How does a pellet smoker work?

Many people are fond of cooking and want to try it on a pellet smoker and but before trying they want to know exactly that how does a pellet smoker work? so without a delay lets dive into the details about pellet smoker and its functionality.

What is a Pellet Smoker?


Pellet smoker is a multi functional outdoor cooker with the ability to produce excellent barbecue. Pellet smoker, also known as pellet grill, is a versatile cooker. It is a smoker, grill, and oven combined in one unit. You don’t need to buy a separate unit if you want to combine several of these methods.


A pellet smoker brings innovation to cooking techniques. It is a combination of the electric and wood-fired grill. Hardwood sawdust pellets are the fuel source of a pellet smoker, which give distinctive flavors to the food.

Pellet smokers come with automatic controllers to monitor and maintain the temperature inside the grill.A pellet smoker uses electricity to ignite the pellets. It provides complete ease of use and requires little maintenance time.

Smoke pellets produce very little ash. 20 pounds of the wood pellet is sufficient for 20 hours of low and slow cooking, resulting in less than half a cup of ash. Some pellet smokers come with WiFi so that you can control and monitor the cooking process right from your phone.

How does a pellet smoker or Grill work?


Pellet grill or pellet smoker operates effortlessly. Based on the features they include, several expensive and low-priced pellet smokers are available in the market. A lot of pellet smokers come with advanced features such as PID controllers and WiFi functionality.


Whether it is an expensive or inexpensive pellet smoker, they have the same general core principles of how a pellet smoker works. A pellet smoker’s main components are a pellet hopper, burn pot, conduction fan, auger motor, with hot rod igniter, and control panel.

The Hopper

A hopper is a container where wood pellets, the fuel of pellet smokers, go. The size of the hopper is different in different smokers. Some large pellet smokers have a hopper capacity of up to 20 pounds, which means they can store more than 20 lbs of wood pellets, and smokers can run for long. In general, 1-2 lbs are sufficient for 1 hour low and slow smoking.

The Auger

The auger is just a big screw that is powered by an electric motor. The electric motor is connectedto the control panel. The hopper dispenses wood pellets into an auger.

At first, the auger pushes a few wood pellets into the firebox, where a hot rod, an electric heating element, ignites them. When more heat is required, the control panel will tell the auger to push more/fast pellets’ feed.

The Fan

More wood means more heat, but efficient combustion takes place in a sufficient supply of oxygen. Intake fans bring in the air to feed the fire and increase the temperature. The fan is located near the bottom of the unit and is controlled automatically through the control panel.

The fan also aids in pellet smokers’ cooking and smoking performance by circulating the heat and smoke produced all around the chamber. This circulation of heat helps in maintaining the constant temperature throughout the smoker.

Burn Pot and Hot Rod Igniter


The hopper dispenses wood pellets into the auger. Auger then carries them and drops them into the burn pot. Inside the burn pot, there is a hot rod. A hot rod is an electric heating element that ignites the wood pellets and creates a flame.


The location and construction of the burn pot can alter the performance of the pellet smoker. A stainless steel burn pot is going to last more than a carbon steel burn pot. Ceramic igniters can ignite more quickly and last long.

The Control Panel

Every pellet smoker has a control panel, and it is where all the magic happens. It manages the functioning of all the components of the pellet smoker/grill. The control panel is responsible for generating the required amount of heat and maintaining that heat across the smoker.


Time-based control panels offer less accurate temperature control and maintain the temperature by turning the auger/fan on and off. New generation pellet smokers/grills have advanced features like PID controllers, WiFi functionality, and direct flame access.


PID controllers control the temperature with more accuracy by making constant adjustments to the auger and fan speed. They contain the number of pellets going into the burn pot and air from the fan.


The whole basic principle of how a pellet smoker works is simple. Wood pellets, which are the fuel for pellet smokers’, flow from the hopper and fall into the auger. Auger then carries them to the burn pot, where the hot rod ignites them and creates flames. Fan aids in combustion and circulates heat and smoke through the cooking chamber.

The time based or PID control panel makes a big difference in controlling temperature. WiFi/App functionality is not essential, but if you are busy, it is worth considering.

The Fuel for Pellet Smoker

The fuel for the pellet grills/smokers are wood pellets. Wood pellets are made from 100% natural hardwood. The chopped wood is dried and ground into sawdust, and then they are processed through a pellet mill where they are pressed into pellets by applying pressure and heat.


Wood pellets are the most comfortable fuel to use and produce very little ash. The kind of wood pellets you use will provide immense flavour and wood smoke tang. You can pick different types of wood to make wood pellets. Pellet woods come in various flavours—hickory, pecan, alder, mesquite, cherry, apple, maple, bourbon, etc.


To give your food a distinctive flavour, choose from different wood pellets, or you can also intensify the flavour by combining different types of woods. Wood pellets are more efficient in producing heat and yield very little ash,


Pellet grills are versatile and let you embrace different cooking techniques. They can smoke, grill, bake, and braise food all alone. Pellet grill/smoker works like a convection oven that cooks food evenly. They don’t require so much babysitting.

It’s set and forget technology that doesn’t let you burn the food. Ideal for beginners, but the pros love it too. Indirect heat prevents flare-ups and uneven cooking. Easy to clean after finish cooking.

Frequently Asked Question-

Do pellet smokers need electricity?
Answer – Pellet smokers come in a variety of power options ranging from electricity to gas etc. Since the latest pellet smokers have digital controls, they mostly run on electricity.

How long does a bag of pellets last in a smoker?
Answer – They can last up to 24 hours, but it also depends upon the weather, temperature, and type of pellets they use.

Do pellet smokers dry out meat?
Answer – Pellet grills can actually dry out the surface of meat, however, as compared to other smokers or grills, pellet smokers cook food more faster hence the meat does not dry out.

Can you get a smoke ring with a pellet smoker?
Answer – Yes, you can get a magnificent smoke ring with the help of a wood pellet grill.

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