Cooking with high-quality pellet grills takes some learning. After all, every new grill cooks differently, and pellet grills are no exception. You just might not be as familiar with a wood pellet grill as you might be with gas and charcoal grills.
When it comes to cooking with a wood pellet grill, you’ll need to know how to cook your meat at the perfect temperature and for the right amount of time. Unfortunately, this isn’t always straightforward. When you’re trying to cook a cut of meat perfectly, here are some things to keep in mind for the best pellet grilling experience.
What Affects Cooking With Pellet Grills?
It’s important to remember that one cooking temperature may not work for the same cut of meat when you grill at home versus when you grill by the lake or while you’re camping. In addition, there are numerous things that affect cooking time that you have zero control over but that change wherever you go.
Although you can’t necessarily control them, here are some things that will impact the cooking time and temperature when using your wood pellet grill.
The higher your altitude, the lower the water boiling point is. While this may not seem like it’s related to grilling, it actually is. If you grill the meat at high temperatures like you would at a lower altitude, the moisture will quickly evaporate, which can lead to dry meat.
Thickness of the Meat
This is one aspect that you can have some control over. When you’re cooking a thicker piece of meat, you’ll need more time than if you’re cooking a thin piece of meat. Even if the meat looks like it’s done at the same time, it’s important always to check the internal temperature of the meat as the middle may still be raw despite the outside looking perfectly grilled.
Type of Meat
Different types of meat all use different cooking temperatures and methods. Depending on the fat, moisture, and collagen that’s in the meat you’re cooking, you should expect different results and not assume one cook setting will work for everything.
Humidity is only a problem if you’re trying to do a long, slow cook. If your plan is to cook the meat at high heat quickly, then humidity won’t be much of an issue. When you cook meat at a lower temperature for a longer time, though, humidity affects the moisture.
High humidity will result in your meat retaining its moisture, whereas low humidity will result in moisture being released quicker and your meat cooling down faster.
Type of Pellets
Did you know that different types of pellets burn at different temperatures? Hardwood pellets burn at a more consistent temperature than softwood pellets and are better for smoking meats. Softwood pellets burn at a higher temperature and are better for hot, fast cooking.
What is the Best Pellet Grill Cooking Temperature?
There is no perfect number when it comes to choosing the temperature you should cook at with a pellet smoker. You’ll need to adjust your settings depending on the weather and where you’re at.
If you live at a lower altitude and don’t experience extremely high or low humidity, here are a few starting points you can look at when grilling:
- Beef: almost all beef will cook at an internal temperature between 200F and 250F, but depending on the cut, the cooking times will vary from 1 hour to 5 or 6 hours.
- Chicken: a temperature range of between 275 F and 350 F work best.
- Chuck: most any type of chuck cut will cook for 60 to 90 minutes at 225 F to 250 F.
- Pork: any portion of pork (for eg. pork loin, pork butt, pork shoulder etc.) can be cooked at a temperature between 225 F and 250 F, but the cooking time will vary depending on the cut. Expect anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.
Cooking with a pellet grill is a different experience than cooking with a gas or charcoal grill, but you can still get a piece of perfectly grilled meat if you know how to set your grill temperature. After a bit of trial and error and getting to know your grill, you’ll be able to cook a delicious slice of meat no matter where you are.