All grills gas, charcoal, and pellet grills have hot spots in different places. Knowing where they are will help you understand and use your grill more efficiently. I had no clue about this until I cooked some ribs and some were drier than others. That’s why I wanted to share the Pit Boss Pro Series 820 hot zone test results, in hopes of being able to help at least one other person.
What Are Pit Boss Hot Zones?
Hot zones aka hot spots are areas in the grill that cause the cooking grates to receive inconsistent cooking temperatures. This means that some areas get hotter than others, causing the food to cook unevenly.
As mentioned, every grill regardless of the brand has hot spots. In fact, not all Pit Boss grills have the same hot spots. The hot spots will differ from vertical and horizontal grills, so it’s important to find out where they are in your grill.
That’s what I’ve done and I’ll share the results I got from doing the biscuit test on my grill. I thought the back corners would be the hottest, but I was wrong. I’ll share where the hot spots were on the Pit Boss 820 Pro Series below, so keep reading.
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Why You Should Know Where the Hot Zones Are?
Knowing where the hot spots will help you know where to place your food for a more even cook, and prevent you from ruining them. It’ll also help you understand where to place foods that need to stay on the grill to stay warm until the rest of the food is ready.
Hot spots aren’t a huge problem if you’re using them for fast cooks. A good handheld thermometer like the Thermapen (I just got one and I love it) will help ensure foods are cooked to a proper temperature.
However, for the low and slow cooks, you want to ensure you’re placing foods in areas away from the hot spots, so it cooks evenly and parts don’t dry out.
Nothing is worse than cooking a Boston butt, ribs, or any other type of food for friends and family, only to find out that some parts are overcooked or undercooked.
This video from BiteSeez does a great job of explaining about the hot spots on a smoker.
Why Does The Pit Boss Grill Have Hot Zones?
The hot zones are caused by the position of the heat deflector. It sits at a slight angle to allow for the grease to flow into the drip bucket. Therefore some parts of it sit lower to the firepot, therefore burning hotter.
How to Find Hot Spots on The Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
Finding the hot spots is not hard and it doesn’t take long. You will have to spend a little bit of money, but it’s not as expensive as ruining a rack of ribs. Here’s what you need to perform your own biscuit test.
What You Need
- Pit Boss pellet grill (or any other type of grill)
- 2 packs canned biscuits (depending on the size of your grill)
Step 1: Preheat The Grill
Pull the grill away from the house or any other combustible materials. Close the sear plate on the flame broiler, as you want to cook the biscuits over indirect heat.
Follow the cooking instructions on the biscuit packaging. We cooked the biscuits for 25 minutes at 350°F.
It doesn’t matter what type of pellets you use, as most of the biscuits won’t be edible. Remember, you’re doing the test to find out where the grill burns the hottest.
Don’t place the biscuits on the grill, until it reaches the set cooking temperature. Allowing the grill to get hot enough, will prevent them from sticking to the grates.
Step 2: Place the Biscuits on the Grill
Place the biscuits evenly spaced on all the racks, so they’re not touching. Removing the top rack makes it easier to put the biscuits in the back. Be sure to use gloves as it will be hot.
We placed 16 biscuits total on the Pit Boss Pro Series 820. Close the lid and allow the biscuits to cook.
Step 3: Monitor the Biscuits
Check the biscuits to ensure they are cooking properly. After 10-15 minutes, we opened the lid to see how the biscuits were cooking. You’ll be amazed at how unevenly they cook.
Step 3: Take Pictures to Refer To
After they are done cooking, use a spatula and gloves to remove them from the grill. Place them on a cookie sheet in the same order they were placed on the grill. As you can see from the image above, we placed a toothpick on the one that was closest to the hopper.
This was purely for our informational purpose. It allowed us to know where the biscuit was on the grill, so we wouldn’t forget.
Why You Should Test With Canned Biscuits
If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video on people testing for hot spots, some will use toast and others will use biscuits. You’ll get the best results by using biscuits instead of toast. Why?
