Can You Leave A Smoker Unattended?[ 7 Tips]

You want to cook a brisket on a smoker/pellet grill, but you’ve been told it might take up to 16 hours. We all know how demanding it can be to watch it on a charcoal grill. Does cooking on a smoker/pellet grill require the same attention and effort?

The first thing that comes into your mind is “Can you leave a smoker unattended? Yes, it is safe to leave a smoker/pellet grill unattended as long as you expect it to be running for not more than three hours. It is also important that you never leave your pellet grill unattended when it is cooking at high temperatures.

can you leave a smoker unattended

Can You Leave A Smoker Unattended?

Pellet grills/smoker burns wood pellets. The pellets are burned at a lower temperature than a traditional gas or charcoal barbecue. The heat source is controlled with a thermostat and the pellets are fed automatically through an auger to the grill.

When cooking certain recipes on a smoker like the Traeger, your food can need to cook for up to 20 hours. It can be frustrating when you have to pause what you’re doing just to get the grilling finished.

We all love the convenience of leaving smokers unattended while we enjoy the great outdoors. But, have you ever thought about whether is it safe to leave smoker on overnight?

Well, in some states it is not legal to leave a lit fire unattended outside of a building.

You can leave your smoker/pellet grill unattended for a short amount of time, in the following conditions

  • Many pellet grills can be left unattended for 4-6 hours
  • If they are set on low heat setting
  • The smoker is at least four feet away from any buildings and isn’t sitting right up against the wall or any wooden material.
  • You’ll also need to have cleaned the grill beforehand because proper maintenance of the grill should eliminate potential grease fires or flare-ups. While grease buildup and a back-burn up the auger can lead to a fire.
  • Pellet grills and smokers should have enough pellets because you don’t want your grill to run out of pellets while you’re away from them. Make sure you are nearby when cooking your food using really high pellet grill settings for faster cooking time. This is because you’ll need to monitor the temperature to make sure it doesn’t exceed certain thresholds.

Pellet grills are easy to use for all levels of experience, making them perfect for beginners & experts. But it doesn’t mean that you can leave a smoker unattended for long periods of time or you can leave the smoker unattended for overnight cooking.

Rest assured that we’re going to cover everything you need to know about leaving smoker unattended for overnight cooking.

You’ll be able to do other tasks while the pellet grill takes care of itself.

Is It Safe To Leave Smoker On Overnight?

It is safe to leave the smoker/pellet grill unattended as long as you do not leave your smoker on for more than a few hours at a time. For periods of up to 3-4 hours, it is worth leaving smoker unattended.

Pellet grills are one of the safest and the best thing about them is they’re super easy to use. Simply put in a pouch of wood pellets, set the temperature, and 10 minutes later (once heated), you can put in your meat. It’s just that easy!

But some people might think it is totally safe to leave a pellet grill unattended for a longer period of time or overnight and totally forget it altogether.

The pellet smoker is the perfect solution for those who want to utilize a full-size grill without the constant need for tending to the fire. It provides delicious, restaurant-quality food at a fraction of the time and effort spent on other grills that don’t even come close.

You should probably stay home and monitor the cooking process every few hours or so, especially if it’s cooking for a long time and/or on high.

You could watch a show on your phone or read a book while the grill is cooking. But make sure to stay nearby in case anything happens. We all know that there is always a risk of something going wrong.

There comes a time when you might want some hands-off. Whether it is for going for a walk, going to the gym, going to work, or waking up early and starting before the day does. Or if you are hosting a bbq party and want to smoke meat overnight.

Many modern pellet grills come with WiFi capabilities and provide app-enabled features which make their usage more convenient. For instance, the WiFIRE app Treager has allows you to control your grill wirelessly from your phone or tablet.

Related > > Which Traeger Grills have WiFi/WiFIRE

If you have an app connected to your pellet grill, you can leave a pellet grill unattended as long as you are receiving notifications when your pellet grill needs attention.

If the grill starts getting too hot, you can set notifications so that the app will let you know. That way, you can focus on your work inside while still keeping an eye on the pellet grill out there.

Is it safe to smoke meat overnight?

Briskets, ribs, and entire turkeys, which are larger cuts of meat require longer cooking time.
These are often best cooked low and slow over a period of several hours to achieve optimal tenderness and smokey flavor.

To achieve this result, many people choose to smoke their meat overnight. This process involves setting up your smoker or pellet grill with the appropriate fuel source, preparing your meat with a dry rub or marinade, and then allowing it to smoke slowly for hours on end.

But is it safe to smoke meat overnight?

Yes, it can be safe to smoke meat overnight if you take proper precautions and follow safe cooking practices.

Below are some safety tips to consider if you want to use a smoker/pellet grill to smoke meat overnight.

Safety Tips for Leaving Smoker Unattended and Smoking Meat Overnight

1: The Pellet grill/smoker is at least 4-6 feet away from any buildings

The grill should be placed in a place that won’t catch fire if you aren’t near. Avoid placing your grill near flammable materials, wooden walls, decks, houses, etc. when you leave a pellet grill unattended. If it’s not, take the necessary precautions when cooking to avoid disasters!

