“Now you’re cooking with gas” was a catch phrase originally developed in the 1930s by gas companies when electric stoves began to enter household kitchens. The phrase was popularized throughout America when radio show personalities such as Bob Hope used it as a reference to “you’re on the right track.” Since the phrase is still used today–and the fact that gas stoves ARE arguably superior to electric anyway–it’s safe to say their marketing efforts were successful.
Gas grills have been the leader on decks and patios for many years now. However, that trend has begun to change. Wood-fired, electric pellet grills are growing into the new backyard go-to. Their user-friendly design and superior wood-fired flavor are loved by pellet grill owners, but those are only a couple examples why the grilling faithful enjoy them.
What are 5 reasons people love pellet grills, and how can your outdoor cooking elevate to new levels?
1. Pellet Grills Are Easy to Use
One of the greatest features of a pellet grill is the fact they’re easy to use. Simply fill the hopper with food-grade wood pellets, empty the ash pail, and select your desired temperature and smoke level. The pellet grill takes over from there as an electric auger feeds the burn pot with wood pellets from the hopper.
Once you set the temperature, the pellet grill maintains it and feeds wood pellets as needed. Pellet grills are highly precise with temperature control from their lowest to highest settings (180-500 degrees on many grills).
For even more accurate control, grill blankets are available to help pellet grills hold in more heat and smoke. They maintain even more consistent temperatures throughout the entire year, but they’re especially useful in the winter months when outside temperatures drop.
Pellet grills are also easy to clean when you’re finished cooking. Whether it’s a quick clean-up or a deeper clean, no effort takes longer than 15 minutes to maintain your grill.
2. Set It & Forget It
With pellet grills, you can set it and walk away. Since the grill does all the work, you get a wood-fired taste without having to constantly feed logs or wood chunks. Overall, pellet grills do not require as much time or attention, and there’s no need to constantly check the grill temperature or level of smoke.
Newer models even monitor temperature levels from the palm of your hand. Traeger and Camp Chef now both feature, easy-to-use, WiFi controlling technology. Change the temperature, adjust smoke levels, and receive notifications from your phone.
When you have the freedom to walk away from the grill, you’re able to do other activities. Experiment with different cooking methods, perfect your own sauces or rubs, try new recipes, and watch more of your favorite sports or shows.
3. Versatility To Cook Anything
Naturally, a pellet grill is great for smoking and grilling, but it’s also the centerpiece for much more. All of your favorite dishes that are usually cooked inside can now be done outdoors. Think of it as a kitchen in your backyard where you can perfectly cook anything with confidence.
Traditional smokers have set the BBQ bar for a long time and are debated to provide a better smoke. On the opposite side of that argument are pellet grills. Pellet grills are now recognized for their quality and are even sanctioned in contests sponsored by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), winning many bbq competitions in recent years.
The combination of smoke quality and convenience with pellet grills is unbeatable. Taste all of your barbecue favorites from the comfort of your own backyard. Pick your favorite wood pellet flavors, set the grill on low and go. You’ll love the beautiful smoke ring, tenderness, and delicious flavor you get from home cooked ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken quarters and wings. Fresh salmon, trout, and even sides such as mac and cheese are wonderfully smoky and tasty.
Anything cooked in an oven can be done in a pellet grill. Pellet grills primarily work as a convection oven. Indirect heat and smoke are produced from the burn pot and blown around the pellet grill for a perfect, evenly cooked finish. Bake breads, cakes, pies, breakfast casseroles, and delicious, wood-fired pizzas. Plus, when you bake your favorites outside in the summer months, you avoid heating up your house and kitchen.
For many of our common grilling favorites–such as summer burgers and hot dogs–there’s a time when we need to turn up the heat. Pork chops and your favorite cuts of steak or chicken are fabulous when cooked over a wood fire. Don’t forget your vegetables too!
Pellet grills used to only have an indirect heat option, but that has changed in recent years. To improve the grilling feature, many manufacturers now offer models with perforated drip trays, direct heat over the burn pot, and/or temperatures up to 500°. This allows your burgers and steaks to sizzle and get those beautiful grill marks and a good crust on the outside, while still preserving a medium to rare center.
For a truer sear, cuts such as tri-tip require an even higher temperature or intense encounter with heat to seal in natural flavor. If you preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle on the grill grate, the meat has more surface area for direct high heat. Camp Chef also offers a separate sear box that mounts on the side of the grill and reaches temperatures up to 900°.
Try your family favorite oven roasted or crockpot recipes in a roasting pan or dutch oven, or new techniques such as a spatchcock roasted chicken. Winter holidays will also never be the same. Oven roasted and fried turkeys are great, but–in our opinion–neither matches a brined and smoked turkey for the holiday season.
Braising creates melt-in-your-mouth comfort food by tenderizing the meat and enhancing the flavors of everything in the pot. Give your favorite cut of meat a sear, and then simmer it on lower heat in a covered roasting pan or dutch oven with vegetables, herbs, and a little liquid (recipes with stock or wine provide the boldest flavors).
Along with a variety of cooking techniques, there’s a model of pellet grill available for any type of activity or lifestyle. As long as you have a power source–such as a 12-volt inverter or a gas-powered generator–you can take a pellet grill car camping, tailgating, to the lake, or to family get-togethers.
4. Great Wood-Fired Flavors
While there are many grilling options out there, nothing produces better tasting food than a pellet grill. Fuel flavors your food and with wood-fired flavors are superior to gas and charcoal alternatives. All of your favorite dishes are simply better on a pellet grill.
With pellet grills, you also have flavor options when choosing wood pellets for your grill. Each pellet flavor, or type of wood, has a unique taste that naturally complements and enhances your favorite foods. (Read Choosing Wood Pellets For Your Grill for more info.) Specific hardwood blends are also available. Experiment with different food-grade wood pellet options and find the flavors you and your family enjoy the most.
5. The BBQ Community
With a pellet grill, anyone can be an expert at grilling or smoking; it’s simple and so easy. All of your favorite meals will only get better, and options now available will improve evening dinners and weekend get-togethers.
The versatility and easy to use pellet grill features allow you to have more time on your hands. You’ll find yourself experimenting more with sauces, rubs, and new techniques such as brining and injecting meats like the pro’s do.
There’s a barbecue community on social media too. People like yourself who simply love great food. Look for #bbqlife, #bbqnation or #traegergrills on Instagram and follow some of your favorite bbq masters and home cooks. Pick up tips and recipes, and share your own experiences.
Let the flavors lead you to new things, and cook with confidence. You’ll easily be the envy in the neighborhood, and relatives will begin asking, “what have you been cooking lately,” at all family functions.
These are only 5 reasons people love pellet grills. If the idea sounds–or in this case smells–good, you may need to try it yourself and start cooking with wood. You may just be on the right track.
Information for this article was provided by Mike Stauffer, Branch Manager, American Fork IFA Country Store; Jason White, Assistant Manager, Riverton IFA Country Store; Bart Keller, Asst. Manager, Draper IFA Country Store; Eric Thomson, Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Cooking, Cedar City IFA Country Store; and Dan Jensen, Outdoor Cooking Category Manager, IFA Country Store.
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