5 Traeger Pellet Smoker Tips For Beginners

Hey Smokers and welcome to my post where we will run through my 5 Traeger pellet smoker tips For beginners. As you may or may not know, this site is all about cooking on my brand new Traeger Pro 22 Pellet Smoker and seeing where we can take things. And today, it is all about the things I have learned!

Traeger Pellet Smoker Tips For Beginners - Header

You see as this is a new toy, I have had a pretty steep learning curve in getting things right. I have certainly had some successes for sure, however there are a few things I have learned along the way that whilst the experts in the field will tell what to watch out for, it is not until you use one that these things pop up.

So let’s then have a look at five things that I have learned in my first two weeks of cooking on my new Traeger!

  1. Do Not Run out of Pellets
  2. Protect Your Pellets
  3. Use a Grill Liner on the Drip Tray
  4. Prime the Fire Box
  5. Re-learn What You Know

Traeger Pellet Smoker Tips For Beginners

Ok, so let’s have a look at my top 5 Traeger tips for beginners that I’ve learned so far:

1. Do Not Run out of Pellets

So, you may have seen my post and video on Traeger Pulled Pork. But what you didn’t see in the video (mainly because of the blind panic and swearing) was the fact that halfway through this cook, I ran out of pellets in the hopper. I noticed it when my InkBird app went nuts on my phone because the temperature in the smoker itself was plummeting.

Now, I don’t know about other pellet smokers, but on my model this means having to take the meat out, remove all the grills and drip plates etc. and then clean the fire hopper out (once it has cooled enough to do of course). Once this is done, you then need to re-prime the auger – because it is now empty – and then you can restart your smoker, get it back to cooking temp and replace the meat to keep cooking – *sigh*.

So, in order to not have this happen, I would recommend the following:

  1. Fill your hopper to the brim before you start
  2. Time your cook and learn how long it takes for your hopper to empty – keeping in mind that for higher temperatures, it will empty faster
  3. If you are doing longer cooks, set an alarm on your phone reminding you to refill your hopper if needed.
  4. Do number three regardless of whether you know how long it takes to empty or not – I would suggest every 2 hours to start with until you get used to it all!

That way, you will uninterrupted cooks and more importantly, not have to go through what I did above!

2. Protect Your Pellets

My second learning here also involves pellets however this time it is to do with the leftovers that stay inside the hopper. My problem arose from a storm that hit one night whilst my smoker was outside. It obviously survived quite well however the pellets themselves did not.

The next day they were a little moist mainly from the humidity and whilst they looked ok, some had started to swell a little and logic told me that if I tried to use them, I may have trouble keeping my temperatures constant. The cost to me then was having to remove all of the old pellets and replacing with fresh ones before my next cook.

So my response to this one is simple, if you are not planning to use your smoker for a while or it is out in the elements, then clear out the pellet hopper and put the unused pellets back into the bag after each use. This will keep them dry and clean ready for your next cook.

Traeger Pellet Smoker Tips For Beginners - Liner on tray

3. Use a Grill Liner on the Drip Tray

Ok, so after I used my grill for the first time, I was cleaning it up and found that I had to really scrub the drip tray that sits between the grill plate and the fire pit. And whilst it makes sense that this would be dirty with the sauces and fat etc. that have dripped and baked onto it, I really didn’t like cleaning it!

So, I then remembered a tip I saw on some FaceBook post about the use of grill liners. These are a small sheet of plastic that many use to cook their meat on on top of their traditional grill or flattop BBQs in an effort to keep their grill plates clean.

For me, the same process applies although I am trying to keep my drip plate clean rather than the gill – and I want the smoke to be able to come up from underneath as well. So the tip here is simple, place a grill liner sheet on top of the drip plate (under the grill) of your smoker for ease of cleaning once the cook is finished!

4. Prime the Fire Box

This next tip didn’t really come from an issue that I had rather something I saw in a lot of videos I have watched. The process here is simple, before you light your smoker, remove the grill and other trays and drop around 10 – 15 pellets into the fire box.

Then, as you light it, the smoker can ignite pellets immediately without having to wait for the auger to deliver them. This allows for faster lighting and allows the smoker to reach cooking temperature at a faster rate. What I also found however that it also reduced the amount of time I had to wait for that initial temperature spike to come down as well.

All in all, I have found this tip to be a really effective way to get things moving quickly without having to wait for the auger to deliver those first few pellets.

Traeger Pellet Smoker Tips For Beginners - Pellets in fire pot

Check out my post: How to Test the Hot Spots in a Pellet Smoker

5. Re-learn What You Know

This last tip is for those of you like me who have used a budget model charcoal smoker for a few years before jumping over to a pellet smoker. The reasons for this are not important, however the thing I found was that a lot that I knew about my charcoal smoker did not transfer across to my pellet smoker.

I mean I knew about the basics of meat behavior (stalls and the 321 method etc.), however it was other things such as cooking time and new meat behaviors etc. that I had to relearn. Now for those of you either highly experienced in charcoal cooking (I know enough to be dangerous) or totally new to the whole thing, then this probably doesn’t apply.

However, should you be moving from one to the other with a small to medium amount of amateur knowledge, then my advice here is to open your mind and don’t be afraid to re-learn what you thought you knew!

My Smoker

For all my pellet style BBQ Cooking, I use the Traeger Pro Series 22 Electric Pellet Grill and Smoker as below:

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07/22/2024 11:35 pm GMT

Conclusion

So there you have it, 5 tips for better pellet smoking for beginners. I hope it has been of assistance but as usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out by commenting below. I would also love to hear of your own experiences, learnings or suggestions here as well.

Are there any other products you have been looking at but want to know more about? If so, please comment below and I will do my best to get some details for you.

Until next time

Have fun and get smoking!

Paul

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