When you spend your hard-earned bucks on your pellet grill, you want to get a good return on your investment.
Understanding the different settings on the controller can take you a long way toward reaching that goal.
I know you are here because you just bought a new Z Pellet Grill and you are looking to smoke your first brisket.
But how do you use that smoke setting on the controller and how does it work?
Let’s take a look at the Z grill Smoke setting, which will make your grilling journey with your grill easy and rewarded too!
So, what’s a Smoke Setting on the Z grill?
The average temperature on the Smoke setting on your Z grill is 167℉, but expect to see large swings from 158℉ to 194℉.
In this mode, smoke is not produced continually, it expels in cycles of every 5 to 10 minutes.
Today we are going to explain in detail the Smoke Setting on the Z grill.
So you can learn how, when, and why you should use it.
What is Food Smoking?
Smoking is one of the most delicious and most ancient methods of cooking.
But do you know, it is one of the most mysterious cooking processes too.
In the smoking process, food is exposed to smoke to preserve, brown, and add a delicious flavor.
This oldest cooking technique probably developed right after cooking with fire.
The smoking process is done by hanging meat or placing it on racks inside a grill cooking chamber that traps the smoke in which the smoke is created by a hardwood fire.
4 Basic Methods of Smoking Food
You can smoke your food by using four methods- cold smoking, warm smoking, hot smoking, and liquid smoking in this beginner’s guide to smoking.
In cold smoking is the food remains raw, it is not cooked thoroughly.
Food is exposed to low-temperature smoke keeping it away from the heat source, for purposes of preservation and flavor rather than cooking it.
Cold smoking uses smoke from wood at ultra-low heat.
The smoking temperature of your food is kept between 68 degrees to 86 degrees.
In Cold-smoking, food does not cook, so they are often cured first.
In this cold smoking, method meat needs to sit for an extended period without heat to kill off any bacteria.
In this process, the food is salted, fermented, or cured before the smoking process.
It ensures all moisture is removed; this also prevents bacterial growth.
Typically, cold smoking is done in a smoker, it generally has a separate vessel for producing the smoke.
Warm smoking is one of the safer and easier ways of smoking.
In a warm smoking method, the temperature should be kept around 77 degrees to 104 degrees.
This method is not used very often, just used for a very small number of recipes.
In the Hot smoking method, meat is exposed to smoke that’s hot enough to slowly cook them through 126 degrees to 176 degrees.
You can add flavor to meat in two ways in hot smoking-
1. By imparting smoky flavor compounds onto the surface of the food.
2. Through slow-cooking, which can make certain cuts of meat incredibly tender.
In hot smoking, food is cooked within 126 degrees to 176 degrees temperature which produces food that is moist, flavorful and bacteria is cooked off.
If the temperature goes above 185 °F, the meat will shrink considerably.
Hot smoked food is safe to be eaten straight away.
You can also reheat it or further cook it.
In hot smoking, meat is hung first to develop a pellicle.
Then it is smoked from an hour to as long as 24 hours.
You will get your meat fully cooked, moist and flavorful in hot smoking.
If you already have the Z grill, you will find your Z grill one of the best grills for hot smoking.
Liquid smoke was originally invented by Everest H Wright.
Liquid smoke can be produced naturally or artificially.
It is generally formed by condensing the smoke from wood without any food additives.
This is a water-soluble yellow to red liquid which is used as a substitute for cooking with wood smoke while retaining a similar smoky flavor.
In liquid smoking, the flavoring liquid is sprayed onto foods or used as a dip.
It can be used to flavor any food, meat, or vegetable.
Liquid smoking can be very handy if you don’t have time to smoke.
What is Smoke Setting on Z Pellet Grill?
The SMOKE setting on your pellet grill is not just useful to start your grill.
But you can also use that to get the maximum amount of smoke into your food.
A smoke setting is a particular mode that creates maximum smoke.
In this mode, smoke is released by allowing the fire to vanish right before delivering more pellets that smolder before coming to flame.
When you set your grill at a higher temperature, the pellet burns cleanly and produces a thin and bluish smoke.
But when you cook at lower temperatures it will produce more smoke in your cook as the pellets are smoldering.
Normally you can see the smoke in cycles at temperatures of about 250 ℉.
However, the smoke comes only periodically.
It is not expelled continually throughout the cook on your grill.
The SMOKE setting is especially for smoking and adding smoke flavor to your foods.
Smoke setting on your Z Grills produces maximum smoke.
In this mode, the temperature of the grill will swing between around 158℉ to 194℉ with cycles of smoke released every 5 to 10 minutes.
Using SMOKE setting at the first hour of cooking is a great time as it ensures your meat gets that delicious smoky flavor.
After one or a couple of hours set your grill to a higher temperature to ensure your food is cooked thoroughly.
So, you can definitely cook on the Smoke setting.
Keep in mind it won’t provide too much temperature to your food but it’s going to give the maximum amount of smoke.
What is the Smoke Setting Temperature on Z Pellet Grill?
