Whether you’re smoking on a pellet grill or a vertical or offset smoker, you need to know about hotspots! In this post we are going to go over the hotspots or hot zones on a pellet grill.
A pellet smoker has an auger that feeds the pellets into a compartment called the hot pot. That hot pot will hold the pellets and get them smoking. You can heat the pellets low and slow or get them blazing hot. Now, if we didn’t have anything to cover the hot pot, we’d only be cooking with direct heat. And as you guys know at home, we really need indirect heat to create that smokey flavor.
This grate goes right over the over the top of the hot plate so you can sear your meats. It’s going to block the direct heat so that the indirect heat will then circulate around your meat, creating that awesome smoky flavor. As you can see, it’s been well-worn from grease dropping down, this grate has seen a lot of meats! To learn more about cooking with indirect heat, check out this post on two-zone grilling. Let’s get back to why we’re here, those hotspots, right?
You’ll notice is the hot plate sits at an angle that runs down so that it filters it over to little bucket and catches the grease from the meat. However, that creates a little bit of a problem because heat tends to rise. One of the things we’ve learned about this particular smoker is there’s a hotspot closer to where that heat is rising up around the side. But! That’s not the only place that we have a hotspot because the hot plate doesn’t sit edge to edge on the inside of the smoker and direct heat can still creep up on the sides.
The Golden Rule
As we’ve traveled across the country for our new show, Meat America, we’ve heard them all reveal the number one rule for pitmasters:
Not all grills smoke at the same temperature, even when they read the same on the top. This brings up our final point- the thermometer is at the top of the lid, but guess what? The heats at the bottom so you’re often going to have a hotter temperature on the grill grates. Often, the thermometer is reading the ambient temperature, not the actual temperature of your pellet grill.
The last thing we want for you is to end up with dry ribs like I did. We felt it was important to share this information about hotspots so that you can continue to turn up the tasty right at home. Do you know where the hotspots are on your grill? Let’s talk about it-leave us a comment! Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more bite sized cooking hacks!