How to Use A Pit Boss Pellet Grill [The Ultimate Guide]

Wood pellet grills are extremely popular right now. The Pit Boss pellet grill is one of the top brands for people who want a quality grill without paying a substantial price. If you’ve been contemplating getting one or just want to know how to use a Pit Boss pellet grill, you’re in the right place. I’ve had my Pit Boss for a little over a year and here’s what I’ve learned during that time.

What I’ve Learned

Pellet grills require electricity to burn the hardwood pellets, which function as fuel. The main components of a Pit Boss grill are the auger, hopper, igniter, fire pot, and fan. Unlike regular grills, pellet grills can do much more than cook. They function as an outdoor oven and use an indirect heat cooking method. Basically, anything you can cook in an oven or convection oven, you can do with your pellet grill.

how to use a Pit Boss pellet grill

The newer Pit Boss models such as the Pro Series 850 and 1150 pellet grills offer wireless connectivity. That said, you can install the Smoke IT Wi-Fi wireless controller to some of the older models as well.

Pellet grills make grilling so much easier than regular grills because they are more accurate and do most of the work for you.

That said, there is a lot more to know about the Pit Boss pellet smoker grills than that. Which we will cover below. Here’s how to use the smoke function.

*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

So how do you use a pellet grill? What cooking methods does it use? How do you light the grill for the first time? what type of pellets does it use? What happens if it runs out mid-cook? How long will a bag of pellets last?

We’ll answer all those questions and more.

Check out all the grilling accessories, cookbooks, and grills I recommend for all BBQ grillers.

It’s taken me hours to put together these pages so that you save both time and money. All the products I recommend are stuff that I’ve used or have received more than 4-star reviews.

CLICK HERE to browse the products on my website.

How Do You Use a Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

In The 1990s Dan Thiessen got the idea of pellet grills when his fireplace construction business began recycling sawmill waste into pellets. This concept led his family to become the manufacturer o pellet stoves. In 1999, he launched the first Pit Boss pellet smokers.

Today, the company offers several Pit Boss products such as the pellet grill, vertical smoker, portable grills, and combo grills.

Anyone can cook over indirect heat with a variety of Pit Boss pellets which makes it easy to cook flavorful foods right in your backyard.

The pellet grills are made with real wood. Once added to the pellet hopper, the auger feeds them into the firepot, where they catch fire and cook the food in the cooking area.

Unlike regular grills, several Pit Boss models boast 8-1 ability, no wonder it makes it the second more popular grill below the Traeger brand.

So, How Does The Pit Boss Grill Work?

Before I got my Pit Boss grill, I had no clue how a Pit Boss grill worked. In fact, I made a lot of mistakes when I got my Pit Boss Pro 820. Since owning it, I’ve learned quite a bit, and have even cooked several different meals on it.

You can check out my YouTube channel where I share some of the meals I’ve prepared as well as other beginner videos to help you learn how to use your Pit Boss grill.

Let’s quickly discuss the most important parts of a pellet grill, regardless of the brand you own.


The ignitor is one of the things that go bad on any pellet grill. The ignitor is what starts to light the pellets in the firepot. You can still run the grill if the ignitor goes bad, but you will need to light the firepot with a propane torch.

I’ve written an in-depth guide on the Pit Boss ignitor problems as well as how to replace it when it does go out.

Induction Fan

One of the first things you’ll notice when you turn on the Pit Boss grill is how loud the induction fan is. It’s completely normal for your pellet grill to sound like an engine, especially, when it first starts.

The induction fan stays on through the entire cooking process. It circulates hardwood smoke through the cook chamber, which is what makes the convection cooking style possible.


The auger is a big screw that fuels the burn pot. You can control the flow of pellets by using the P-setting on the control board. A higher P-setting will cause the auger to pause longer, slowing down the pellets it feeds into the firepot.

It takes time to learn how to adjust the P-setting on the Pit Boss. As you continue using the grill, you’ll learn how to use it, especially in the cold weather.

Fire Pot

The fire pot is where the pellets and ash residue are found in the grill. Once the fire pot has enough pellets, the pellets are lit on fire by the hot rod. Then the induction fan stokes the fire, which creates the famous induction heat.


It is the large storage container that is attached to the pellet grill. The only job of the hopper is to hold the pellets that are fed into the cooking chamber by the auger.

Before starting the Pit Boss, you’ll want to make sure the hopper has enough pellets to last through the cook.

Understanding the Cooking Components

Similar to a charcoal and gas grill. Pellet grills have certain cooking components that make it easier to prepare your meats, veggies, etc.

Top Shelf

Most Pit Boss models will have a removable top shelf. Think of the top shelf as more cooking space. For instance, if you’re cooking 18 burgers on the bottom shelf and you run out of space, you can use the top shelf as additional space.

Just be aware that items may take longer to cook on the top shelf since they are further away from the fire. Many people on online forums say they haven’t noticed a difference in cooking time when using the top shelf.

