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Why Do Pellet Grills Explode? (And How To Avoid It!)

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If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do on a beautiful day is spend it cleaning up after you have a pellet grill explode.

Unfortunately, with pellet grills, it’s something that we have to be aware of and take precautions against.

We’ll also cover how to safely shutdown and restart your grill in the event of an emergency. Stay safe out there!


What’s a Pellet Grill?

A pellet grill is a type of barbecue grill that uses compressed pellets made from biomass (usually wood) as fuel.

If you’re new to pellet grills, it’s important to note that you should be using food-grade wood pellets, not just pellets for a wood stove. 

The pellets are fed into a burn pot, where they are ignited and the heat is then transferred to the grates in the cooking chamber.

Pellet grills are typically more expensive than other types of grills, but they offer a variety of outdoor cooking options from searing, to smoking, to baking.

Essentially, a pellet grill combines elements of charcoal, gas, and smoke grills to give you the benefits of each individual method. 

Although they’re a fantastic new method of grilling, they do have some risks you need to be aware of – pellet grills explode if you’re not careful.

Why Do Pellet Grills Explode?

There are three main reasons why pellet grills can explode: too many pellets in the firepot, not enough airflow, and insufficient ventilation.

If there are too many pellets in the burn pot, or typically, if there’s more than about an inch of pellets burning at once (or if they’re packed tighter than this), you’ve got too much fuel at one time.

Too much fuel at once is basically what leads to pellet grills exploding.

As you know, pellet grills are a relatively new invention, and as such, there is some confusion about what causes them to explode.

The most common cause of pellet grill explosions is when the burn pot becomes clogged with a mixture of ash and pellets.

This can prevent air from properly flowing through the grill, which can cause the pellets to ignite too quickly.

When this happens, the heat builds up and has nowhere to escape, resulting in an explosion.

How to Prevent a Pellet Grill Explosion

You might be relieved to learn that pellet grills don’t explode on their own, and pellet grill explosions are actually pretty rare. Your new pellet grill isn’t a spontaneous combustion waiting to happen. 

Pellet grills are as complicated as it gets when it comes to grilling, but they’re not that difficult to operate. Unfortunately though, the cause for pellet grill explosions is always human error.

With that said, it’s crucial to understand how they work, and what you can do to prevent your pellet grill from exploding accidentally. 

Make Sure There Are Enough Pellets in the Grill

The best way to prevent a pellet grill from exploding is to make sure there are enough pellets in the burn pot, but not too many.

You should also check for leftover pellets from the previous cooking session before starting up a new one.

Leftover pellets after an improper shutdown are the main cause of pellet grill explosions, so as long as you follow basic proper shutdown steps, you should be safe the next time you start it up. 

The easiest way to check for leftover pellets is by opening the lid and looking inside before you go to start it up. Once you’ve done that, you’re generally safe to proceed further.

Have a Backup Generator 

If you have a pellet grill, it’s important to have a backup generator. Pellet grills are electric and can easily be ruined by power outages.

If you don’t have a generator and the power goes out, make sure you allow the pellets in the burn pot to burn out completely and then empty the hopper.

A power outage can easily cause an explosion by simply leaving too many pellets in the fire pot. 

The most common way for pellet grills to explode is from leftover pellets in the burn pot after an improper shutdown.

To avoid this, always make sure there are no pellets left in the burn pot before shutting down your grill. This includes both when you’re done cooking and also after any power outages or flameouts. 

To avoid dealing with power outages while you’re grilling, make sure to keep a generator to run your pellet grill on in case of power outages. 

Open the Lid to Start the Grill

Another way for a pellet grill to explode is if the flames get out of control. This can be avoided by always opening the lid before starting the grill, and leaving it open for at least 10 minutes while the flames in the burn pot stabilize.

This allows air to flow in and helps keep the flames under control. Then you can close the lid, set your grill to your desired temperature, and you’re off to the races. 

Have a Fire Extinguisher Nearby

This point seems like common sense, but make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency. Pellet grills can easily ignite fires, so it’s important to be prepared in case something goes wrong. 

How to Safely Shutdown a Pellet Grill

The process of safely shutting down a pellet grill is generally the same regardless of the manufacturer.

Start by removing the food, leaving the lid open, turning the heat up to high, letting it cook for 5 to 10 minutes (to burn off remaining pellets), shutting down the power, letting it cool off, closing, and storing. 


So, what can you do to keep yourself safe when using your pellet grill?

Here are a few tips: always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, never leave your grill unattended, keep an eye on the fuel level, use a backup generator, and always shut it down properly.

By following these simple guidelines, you can enjoy cooking on your pellet grill without having to worry about potential explosions.


Lover of the outdoors and great food. If I'm not in my backyard cooking up a feast, I'm deep in the backcountry camping....and cooking up a feast! Follow along and let's create something great.