Learn step-by-step how to start a new Z Grills pellet grill for the first time!
This Z Grills initial startup guide will have you safely and quickly up and running to start smoking some delicious food on your new Z Grills pellet grill.
If you’ve never used a pellet grill before, starting a new Z Grills pellet grill up for the first time may seem a little overwhelming.
You’ll need to:
- Confirm the auger, fan and firepot are properly working
- Load the hopper with pellets
- Prime the auger
- Perform a burnoff of chemicals from the factory
- Go through the Shutdown Cycle correctly before unplugging
These steps all need to be done the first time you start a new Z Grills pellet grill before you cook any food on it.
Thankfully it’s actually not very complicated at all and we’ve put together this handy step-by-step Z Grills Startup Guide to get up and going quickly!
Rather watch than read? Check out the video that accompanies this article HERE.
Check the Auger, Fan, and Firepot are Working
BEFORE you load any pellets into the new Z Grills pellet grill, you’ll want to confirm some of the components are working correctly.
First, open the lid and remove the porcelain grills, warming rack, grease drain pan, and heat baffle from the Z Grills pellet grill.
This will allow you to see down into the firepot. Make sure there are no foreign objects in the firepot.
Open the hopper lid as well and make sure there are no foreign objects such as (leftover bits of styrofoam from the packaging) in the auger and hopper.
Turn the temperature control knob to Shut Down Cycle and plug the power cord into a grounded outlet.
Turn on the Z Grills pellet grill by pressing the Power Button and turn the temperature knob to Smoke.
You should hear the fan kick on.
Check the Auger
Look down into the hopper and confirm that the auger is turning. It will be turning intermittently and VERY slowly, so you’ll need to watch it for a couple minutes to confirm.
Do NOT stick your fingers in there to feel if it is moving! They can easily get severly pinched and that is why there is a safety grate in place.
The auger is what carries pellets down to the firepot.
Check the Fan and Firepot
You should have heard the fan kick on when you turned the control knob to Smoke, but hold your hand above the firepot to confirm you can feel some airflow as well.
The hotrod in the firepot will heat up over the course of 2-3 minutes as well and you should be able to feel some heat coming out of the firepot.
Again, DO NOT stick your fingers down into the firepot to check!
The hotrod gets EXTREMELY hot and will instantly burn almost any it touches. After all, it’s made to ignite wood pellets because that’s how a pellet grill works!
Lastly, you should see a temperature number displayed on the LCD control panel, not an error code.
If you see an error code, consult the user manual.
Shut Down the Z Grills Pellet Grill
Once you’ve confirmed all these components are working, turn the temperature control knob back to Shutdown Cycle.
This is how you will always turn off your Z Grills pellet grill.
You’ll notice the fan will continue to blow for 10 minutes on this setting before the grill automatically turns itself off.
This is a common safety feature on almost all pellet grills and is a way to extinguish any remaining lit pellets in the firepot so that they don’t continue to burn and smolder for an extended period of time.
Load the Z Grill Hopper with Pellets
Once the Z Grill pellet grill has shut down after 10 minutes, you can load the hopper with pellets.
It’s always a good practice to only fill the hopper with enough pellets for what you need during that cooking session rather than keeping it full all the time.
The problem with keeping your hopper full of pellets when its not being used is that pellets absorb moisture in the air, expand, and eventually start to crumble and break down.
When this happens they don’t burn as well or produce as much heat and you end up wasting a lot of pellets.
A compact, dry pellet will always burn hotter and slower and produce better quality smoke than one that has expanded due to moisture.
For this reason, we always recommend keeping your pellets stored indoors, in an airtight pellet storage bucket like these popular Oklahoma Joe pellet storage buckets we use.
This will keep the pellets dry and away from humidity and severe temperature swings that can cause them to swell with moisture and not burn well.
That said, go ahead and open up a bag of pellets and fill the Z Grills hopper about a third to half way.
We are going to fill, or prime, the auger and perform a 45 minute burnoff so we will need a decent amount of pellets today to get the grill ready.
How to Prime the Auger on a Z Grills Pellet Grill
Now that you have some pellets in the hopper, go ahead and turn the temperature control knob to HIGH.
This is known as priming the auger, just meaning we are filling it with pellets, and only needs to be done when the grill is new or has burned off all the pellets inside of it.
Normally when you start up your Z Grill the auger will already be primed, or full, of pellets.
After about 5 minutes you should start to see pellets that have made their way completely down the auger fall into the firepot.
Turn the temperature knob back to the Shutdown Cycle and wait 10 minutes for the grill to turn off automatically.
How to Startup and Perform a Burnoff on a New Z Grills Pellet Grill
Now that the hopper is loaded with pellets and the auger is primed, we want to perform what’s called a Burnoff on the new Z Grill.
