Are you wondering how a pellet smoker works and what you can do with it?
Are you a cooking aficionado and looking to buy a pellet grill?
Or you are maybe interested to learn a little more about the one you own?
Let me guide you through the smoke.
Pellet grills can be a bit tricky when you’re getting started.
But once you master it you’ll be cooking pitmaster-worthy food!
So follow my instructions below!
Quick Note: I am not discussing the vertical smokers which will be covered separately!
Why Should You Buy A Pit Boss Smoker?
So why should you buy a Pit Boss smoker?
To put it simply, the possibilities are endless.
Everyone and his dog owns a gas or charcoal BBQ so why not broaden the horizon!
Perhaps you might want to easily incorporate smoke flavor with different types of pellets on baby back ribs.
Or maybe experiment with complete control over the temperature in the internal cooking chamber?
Oh, and I almost forgot, did I mention that the Pit Boss is not restricted to just smoking…
It can bake, roast, sear, braise, char-grill, and of course – BBQ like a conventional one but with more control!
My Own Experience with A Pit Boss Smoker
I have experience using my own but I know what you were thinking – that I’m just churning out posts.
I’ll stare you in the eye (providing my smoker isn’t switched on) and tell you that after buying the Pit Boss Navigator 500, a whole new world burned bright for me.
You see, I love the creativity of food and how it transcends the static buzz given off in the world sometimes.
Even though we have to eat every day I never get bored.
I remember spending an afternoon but loving every minute of choosing what pellets would go best with my pork butt.
Or the adequate cooking temperature and cooking time for a brisket through tasty trial and error.
A Pit Boss Smoker is the perfect tool that has not only expanded my knowledge.
It has also my creativity and technique in the ‘kitchen’ or realistically, my garden!
Assembly Of Your Pit Boss Smoker
Building the Pit Boss Smoker doesn’t take long so you’ll be smoking in no time.
First, you want to organize all of the components that came in the box and check them against the instructions to make sure none were missed.
To Efficiently Build You Need The Following;
- A good amount of space for handling
- A Phillips screwdriver
- A sturdy surface
- Cardboard or fabric to rest the barrel on the pre leg assembly part
Mount The Legs And Wheels To The Barrel
- Place the flat and round end of the barrel base on cardboard, on a sturdy surface, and use the screwdriver to fasten the legs with the screws provided.
- Take the axel pins and insert them through each wheel and the legs with the washer and cotter pin on the other side to hold them in.
Bottom Shelf & Lid Stopper
- While the barrel base is still on its side, loosely put in the shelf screws into the legs.
- Turn upright and then tighten all the way.
- Secure the lid stopper and handle on top of the barrel with the screws provided.
Flame Broiler & Grilling Plates
- Gently insert the steel flame broiler and line up the side ridges with the holes in the barrel.
- Install the cooking grids.
- Not sure when to use the flame broiler plates? I’ve got a resource on when to open the flame broiler here.
Voila, you are ready to BBQ!
How The Pit Boss Smoker Works
So let’s get into it.
Below I have broken up the different sections of a Pit Boss smoker pellet grill.
You see how they all play a part in helping me produce some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten in my life.
How The Barrel & Grill Grates Work
The actual body and structure of the Pit Boss are made from heavy-duty steel and the cooking grates are iron forged with a porcelain coat.
It’s easy to see the build quality is top-notch and most importantly how it insulates which enables a steady internal temperature and grill temperature.
Plus it’s easy to transport because of the wheels and the finish of the steel looks and feels hardy.
In the Pit Boss pellet smokers, there is more than enough cooking space to feed the whole family.
They also wouldn’t be upset if you asked them to help with the cleaning, as the drip tray and pans are easily accessible.
Can You Use Any Pellets In A Pit Boss?
There ain’t no fire without fuel which in this case is 100% natural dried hardwood ground into dust.
The dust is then pressurized and sterilized turning them into compact pellets.
The Pit Boss pellets come in a variety of natural flavors and each type contains different flavor profiles to infuse with whatever you decide to cook.
The possibilities are endless!
How The Power & Interface Work
How does it turn on and is the interface easy to navigate?
The answer is very easy.
Much like you would expect from a conventional oven, some of the components in the pit boss have an electrical power source.
