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Did I make a Mistake Buying a Pellet Grill

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    Did I make a Mistake Buying a Pellet Grill

    Got a beyond incredible deal on a Traeger 855 Ironwood. My son who is a pretty decent brisket smoker told me they were convenient so I bit. Did a13 lb Prime brisket. Started at 6 AM and used Holly Cow with additional pepper. Fat side up. Super smoke with post oak pellets. Wanted to eat by 6 so was ready to crutch at the stall if necessary. Stall was at 159.3 at about 1 PM. Used foil instead of butcher paper. Temp rose to 203 @ 4:20. Rested in cooler until 6:30. Meat had a nice smoke ring which was surprising and tenderness was perfect. Problem was there was ZERO smoke flavor. I mean Zero. Tasted like a roast done in the oven. I've since purchased a Large smoke tray. I own a stick burner that works great but takes a lot more attention. Maybe the extra effort is why you get the extra flavor. Is my IDIOT light going off?

    All grills are a set of compromises. You get convenience with pellet cookers but less smoke. Offsets are the holy grail of smokiness but require skill and hands on attention throughout the long cook. Charcoal falls in the middle. It doesn't have the pure smoke of an offset but it has more than a pellet cooker. It does offer more convenience because once you learn your cooker you can dial it in and let it run for hours just watching temps and adjusting airflow.

    I love my Pellet Cooker for my everyday cooking needs. It is an amazing outdoor oven. Chicken and reverse seared steaks are awesome. If I want to up the smoky BBQ flavor I use a charcoal grill with chunks.

    I do have a smoke box for my Pellet Cooker that I want to play with but haven't really given it a chance yet.

    I suggest using the Traeger when you don't have time to use the stick burner but when you want the true BBQ smoke go all in with the offset.
    Last edited by Old Glory; August 3, 2021, 08:11 AM.


    • Old Glory
      Old Glory commented
      Editing a comment
      The compromise part is what drives my MCS. I find the short comings in my current cooker then start reading about other cookers that fill that gap. Then I find the compromise in the new cooker. It never ends.

    Don't give up on a pellet smoker. try a few more cooks, Like Old Glory stated. I added a smoke generator to mine a year ago and like it. You will never get the heavy smoke like you could with stick burner. But that is fine with me. smoke being add flavor seems to heavy sometimes.


      I use Traeger pellets in my Traeger. Have enjoyed everything I have smoked/grilled.
      If I want more smokey flavor I super smoke for a longer amount of time @165*f. Old Glory "All grills are a set of compromises. You get convenience with pellet cookers but less smoke" Yep.

      Suggestion, if you want more smoke flavor add a little Liquid Smoke to a smear. Years ago I did that to fish in an oven.
      It worked but that was the last time I did that in the house. I dipped 10-15 lbs of smelt out of the Sandy in days gone by.

      happy pellet grilling to you.


        I've had a Rec Tec for 7 years and have learned a few things with mine. You didn't say what temp you cooked at but I will start at 200 for the first hour and raise it to 250 until I wrap.

        I always cook briskets and butts with the fat side down. My Rec Tec is hotter in the center on the grate as the firepot is in the middle but that also give more meat to get smoke to. The fat doesn't absorb that much smoke and we pretty much throw it away.

        Depending on how the cook is going I will wrap between 150-170 and then up the temp to 280 as I am braising at that point and start to check for probe tender after 190 internal. I will rest it an hour lightly tented in my oven before slicing.

        I haven't used post oak pellets but usually stick with Bear Mountain, Kingsford or CookinPellets. I don't find any flavored pellets really make much difference. It might if I tried one finished product next to another.

        I always have a good smoke flavor with the smoke ring fairly prominent and my audience always raves about the flavor but I only cook prime briskets anymore.

        Try it again with some slight differences to determine how you can hit brisket nirvana. Good luck!


          A few thoughts and questions. First, my Traegers were mostly older, so I'm not very familiar with Super Smoke. What temp does that run and how much of the cook did you do at that setting? Second, what kind/brand of Post Oak pellets did you use? One thing that many people don't realize is that the vast majority of single flavor pellets on the market are actually 70-80% Alder or Red Oak as a base wood with only the remaining being the species listed on the bag. A good thing to try before totally giving up is finding some of the 100% Hickory pellets on the market. CookinPellets and Lumberjack are the two that I know offer them (choose wisely though as Lumberjack also does a Hickory 60/40 blend on Hickory). Compared to a stick burner your first instinct might be 100% Hickory will be too strong, but give it a try before you throw in the towel.

          Compared to a stick burner, pellet grills are most definitely a lighter smoke profile, you will likely never match it with a pellet grill. However, if you keep the temps lower (at least for the first 1-4 hours of a cook), start with cold meat, etc. you should be able to get at least some smoke on foods, especially compared to an oven or gas grill. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, many people that try to go from a stick burner to a pellet grill are often very disappointed. People that go from a gasser to a pellet grill to get into smoking tend to love them and think the subtle smoke tastes wonderful compared to no smoke they've been cooking with.