The average temperature of the Z grill on the Smoke setting is 167℉.
But you may see large temperature swings from 158℉ to 194℉ on this setting.
If you are using Australian hardwood pellets, you can get a lot more heat per kg than oak/fruit varieties.
Especially in hot weather conditions, the minimum pellet delivered for continuously maintaining the fire may not allow the grill to drop below 176℉ in the SMOKE setting.
Maintaining the high temperature is not a problem, but if you particularly want a lower temperature i.e is closer to 167℉, mixing some oak-based pallets that release less heat would help.
Can I Cook On The SMOKE Setting on My Z Grill?
Yes! you can cook on the SMOKE setting on Z grill.
But because the temperature is very low, only using the SMOKE setting is not suitable for a full cook.
The meat won’t get up to temperature.
The first hour of cooking is the best time to use the Smoke setting.
This first period of the cook helps to impart a more smoky flavor.
It ensures your meat gets that delicious smoky flavor.
When you use the Smoke setting on your grill, the temperature can range from 158 to 194 degrees.
The visible smoke will come in cycles instead of expelling constant.
After the Smoke setting for one or a couple of hours, you will need to set the grill to a higher temperature.
It ensures that your food is properly cooked.
How Much Smoke Should You See During a Cook on Z grill?
If you are going to Smoke on Z Grill, you may wonder how much smoke should I see during a cook on my grill?
How much smoke should the chimney be releasing during the SMOKE setting?
In fact excess smoke continuously coming from your grill is a problem.
It may happen because of a lot of wood dust in the pellets.
You can see huge smoke expelled during the first 4-5 minutes of the start-up of your Z grill.
But it is NOT what you will see during a normal cook.
As a large number of pellets dropped into the fire-pot to establish a good fire, you can see a large amount of smoke during the start-up cycle.
When you set the grill at a low temperature (< 275℉), smoke is released in cycles every 2-3 minutes.
The controller plays an essential role to maintain the temperature.
It manages the wood pellets feeding and the fan speed to allow the fire to die down.
Then more pellets are delivered into the fire-pot which smolder expelling a nice batch of smoke.
This is the only reason; you can see larger temperature swings at lower temperature settings.
But this occurs only to maintain a smoke cycle.
So, you can see the smoke only periodically, not constantly throughout the cook.
You can see visible Smoke in cycles up to a temperature of around 250℉.
Beyond this temperature, the fire will burn hotter and cleaner and it expels very less smoke.
But did you know, why there is more smoke visible during the winter than during hot and dry weather?
It is just because of moisture contain in the wood pellets.
Because of moisture contained in wood pellets, some of the “smoke” coming out of the chimney is actually water vapor.
So, you have to consider this thing in cold weather as the amount of smoke may appear to be much more than during hot weather.
How Much Smoke Is Needed For a Good Flavor?
If you want that nice smoky flavor for your food, you need a small amount of smoke gently blowing over the food.
If you think that too much smoke gives a nice smoky flavor, then it’s a myth.
In fact, too much smoke will overpower your food.
If you are not pleased with the amount of smoky flavor you are getting from your grill, you can try changing your wood pellets.
You can use stronger flavored wood pellets like Hickory or Mesquite.
You can use them pure, or mix in with your main pellets.
Using a smoke tube is also a good option for getting a nice smoky flavor.
A smoke tube can increase the amount of smoke.
It also helps add a complimentary smoky flavor to your food.
What If the Temperature Goes up Over 200° F on a Smoke Setting?
On the smoke setting on your grill, the temperature will cycle over a big range as much as 160° F to 195° F.
But you could see a spike up to 200°F for a short time.
You just allow it to run and you will see it slowly cycle up and down.
You can also see this spike if you are starting up the grill.
For preventing this, you can keep the lid open for about 10 minutes to allow some of the initial pellets to burn off before shutting the lid.
So that you will help prevent that initial temperature spike too.
Keep in mind it is very easy for the temperature to go up fast, but hard for it to come down quickly, except in very cold weather.
Does the fan run constantly on the Smoke setting on the Z grill?
Yes, the fan run continuously on Smoke setting on your Z grill.
But on the smoke setting, there is a low temperature set on the controller.
So, trying to maintain a low temperature fan runs at a lower speed.
Is it ok if the temperature hovers around 180°F or so in smoke mode?
Yes, it is absolutely fine if your grill temperature hovers around 180 or so in the Smoke setting.
Each grill will be a bit different based on the controller software and the heat loss characteristics.
The temperature is also impacted by outside temperature, wind, etc.
Why my Z grill smokes quickly on the smoke setting, but never smoke at desired temperature?
The Z grill only smokes at lower temperatures like any other pellet grill.
It should only smoke a small amount at a lower temperature.
The big cloud of smoke at the beginning when you start up should never be seen during normal cooking.
Now you know everything about the SMOKE setting on your Z grill.
Using the SMOKE setting efficiently can change the game of your cooking.
It also helps to enhance your cooking experience on your favorite Z grill.