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How to Change the Pellets in a Traeger Grill

Learn step-by-step how to change the pellets in your old or new Traeger pellet grill and WHY it is important to do this regularly.

traeger grill hopper filled with pellets

Anyone who enjoys a great homemade meal and cooking outdoors should consider investing in a Traeger pellet grill.

Traeger is a popular line of electric pellet smokers that provides anyone with an easy way to cook a wide range of delicious slow-cooked meals.

A Traeger pellet grill creates heat and smoke through the use of small wood pellets, which are funneled through the pellet hopper and auger than then burned for both heat and smoke.

While pellets have a very long shelf life when stored properly, there will be situations in which you will want to remove the pellets from the smoker.

 

When do you Need to Remove the Pellets from a Traeger?

The Traeger smoker uses small condensed wood pellets that can be left in the Traeger hopper for a period of time.

However, if you leave them in the hopper for too long, moisture can get in which can cause damage to the pellets and even cause them to create clogs in the auger.

wood pellets in the auger of a traeger grill

This can cause interior damage and will disrupt your smoking and cooking cycle.

Due to this, it is wise to have them cleared out from time to time. The first situation in which you will want to clean out your Traeger pellets is if you leave your Traeger outdoors and rain is coming.

While you can keep your Traeger fully covered, there is still a chance that moisture from the humid air can get into the hopper.

Many people choose to store their Traeger in a garage or shed when it is not in use.

In these situations, you may not need to clear out the smoker as frequently. However, you should still replace the pellets entirely if it will be a week or longer between uses of the Traeger.

When you do clean the pellets out, it is also a good time to clean out the auger, burner, and other parts of the smoker.

The third situation in which you may want to replace the pellets in your Traeger is when you want a different flavor of the meat.

There are various different flavors of pellets that are commonly used to prepare certain meals. While some may be indifferent to the flavor of smoke used, others may prefer a specific type of wood pellet in various situations.

If you want a specific flavor of smoke, you may need to replace the existing pellets in the smoker with new ones.

 

How to Replace the Pellets in a Traeger Grill

If you have a Traeger and want to remove or change the pellets in it, you should follow the proper instructions.

The right way to replace the pellets in your smoker can vary based on the type of smoker that you have.

 

How to Change Traeger Pellets with Newer Models

traeger ironwood 885 full hopper of wood pellets

If you have a newer model of Traeger, the process of removing the pellets is rather easy.

The newer models typically include any Pro Series, Ironwood Series, or Timberline Series, all of which should have an easy-to-access release door in the hopper.

It is important to ensure that the Traeger is turned off, unplugged, and has had enough time to fully cool down following your last meal preparation.

Once the hopper and Traeger have fully cooled, you can undo the lock on the hopper door, which should open and provide immediate access to all the pellets in the hopper.

Make sure to have a sealable bucket or better yet, a pellet storage container ready to catch the pellets as they fall out.

We are particular fans of this one from Oklahoma Joe’s because of the included strainer that helps you easily shake out the dust that can clog up your auger and keep you from getting a clean burn.

The pellets will quickly fall out of the hopper and the rest can be removed by hand to clear it out.

Once this is done, you can remove the grill grates, drip tray, and heat baffle. This should allow you to see and remove many of the remaining pellets in the auger by hand.  Make sure the Traeger is cool, turned off, and unplugged.

This is also a good opportunity to clean the other interior parts of the Traeger, including the grill trays, buckets, and other features that will get dirty with each use.

You can get rid of any remaining pellets by turning the Traeger back on and setting it to smoke. Within ten minutes, all remaining pellets should be circulated through the hopper and auger, and will be burned up.

a traeger grill fire pot burning some wood pellets

Let the Traeger cool back down and then empty the fire pot of the ashes.

 

How to Replace the Pellets with Older Traeger Models

If you do have an older model Traeger, there is a different process that will need to be followed as they do not have a bottom hopper door.

With these Traegers, you will need to open the top of the hopper and clear out as many pellets as you can by hand.

To make this much easier, unscrew and detach the pellet guard.  Again, make sure the Traeger has completely cooled and is turned off and unplugged.

the pellet guard in a traeger grill

As you will not be able to reach and access all the pellets in the hopper and auger, using a cleaned out dry vacuum such as a small handheld shop vac can be helpful and will quickly suck up all the remaining pellets.