The user-friendly LCD screen near the power button gives you complete control of the 8 different types of cooking settings.
This function helps you perfect the temperature settings, smoke function, and smoke output to name a few.
Even on the factory default setting or the manual mode, there is little room for error.
Speaking of error, did you know the Pit Boss range comes with a temperature probe and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth compatibility?
There is even an app you can monitor from the comfort of your sofa.
If it’s cold weather thus making sure that the internal cooking temperature is bang on for what you are cooking.
How The Pellet Hopper & Auger Work
So how do the hopper and auger work?
Well, the hopper is the fancy word for where the pellets go and the auger rotates and guides them to the ignition chamber.
The hopper is located on the left-hand side of the barrel which you can’t miss and it’s where you put the pellets.
The auger is inside and at the bottom.
If your auger is making noise make sure you read this.
This auger is electronically powered and controlled by you on the LCD screen. It rotates and feeds all of the pellets at a consistent rate into the ignition chamber.
The hopper can fit up to 20 pounds or even more depending on what model you have which will fuel it for hours without a refill.
If you find your auger is jamming, see my resource on how to fix it.
How The Ignition & Fan Work
So what ignites the Pit Boss?
The electronic ignition ignites the pellets and then a fan distributes the heat and smoke into the cooking chamber.
As the auger pellet feeding cycles rotate, it pushes the pellets into the ignition chamber and they are initially started by a heated electronic probe.
The fan then helps with maintaining and spreading indirect heat or direct heat to your food.
Remember: The reason electric smokers are so versatile is that they have an 8 -1 cooking ability.
Time To Start Cooking
With all of these combined, you get a picture of how a Pit Boss Smoker works, and then all you have to do is add ingredients.
The Pit Boss does incorporate the best elements of a conventional oven, smoker, and a traditional gas or coal BBQ to give you full control over every part of the cooking process.
Priming Your Pit Boss Smoker
Priming is for when you are using it for the first time or when you have run out of pellets.
- Press the power button to turn on the Pit Boss next to the LCD screen. This is how you start the Pit Boss grill.
- Press the prime button located below the power button.
When you have primed the Smoker, it will have a 4-minute delay before it starts heating.
This allows the auger pellet cycles to fully engage and get into the ignition chamber.
Take note of a humming sound and if the temperature displayed on the LCD screen rises.
This indicates that it is working.
On your first go, leave the Pit Boss to get up to temperature on the lowest setting for around 30 minutes before cooking to burn off any impurities.
After this is done, you are ready to cook.
See the guide to priming your Pit Boss here
Guide to Use The Temperature Probe
The temperature probes can be tricky to use the first time.
Make sure you read the; Pit Boss Meat Probe Instructions. This will ensure you produce pitmaster-worthy meat!
Cooking On A Pit Boss Smoker
Cooking on a Pit Boss Smoker is easy. See below for some tips I picked up while using mine!
Okay, so you’ve primed and now you have full control to adjust and cook whatever way you choose. It’s time to get creative.
- Make sure it comes to your desired temperature before adding your ingredients.
- The meat probe is a very handy tool to know if your meat is cooked through.
- Adjust the temperature based on what you’re cooking.
- Get creative with the types of marinade and flavors.
Cleaning Your Pit Boss Smoker
The pellets make up hardly any ash when burned, so make sure when finishing, that there are no unused pellets in the chamber and they have been burned.
The grill is easily taken out, so make sure to remove any access food particles and excess fat and unload the grease bucket when it’s full.
I recommend soaking with some washing-up liquid when it’s cooled down. You can also do this on the barrel base.
See the comprehensive guide to cleaning a Pit Boss Smoker here.
Safety Advice To Note
The main hazard when using any type of oven or BBQ is going to be burning from the heat.
Always make sure you have the right extinguisher and handle it with care.
Ventilation is key when using any kind of smoker so do not use it in a closed space.
As the Pit Boss is electric powered, you will need to make sure the extension lead you are using is not in the way and be cautious of flooding or excessive wet weather.
Make sure enough pellets are in the ignition chamber when starting.
When you have finished using, make sure the ending cycle concludes and all of the pellets are burned through.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about how the Pit Boss Smoker works and have as much fun as I do when I start her up.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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