Cooking with pellets is not a new concept, but the progression of pellet smoker design has evolved to using modern computers to manage the cooking process. Basically pellets are compressed sawdust. They are extruded into cylinders that are compatible with the technology used to produce heat and smoke from within the pellet smoker fire box.

A pellet smoker uses indirect heat. In other words, the food does not sit directly over the flame as is does with a traditional grill. The food in a pellet smoker is cooked by convection similar to the oven in your house. In fact, you can use your smoker as a convection oven to bake corn bread and other goodies.

Once the pellet smoker is running (the igniter has started to burn the pellets), the auger moves pellets from the hopper to the firebox based on information sent to the auger motor from the computer. The fan blows the warm air through the cooking chamber and out of the smoke stack. The fan is also controlled by the computer. A sensor in the cooking area of the smoker tells the computer what the temperature is so that the computer can adjust the auger and fan.

The controller is used to turn the smoker on/off, set cooking temperature, and monitor settings. Controllers may have other features depending on the manufacturer. Most controllers have a cool-down feature that runs the fan, blowing air across the fire box, after is has been shut off to prevent re-ignition of the pellets.

A drip tray is used to funnel the rendered fat to a grease bucket for disposal. It is considered best-practice to cover the drip tray with aluminum foil before each use to simplify clean-up.