Once this is done, running a quick “Smoke” cycle on the Traeger should help to clear out and burn up all the remaining pellets.

a traeger control panel dial set to the smoke setting

You should also take this opportunity to clean the interior of the Traeger and have it fully wiped and dried down.

You should avoid manually removing parts or touch the interior of the Traeger if it is plugged in or still warm from a prior cycle.

 

What to Do With Old Traeger Pellets

Once you have removed the pellets from the Traeger, you will have several options for what to do with them.

We previously went in depth HERE on how to store your unused Traeger pellets so they last a very long time if you are interested in reading more on the subject.

If the pellets have been sitting in the Traeger for a week or more, especially in high humidity, it would be better to simply dispose of them as they likely have had some moisture get inside them.

This can help you avoid cooking disruptions or internal damage.

If the pellets are still pretty new, you could use them in future smoker uses. It is important to carefully inspect the pellets to determine if they can be used again.

If the pellets have lost their shine, seem to be crumbling easily, or have expanded out of their casing it is usually a sign that they have interior moisture and should not be used.

However, if they still feel sturdy and look new, you should be able to use them again.

In these situations, you should put the old pellets into a tight sealed bucket, or even better, an Oklahoma Joe Pellet Storage Kit to keep them away from humidity.

Also make sure to store them indoors at room temperature to help keep them protected until they are used again.

 

More Traeger Pellet Grill Tips and Resources

closing the lid on a traeger pellet grill

How to Start a Traeger Pellet Grill: Step-by-Step

How to Season a Traeger Pellet Grill: Step-by-Step

Why Isn’t My Traeger Grill Igniting? Step-by-Step Troubleshooting

Traeger: The Difference Between the Smoke and 180° Settings EXPLAINED

How Long Do Traeger Pellets Really Last?

Can You Really Use a Traeger in the Rain?

Traeger Ironwood 650 vs. 885: A FULL Comparison

traeger hopper filled with pellets

How to Change the Pellets in a Traeger Grill

Learn step-by-step how to change the pellets in your old or new Traeger pellet grill and WHY it is important to do this regularly. Whether you have an Ironwood, Pro Series, or Timberline model, we have you covered.
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Equipment

  • Screwdriver
  • Small Shop Vac
  • Large Sealable Bucket

Instructions
 

Newer Models: Ironwood, Pro Series, Timberline Models

  • Turn off Traeger and unplug it from the outlet. Make sure it has completely cooled form the last cook.
  • Place the bucket below the hopper and Unlock and open the bottom hopper door.
    traeger ironwood 885 full hopper of wood pellets
  • Open the top of the hopper and push all the remaining pellets out the bottom and into the bucket with your hand.
  • Remove the grill grates, drip tray, and heat baffle.
  • This should allow you to see and remove many of the remaining pellets in the auger by hand.
    an empty hopper showing the auger on a traeger pellet grill
  • You can get rid of any remaining pellets by turning the Traeger back on and setting it to smoke. Within ten minutes, all remaining pellets should be circulated through the hopper and auger, and will be burned up.
  • Turn off the Traeger and unplug and let completely cool again before putting the grill back together.

Older Traeger Models

  • Turn off Traeger and unplug it from the outlet. Make sure it has completely cooled form the last cook.
  • Open the top of the hopper, unscrew and detach the pellet guard. 
  • Clear out as many pellets as you can by hand and transfer them to the bucket.
  • Use a small cleaned out handheld shop vac to suck up any remaining pellets in the hopper and auger after removing the grates, drip tray, and heat baffle.
  • You can get rid of any remaining pellets by turning the Traeger back on and setting it to smoke. Within ten minutes, all remaining pellets should be circulated through the hopper and auger, and will be burned up.
  • Turn off the Traeger and unplug and let completely cool again before putting the grill back together.

Video

Notes

Video courtesy of Made by J&D
Keyword auger, change pellets, empty pellets, hopper, ironwood, pellets, pro series, replace pellets, timberline, traeger, Traeger maintenance, Wood pellets

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