Still it’s always good to use a thermometer whenever cooking on the Pit Boss. It makes it easier to ensure you’re cooking meats to the proper internal temperature.

CLICK HERE to see the best selling Meat Thermometers on Amazon

Bottom Cooking Surface

The main cooking area consists of removable grates where you cook a majority of the foods. It sits directly on top of the flame broiler which makes it easy to sear foods.

Depending on the model, the cooking area will vary in physical dimensions. A Stainless Steel 2-burner gas grill has a 267.8 square inch cooking area. While a Pit Boss 7-series Vertical Smoker has a 1,853 square inch cooking area.

Regardless of what type of model you own, the cooking space will vary. Before purchasing a pellet grill, ensure you do your due diligence to make sure you get a big enough grill for your needs.

Flame Broiler

The flame broiler makes it easy to flame broil. Use the sliding plate to uncover the fire for direct flame grilling. It makes it easy to sear burgers, steaks, hot dogs, etc like nothing I’ve ever seen.

I used it for the first time on my hamburgers I cooked and the flames just shot up from the flame broiler. They were the best-tasting burgers I had ever made and I loved the sear marks it left on the patties.

It’s also useful when you’re cooking with a cast iron pan.

How The Pit Boss Temperature Dial Works

One of the things I love about the Pit Boss digital control board is how simple it is. It makes it easy to use, even if you’ve never used one before. Depending on the model, you’ll have control of the following:

  • Temperature
  • Power Button
  • P-Setting
  • Meat Probes
  • LCD Screen

Power Button

Press the button to power the grill on/off. When connected to a power source, the power button will have a blue glow.


The control board displays both the set temperature and actual temperature. This makes it easy for you to tell whether the grill is running hotter or colder than you it should be, without lifting the lid.


Use the P-Setting button on the control board to adjust how the auger works.

Meat Probes

There are two connection ports for the meat probe. When the meat probe is connected, the internal temperature of the meat is displayed on the LCD screen.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen will display your actual cook temperature, desired cook temperature, meat probe temperatures (if connected).

Does Pit Boss Have PID Controllers?

At one point Pit Boss didn’t offer PID controlled pellet grills and smokers. All the models worked used time-based controllers. Until recently Pit Boss released the Smoke IT control board.

The Smoke IT temperature technology allows you to control the temperature of the grill using your phone using Bluetooth. I recently added the Smoke IT control board to my Pit Boss and you can watch the video here.

Lighting The Grill for The First Time

According to the Pit Boss manual, the first use – grill burn off you just “Turn the Temperature/Dial to the highest temperature and let the grill run with the lid closed for 30-40 minutes. This ensures all foreign matter, debris, etc gets burnt off before your first cook.

Here’s a video of how I primed my Pit Boss after assembling it.

These are the steps I used when priming my Pit Boss Pro 820. They are the same steps that can be found in your owner’s manual.

  1. Inspect the hopper and remove any foreign objects or debris.
  2. Remove all cooking components from the interior of the grill.
  3. Plug the grill into a power source.
  4. Turn the grill on and turn the temperature dial to smoke.
  5. Open the lid to the hopper to ensure the auger is working properly.
  6. Put your hand over the fire pot to check for airflow. (don’t touch it or stick your fingers in it)
  7. After a minute you should be able to smell the ignitor and the air will become warmer. (don’t touch it)
  8. Once you’ve determined all the electrical components work, turn the grill off.
  9. Fill the hopper with all-natural wood pellets. (preferably the Pit Boss brand)
  10. Turn the grill back on to the smoke position, while holding the prime button.
  11. Keep holding the prime button, until you see the first pellets fall into the firepot.
  12. Now turn the grill to high (500°F) and close the lid.
  13. Run for 30-40 minutes.
  14. Shut down the grill.
  15. It’s seasoned and ready to grill!

Pit Boss Shut Down Procedure

According to the Pit Boss manual, the shutdown procedure allows the grill to perform a natural cleaning process. It removes any excess grease from your last cook.

After removing the food from the grill, turn the temperature dial to the highest setting and let it run for an extra 5-10 minutes with the lid closed. The burn-off procedure will reduce the chance of grease fire the next time you start your grill.

Pit Boss Chimney Adjustment

The chimney affects the airflow inside of the main grill. If cooking at lower temperatures, keep the leave a larger opening on the cap.

It takes time to learn how to adjust the chimney and everyone is different. Some hardcore BBQers say they never adjust their chimney. I’ve personally never touched my chimney, other than just cleaning it out.

Can You Use Any Pellets In A Pit Boss?

Pit Boss recommends using high-quality hardwood pellets. This means you can use Traeger pellets or any other high-quality pellets in your smoker. If you see a different flavored pellet that Pit Boss doesn’t make, it is possible to interchange and use different brand pellets.

Always make sure you use high-quality pellets. Low-quality pellets can affect the way your pellet grill works.

How Long Do Pellets Last In A Pit Boss Grill?

