“Is My Grill Creating Enough Smoke?”

So Your Pellet Grill Doesn’t Smoke As Much As You Expected. Learn What Might Be Happening.

You got your new pellet grill after seeing all the social media posts of the Silverbac and Grilla laying down so much smoke that neighbors are calling to see if the house is on fire.  Now you are left wondering, “what gives, mine doesn’t smoke like that all the time?”  

Let me dispel some misinformation and misconceptions about smoking and pellet grills in general: 

Differences in Smoke

First off, pellet grills typically produce a TON of smoke starting up. The fire rod heats up and starts to smolder pellets until there is enough spark for the fans to stoke that into a flame.  This is great to use to our advantage by placing large cuts of cold meat on the grill, creating a nice smoke ring.  While most pit masters have learned to harness this “start up smoke” to our advantage, frankly you do not want that kind of smoke throughout the cook. It’s very thick, white, and bitter and not the ideal type of smoke.

Ideal smoke is whispy, thin blue smoke. At times, it can even be hard to see. This smoke gives proper flavor without the bitterness from thick white smoke. This thin smoke is produced when your pellet grill has finished the ignition phase and has settled in closer to it’s target temperature. That is not to say you will not see smoke…you may see thicker smoke as the auger drops more pellets in the fire pot.  You will just see less of that “house on fire” smoke.

Kinds of Pellets 

Now let’s address some things that play a large role in how much smoke is produced. The pellets play the largest part. Using high quality pellets without fillers is the single greatest thing you can do to ensure maximum smoke and flavor potential.  

The material the pellet is made of is also critical. Some blends just do not create as much smoke. It has a lot to do with how dense the wood is. For example, I’ve found apple doesn’t smoke as much as hickory. I am not against apple pellets at all, but if you are worried about generating visible smoke then you may want to try blending them with a bag of hickory or oak.  

Next thing to look at is the cleanliness of your fire pot.  If your fire pot is full of ash it will have a harder time efficiently igniting pellets and generating smoke.  I clean and vacuum out my Silverbac and Grilla after about every 20-30hrs of use. 

This also decreases the instances of the grill going out in the middle of a cook. When a pellet pit errors out in the middle of a cook, the controller probably fed too many pellets on top of a dying fire, causing the fans to not keep the pellets properly stoked.  You will know this was the case when you remove the heat shield and find a mound of pellets on top of about 2in of ash in the fire pot.   

Always let the way the food tastes be your guide versus what you are seeing visually. More times than not there is plenty of smoke being created, producing rich flavor for your meal. If that isn’t the case, take a look at what pellets you’re burning. It might be time to clean out the pit.