A Beginner’s Guide to Backyard Grilling: What You Need to Know

If you’re a true barbecue enthusiast, your backyard will be incomplete without a handy pellet grill in it. Even though this type of grill is relatively new compared to its charcoal and gas counterparts, it can give you some of the most delicious results when used correctly.

Whether you want to smoke a brisket overnight or quickly grill some yummy burger patties for your backyard barbecue, a pellet grill is the best way to do it all.

In this blog, we have rounded up all the information from about grilling for beginners so you can start the grill, cook on it, extinguish it, and keep it well-maintained. A pellet grill is one of the easiest to use grills that you can set up and cook on without worrying about it. Of course, as a beginner you may have to find your way around it but if you follow these seven steps to the T, you shouldn’t have much problem.

Step 1: Season the New Grill

If you have a new grill, the first step of the process should always be to season it. But what does seasoning mean? Seasoning is the process of applying cooking oil to the grill grates and cooking chamber and turning on the heat to the highest setting. This is also called a dry burn and it’s used to get rid of the machine oils in the grill and its coating left behind from the manufacturing process.

On top of this, seasoning the grill will also help you clean it easily in the future as the food particles won’t stick to it. Here are all the steps you should follow to season your grill correctly:

  • Preheat the grill to the highest heat setting.
  • Let it run for 20 minutes to let the machine oils evaporate.
  • Turn down the heat to about 225°F and start applying cooking oil. You should use cooking oil that has a high smoke point (preferably rapeseed or groundnut oil). The best way to apply an even coat is to use a spray bottle for this.
  • Let the grill run for 2-4 hours and allow it to cool down before you use it.
Meat and meatballs on heated grill.

Step 2: Cleaning the Grill

If you’re using a new pellet grill, you can skip this step. If you’ve used your pellet grill before, you should clean it before your next use.

The cleaning process will remove the burnt bits of the last food you prepared in the grill. Here are some simple steps you can follow to clean your grill properly:

  • Clean the grill grates by removing them and placing them in the dishwasher. If you can’t remove the grates, clean them using a grill brush.
  • Get a spray bottle and fill it up with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water.
  • Spray this solution all over your grill’s cooking chamber and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the chamber and let it dry before using it.
  • Run a shop vac inside your grill’s firebox and chamber to remove the ash and remaining bits of food.

Step 3: Add the Wood Pellets to the Firebox

Pellet grills use wood pellets that are placed in the grill’s firebox. This step is simple, but you just need to make sure that there are enough wood pellets to cover your entire cooking time. On average, your pellet grill may burn up to 3 pounds of wood pellets every hour (on the highest temperature setting). Of course, low temperature will burn fewer pellets.

You can add different types of wood pellets depending on the flavor you’re looking for. Cherry, oak, apple, mesquite, and hickory are some of the most popular wood pellet options that all impart distinct flavors.

Person grilling meat and patties on pellet grill.

Step 4: Preheat the Grill Before Use

Preheating is one of the most important steps that can help you cook the food evenly. You can easily do this by plugging in your pellet smoker and filling it up with wood pellets. Next, you should set your grill to about 250°F but this may vary depending on what you’re cooking. At this point, you’ll hear the air fan blowing and some smoke may rise.

Some grills require you to keep the lid open until this smoke clears out but if this is not mentioned on your pellet grill, you can keep the lid shut. Let it preheat for about 10-15 minutes or as long as you need to ensure that the grill has reached the required temperature.

Step 5: Add the Meat

After you have preheated your pellet grill sufficiently and the smoke has cleared out, you can start adding the meat. You should make sure not to fill up grill with meat as there should be space between each piece of meat. This is important for your meat to cook evenly from all sides as the smoke will move around it properly.

Step 6: Monitor Meat with Temperature Probe

The last thing you need is to overcook your meat and end up with chewy bits. This is why temperature control is key to cooking your meat perfectly. You can do this by putting in a temperature probe inside the thickest side of the meat. The best way to ensure that you get the right temperature and texture is to follow this temperature guide for the meat and the dish you’re cooking. Keep adjusting the temperature to ensure that your grill is properly heated.

If you want to increase the smoke level inside the cooking chamber, you should bring the pellet grill to a lower temperature. This is the best way to achieve a smoky flavor that’s deeply infused.

You can also use the reverse sear method if you have thick-cut meat on your hands. This method cooks the meat slowly and evenly. All you have to do is sear the meat’s exterior over high heat so that it gets a nice and crispy crust. This will work especially well if your grill has a separate searing station.

Person checking temperature of the meat.

Step 7: Extinguish the Grill

You need to remember to shut down your grill to prevent fire hazards. Begin by turning off the heat and letting the grill cool down. Once cool, you can disconnect the power cord and begin removing the burnt pellets and storing the usable ones in a container. It’s also a good idea to clean the grill grates with a brush and some dishwashing liquid and drying it up before keeping the grill away.

Z Pellet Grill with closed lid.

Check BackYard Alpha For More Pellet Grill Tips and Tricks

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks to carry out successful backyard grilling or want to buy the perfect pellet grill for barbecue, BackYard Alpha has all that you need to get started.

We have curated a platform that has all things backyard-related from excellent gardening tips online to the best koi ponds kits and pellet grills for backyard barbeques.

Learn more about us and take your backyard grilling to the next level!