Devon Ferguson
Published by Devon Ferguson
Last Updated On: July 18, 2023

I’ve been using pellet grills for over a decade. While I’m a big fan of them, I admit they just don’t create the same rich, smoky flavor charcoal grills do.

I was determined to change this, so I spent months experimenting with different techniques, ingredients, and tips shared by other pitmasters.

It was a long journey full of trial and error, but I ultimately came up with a list of tips that can help increase smoke on any pellet grill.

Let’s get into it.

Quick Summary

  • Pellet grills can’t produce the same amount of smoke and smoker rings on food as charcoal grills.
  • There are several ways you can increase the amount of smoke on pellet grills.
  • You need to carefully choose the pellets you use, as different pellets work better with specific cuts.

8 Ways to Get More Smoke from a Pellet Grill

getting smoke from a pellet grill

Here are the eight ways to create smoky masterpieces on your pellet grill.

1. Try Different Pellets

One of the best things about using a pellet grill is the option to change the flavor by using different wood pellets.

Different kinds of wood pellets produce different smoke amounts.

Also, some wood pellets have milder smoke, such as lemon and apple, so you won’t have a strong smoke flavor.

Try out different kinds of pellets from different brands, and find the wood chips that work best for the flavor you like.

Hardwood pellets burn longer and produce more smoke compared to fruit chips.

Also, keep in mind not all wood pellets create a delicious smoky flavor for all kinds of meat.

The pellet and food combo matters a lot. Here’s how to select the appropriate pellets that complement specific types of food:

  • Hickory — Creates a lot of smoke and is best used for large cuts, such as brisket or ribs.
  • Mesquite — Also creates a lot of smoke. It’s best used with beef, pork, and smoked desserts for a bold smoky flavor. You can also use it with some side dishes, such as mac and cheese.
  • Fruit pellets — Work best for smaller pork cuts or seafood. Use cherry or apple pellets. You can also use it for turkey or chicken breast, as these cuts tend to get more smoke flavor compared to other parts of poultry.

Note: Always get food-grade pellets. They are safe to use on a grill, and you won’t end up with contaminants in your food.

Pro tip: Some manufacturers claim you have to use their own-brand pellets with their grill. This isn’t necessarily true, and you can switch between different wood pellet brands until you find what works best for your pellet smoker.

2. Grill at a Lower Temperature

Temperature gauge on a grill

Pellet smokers tend to produce more smoke when you cook at a lower temperature. The best cooking temperature on a pellet smoker is 225 degrees to 250 degrees.

You’ll get much more smoke at this temperature than, for example, cooking at 450 degrees.

Pro tip: If your recipe calls for a temperature above 250 degrees, cook at 225 to 250 degrees for a few hours before turning the heat up.

This lets the meat get a good smoke flavor, and then you can increase the temperature and crisp up the skin.

You should also use a temperature probe to check the meat's doneness level.

Make sure to leave the meat on the pellet grill until it reaches the right temperature, even if it takes longer than the recipe recommends. 

Pro tip: Add a pan of water to the pellet grill to avoid having dry meat if you have to smoke for longer than the recipe outlines.

3. Close the Lid

This one is pretty simple: keep the lid closed. If you open the lid when you cook food, the smoke flavor escapes the pellet grills.

You should only open the lid when your food is close to being done.

Moreover, opening the lid to check on the food can cause temperature fluctuations in a pellet grill.

You need a meat probe to track the food’s internal temperature. This way, you’ll know when the meat is almost done, and there’s no need to open the lid to check on the food.

4. Use Grill Smoke Settings

A pellet grill with smoke coming out of it

More advanced pellet grills have special smoke settings that ramp up the amount of smoke the pellet grill produces.

Some examples are the Traeger Timberline and Ironwood series, which have a Super Smoke mode. Also, Camp Chef Woodwind has a Smoke Control number.

Special smoke settings are a great way to infuse the food with more smoky flavor when cooking at a low pellet grill temperature.

Plus, it requires minimal work from you. The smoker automatically starts to produce more smoke as soon as you choose this setting.

Note: This setting usually only works at low temperatures, so you need to smoke low and slow.