I’d recommend moving it 6-8 feet away from the house. Always make sure you only use your grill outdoors and never in basements or indoor areas.

2. Cleaned the grill beforehand

The leading cause of grill fires is when they are not cleaned. Regardless of what BBQ grill you use, grease fires are possible when they haven’t been cleaned appropriately. The best way to avoid getting grease fires or flare-ups when cooking with an outdoor grill is to keep it clean.

Grease buildup and a back-burn up the auger can cause a fire. If you plan on using a pellet grill for overnight smoking meat, then make sure to thoroughly clean it first. Specifically, any of the drip pan areas where grease would accumulate.

Grease is easily deposited especially if you’ve done several greasy cooks consecutively. So using a drip pan can solve this problem.

It’s very rare for pellet grills to catch fire, but for your safety, it is important to clean your grill after every 2-3 meals and light the fire correctly.

By doing this you can make sure accidents like uncontrolled pellet grill fires won’t happen.

There will be occasional hopper fires in the pellet grill too. A hopper fire can only happen when the pellets in the feed tube are ignited, but the auger isn’t turning.

It does take a while for the process to burn all the way back to the hopper.

3. Pellet grills and smokers should have enough pellets

If you want to use a pellet grill for a longer period of time or unattended for a few hours it should have enough pellets because you don’t want your grill to run out of pellets while you’re away from it.

Depending on the temperature of your pellet grill and the outdoor temperature, your pellet grill will burn a different quantity of pellets. Cooking on the “smoke” setting, most pellet grills will use about 1/2 pound of pellets per hour.

Everyone has their pellet grill set up differently, each type of grill burns pellets at different rates, and the weather can change drastically throughout the day.

This is why it’s difficult to make generalizations about pellet grills. If you are leaving the pellet grill unattended for a few hours, make sure you fill-up the tank with pellets before leaving.

4. You can leave a pellet grill unattended for a few hours 3-4 If it is connected to an app

Many modern pellet grills come with WiFi capabilities and provide app-enabled features which make their usage more convenient.

For instance, Traeger’s WiFIRE app allows you to control your grill wirelessly from your phone or tablet. If you are away from your grill you can check your phone for your grill’s status, current temperature, and even pellet capacity. 

5. Weather forecast before cooking overnight on pellet grill Or leaving Pellet Grill Unattended overnight

Check on the weather conditions to see if they are favorable. This is important so you won’t have to leave your grill unattended for too long.

Make sure you are monitoring the weather forecast too. It’s important not to leave your grill unattended, as bad weather will cause damage to the pellet grill and any food inside it if you are away.

6. Set the pellet grill temperature at low

Leaving your smoker/pellet grill unattended overnight whilst it’s at a high temperature can be riskier than intended. However, it is worth bearing in mind that many people do leave their pellet grills for cooking overnight and haven’t had any problems with them.

If you are cooking at high temperatures, like more than 300 F it is crucial to stay nearby.

Some pellet grills/smokers like Traeger grills are designed with a safety feature that the grill does not get too hot.

If your Traeger pellet grill reaches an internal temperature of 550 degrees Fahrenheit, it will send out an alarm. During this alert state, the Power indicator light will turn red.

All the internal components of the Traeger grill will power down after 10 minutes. When you’re away, the grill safety features should prevent any overheating so you don’t have to worry about things getting out of hand.

7. Set the Alarm

If you want to continue smoking overnight on a smoker, set an alarm to monitor the smoker/pellet grill during the entire process. You never want to leave the grill unattended for an extended period of time.

What do I do if my smoker/pellet grill catches on fire?

If you have a pellet grill that catches on fire, do not try to put the fire out with water. This will cause the grease to overheat and could lead to an explosion. Instead, remove the food from the grill and use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to put out the flames.

Read this article 5 Tips to Put Out Pellet Grill Fire.


Pellet grills are very safe to cook with and I do believe that the manufacturers have taken every precaution necessary. Many people cook overnight on pellet grills or have left the pellet grill unattended for a longer period of time.

That being said, I don’t recommend leaving the pellet grill unattended for an extended period of time without checking its progress.


Is it safe to leave an electric smoker unattended?

Leaving an electric smoker unattended can be dangerous and is typically not advised. Even while electric smokers are supposed to be quite safe, mishaps can sometimes occur. For example, if the smoker overheats or the food inside catches fire, a fire may start.
Always place the smoker on a flat, sturdy surface, away from combustible things.
Make sure that the smoker is plugged into a grounded outlet with the appropriate voltage rating.
Related >> How To Use Wood Chips In An Electric Smoker (2022 Guide)
8 Best Wood Chips for Electric Smoker (Ultimate Guide)

4 Best Wifi Electric Smokers 2022- The Ultimate List

Do You Soak Wood Chips For Electric Smokers?

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