Many people are still getting to grips with how pellet grills work and the fact they need electricity to operate. Pellet grills/smokers work very differently compared to conventionally gas or charcoal grills. As such this has led some to ask how long does it take a pellet grill to heat up? The quick ‘official’ answer is 10 to 15 minutes, however, the real-world answer depends on a lot of factors as I’ll discuss. We’ll also look at how a pellet grill compares on warm-up time to a gas, kamado or stick burner BBQs. Let’s get into this…
Introduction To Pellet Grill Heat Up Times
One of the reasons pellet grills are so popular is because they can save time. Due to the controlled nature of a pellet grill/smoker via a computerized control panel maybe with some WiFi connectivity thrown in it can take less time to manage a cook on a pellet grill/smoker compared to other BBQs.
When it comes to warm-up times the standard response from pellet grill manufacturers is between 10 to 15 minutes. Typically around the 10 minute mark when it comes to ‘low & slow’ smoking around 225 degrees and 15 minutes for higher heat cooking.
However, the reality is some pellet grills are going to take longer than those estimated warm-up times. You also need to consider the outside ambient temperature. For instance, you should expect every pellet grill to take longer to heat up during the winter months.
Pellet Grills Compared To Other BBQs On Heat Up Times
A gas grill is also often stated as a 10 to 15 minute warm-up time, the same as a pellet grill/smoker. However, in reality, as I discuss in my article on pellet grills vs gas grills, you should expect a gas grill to get up to temperature quicker than a pellet grill (with a few exceptions/details below).
When it comes to your standard Weber Kettle charcoal grill or a stick burner, they will typically take around 30 minutes to get up to temperature. However, a Kamado due to its insulated construction can get up to temperature in around 15 minutes.
The Official Response On Pellet Grill Heat Up Times
Before, we start to discuss the real-world factors around pellet grill warm-up times and how some pellet grills will heat up quicker than others what do the manufacturers state?
Below I’ve included the statements on pellet grill warm-up times from some of the leading brands including Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef and Z Grills.
How Long Does It Take A Traeger To Heat Up?
Traeger states through their article linked below with regards to warm-up times:
“Preheat for approximately 10-15 minutes” – Traeger.com
Within that same article Traeger also states that its not uncommon for one of their pellet grills to take up to 15 minutes to get up to temperature with lower external ambient temperatures etc.
Its odd though that Traeger doesn’t reference that their twin-wall insulated Gen 1 Timberline and Gen 2 Timberline models should pre-heat faster than their cheaper non-insulated pellet grills.
How Long Does It Take A Pit Boss To Heat Up?
Pit Boss states through their article linked below with regards to warm-up times:
“The heat will climb to your desired temperature within 5 to 6 minutes” – Pit Boss-Grills.com
However, its important to take that statement into context as that’s after the fire in the burn pot has ignited (3 minutes) and the fire is properly established and smoke reduced (3 to 4 minutes).
Hence, what Pit Boss is actually stating is the total warm-up time will be around 11-13 minutes.
How Long Does It Take A Camp Chef To Heat Up?
Camp Chef states through their article linked below with regards to warm-up times:
“10-20 minutes to get up to the desired temperature” – CampChef.com
However, Camp Chef also states it can take up to 8 minutes for the grill to ignite the pellets, hence a total warm-up time of between 18 to 28 minutes.
This may see significantly longer than Traeger or Pit Boss above. However, as Camp Chef references, that 28 minutes is for high-temperature grilling which I think is a more realistic time frame than that stated by Traeger and Pit Boss.
How Long Does It Take A Z Grills To Heat Up?
Z Grills states through their article linked below with regards to warm-up times:
“Close the lid, and walk away for about 10 to 15 min to let the grill heat up” – ZGrills.com
Hence, a pretty generic response on warm-up times, identical to that as stated by Traeger above. When it comes to grilling-searing temps expect closer to 15 minutes (at least).
Twin-Wall Insulated Construction Speeds Up Warm-Up Times
Not all pellet grills/smokers are created equally, many are made from single wall steel. However, some feature twin-wall insulated construction. My linked article discusses which pellet grills have this feature and I discuss its wider benefits.
One of the benefits of twin-wall insulated construction is faster warm-up times. This is applicable to all months of the year, but especially in the colder months of the year.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Twin-wall insulated construction holds onto the heat for longer, therefore it also means twin-wall grills can build up to temperature more quickly.
As not all pellet grills feature twin-wall insulated construction, on those that don’t I seriously encourage the use of insulated blankets on pellet grills/smokers for the colder months of the year.
An insulate blanked will not only aid with faster warm-up times but also provide more consistently cooked food as the cooking chamber will be at a more even temperature throughout.
The Choice Of Pellets Impacts Warm-Up Time
There is a huge range of BBQ wood pellets to choose from that can infuse a wide spectrum of smoke flavours into the food you’re cooking. However, it needs to be acknowledged that different wood species produce different heat outputs (BTUs) when burnt.
Hence, of the hardwood BBQ pellets, Oak is typically recommended as the one to choose if you’re grilling/searing as it produces the highest BTU heat output. In turn, oak pellets will also heat the pellet grill/smoker up faster than certain other wood flavour species.
However, we are now at a point where you can use charcoal in a pellet grill/smoker in the form of charcoal pellets. If you opt for 100% charcoal pellets they contain 40% more energy than Oak pellets per lb.
As a result, if you want a pellet grill/smoker to get up to temperature as fast as possible, consider using charcoal pellets.
One Of The Fastest Pellet Grills To Heat Up (Weber SmokeFire)
If I’m being asked ‘what’s the warm-up time on a pellet grill?’ its likely because its a concern to a potential pellet grill purchaser. Therefore, if that’s the case, and someone is asking me which pellet grill is going to heat up really fast its an easy one, I’ll say the Weber SmokeFire.
Now, that’s not to say I think the Weber SmokeFire is the best pellet smoker available as I’ve previously discussed in my Weber SmokeFire Gen 1 vs Gen 2 article. However, when it comes to being a pellet grill, I do think for around a thousand dollars you cannot currently do better than a Weber SmokeFire EX4.
The video above shows a Weber SmokeFire can get close to 300 degrees in under 8 minutes, it can then get to 600 degrees in under 15 minutes. To my knowledge, I don’t know of any other pellet grill that can currently achieve those temperatures in that short period of time.
Furthermore, the video above was filmed using oak pellets. As I’ve discussed above, throw in some charcoal pellets into a Weber SmokeFire and you’ll be seeing even faster warm-up times.
We’re talking potentially close to 600 degrees in around 12 minutes. That’s comparable to a Weber gas grill, maybe even faster!
My Final Thoughts On Pellet Grill Warm Up Times…
While many pellet grill/smoker manufacturers will state around 10 to 15 minutes to get up to temperature, they won’t specifically state what temperature they are referring to. In reality, on most pellet grills at 15 minutes they will be around 300 degrees.
However, other factors will impact warm-up time. What’s the ambient temperature, is the pellet grill twin-wall insulated and what type of pellets are being used etc?
As shown above, when it comes to grilling/searing it is possible for a pellet grill to match or even beat a gas grill getting up to those really high temperatures.
Moreover, when it comes to cooking with wood (or charcoal) a pellet grill is going to get up to temperature faster than any other type of BBQ.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the above gave you a better understanding on how long it takes to get a pellet grill/smoker up to temperature. If you have more questions its likely you’ll find the answer in my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.