5. Use a Pellet Grill Blanket

The purpose of a pellet grill blanket is to prevent the heat from escaping the grill. It can also help the smoke stay in as well.

An alternative to a pellet grill blanket is to close the holes where the smoke is coming out, but this is dangerous.

Plus, it’s a permanent fix, while the blanket can be used as needed.

6. Use a Smoke Tube

Person using a smoker tube that smokes

A pellet smoker tube is usually used on gas grills, but it’s also a helpful pellet grill smoking tool.

It’s a stainless steel pipe that you fill with pellets and attach to the pellet grill. The tube has holes on its sides where the smoke escapes.

This increases the amount of smoke the pellet grill produces, which means your food has a richer smoke flavor.

Plus, you can move around the smoke tube or box and provide direct smoke to your food.

Note: You can also use a smoke box instead of a tube. This is a metal box that you place on the grill grate and fill with wooden chips.

The pellet grill heat causes the wood to smolder and produce smoke.

Pro tip: A smoke tube can move around a lot, so you can get one that’s hexagon shape as it’ll stay in place.

7. Don’t Wrap

BBQ users tend to wrap the meat to help the meat maintain moisture and overcome the stall.

he stall happens when a large cut of meat, such as beef brisket, is cooking, and its internal temperature stays around 165 degrees for hours [1].

“The stall, the plateau, or the zone occurs when smoking or cooking larger cuts of meat at low temperatures for extended periods of time. It is when the interior temperature of that meat reaches about 150°F to 170°F and stops going up. This state can last for hours.”

- Napoleon Grills, North American Grilling Company

While wrapping the meat can help it cook more quickly, it’s counter-productive for smoking and especially getting a smoke ring.

The aluminum foil blocks the smoke from reaching the meat.

Pro tip: If you can’t wait hours for the meat to overcome the stall, you can poke holes in the aluminum foil so that the smoke can reach the meat.

8. Choose the Right Cuts

Meat on the grill

Finally, you should carefully choose the meat cuts to smoke on pellet grills for both hot and cold smoking.

Avoid lean and very fatty cuts. If the meat has a thick layer of fat outside, it’ll block the smoke from penetrating the meat.

Choose meat with less than 1/4 inch thick fat layer.

Pro tip: Look for fat marbling instead of a thick layer of fat.

Related Articles:

Why Don’t Pellet Grills Produce Much Smoke?

Pellet grill with less smoke

Pellet grills don’t produce much smoke because they have a different design compared to charcoal grills.

They automatically turn off when they reach the desired smoked meat temperature.

Also, wood pellets burn more efficiently than wood chunks, which means less smoke during the burning and less smoky flavor.

A pellet grill isn’t on all the time, so it can’t produce as much smoke as charcoal grills.

The auger only pushes the pellets into the burn box when the temperature goes below what you’ve set the grill at.

The result is food without smoker rings and a more subtle smoky finish.


Why Is My Pellet Smoker Not Getting Enough Smoke?

Your pellet grill isn’t getting enough smoke because it might be too dirty. You should thoroughly clean the grill to make sure there aren’t any blockages. Another reason you don’t have a smoke-filled grill is the wrong pellets. Try different pellets and wood chips.

How Many Pellets Are Needed to Smoke?

You need about 2 lbs of pellets for every hour of smoking low and slow and 4 lbs of pellets for an hour of cooking hot and fast.

What Is the Best Pellet Flavor for Smoking?

The best pellet flavor for smoking is hickory. It creates a strong smoke flavor. Apple is another good choice for a milder smoke flavor.

Getting More Smoke Flavor from Your Pellet Grill

Pellet grill users can get more smoke flavor from their grill by trying out the methods above.

Start by experimenting with wood pellets to find out which ones create the strongest smoky flavor. Make sure to grill at low temperatures, and don’t open the lid too much.

You can also try using a smoker tube for extra smoke and smoke rings on the food.

And if you want to elevate your grilling experience even more, make sure to read our list of the best pellet grills and smokers.

This comprehensive selection is based on rigorous evaluations of performance, durability, convenience of use, and price, so that you can confidently choose a grill that suits your specific needs, enabling you to create extraordinary flavors.


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