Pit Boss 40 lb Hickory Blend Hardwood Pellets
  • No artificial flavors, spray scents, glues or chemicals
  • Burn hotter and cleaner
  • Pellets are easy to use, great tasting and all natural, forcing the natural juices in the wood to bind the pellets together
  • Our raw wood is sourced across North America to make a superior product

From my personal experience, a 40-pound bag will last about 12-40 hours of cook time at both low or high heat. Of course, how long the pellets last will depend on the quality of pellets, P-setting, temperature setting, and the length of cook time.

The lower the heat and longer cooking times will cause you to burn through more pellets.

Pit Boss pellets can be purchased in both 20 and 20-pound pages.

CLICK HERE to browse through the different Pit Boss pellets on Amazon.

What Should I Do If My Pit Boss Runs out of Pellets While Using It?

If you have some on hand, just open the lid and add some to the hopper.

That said, if the grill was left unattended and you lose the fire, you will have to turn off the grill and let it cool completely before restarting it.

According to the Pit Boss manual, it says you will have to go through the priming process again if you run out. However, I’ve only found this to be true when the pellets completely run out and there are none left in the auger or the firepot.

How to Preheat A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

Unlike traditional grills, Pit Boss grills are super easy to preheat.

To preheat the Pit Boss, press the power button and set the temperature dial to your desired temperature, just like an oven.

If you’ve ever used a charcoal grill, you know how challenging it can be to start. Unlike a gas and pellet grill, it doesn’t contain any starters or hoses. You likely have to use lighter fuel to get it lit and maintaining the temperature can be challenging.

A gas grill can be harder to light, especially if it’s an older grill and the pilot light is worn out, or the grill hasn’t been used in a while. If the pilot light goes out, you can still light it using a long Bic lighter, but that isn’t always a safe option.

By comparison, the Pit Boss grills are easy to light.

When you’re ready to cook, just open the lid and press the power button. The temperature dial will automatically be set on the “smoke” setting.

The smoke setting temperature will fluctuate between 180°F/82°C to 225°F/17°C.

You can either choose to smoke your food or turn the temperature higher to begin cooking. The cook temperature ranges from 200°F to 500°F.

You can increase or decrease the temperature in 25° increments.

What Types of Cooking Does a Pit Boss Grill Offer?

Unlike other grills, the Pit Boss grill boasts of 8-1 cooking ability. This means, you can do so much more than just grill food. The Pit Boss makes it easy to prepare foods in the folllowing methods:

  1. Grill
  2. Char-Grill
  3. Braise
  4. Roast
  5. BBQ
  6. Bake
  7. Sear
  8. Smoke

What Can You Cook on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

According to Pit Boss, anything you can cook or bake in your oven, you can do with the the smoker.

You can cook meats, veggies, seafood, fish, pork, veggies, corn on the cob, potatoes, etc. You can bake cookies, sourdough bread, crepes and so much more!

Of course, you may need certain accessories like a cast iron skillet, baking pan, etc. If you’re not sure what to cook, check out the recipes on the Pit Boss website.

I’ve personally love cooking whole chickens on mine. It’s easy to do and you can flavor it anyway you want.

I’ve also had good success with cooking a Boston Butt on it. Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to cook a Boston Butt on a Pit Boss pellet grill.

Is Pit Boss Worth The Money and Which Model is The Best?

If you love cooking outdoors and want the ability to have more accurate control over your cooks, then yes.

With proper maintenance and regular cleanings, a Pit Boss pellet grill can last at least 5 years. Dawson the manufacturer of Pit Boss grills provides a 5 year warranty agains defects and workmanship on all grill parts.

It will ease your mind when you’re dishing out a lot of money for a pellet grill.

Pellet grills are the most versatile outdoor cooking machine. If you can cook on a stove, you can cook on a pellet grill.

What Pit Boss Grill Is The Best to Buy?

Pit Boss wood pellet grills are divided into three categories on their website.

  1. Pro Series – $899
  2. Platinum – $497
  3. Classic – $396
  4. Sportsman – starting at: $649

Prices will vary depending on whether you buy the grill at Lowes or Walmart. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t carry a lot of Pit Boss grills. They do however carry the pellets, grill covers, and replacement parts.

You may even be able to find a sale, especially during Christmas or Black Friday.

Considering a new pellet grill, but not sure you want a Pit Boss?

Pellet grills are an investment because unlike other grills they can be quite expensive. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, but not sure if Pit Boss is the right one for you, that’s okay.

There are plenty of different models available on the market. I’ve put together a pellet grill resource page with different model pellet grills ranging in price and features.

I’d recommend checking it out. It will help you decide what brand to get. Which features you can live without. And how much cooking space you should consider before buying.

Final Word

Hopefully, this in-depth guide has shown you how easy it is to use the Pit Boss pellet grill. It will take time to learn how to use it, but if you have any questions after buying one, you can always refer to the instruction manual.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, don’t hesitate to contact their customer support. The more you use your Pit Boss, the better you’ll get at using it!

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