Anytime you get a new grill or smoker, it’s important to run it at a high temperature for a length of time to burn off any oils and chemical residues left from the manufacturing process.
Otherwise the smells and residues from these chemicals can make their way into the food you cook on the grill and make them taste unpleasant and possibly even be dangerous.
When the Z Grill is cool, put all the cooking components you removed earlier, including the heat baffle, grease drip pan and cooking racks, back in the Z Grill.
With the Z Grills pellet grill still turned off but plugged in, keep the lid is open and turn the temperature control knob to Smoke.
You will always start the Z Grill on the Smoke setting until you see white start up smoke come out of the grill and then dissipate and hear a loud torchy burning sound as the pellets ignite and start fully burning in the firepot.
This is the initial startup process on the Z Grills pellet grill and usually takes 5-10 minutes. Make sure to keep the lid OPEN for this entire process.
Then, normally you will close the lid and turn the temperature knob to your desired temperature to preheat before ultimately putting on your food to cook.
For our purposes we are going to close the lid and turn the temperature control knob to HIGH to perform a burnoff.
The Z Grill should come up to 450°F and you want to let it run at that temperature for about 45 minutes to burnoff the residues, oils, and chemicals leftover form the factory.
After 45 minutes, you can drop the temperature if you want to cook some food, or just turn the temperature control knob back to Shutdown Cycle, and wait 10 minutes for it to automatically turn off.
Quick Tips for Using a New Z Grills Pellet Grill
You’ve successfully learned how to start up and shut down your new Z Grills pellet grill and you performed an initial burnoff to get it ready to cook!
Here’s a couple quick tips to keep in mind when using your Z Grills pellet grills so that you get the best experience.
Don’t Store Pellets in the Hopper
As we said before, its best to keep your pellets stored indoors an airtight pellet storage bucket like this one.
You can always add more pellets as you are cooking if you need more.
Or, if you put in too many, empty them out the release door on the back of the hopper when you are finished cooking.
(Its ok to leave leftovers in the auger, most of these will get burned up anyways during the initial startup of your next cook so they won’t have much effect on your food.)
Always Start the Z Grill on the Smoke Setting
Always start the Z Grills pellet grill by plugging it in and turning the temperature control knob to the Smoke setting.
Keep the lid OPEN and allow it to run through its startup process on the Smoke setting for about 5-10 minutes as described above before closing the lid and selecting your cooking temperature.
Preheat the Grill BEFORE Adding Food
Its best practice to preheat your pellet grill and let the temperature stabilize there for a few minutes BEFORE adding your food.
Adding a large amount of cold food to a grill or smoker will always cause the temperature to drop a little bit but adding it before the grill has even preheated will cause it to take much longer to preheat.
The Z Grill may also end up overshooting your selected temperature and have a more difficult time stabilizing there if you add the food before its preheated.
Use Temperature Probes
Using temperature probes will keep you from needing to open the lid as often to look at the food or check the temperature.
Every time you open the lid you lose most of your cooking heat and the pellet grill has to work that much harder to stabilize and get back up to temperature.
This means less consistency, possible overshoots on temperature, and of course, wasted pellets.
Many models like the the Z Grills 700D3 come with 2 included meat probes you can plug right into the controller display.
Other upgraded models like the Multitasker 1002B come with WiFi capabilities so you can track everything right on your phone!
If you don’t have a Z Grills model that comes with WiFi capabilities you can get a wireless thermometer that can accomplish the same thing, and sometimes even better.
We are big fans of the MEATER leave in thermometer.
It is extremely accurate and has an incredible 165 foot bluetooth range and works right with your smartphone so you don’t need to carry a separate controller around with you like many other remote thermometers require.
It’s got a great free app that is constantly being updated and even has an algorithm to predict how much longer your type of meat will take to cook based on cooking temperature, target temperature, current internal temperature.
It’s like a GPS for your meat!
What Food Can I Cook on My Z Grills Pellet Grill?
Looking for some smoky inspiration for your new Z Grills pellet grill?
So glad you asked.
Check out some of our great recipes of smoked and grilled food to try out after starting up your Z Grills pellet grill!
(Some are written for other brands of pellet grills but can easily be made the same way on a Z Grill!)
