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9 Tips For Filling Traeger Hoppers!

How to fill Traeger hopper

If you have grown up eating barbecue from offset smokers or possibly cooked your own barbecue by smoking on charcoal grills, switching to a Traeger pellet grill can be a bit different. Whether you are used to fire management via wood or charcoal, you need to get used to how your Traeger uses wood pellets. 

You need to make sure you are filling your hopper properly and keeping an eye on it, manage how many pellets you need for that brisket, and figure out whether you are leaving any leftover pellets in your grill or not.


What does filling the Traeger hopper do?

Your Traeger grill needs wood pellets to cook, so filling the hopper allows for you to smoke and grill. Without wood pellets, Traeger grills do not operate. The entire system is based on hardwood pellets from the hopper, to the auger, and to the fire-pot. 

So filling the hopper is how you can cook great barbecue.


Why should you fill the Traeger hopper?

You should fill the hopper so your Traeger can smoke your meat low-and-slow for great wood-flavored barbecue. With any type of grill or smoker, running out of fuel mid-cook is no fun. 

The best way to counter that is by making sure your Traeger pellet hopper is full at the start of your cook. 

While the newer Ironwood and Timberline grills have a built-in pellet sensor to let you know when your hopper is running low on pellets, the Pro series does not come with that feature built-in. 

However, you can purchase a sensor that will integrate with the current Pro models. 

Still, the best practice is to make sure your hopper is full at the start of the cook to allow you as much cooking time as possible before needing to add more.


How full do you fill Traeger hopper?

You should fill the hopper full but not overflowing. You want to make sure you have plenty of wood pellets for smoking but not leave any spilling out of the hopper onto the ground when you go to close the hopper.


Can you put too many pellets in a Traeger?

If you can safely close your hopper, you are good to go. You just really want to make sure that it is not overflowing, and that there are not any pellets blocking you from closing the hopper.


When should I refill my Traeger pellets?

If you have a newer Ironwood or Timberline grill, the pellet sensor will go off when the hopper gets low, letting you know you need to refill the hopper. While you do not need to manage the fire as you would on a traditional offset smoker, checking in every few hours on the level of the pellets is not a bad idea. 

If you notice the hopper is looking under half full and you know that your brisket still has hours to go, you may want to add more pellets to ensure you do not run out before the time to pull your food.


How long will a full hopper of pellets last in a Traeger?

If you are looking to smoke a brisket or a pork shoulder, the Traeger will use roughly a pound of pellets an hour, while if you want to sear steaks or grill burgers, your grill will use around 3 pounds an hour. 

The Traeger Pro Series has an 18-pound pellet hopper, while the Ironwood series has a 20-pound hopper, and the Timberline series can hold 24 pounds of pellets. So you should not have a problem smoking a brisket on a single hopper of pellets, regardless of which of the three main series you have.


Can I leave pellets in the Traeger hopper?

You can leave pellets in your Traeger’s pellet hopper if you are going to be using your grill again soon. Wood pellets will absorb moisture the longer they are exposed to the elements, so if you are putting your Traeger away for an extended time, you will want to remove the pellets and store them properly in an air-tight container. 

If you fail to keep pellets dry, the added moisture can affect how well the pellets burn and will cause the pellets to expand, which can cause jams in the auger.

If you are planning to use your Traeger again within the week and want to use the same flavor pellets, just make sure you are covering your grill or taking it inside once it is cooled off.


Final Thoughts

While using a Traeger pellet grill for the first time may be daunting, managing your pellet hopper is not difficult and will result in great wood-flavored barbecue. Just make sure you keep that hopper filled and your pellets dry, and your Traeger will treat you well.