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Man cutting slices into a smoked brisket. Actively cooking over a smoker. Blog image for Outdoor Living Australia

Smoking Meat On A Pellet Smoker | The Basics

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Choose the Right Pellet Smoker

When choosing a pellet smoker, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, think about the size of the grill you need. If you're cooking for a small family or just yourself, a smaller smoker  may be sufficient. However, if you plan on cooking for larger groups or hosting BBQs, a larger grill may be a better choice.
Another important factor to consider is the quality of the grill. Look for a pellet smoker with sturdy construction, durable materials, and a reliable temperature control system. Pellet smokers with digital controls are also popular, as they allow you to easily set and monitor the temperature.

Find our range of Pellet smokers here

Pellet Smoker in use on deck showing smoke billowing out

Select the Right Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are a key component of smoking meat on a pellet smoker, as they add flavour to your meat. There are many types of wood pellets available, each with its own unique flavour profile. Some popular types of wood pellets include:

  • Hickory: Arguably the most popular barbecue wood nationwide, hickory pellets deliver a strong flavour. Hickory complements many types of meat very well, but it’s especially good with traditional barbecue meats such as brisket, tri-tip and pork shoulder. If you find hickory a little strong, try mixing it with milder pellets such as oak or apple.
  • Mesquite: Enhance your meat with a hearty smoke flavour. A barbecue favourite in Texas, mesquite pellets infuse a robust smoky taste into brisket, lamb and many of our other favourite cuts of meat.
  • Apple: Add a lightly fruity smoke to mild flavoured meats, baked goods and vegetables. Apple wood pellets combine so beautifully with chicken, you’ll never want to cook it any other way again.
  • Cherry: Naturally enhance your food with a subtly sweet, fruity flavour, Perfect for pork and poultry. Cherry wood pellets provide a robust smoke with great overall taste. Make sure to try it once. You’ll more than likely try it a second and third time too.
  • Maple: Maple wood adds a mild, lightly sweet touch that pairs well with nearly all foods. Use maple wood pellets when you’re smoking the main dish on Christmas. The subtle difference is sure to impress the entire family.

Experiment with different wood pellet blends to find the flavour profile that you like best.

Check out our range of smoker pellets here

Very close up view of wood pellets

Prep Your Meat

Before smoking your meat, it's important to prep it properly. Trim off any excess fat and season your meat with a dry rub or marinade. For a simple dry rub, mix kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Rub the mixture all over your meat, making sure to coat it evenly. You can also purchase a variety of different premade rubs that give great flavours, just open the lid layer the rub all over your meat and then place it in the smoker.

It's also important to let your meat come to room temperature before placing it on the pellet smoker. This helps ensure even cooking and prevents your meat from drying out.

Prepped Pork Belly with rub on it ready to go into smoker

Preheat Your Pellet Smoker

Preheating your pellet smoker is essential for achieving consistent results. Most pellet grills take about 10-15 minutes to preheat to the desired temperature. Once your grill is preheated, adjust the temperature to the desired setting.

Monitor the Temperature

One of the benefits of using a pellet smoker is the ability to easily monitor and control the temperature. Use the digital display to set the temperature and keep an eye on the temperature gauge to make sure it stays consistent throughout the smoking process.

It's important to note that smoking meat is a slow and low process, and you'll need to plan accordingly. Depending on the type of meat you're smoking and the temperature you're using, it can take anywhere from 4-12 hours to smoke a piece of meat. Make sure you have enough time to complete the smoking process before starting.

Add Wood Pellets as Needed

As your wood pellets burn, you'll need to add more to maintain the temperature and smoke level. Most pellet smokers have a hopper capacity that can hold enough pellets for several hours of smoking. However, it's important to check the hopper regularly and add more pellets as needed.

Keep the Lid Closed

While smoking your meat, it's important to keep the lid closed as much as possible to maintain the temperature and smoke level in your pellet smoker. Avoid opening the lid frequently or for long periods of time, as this can cause temperature fluctuations and affect the quality of your smoked meat.

Use a Meat Thermometer

To ensure that your meat is cooked to the proper temperature, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The ABCL recommends cooking most meats to an internal temperature of 145°F or higher. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, making sure not to touch any bone or fat, and wait for the temperature reading to stabilize.