- Pulled Pork
- Smoked Baby Back Ribs
- Smoked Pork Loin
- 3-2-1 Ribs
- Pellet Grill Smoked Pork Chops
- Pellet Grilled Bratwurst
- Gas Grilled Bratwurst
- Smoked Fresh Holiday Ham
- Spiral Sliced Smoked Hot Dogs
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Beef Brisket
- Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- Smoked Prime Rib
- Smoked Chuck Roast
- Smoked Beef Ribs
- Smoked Tri-Tip Roast
- Perfect Smoked London Broil
- Smoked Ribeye Roast
- Smoked Corned Beef
- Smoked Ribeye Steaks
- Smoked Filet Mignon
- Hot and Fast Pellet Grill Beef Brisket
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Smoked Eye of Round Roast Beef
- Easy Smoked Flank Steak
- Smoked Tomahawk Steaks
- Smoked Bottom Round Roast
- Smoked Sirloin Tip Roast
- Smoked Rump Roast
- Honey Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Smoked Lobster Tails
- Easy Smoked Tilapia
- Perfect Smoked Halibut
- Smoked Mahi Mahi Fillets
- Smoked Swordfish Steaks
- Smoked Crab Legs with Cajun Clarified Butter
- Smoked Mackerel with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Catfish with Cajun BBQ Rub
- Smoked Red Snapper with Blackening Rub
- Smoked Trout
- Smoked Tuna Steaks
- Smoked Whole Chicken
- Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Smoked Chicken Breasts
- Smoked Chicken Legs
- Smoked Chicken Wings
- Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast
- Smoked Turkey Burgers
- Smoked Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Smoked Chicken Tenders
- Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- Smoked Pulled Chicken
- Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Spatchcocked Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- Pellet Grill Turkey
- Easy Smoked Turkey Legs
- Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- Smoked Turkey Wings
- Smoked Turkey Thighs
- Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
- Smoked Turkey Soup
- Smoked Chicken Salad
- Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary or Smoker
- Smoked and Pulled Lamb Shoulder with a Turkish Spice Rub
- Smoked Lamb Shanks
Sides and Desserts
- Smoked Corn on the Cob
- Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Smoked Baked Beans
- Smoked Queso Dip
- Smoked Mashed Potatoes
- Smoked Potato Salad
- Smoked Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Twice Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Cornbread
- Smoked Asparagus
- Easy Smoked Broccoli
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Smoked Green Beans
- Sticky Smoked Sweet Potatoes
- Smoked Pineapple in a Maple Bourbon Sauce
- Smoked Carrots with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Brussel Sprouts
- Smoked Cabbage
- Smoked Hard Boiled Eggs
- Smoked Deviled Eggs
- Smoked Egg Salad
- Smoked Cream Cheese
- Smoked Cream Cheese Dip with Bacon and Cheddar
- Smoked Pig Shots
- Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
- Smoked Garlic
- Frozen Pizza on a Pellet Grill
- Smoked Peaches
- Smoked Peach Cobbler
- Smoked Chocolate Chips
- Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookies
How to Start a New Z Grills Pellet Grill
- Z Grills Pellet Grill
- Heat Proof Grilling Gloves
- Electrical Extension Cord
- 1 Bag Wood Pellets
Check Internal Components are Working
- Open the lid and remove the porcelain grills, warming rack, grease drain pan, and heat baffle from the Z Grill pellet grill.
- Make sure there are no foreign objects in the firepot.
- Open the hopper lid as well and make sure there are no foreign objects such as (leftover bits of styrofoam from the packaging) in the auger and hopper.
- Turn the temperature control knob to Shut Down Cycle and plug the power cord into a grounded outlet.
- Turn on the Z Grills pellet grill by pressing the Power Button and turn the temperature knob to Smoke. You should hear the fan kick on.
- Look down into the hopper and confirm that the auger is turning. It will be turning intermittently and VERY slowly, so you’ll need to watch it for a couple minutes to confirm.
- Hold your hand a safe distance above the firepot to confirm you can feel some heat and airflow as well.
- Once you’ve confirmed all these components are working, turn the temperature control knob back to Shutdown Cycle.
- The fan will continue to blow for 10 minutes on this setting before the grill automatically turns itself off.
Load the Z Grill Hopper with Pellets and Prime the Auger
- Once the Z Grill pellet grill has shut down after 10 minutes, you can load the hopper with pellets about one third to half way full.1 Bag Wood Pellets
- Turn the temperature control knob to HIGH.
- After about 5 minutes you should start to see pellets that have made their way completely down the auger fall into the firepot.
- Turn the temperature knob back to the Shutdown Cycle and wait 10 minutes for the grill to turn off automatically.
Startup and Perform a Burnoff on the New Z Grills Pellet Grill
- Once the Z Grill is cool, put all the cooking components you removed earlier, including the heat baffle, grease drip pan and cooking racks, back in the Z Grill.
- With the Z Grills pellet grill still turned off but plugged in, keep the lid is open and turn the temperature control knob to Smoke.
- This is the initial startup process on the Z Grills pellet grill and usually takes 5-10 minutes. Make sure to keep the lid OPEN for this entire process.
- Close the lid and turn the temperature control knob to HIGH to perform a burnoff.
- The Z Grill should come up to 450°F and you want to let it run at that temperature for about 45 minutes to burnoff the residues, oils, and chemicals leftover form the factory.
- After 45 minutes, you can drop the temperature if you want to cook some food, or just turn the temperature control knob back to Shutdown Cycle, and wait 10 minutes for it to automatically turn off.