Can You Grill On A Traeger Without Smoke?

In the early 1980s, Joe Traeger introduced the pellet grill: Traeger Grills, and remained the sole manufacturer for these backyard smokers for more than 20 years. 

Yes, Joe might have put the price tag up a bit, but we know these things come with their benefits. We know how effortlessly on-point low and slow smoking is on this pellet grill, from the Timberline Model to the Pro, to the portable pellet grill, the Traeger Tailgater.

Whether you’re a Traeger owner or a soon-to-be, you may be wondering if it’s possible to grill on a Traeger pellet grill, and if it produces smoke or not.

Well, here we present the honest truth: whether you can grill on a Traeger without smoke. Plus we share some easy tips on how to reduce smoke on a Traeger if it’s smoking too much for your liking. 

Can You Grill On A Traeger Without Smoke?

Pellet grills are known for their ease of use and stunning low and slow smoking. But, most Traeger grills can actually go up to 500°F, which is much higher than you would ever “smoke” something, right?

If you ask around, you’ll hear the sweet spot for smoking is around 225-250°F. This is because at this temperature, the wood isn’t fully combusting, and so it produces a lot more smoke as a by-product.

So what happens at 500°F? This bears the question: can you actually grill on a Traeger without smoke at all?

Well, although it’s not the hottest of temperatures for a good sear, you can grill on a Traeger at 500°F. But, because pellet grills rely on burning wood pellets to produce heat, there will always inevitably be SOME smoke.

This means you can’t grill on a Traeger without smoke at all, but this doesn’t mean you can’t reduce the amount of smoke your Traeger produces.

Ways To Reduce Smoke On A Traeger

So what, just because you can’t use a Traeger without producing smoke doesn’t mean you can’t minimize it. If done right, used on high heat with lighter smoking woods, you can drastically reduce the amount of smoke your Traeger produces. 

So, if you’re using your pellet girl on a balcony or just simply conscious of the smoke, you can still use your Traeger with much less smoke being produced. 

Here are best strategies to reduce smoke on a Traeger or other pellet grill.

Clean Your Traeger Regularly

The first step is pretty obvious, but if you hadn’t noticed already keeping your Traeger clean noticeably reduces the smoke produced, particularly on startup. 

This is because, after every use the fire pot is left partially filled with half-burnt pellets and excess wood dust and ash. On start-up, and throughout the cook, this can lead to temperature swings, and inconsistent smoke.

Get out the ash vacuum and simply vacuum your pellet grill, before each and every use. You’ll be surprised at just how much of a difference it will make, to both the cook quality as well as reducing unnecessary smoke. 

If you haven’t cleaned it a while you’ll start to notice your pellet grill getting too hot, or even getting too cold and preventing it from burning entirely, leading to the low temperature error.

Not good. A simple clean is the way to go.

Grill On A High Heat

The sweet spot for smoking on pellet grills is between 225°F and 250°F. This is when you get the most smoke for your wood pellets. But, if you actually increase the temperature, you will get more heat, and much less smoke by-product. 

The science behind this is that at higher temperatures, the compounds within the pellets actually burst into flame rather than smoke. This turns the hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water through vapor, which are both completely invisible when they burn.

Use High Quality Pellets

Cheery & Hickory Traeger Pellets

Here at GrillSimply, we’ve done comparisons between the best smoking wood pellets, and directly comparing Traeger Wood Pellets Vs. BBQ’rs Delight, and Bear Mountain Smoking Pellets. 

Believe me, we know our wood pellets, and I can tell you the quality of a wood pellet is essential in a Traeger. This is because the heat and entirety of the smoke flavor comes from these humble little wood pellets. 

So, if you’ve invested a good whack of money into a premium Traeger, you might as well fill it with the highest quality wood pellets you can find. If you want to reduce the smoke content.

Stick to wood pellets which do not contain any bark, like Traeger branded wood pellets. This just means the actual pellet will produce much less smoke, as bark is known to produce more smoke. 

Light Smoking Woods

All types of smoking woods are not equal. They all have their place, and are famous for different vibrant flavors. Cherry wood, brilliantly sweet for pork butt. A quality oak for chicken wings. A rich hickory for smoking brisket.

So, if you want to reduce the actual smoky flavor on your foods, more than just the actual smoke that comes from the Traeger, then you can choose to use “light” smoking woods.

If you like it light, stay away from mesquite, oak, and hickory, as they are known to pack the strongest smoky flavors. Try food woods like peach, apple, or maple.

Let’s Wrap Up

So, although it’s impossible to cook on a Traeger without smoke, you can take steps to heavily reduce how much is produced, to a similar level as a charcoal grill for example.

You can do this by always keeping your pellet grill clean as a whistle, with no extra debris or wood dust caught in the fire pot. You can turn up the temperature, so less smoke is created during the combustion process, and you can try to use wood pellets without any bark in them, for less smoke production.

If you’re actually a wood smoke-aholic, then check out how to get the most smoke from your Traeger.

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