The joy of purchasing new equipment is unmatched. It means that you have crossed one item off your bucket list and you can now focus on saving up for another one. Your happiness is further elevated when the product in your backyard is the exact model of Traeger smoker that you have been wishing to own for a long time. But, where do you begin?
It’s normal to have all these unanswered questions in your mind concerning your new smoker. Despite being well elaborated and helpful to a certain extent, the equipment’s manual or manufacturer’s guide may not be helpful enough to offer you all the insights you require for a start. You’ll still be left wondering if you bought the right pellets. What do you do after that? How do you set the smoker up until it is lit? Which is the most suitable temperature? What additional attachments can you use to increase the functionality of your Traeger? How do you maintain it?
The unanswered questions are likely to give you a hard time getting started on your first cookout. That’s why we have it all covered for you in the following segments.
What Pellets are Best for a Traeger Grill?
Products such as lump charcoal and pellets are important for smoking. The smokey effect enhances the flavor and texture of your foods, therefore, you have to be careful about the type of pellets you choose for each type of meal.
There are many pellet brands in the market. They are derived from different types of wood and they vary in size, shape, smell, and strength of their smoke. Light foods are compatible with pellets that release light smoke to prevent their flavors from getting overshadowed by the pellets’ strong aroma.
For beginners, Traeger pellets will give you the right headstart as they are produced by the same manufacturer as the Traeger Grill. There is a variety to choose from their certified wide range of products. Among the most common types of pellets are Pecan, Cherry, Apple, and Hickory. You can cook with one type or mix two or more for a blended exotic flavor.
A blend of hardwood pellets is recommended to impact smoke with a subtle sweetness flavor. You can use it for smoking meats among other types of foods. The combination of cherry, maple, and hickory burns in clean smoke, leaving your foods more savory.
As you proceed from the beginner smoking level, you’ll gather more knowledge concerning different pellet brands along the way. You can factor out the ones you find more suitable for your taste buds as well as those that match your budget since they all come at different prices.
How to Start Your Traeger
A first-time user may find it hard to navigate around this grill, despite reading the manual and getting a head start on how to do it. For a start, you must undergo the seasoning and burn-in steps to have it functioning properly.
These phases help you make sure that you have burned off any oil clinging to the cooking area. It also ensures that the auger is ready and well primed.
Seasoning your new grill for the first time requires you to follow the following steps:
- Start by adding pellets inside your grill’s hopper.
- Connect the grill to a power source.
- Use the dials for temperature control to start your grill.
- On the prompted menu, press on “Auger” then proceed to select “Prime Auger”.
- Once the pellets begin falling inside the fire pot, choose the “Done” option to deactivate the Auger.
- Set a 350°F temperature and let it remain constant for 15 minutes before raising it to 450°F for another 30 minutes.
- Switch off the grill and let it rest for about 30 minutes before you can start the cooking process.
The modern models of Traeger grills are easy to start. All you need to do is connect it to the electricity, choose the temperature you want to cook at, preheat for 15 to 20 minutes while the lid is shut, then cook your food according to the recommended heat range.
Top Accessories for Your Traeger
Traeger works fine as it is, but a few accessories would turn it into next-level equipment. Besides pimping it, these additional attachments give you more effects and a variety of benefits.
One of these accessories is a pellet tube. The tube is 12 inches long and it billows smoke that lasts a period of five hours before a refill is required. You can use it during your cold or hot smoking processes in the Traeger. Another reason to get this attachment is its compatibility with different types of pellets which work together to give the food a deep smokey and flavorful taste.
The second important accessories for your grill are shelves and a cover. Needless to say, you may require extra space depending on the amount of food you are grilling or smoking. Shelves offer you this luxury whereby you won’t have to worry about where to prepare your food or place the side dishes and sauces. The cover comes in handy when your grill is kept outdoors and you want to prevent it from adverse weather conditions and rust.
