What To Do When Pellet Grill Runs Out Of Pellets Mid Cook?

It happens to the best of us; you’re in the middle of cooking and realize the temperature has dipped or the pellet grill/smoker shuts down and you’re out of pellets.

When the LEr error code message flashes on your pellet grill’s digital control panel and your cooking is being cut short by a cold grill, it can be frustrating. If you get this message it means that your grill dipped below 125 degrees for more than 10 minutes

Let’s take a look at “What to do when pellet grill runs out of pellets mid-cook” and you get low level pellet notification.

Pellet Grill Runs Out Of Pellets

What to do when pellet grill runs out of pellets mid cook

First, check the temperature of your grill. If the grill is still set to the same temperature, you can refill the hopper without any problems.

However, if the pellet grill was turned off and there are no more pellets in the hopper. Remove food first, then turn off the grill, and finally make sure the grill is cool. Before you fill the hopper with pellets, it’s best to vacuum out the firepot. Now Fill the auger with enough pellets to fill the holes in the firepot, then wait for some of them to fall into the firepot. You can put the grill back together now, and be sure to follow the normal starting sequence to get your pellet grill fired up.

Usually, when a pellet grill gives low pellet level notification there are two reasons.

  1. Hopper is full with pellet but when you open the hopper and see a funnel shape has formed in the middle.
  2. Or Oops, you seem to have ran out of pellets in the middle of a cook.


1. Pellet are Tunneling/funneling in Hopper

Tunneling is a fairly common problem with pellet grills. Tunneling happens when the pellets in the hopper form a funnel shape while they’re being fed into your pellet grill hopper. The grill funnels all the pellets towards the center, but then a lot of them get stuck on the sides.

More and more grills are adopting newer, more reliable designs that help to reduce hopper tunneling/funneling issues. But even so, it still happens occasionally.

Tips for tunneling/funneling issues in the hopper

If you find that pellets are escaping out of the side of the pot, try this.

  • One common cause for this is that your pellets are clumping together. If the pellets are sticking to one another or tunneling occasionaly, you can stir them around in the hopper with a long spoon or spatula, being careful to keep your hand away from the bottom of hopper.
  • If you notice excessive tunneling, it might be due to damage from the inside of the hopper. This will make more material fall into the chute and may explain the excessive tunneling. If you need to replace damaged parts, do so carefully.
  • Clean the hopper and check for blockages! If the hopper is full of saw dust or any other form of debris, this can increase the frequency of tunneling.

2. Running Out of Pellets

While tunneling may only give a false low pellet level notification. What to do when you actually run out of pellets in the middle of a cook. The grill may be out of pellets, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your cooking! This is what you should do when the hopper runs out of pellet.

First, check the temperature of the pellet grill.

  1. If your grill is maintaining the same temperature, just refill the hopper with more wood pellets. If there’s too much air or empty space or pockets within the auger, it can cause a small but noticeable drop in temperature for the next few minutes. your grill should be back to a set temperature momentarily.
  1. If your grill’s temperature is dropping or it has turned itself off, It sounds like you’re out of pellets and both the hopper and auger are empty. In this situation you have to restart a pellet grill.

How To Restart A Pellet Grill When You Run Out Of Pellets In The Middle Of Cook

When you run out of pellets while cooking, restarting a pellet grill can be a little more complicated. That’s why I created a step-by-step tutorial to quickly get back to cooking!

1. Check the Hopper

You’ll first want to make sure there are no pellets in the hopper, and that no other error codes are preventing it from working properly.

2. Turn Off the Grill & Wait for the Grill to Cool

Turn off the grill If you haven’t already. Pellets are transported from the hopper to the firepot, where they will cook over flames. If the grill is off for a longer period of time, there won’t be any new pellets being fed into the fire.

3. Remove Your Food from the Grill

Remove the food from the grill and place it in the oven to keep it warm. To prevent the food from drying while you get the smoker working properly again, preheat your oven to the lowest temperature. Cover the food with aluminum foil, if necessary, and place it in the oven.

4. Remove the Grill Grates

It’s important to wait until the grill has cooled down before touching it. Once it’s cooled, remove the grill grates.

5. Pull Out the Drip Tray and Heat Baffle.

6. Empty Firepot to Ensure it is Not Full of Pellets

The firepot is a central component of any pellet grill. It needs to have some free space before adding any more fuel. If the firepot is full, then it needs to be emptied first, before adding more fuel.

7. Clean the Fire Pot and Inside of the Grill

It’s time to clean up that ash! Take a vacuum and clean the firepot and inside of the pellet grill. You should really clean your grill more often than you think. It can be tedious, but it’s worth it to give your grill a deep clean once in a while.

8. Load the Hopper With Pellets

Load your favorite pellets into the hopper. Now is an excellent time to change the pellet’s flavor and even switch if you run out of pellets early in the cooking process.

If you don’t have the same flavored pellets, it won’t be an issue.

9. Put the Grill on a High Setting

Turn the grill on high, which is 500°F on the Traeger grill. With the auger rotating, the pellets in the hopper get funneled into the firepot so they can be combusted.

10. Turn Off the Grill after the Auger is Filled with Pellets.

Wait for a few minutes until you see 5-7 pellets in the firepot. Now turn off the grill.

11. Put Everything Back Together in the Grill

Let the grill cool down and put all the internal pieces like the heat baffle, drip tray, and grill grates.

12. To Finish Grilling, turn the Grill Back on and Resume Your Cook

The pellets will ignite and create smoke as you set the cooking temperature.

If your pellet grill gets too hot and starts to rise by more than 50°F above the temperature you set it, wait at least 1-2 minutes to see if it stabilizes and then comes back down.

Too many pellets in the grill can result in pellet grill fires and explosions, so it’s important to know how to prevent this from happening.

If there is a larger buildup of pellets in the firepot, then the fire will start burning hotter & the temperature will rise quickly. Once the temperature in the pellet grill/smoker stabilizes, put your food back on grates resume cooking.

We recommend that you wait 10-15 minutes before placing the food back on the grill. This will allow the inside of it to heat up and come to the desired temperature.

Conclusion: What to do When Pellet Grill Runs Out of Pellets Mid Cook

It is important not to let your pellet grill run out of pellets, as this will result in an uneven cook. To avoid this, it is best to have a backup supply on hand and check the hopper before cooking and make sure they are always full during cooking.

What Happens When the pellet grill Runs Out of Pellets During a Cook?

When pellet grills run out of pellets, they will stop producing smoke. The cooking process is halted as a result. There is no need to worry about running out of pellets during a cook because The grill will send a notification alerting the user when it’s running low on pellets and needs more.

When this happens, add the next size of fuel pellets to the hopper. Then the pellet smokers will automatically feed pellets when they’re needed. In order to fire up the pellet grill again, please make sure you’ve followed the right steps for starting the pellet grill.

Can you add pellets to pellet grill while cooking?

Some people ask whether or not you can add pellets to a pellet grill while cooking. The answer is yes, you can add pellets to the hopper while cooking.

Pellets can be added regardless of whether the grill is on or off. To get rid of air pockets in the hopper, make sure you gently shuffle the pellets with a long spatula before they enter into the auger.

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