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Everything You Need to Know About the All-Powerful Pellet Grills

Grilling season never ends if you're a real pitmaster at heart. Whether you're throwing a backyard barbecue and slapping on new cuts of meat or you're outside the gridiron feeding your tailgate, a good grill can handle any weather, season, or recipe. Sometimes, though, that ol' gas grill doesn't quite give you quite the flavor you're looking for when you are at a tailgater. Imagine a grill that combines the versatility, ease, and convenience of a gas grill with the unmatched flavor of real wood smoke. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, let's talk pellet grills for better outdoor cooking.

To start with the basics, a wood pellet grill is a cooker that combines elements of smokers, charcoal grills, gas grills and convection ovens. It's fueled by small wood pellets that impart a rich, smoke flavor to foods cooked and when it comes to BBQ grills, it can't be beat. On the outside, these pellet cookers look like the classic offset barrel smoker, with a hopper mounted on the side where the firebox would be. Perfect for outdoor kitchens, a pellet grill is the quintessential country smoker because it's versatile enough to handle any and all grilling recipes.

Pellet grills can also be called pellet smokers, electric pellet smokers, electric smoker grills, and wood fired grills. All of these names point toward the same cooking appliance: that shining wood fired pellet grill on your wish list.

Pellet grills are fueled with food-grade hardwood pellets made entirely of compressed hardwood sawdust—no additives, save perhaps a bit of vegetable oil. When sawdust is exposed to high heat and pressure, it excretes lignin, a natural glue found in wood, which helps keep the pellet intact. As the internal temperature of the pellet hopper rises, the pellets begin to smoke, flavoring the cooking chamber where your delicious meat lay waiting on the cooking grate.

Green Mountain Grills doesn't just make some of the best wood-fired pellet grills on the market today (and for a reasonable price), they also offer their own pellet blends. These heavy-duty pellets are offered in a variety of flavors, like the Premium Fruitwood Blend composed of cherry, beech, and pecan, or the Premium Texas Blend composed of black oak, hickory, elm, and a tiny hint of mesquite.

So How Do They Work?

While there are different models available, high-end models like Green Mountain Grills' Davy CrockettDaniel Boone and Jim Bowie, are even WiFi-enabled, meaning you can control them right from your phone or tablet using a digital controller app. These digital controls adjust the temperature inside the unit by managing the flow of pellets, which are fed into the firebox via a motor-driven auger.

Once the pellet reaches the firebox, a red-hot metal rod ignites them, kept burning by a combustion fan. A fan inside the pellet hopper maintains positive pressure, preventing and burn-back into the store of pellets. Inside the firebox, the burning pellets are exposed to dual air currents, which circulate hardwood smoke throughout the grill while maintaining a consistent temperature.

Pellet grills are the ultimate heavy-duty option in versatility, too. With a pellet grill, you can charbroil, smoke, barbecue, braise, sear, slow cook, roast and even bake, all from your backyard. While many brands offer pellet grill options, from Traeger's Lil' Tex Elite to the Camp Chef Pellet Grill and Smoker DLX,

Why else are pellet grills the best option for an amateur or expert pit boss just the same? These bad boys preheat quickly, allow precise temperature regulation (some within 5 degrees!), cook evenly, and don't over-smoke your food.

The Best Pellet Grill Recipes

The low and slow brisket you've tasted at your hometown barbecue joint isn't so far out of your reach with a pellet grill. Here are some ways to put it to use.

1. Black Pepper Smoked Jerky

If you've never made your own jerky because you just don't feel comfortable leaving your oven on at a lower temperature overnight, then the pellet grill is the perfect option for you.

There are so many meats and flavors you can turn into jerky, this classic recipe from GMG was made for the pellet grill experience.

2. Pellet Beer Can Chicken

The beer can chicken made waves a few summers ago, but not all grills are large enough to stand up a whole naked bird ready for roasting.

The pellet grill is, though. Green Mountain has made sure of it with this juicy recipe.

3. Pellet Grilled Pizza 

Grilled pizzas have never, even led us astray. Tailor your wood pellet flavors to your pizza toppings for a flavor experience that tastes way better than a pizza from a chain down the block. This is the only how-to you'll ever need.

4. Pellet-Baked Blackberry Crisp

First, do you know the difference between blackberries and black raspberries? Second, once you bake this crisp on the grill, you'll never turn the oven on again in the summertime when you're craving a good crisp or crumble.

Find the full recipe here, and try not to drool too much.

5. Mom's Own Pellet Grilled Quiche

When was the last time you made breakfast on the grill? No, not over a campfire, but in your own backyard. We don't grill our breakfast recipes nearly enough, which is silly when you consider that eggs are such a delicious blank slate that would benefit from a smoky flavor.

That being said, try this quiche recipe for your next lazy morning at home.

Watch: Let Brisket Melt Your Troubles Away