A pellet grill cooks like a convection oven, in that it circulates hot air/smoke to cook foods. Therefore, when cooking a biscuit, it will rise and cook at the same time, allowing you to see where it’s getting the most heat. With toast, you’ll only be able to see what’s happening at the bottom of the bread.
The biscuits will be able to help you understand and how the air flows throughout the cooking chamber in the Pit Boss pellet grill.
Where Are the Hot Zones on a Pit Boss?
Once you’ve cooked the biscuits, you’ll want to take plenty of pictures or a video you can refer back to in case you forget, or want to compare it to a new smoker/grill purchase in the future.
So, now let me explain where the hot zones were in my Pit Boss grill. Remember, they’ll likely be different from yours.
Top Rack Results
After 25 minutes on the grill, we removed the biscuits. They probably could have cooked a little longer, but we decided we had enough information on the hot zones.
The top of the biscuits didn’t cook very quickly and wasn’t as brown as they could have been. However, when we tore into one, it was cooked completely and we were actually able to eat one after putting some jelly on it.
The bottom of the biscuits had a nice golden brown color to them, especially, the two that were placed in the middle of the top rack.
What we learned was the hottest spot was the middle of the grill, regardless of whether it’s the top or bottom rack. This is likely because this is the part of the rack that sits directly over the firepot.
Bottom Rack Results
As you can see from the image above the tops of the biscuits on the bottom rack turned a light golden brown color. That said, we could’ve cooked them a little longer, however, we didn’t want to char the bottoms.
The bottoms on some of the biscuits burnt, especially, the ones in the middle of the cooking grates and closest to the front of the grill. Why is this? Well, this is the part of the grill that sits closest to the firepot, therefore, gets more heat.
The biscuits closest to the hopper got more heat than the ones closest to the chimney. Maybe that was due to the ventilation from the chimney? I’m not sure why I got the results I got, all I know is that my Pit Boss grill has huge hot spots and this test will help me better understand where to place the food the next time I cook.
How Would I Use This Information?
Now that I know where the hot spots are in my grill, I know that if I want to use my grill as a warmer until other food is cooked, I’d place the food in the corner on the top or bottom shelf away from the middle.
If I want food to cook faster, I’d want to place my food in the middle towards the front of the grill.
What to Do About the Hot Zones?
After understanding where the hot spots are, what do you do? To reduce the hot spots, you need to find a way to help the grill disperse heat more evenly across the cooking grates. There are several videos on YouTube that will show you how to create a DIY heat deflector plate to place over the current one.
However, the best and easiest method for reducing the hot spots is to purchase a set of GrillGrates you place on top of the cooking racks. These GrillGrates are designed to fit any grill and won’t compromise the hot air/smoke circulation inside the cooking chamber.
- New & Improved Grilling Surface
- ELIMINATES FLARE-UPS: Stop shuffling your food around to avoid charring. GrillGrates patented design eliminates flare ups so common to all gas grills. The raised rails amplify heat while aluminum conducts heat efficiently to eliminate those pesky hot and cold spots.
- NEVER RUSTS: Made from highly conductive hard anodized aluminum.
- EVEN HEAT: No more hot spots or cold spots
- BOLD SEAR MARKS: GrillGrates deliver restaurant quality sear marks every time
Before ordering, you’ll need to measure the inside of the grill, to ensure you get the right size. The interlocking hard-anodized aluminum panels fit directly on top of the current grates, reducing the hot/cold spots, resulting in more evenly cooked foods.
If you’re tired of ruining foods, then the GrillGrates are a good investment that will help you cook more efficiently on your Pit Boss grill.
All grills have hot spots and pellet grills are no exception. Hopefully, this biscuit test has shown you how easy it is to do your own hot zone test. The hot zones may be different in your grill, even if you have the same model as I do.
Next time you’re at the supermarket, pick up some cheap canned biscuits to do your own biscuit hot zone test. It can be done for any type of charcoal, gas, or vertical, or horizontal pellet grill.
It’s an easy way to see where the hots spots are in your grill and then you can start cooking like a boss!