You can find meat thermometer and accessories here

Rest Your Meat

Once your meat is done cooking on your pellet smoker, it's important to let it rest for at least an hour before slicing or serving. The best way to do this is wrap your smoked meat in an old towel and place the meat into a esky and keep the lid closed, This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavourful product.

Baby back ribs glazed in BBQ sauce

Clean Your Pellet Smoker

After you're done smoking your meat, it's important to clean your pellet smoker properly to ensure its longevity and performance. Allow the grill to cool down completely before removing the grates and wiping them down with a damp cloth.

Empty the ash pan and dispose of any remaining wood pellets. Wipe down the interior of the grill with a damp cloth and allow it to dry completely before storing.


In conclusion, smoking meat on a pellet smoker is a delicious and rewarding process that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. With the right equipment, wood pellets, and preparation techniques, you can create mouth-watering smoked meat that will impress your family and friends.

Remember to choose a quality pellet smoker, select the right wood pellets, prep your meat properly, preheat your grill, monitor the temperature, add wood pellets as needed, keep the lid closed, use a meat thermometer, rest your meat, and clean your pellet grill after use.

By following these steps and experimenting with different flavours and techniques, you can become a master at smoking meat on a pellet smoker and enjoy flavourful, tender, and juicy meat for years to come.

To learn everything you need to know read our Pellet Smokers: The Ultimate Guide

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Smoking Meat on a Pellet Smoker

  1. What is a pellet smoker?

    • A pellet smoker is an outdoor cooking appliance that uses compressed wood pellets as fuel for smoking and grilling food. The smoker features an electric-powered auger that feeds the pellets into a firebox, producing heat and smoke to cook the meat at a consistent temperature.

  2. How do I choose the right pellets for my pellet smoker?

    • When selecting pellets for your pellet smoker, consider the following factors:
      1. Flavour: Choose pellets made from hardwoods that complement the meat you're smoking, such as hickory, mesquite, or applewood.
      2. Quality: Opt for food-grade pellets without additives or fillers.
      3. Compatibility: Ensure the pellets are compatible with your specific pellet smoker model.

  3. What is the ideal smoking temperature for different types of meat?

    • The optimal smoking temperature can vary depending on the type of meat you're cooking. Some general guidelines include:
      1. Beef brisket: 225°F - 250°F (107°C - 121°C)
      2. Pork shoulder: 225°F - 250°F (107°C - 121°C)
      3. Chicken: 275°F - 350°F (135°C - 177°C)
      4. Ribs: 225°F - 250°F (107°C - 121°C)
      5. Turkey: 275°F - 350°F (135°C - 177°C)

  4. How long should I smoke different types of meat?

    • Smoking times can vary depending on the cut, size, and desired level of doneness. Some general guidelines include:
      1. Beef brisket: 1 to 1.5 hours per kg
      2. Pork shoulder: 1.5 to 2 hours per kg
      3. Chicken: 1 to 1.5 hours per kg
      4. Ribs: 4 to 6 hours
      5. Turkey: 30 to 40 minutes per kg

  5. How do I maintain and clean my pellet smoker?

    • To maintain and clean your pellet smoker, follow these steps:
      1. Empty the ash and grease collection systems regularly.
      2. Clean the grates with a grill brush after each use.
      3. Wipe down the smoker's interior and exterior surfaces with a damp cloth.
      4. Periodically check the auger and other components for proper functioning.
      5. Keep the smoker covered when not in use to protect it from the elements.

  6. Do I need to preheat my pellet smoker before smoking meat?

    • Yes, preheating your pellet smoker is essential to ensure even cooking and proper smoke penetration. Allow your smoker to reach the desired temperature and stabilize before adding your meat.

  7. What is the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking?

    • Cold smoking involves exposing food to smoke at temperatures below 100°F (38°C) for an extended period, typically used for preserving and adding flavor to foods like cheese, fish, and cured meats. Hot smoking cooks food at higher temperatures (usually above 225°F / 107°C) and is used for traditional smoked meat dishes.


Author Bio Image

Allan Cooper

Allan Cooper, a licenced electrician is an avid foodie, with experience in spit roasting, smoking meats, and kegerators. He loves the outdoor living lifestyle and shares it with his young family.

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