            I have had two Traegers and one Camp Chef in the past. I now have a Grilla Chimp and get the best smoke of any of my pellet grills. The first Traeger (early 2000s) wasn't too bad but conked out after 3 years. The second Traeger never produced much no matter what I used or temps I tried. It went in a garage sale.

            Love my Chimp and it is perfect for the two of us. Good temp control, uses very few pellets, good smoke, easy to move around and easy to clean.


              WFO As already mentioned, all pellet cookers have a diminished smoke profile to some degree or other. To over come this many here employ a smoke tube filled with pellets and lit to impart additional smoke flavor. I use a small charcoal basket lined with aluminum foil filled with some charcoal and wood for the first couple hours of the cook. That way you get the best of both worlds, convienence and a full smoke profile.
              Last edited by lostclusters; August 3, 2021, 08:54 AM.


                Everyone thus far has offered some great advice, so you have lots of things to try.

                Two things I'd add:

                This Smoke Daddy tool can be useful:

                Well maybe not, but I did find an accessory for my pellet cooker that has dramatically increased the smoke levels during a long cook. First, I'm running a Pitts & Spitts custom rig. It's a P&S stick burner that was converted into a pellet cooker using the Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro hopper, burn pot and PID controller. I

                Royal Oak now offers 100% charcoal pellets. It might be worth keeping an eye on to try and bag, and mix it with your desired wood flavor.

                Royal Oak is the largest US producer of natural lump charcoal and charcoal briquets that are 100% natural, so you get the best flavor without any unnatural additives.


                  Not enough information here - what temp did you cook at? Are you sure that your Traeger's temp gauge is accurate? If you are cooking too hot, your smoke will be limited. I love to set a program on my cookers that cook at 225 until an internal temperature hits 141 then goes to 275 to push through the stall. Also, what was the internal temp of the brisket when it went into the pit? I like mine around 38-40 degrees - gives you more time in the smoke window. I would try some different techniques out before you give up on the pit.


                    Smokin-it.com sells an add on smoke generator. I have seen a YouTube video showing it mounted on a pellet grill. I am thinking of adding one to my Recteq


                    One thing I've seen both Malcom Reed and Mark Pittman (MeatChuch) do on their Traegers is commit to a very long sixteen-hour smoke. The key seems to be that, starting at 11 pm and going overnight, to smoke the brisket at nearly the lowest smoke setting, like 180-190. And then the next morning (7 am-ish) kick it up to 225 or 250 and cook conventionally from that point forward.

                    The reasoning is this: pellets are extremely efficient and burn very clean (i.e. little smoke) as you go higher in temperature. (Many remark that using a pellet grill above 350 can often result in no discernable smoke flavor.) So to get that initial blast of smoke, you go for the lowest temperature you safely can to increase the chances of getting smoke on the meat.

                    This is a little unfair to the pellet grill concept, but from one point of view they are not so much smokers as outdoor wood-fueled convection ovens.


                      I will toss this out there, in addition to the other advice. I don't have a pellet smoker, but I do use post oak chunks when smoking, and find them to have a lighter smoke profile than something like hickory or mesquite. Being that pellets already put out less smoke than a stick burner or charcoal+chunks, maybe you need to try some pellets with a stronger flavor, like hickory.


                      • CandySueQ
                        CandySueQ commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Or Mesquite.

                      • tenphases
                        tenphases commented
                        Editing a comment
                        100 percent agree, post oak wasn't made for pellet smokers

                      Lots of good suggestions already. I have an OG Grilla with an old rotary dial controller, which produces lots of smoke. Also have a Blaz'n Grills Grid Iron with a PID controller which does ok, but does not make as much smoke.

                      As has been mentioned, all pellets are not created equal, try different brands and try some of the Comp blends or Hickory.

                      For added smoke I have a Smoke Box made by Blaz'n which is built like a tank, but I rarely use it because I'm ok with the smoke flavor I get without it.

                      Which brings me to one last question. I'm assuming you did not eat the whole brisket by yourself. You didn't think it had enough smoke. What kind of reviews did you get from the other people eating it? If you've been hanging around the smoker you and your clothes can be so saturated with smoke that by the time it's strong enough for you to taste it, it's overpowering for others. I don't necessarily do it, but I have seen suggestions that while the meat is resting you should go take a shower and change clothes so you can appreciate the smoke that's there. Now if the others eating the brisket were complaining that there wasn't enough smoke, you might have a problem, but I know personally, I'm my own harshest critic. Everyone else is raving about what I cooked, and I'm nitpicking something they don't care about.


                      • STEbbq
                        STEbbq commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I really need to try the shower idea and no I am not posting pics.

                      • Bogy
                        Bogy commented
                        Editing a comment
                        STEbbq, we all thank you!

                      As Bogy said a Lot of good suggestions. Be patient. Continue to try the tips listed, but be patient. Work with yer smoke tray & let us know how things go.



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