You should see a small trail of thin, blue smoke coming from your Traeger pellet grill while it’s on.
If you don’t see smoke (or less than usual), follow the troubleshooting steps in this guide. You’ll learn how to get your Traeger smoking again and boost its maximum smoke output.
If your Traeger isn’t smoking, look for a defective auger motor, dirty fire pot, broken hot rod, problems with the controller or temperature probe, or damp or poor-quality pellets. You can purchase a smoke tube and put it on the grate to boost the smoke output.
How Much Smoke Should Come Out of a Traeger Pellet Grill?
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A pellet grill produces less smoke than its offset smoker counterpart. In fact, if you only see a small amount of smoke, that’s likely the correct amount.
So, keep in mind that you might not actually be experiencing an issue! In fact, my Traeger pellet grill produces the most smoke when it’s preheating.
As you’ll learn in more detail in the steps below, if you set a higher temperature, you’ll see less smoke. A temperature of 160°F to 225°F produces the most smoke on a Traeger pellet grill.
How to Fix a Traeger That’s Not Smoking
Follow the steps below to identify and fix common issues that cause your Traeger to stop smoking.
Step 1: Clean the Temperature Probe
Your Traeger uses a sensor to determine the grill’s temperature and adjust the heat as needed.
If the probe is dirty, it may produce an inaccurate reading, causing the grill’s temperature to swing. If the temperature gets too high, you may not see smoke.
To fix this, clean the temperature sensor with a soft cloth and wipe away any grime or build-up.
Don’t use any cleaning products on the probe that could cause damage or leave behind anything you wouldn’t want to transfer to your food.
Step 2: Ensure You’re Using Dry, Quality Pellets
Low-quality wood pellets crumble easily, and wet pellets may not even ignite.
Neither of these options will produce the desired amount of smoke you’re looking for, and they may even jam the auger.
The quality of pellets you use in a pellet grill affects the flavor, efficiency, and performance of your cooking.
Quality pellets are pure wood with low moisture, high density, and consistent size and shape. This makeup ensures even burning, less ash, and a palatable smoky flavor.
Always purchase pellets made from the manufacturer or another reliable source. Lastly, always ensure you’re using pellets designed for a smoker.
Step 3: Confirm the Vents are Open and Not Blocked
Although the goal is to keep smoke inside the cooking chamber, your Traeger has vents on the side (or back, depending on the model).
These vents ensure oxygen flows to keep the fire going. The fire would suffocate without air entering the vents.
In that case, inspect the vents to ensure you don’t have anything blocking them which could restrict airflow.
If you notice grime build-up, this could also hinder airflow, so give the vents a good cleaning if necessary.
Step 4: Lower the Cooking Temperature to 160°F to 225°F
Cooking temperature varies by meat type—however, a lower temperature creates more smoke output.
Many new BBQ enthusiasts set the smoker temp too high, resulting in sub-optimal smoke. Check multiple recipe sources to see if you’re cooking at an above-average temperature for a particular meat.
Remember, smoking at a lower temperature for longer results in the best-tasting meals. If you have a non-WiFIRE Traeger, you’ll have a SMOKE setting, which sets the temperature to 160°F.
Step 5: Purchase a Smoke Tube to Generate More Smoke
A smoke tube is a cylinder-shaped device (usually 12 inches long) that holds and slowly burns wood pellets.
You place it on your grill grate to produce additional smoke to enhance your food’s flavor without significantly affecting the grill’s temperature.
It can be a useful accessory because, although pellet grills create smoke, they don’t generate as much as a traditional smoker like a charcoal or offset model.
Maintenance Tips for Optimal Performance and Smoke Quality
Taking care of your pellet grill ensures you have fewer mechanical issues and extends its lifespan. Here are a few ways to do that.
Tip 1: Clean Your Grill Regularly
Here’s why it’s imperative to routinely clean your pellet grill.
- Prevents Buildup: Accumulated ash and grease can block essential grill components.
- Ensures Even Heating: Excess residue disrupts heat distribution, affecting cooking times.
- Deters Rust: Grease and food remnants can lead to rust, damaging the grill over time.
- Avoids Fire Risks: Built-up grease can cause flare-ups or fires, risking grill damage.
- Preserves Flavor: Old residues can compromise the taste of your food.
Here’s how to clean your Traeger pellet grill to ensure optimal smoke output.
- Empty Ash: Clean the fire pot and cooking chamber with a shop vac after every few uses.
- Scrub Grates: Brush the grates after each use and occasionally wash them with soapy water.
- Clean Grease System: Scrub the grease tube and drip pan every 3 months to prevent flare-ups.
- Wipe Exterior: Maintain the exterior with a damp cloth and all-natural cleaner.
Tip 2: Store Your Traeger in a Dry Area and Use a Cover
Storing your Traeger grill in a dry area and using a cover when not in use helps prevent rust and corrosion.
Your pellet grill has electrical elements that shouldn’t be exposed to rain for extended periods.
Additionally, if you live in a state with extremely cold winters, move your smoker to your garage, or somewhere it’s not exposed to the elements or harsh temperatures.
Tip 3: Replace Parts As They Become Worn
Over time, certain parts of your Traeger grill may wear down or become less efficient. For example, the fan, auger motor, and heating rod are major components you may need to replace.
However, you typically won’t have to worry about this for the first few years you own your grill. The Traeger warranty should cover the replacements if you encounter issues before that.
You can buy authentic replacement parts from Traeger’s shop to ensure you don’t obtain low-quality imitations (my nice way of saying knock-offs 😉).
Frequently Asked Questions
Below I’ve answered some of the most common questions about Traeger grill smoking issues.
Why Is My Traeger Not Burning the Pellets?
Your Traeger may not burn pellets due to a faulty auger motor, blocked fire pot, defective hot rod, issues with the controller or temperature probe, or damp or poor-quality pellets.
How Do I Get My Traeger to Smoke More?
You can get your Traeger pellet grill to smoke more by turning on Super Smoke mode, lowering the temperature, experimenting with different pellets, or using a smoke tube.
How Long Does It Take for a Traeger to Start Smoking?
After turning your Traeger on, you should see smoke in about 5 minutes.
Does a Traeger Smoke at 250°F?
Yes, your Traeger produces visible smoke at 250°F.
Your Traeger not producing smoke can be frustrating. Thankfully, you can resolve most issues by examining the power supply, pellet feed, air circulation, hot rod, and fire pot.
While these troubleshooting steps may seem daunting at first, they’re quite straightforward once you understand the mechanics of your smoker.
Lastly, if you want to boost your grill’s smoke output, consider purchasing a smoke tube and placing it on the grill grate.