Wood Pellet Grilling: Is it Safe?
Are you craving smoked salmon rubbed with creole spices? How about some corn on the cob off your Traeger grill or smoked cream cheese for your bagel spread? You can enjoy these recipes and so much more when you have a wood pellet grill.
If you’re new to using a wood pellet grill, you probably have a lot of questions about it all. Luckily, in this post, we’ll answer many of your questions about wood pellet grilling.
I. Is cooking on a wood pellet smoker safe?
You can grill, smoke, barbecue, roast, and even bake on a wood pellet grill. Yes, you can definitely bake on your wood pellet grill.
Wood pellet grills operate with a control panel that allows wood pellets to be automatically fed into the fire. The control panel also regulates airflow and maintains the cooking temperature.
It’s important that your food is smoked or grilled to proper temperatures, having two thermometers makes this easy. One thermometer will be used for the food and the other for the smoker so you can keep track of the air temperature inside your wood pellet smoker.
Use an oven-safe thermometer which you can insert inside the meat while smoking. PHOTO Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions when using your wood pellet grill for smoking, grilling, or baking food.
II. Are wood pellet grills good?
Wood pellet grills are perfect if you want a grill that you can set and forget. These wood pellet grills serve as both a grill and a smoker, plus they do a better job as smokers than any other type of grills.
III. How safe are food-grade pellets?
Food-grade wood pellets are made using carefully chosen hardwoods. The wood is compacted into pellet form using pressure rather than chemical binders, and in fact, the entire process does not include any chemical binders.
Different types of hardwoods will have different flavors and aromas that enhance the taste of meat or any food being cooked on the wood pellet smoker, this is especially true when using the smoke feature on your grill.
These wood pellets are labeled “food-grade” because they are manufactured with “food” in mind, which goes to say that the practices and methods used in the manufacturing process are similar to the standards set for any food-grade products.
In other words, these food-grade wood pellets pass all the sanitation and health standards, including their method of packaging.
To ensure safety, it is best to purchase wood pellets from popular brands like Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef and LumberJack.
Food grade pellets are mostly 100% hardwood, with up to 8 percent moisture content, one percent less ash content, and bark-free. These food-grade pellets usually come in ¼” in diameter and about half to one inch in length.
IV. Do wood pellet grills reduce the likelihood of food getting charred or overcooked?
This is when using thermometers proves to be helpful. It helps you monitor the temperature inside the wood pellet grill and reduce the chances of your food getting charred or overcooked.
Make sure that even heat is maintained until the food is thoroughly cooked. All this said, we should point out that most wood pellet grills have a built-in thermometer inside the grill, giving you a reading of the internal temperature, so using a second thermometer as a backup might be used as just that, a backup.
The best thing about modern wood pellet grills is that most of them have a convection fan system that disperses and circulates the smoke and air, while also preventing the cooking area from being overheated.
An additional pointer, it’s important to clean your wood pellet grill on a regular basis to avoid grease and dirt from accumulating. This buildup of dirt on your grill will introduce off-flavors to your food.
If you are new to wood pellet grills, check out our post that discusses simple steps about Traeger Grill Maintenance, click here to check it out.
V. Are wood pellet grills good for smoking?
Yes, wood pellet grills are perfect for smoking, especially if you like that smoky flavor on the meat. Wood pellet grills are versatile which means you can cook many types of foods.
We have some great recipes we cooked on our Traeger wood pellet smoker and we'd love to share them with you.
Click the Recipes below and try them out:
VI. What can you cook on a wood pellet grill?
Not really, but there are many types of foods that you can cook on a wood pellet grill, including: store-bought chicken, brisket, bacon, pulled pork, and the American dessert, an apple pie.
Yes, you can definitely bake on a wood pellet grill. You just have to set your wood pellet grill to 400° F and trust that your pie won’t taste smokey.
The real reason behind why your pie won’t taste smoky is that above 275° F the wood is no longer smoking and is burning at a high enough rate that it’s no longer imparting the smoke flavor.
If you’re serious about giving this recipe a try, I’d suggest opting for applewood pellets as well. No, it’s not going to ruin the taste of your pie.
The applewood pellets impart a sweet flavor and aroma. Curious? Go ahead, give it a try.
How about a Smokehouse Burger recipe or a Sweet Tea Brined Chicken Wings? There are plenty of mouth-watering recipes you can cook with the help of your wood pellet grill. Do not be afraid to explore your options.
VII. What are the best wood pellets to burn?
Knowing what are the best wood pellets to burn would depend on several factors. You have to identify what flavors you want to infuse into the food that you’re about to smoke, roast, or grill.
Do you prefer the blended flavor or the one with the singular flavor profile? No matter the flavor, the most important part is you purchase food-grade pellets.
Never make the mistake of buying heating pellets, these are ideal only for wood stoves or pellet stoves. They are typically made from low-quality wood and if you use pellets that are not food-grade, the chemicals used to process these pellets could pose certain risks to your health.
VIII. What are the Different Types of Wood Pellet Flavors?
Wood pellets are produced using different types of woods that also emit different flavors. Here are some examples:
1. Competition Blend
This type of wood pellet is a combination of different types of hardwoods which include cherry, maple, and hickory.
They result in a sweet, smoky flavor and a fruity tang from the cherry wood flavor. The competition blend is ideal for cooking vegetables, pork, fruits, and beef.
The gourmet blend is a combination of hickory, mesquite, and pecan. This mixture of flavors adds a full-bodied taste to your pork, chicken, and fish recipes.
Fruitwood pellets have that sweet taste and sweet smell that blends so well with pork, chicken, and beef.
If you’re looking to grill more chicken and pork, mesquite wood pellets would be your best option. Mesquite wood pellets have that sweetness that lingers which makes your chicken or pork recipe even more mouth-watering.
Hickory wood pellets should be your option if you want a smoky bacon flavor whenever you’re smoking roasts.
Applewood pellets are great for smoking pork as they have that mild sweetness that gives the meat that extra twist in flavor. They’re also great to use when baking, such as pies or cookies on the grill.
Charcoal emits a strong smoky flavor which gives your food a similar flavor to food cooked on a charcoal grill. Side note - It’s important to read the labels:
8. Flavored wood pellets
These are wood pellets made from flavored wood such as pecan, cherry, and oak. Oak may be used as a filler.
Although this is often the most expensive variety of pellets as these are known to burn more efficiently than any other type of wood pellets, it does not contribute much to the overall flavor of the food.
9. Blended Wood Pellets
Blended wood pellets would usually contain about 70 percent filler and 30 percent flavored wood. These are the most preferred type of wood pellets by many wood pellet grillers because they have a strong flavor and burn consistently.
10. Standard wood pellets
Standard wood pellets are not ideal for cooking. These are only good for heating as they are made from random woods and may contain wood that is not food-grade.
IX. What makes wood pellet grills better than gas grills?
Wood pellet grills are a better option if you want something that’s good in slow cooking and at a low temperature. It is also a better option if you want your grilled food to have that wood-fired flavor.
On the other hand, if you want that sear marks on your steak, you might opt for gas grills if you’re not able to get your wood pellet grill to a high enough temp.
That said, if you crank your wood pellet grill up to high before putting on any meat, you should be able to obtain those beautiful grill marks.
If you have any additional questions about wood pellet grills that we haven’t covered in this article, write them in the comment section or send us an email and we’ll be glad to email you back with the answers to your questions.
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