“Is My Smoker 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 how much smoke should come out of a smoker, and about 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 pitmasters have learned to harness this “start-up smoke,” you actually do not want that kind of smoke throughout the cook. It’s very thick, white and bitter, and not the ideal type of smoke.
For the best results, you should wait for the smoke from this initial stage to clear up before you throw your food on the grill.
Thin Blue Smoke vs White 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 its target temperature.
That isn’t to say you will not see smoke at all. You may see thicker smoke as the auger drops more pellets in the fire pot — the part inside the grill that ignites the dispensed wood pellets, and the source for all the flame. You will just see less of that “house on fire” smoke when your grill is hovering around your set temperature.
What you definitely don’t want is the presence of stale smoke. When the ventilation gets bad inside your grill, the smoke can’t flow as well as it should. The fans might grow dirty over time and have trouble circulating the air. Over time, the smoke that can’t escape will turn your food black and crusted. That’s the effect of bitter creosote building up to the point it ruins the flavor of your smoked meat.
You don’t want the shame of serving your diners a gross layer of soot on your food, so watch for any charring on the meat while it cooks. If you feel you’re not getting enough smoke from your pellet grill, it could be time for a thorough clean.
Make a habit of following the instructions for cleaning your grill so you get just the right distribution of smoke on every cook. Also, check before you ignite the fire so you don’t end up wasting food on accident. I clean and vacuum out my Silverbac and Grilla after about every 20 to 30 hours of use.
Kinds of Pellets
Now let’s address some things that play a large role in how much smoke should be produced. The pellets play the largest part. Using high-quality pellets without wood fillers is the single greatest thing you can do to ensure maximum smoke and flavor potential.
High-Quality Pellet Material
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.
A Clean Fire Pot
The 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.
A clean fire pot 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 2 inches of ash in the fire pot.
Always let the way the food tastes be your guide versus what you see 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.
Got any more questions for the folks at Grilla Grills? Reach out and contact us today for any information about using a pellet grill.