawaiian Steak Recipe and Houston’s Hawaiian Ribeye Recipe



Hawaiian Steak Recipe and Houston's Hawaiian Ribeye Recipe

Hawaiian steaks are made with tender slices of beef, juicy pineapple, and sweet mini peppers. These ingredients are marinated and grilled until tender. Hawaiian steaks can be served with potatoes, fresh vegetables, and a simple salad. If you're looking for a fast and easy dinner idea, Hawaiian steak kabobs are a great option.

To make Hawaiian steaks, you'll need Hawaiian seasoning salt. This seasoning mix contains ‘alaea salt, garlic, onion, and ginger powder. It's best if you apply the seasoning mix to the steaks at least 20 minutes before grilling. You can use Hawaiian seasoning salt for steaks, chicken, fish, and vegetables. Just remember to apply it liberally.

Hawaiian steaks can be cooked using a grill or on a barbecue grill. This method results in a juicy center and charred edges. The meat is best grilled in Hawai'i. Once you've cooked the beef, it can be stored in an airtight container for three to four days.

To prepare Hawaiian steaks, start by marinating the steak. You can use soy sauce, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, and garlic. Then, pour the marinade over the steaks and let them marinate for at least a day. You can also make the compound butter ahead of time and use it to cook the steaks.

Before grilling the steak, you should season it well on both sides. Heat a cast-iron pan on medium-high. Cook the steak for about two minutes on each side. Once finished, remove the steak from the grill and refrigerate it. Once the steak is cool, remove the excess fat.

To grill Hawaiian steaks, heat up a grill to medium-high or high. Grill the steaks until desired degrees of doneness are reached. The internal temperature of the steak should be 130F for rare steaks and 140F for medium-rare steaks. After the steaks are ready, you should transfer them to a cutting board and cover them with aluminum foil. Let them rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

The meat used in Hawaiian steaks is usually made from Spam, which is widely mocked on the mainland. It's also served with pineapple. Spam is eaten in about a third of U.S. households and was the winner of a state fair recipe contest. One Hawaiian state fair recipe even turned Spam into a nacho burger.

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