Related: The 7 Best Grill Covers in 2021
You’ll also need a thermometer. Some Traeger models come with an inbuilt thermometer gauge but you’ll need a digital thermometer for accuracy. It helps you check both the grill’s temperature and the internal temperature of the cooking food, especially meat.
Also, check our guide for the most essential grill and smoker accessories
How to Handle Temperature Swings
The most admirable flex of the Traeger Grill models is their ability to uphold a stable temperature. But, it is always advisable to learn about temperature swings so you can know how to deal with one if it arises.
Temperature swings mean exactly that, multiple fluctuations of heat ranges. The temperature you set can swing by a +5°F or -5°F range, sometimes more or less. It is likely to interfere with your cooking process because some recipes are very specific about temperature requirements. Heat variations are caused by factors such as wind, external temperatures influenced by weather changes, and smoker position among others.
The thermometer gauge accompanying your Traeger warns of a +/- 20°F fluctuation, meaning that such occurrences are normal. You should, however, be on the lookout to prevent it from going overboard.
Another factor that can interfere with the temperature accuracy on your Traeger is if the pellets you purchased are of poor quality. Such products produce a lot of ash that later causes the thermometer to record lower heat ranges. The readings prompt your grill to send more pellets than needed, in the firebox, messing up the situation further.
You should also consider checking the condition of your drip pan, heat diffuser, and fire pot to ensure that they are not corroded. Over time, they could also develop hot spots and negatively impact the flow of oxygen. All these factors can cause temperature swings but they shouldn’t occur in your brand new Traeger unless it was tampered with.
Another thing to be attentive to is the reliability level of your thermometer. A faulty gadget can cause illusions of heat spikes even when the grill’s temperature and food’s internal temperature are as they should be. When you notice such an issue, use a different thermometer and compare the readings. Keep the one that has a considerable level of fluctuations.
How do you deal with temperature swings? The most recommended method of preventing heat variations in your Traeger is by ensuring that your grill’s auger is taking in the pellets smoothly. This ensures proper heat distribution and prevents sudden temperature drops, caused by a shortage of pellets in the auger.
Other preventive measures include getting a reliable thermometer and deliberately setting the temperatures higher or lower to compensate for the variation margins.
How to Take Care of Your Traeger and the Pellets
Cleaning your Traeger is the most recommended way of caring for it. It’s also a way of prolonging its lifespan as well as making your cooking sessions fun and easy.
The firepot is one of the areas that require special attention, in that, it must be cleaned after using it for around 3-5 times. Thorough cleaning requires you to disassemble the heat baffle, drain pan, grill grates, and other removable parts. You should clean them separately and put the shop vac to suck away the ash and pellets in a vacuuming process.
Before embarking on this activity, ensure that your Traeger is switched off and that the cooking area is cold
Additional tips to care for your grill include:
- Covering it – There are different types of covers that protect the outer surface of your grill. Pick a material that fits your equipment and covers it fully. It should also be resistant to water, mildew, mold, and other destructive factors.
- Wash and season the cooking surface– Use oil to grease your pan and prevent it from rusting or getting layered with debris or food particles. Scrape the surface clean after every session, rinse it with warm water and cover it with the lid.
- Clean the external part of your grill– Most people tend to concentrate more on cleaning the cooking area, ignoring the outer part of their grills. Soap, cloth, and water are all the items you need to wash your grill and keep it sparkling inside out. It’s an important routine to maintain its newness.
Caring for your pellets is not only a money-saving activity but also prevents damage that comes with spoiled pellets. Temperature changes affect the pellets differently. Those stored in humid conditions, for example, are likely to be damp, hard to light, and produce ash that’s likely to interfere with the process.
Always store them in dry areas, using watertight packages that prevent dampness from reaching them.
Traeger grills are of great quality. There are different models that suit your budget, grilling, and smoking needs. Buying your new Traeger may have been one of the greatest decisions you made and all you have to do now is get some pellets, set it up, and start grilling. Remember to clean it, season it and keep the pellets in a dry place for the best results.