Pit Boss Not Smoking? How to Get Back to BBQ Bliss!

September 11, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

If your Pit Boss is not producing smoke, you can try using fresh and high-quality wood pellets, smoking at a lower temp, or cleaning out your auger and firepot. It’s also possible your cooker is producing thin, barely visible smoke, which is exactly what you want.

As a young Pit Boss owner, I had a few times when the grill didn’t produce smoke. So, with the help of pitmasters and the internet, I set out to find out what was wrong. Eventually, I found that the pellets were my main issue, but I learned a lot of other causes along the way.

Today, I’ll cover all the reasons your Pit Boss isn’t smoking and offer up some easy solutions. Let’s begin!

Pit Boss Not Smoking

Understanding Smoke Production with Pit Boss Pellet Grills

I know that a lot of people expect there to be plumes of smoke when their Pit Boss grill is smoking. In reality, however, this isn’t the case at all. You don’t want your smoker to billow like a campfire.

A modern pellet grill will actually produce very little smoke. And, the smoke produced tends to be light blue in color – not thick, ropy strands of white smoke. It can be difficult to see the smoke coming out of your Pit Boss smoker.

The only time that you are likely to see white smoke is when the wood pellets in your pellet grill first ignite. This is known as start-up smoke.

Of course, in case your Pit Boss pellet grill isn’t truly smoking, here are some causes and solutions to consider…

Why Is Your Pit Boss Not Smoking?

Here are the top reasons and solutions for why your Pit Boss pellet grill is not smoking as it should be:

Person Smoking Meat on the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate Combo Grill

Bad Pellets

If you think that all wood pellets are created equal, think again! There is such a thing as poor-quality pellets. The problem with cheap pellets is that they tend to have a high moisture content. 

Most high-quality pellet fuels tend to have between 5 to 10 percent – this is an acceptable level. Any higher than this, though, and the wood pellets are going to struggle to burn. In turn, they will not produce enough smoke.

Moist Pellets

Dry wood pellets burn better than moist ones. Just because this seems obvious doesn’t make it untrue!

If your pellets are moist or wet, they aren’t going to ignite as well or may not produce smoke at all!

Too High of a Temperature Setting

Many people don’t realize that the most smoke is produced when the wood pellets are burned at lower temperatures.

This is why your Pit Boss pellet smoker has a smoke setting, which cooks in a temperature range of between 180°F and 210°F. I think between 225°F and 250°F is the perfect sweet spot for smoke production on pellet grills.

If you’re trying to make your food cook faster and you’re running your Pit Boss at temperatures above 300°F, you’ll get less smoke. The pellets are burning more than they’re smoldering at these temps.

A Jammed Auger

If your auger is jammed, then the pellets can’t move from the hopper to the fire pot. As such, no smoke will be produced.

The most common reason for a jammed auger is wet pellets being clumped there. Or, it could be that pellets have simply piled up in the space.

You will need to clear out your hopper of wood pellets to check on this.

Dirty Fire Pot

If there is a lot of ash and grime in your fire pot, then it will not be able to ignite properly – or at all.

In this case, your pellet grill may not be able to create enough smoke or produce smoke at all.

How to Get More Smoke Out of Your Pit Boss?

Here are the top tricks that you can use to fix your Pit Boss pellet grill smoke problems:

Backyard BBQ Using 820FB1 Wood Pellet Grill

Choose Better Pellets

Pit Boss has their own brand of wood pellets. Most people are hesitant to buy these as they can set you back a few shekels. In my experience, Pit Boss makes a good wood pellet. What’s more, these pellets have been perfectly tailored to their pellet smoker. 

I would suggest that you buy the Pit Boss grill brand at least once and see if that makes a difference. There are a number of highly-rated brands on Amazon that are also affordable. I like the Traeger pellets.

Store Your Pellets Properly

Unless you are planning on using your pellet smoker within the week, never keep the pellets in the hopper. Always empty it out once you are done with a cook.

Make sure that your pellets are kept in an airtight, sealed bag. They should also be stored in a dry and cool place. Keep them away from open flames. I store mine in my garage inside a metal can with a lid.

Use a Lower Temperature

One of the best things that you can do to get more smoke out of your Pit Boss grill is to set it to a lower temperature.

Does this mean that you have to use the Smoke mode on your grill? Well, unless you are cold-smoking cheese, I wouldn’t say that this is necessary. After all, on this setting, large cuts of meat can take quite a while to cook. Brisket and pulled pork might never hit their desired finish temperature.

Instead, aim for a temperature range between 225°F and 250°F for ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. I tend to aim for the lower end of this range. I smoke poultry at higher temps, like 300°F to 350°F. Poultry tends to pick up the smoke flavor more quickly than red meat.

Consider Changing the P Setting

You may have heard of this Pit Boss setting – it is only available when the grill is in Smoke mode.

There is a range of settings from P1 to P7. The higher the setting, the more smoke is produced.

On your Pit Boss, the setting is at a factory level – P4. Thus, if you want extra smoke, go to a higher setting.

Clean Out the Auger

As I mentioned, you should start out by clearing the hopper. This will give you a better look at the auger.

In case it is jammed, remove the auger. Use a screwdriver to gently pry off the pellets. If there is any residual debris, use a shop vac to suck it all up.

Replace the auger and start up the grill back up.

Clear Out the Firepot

This is something that you should get into the habit of doing. Although you don’t have to clear out the firepot with every cook, check on it regularly.

You can use a shop vac or a handheld vacuum to clean out the ashes. Then, replace the parts and start smoking once more.

Pit Boss Navigator 1150 Wood Pellet Grill on the Balcony

Use a Smoker Tube

Sometimes, even when working properly, your Pit Boss just doesn’t produce enough smoke for your liking.

If you just can’t get enough smoke, you could consider using a smoker tube. The smoker tube gets packed with pellets or even wood chips, then it’s set in the cooking chamber. Now you’ve got smoke coming from the tube and your pellets. You’re smoking so much that the Surgeon General might slap a warning label on you.

Here’s a nice smoker tube if you’re considering buying one.

Smoke Cold Meat

OK, so this method will not necessarily produce more smoke for you. What it will do, though, is make the meat taste smokier and produce better smoke rings.

Most people will leave their meat out of the fridge for about an hour or while their cooker is warming before cooking. This is an old myth that’s been kicking around the BBQ and cooking community for decades. It’s bad advice. Leave your meat in the refrigerator until it’s ready to hit the grill. Once the grill is ready, take the meat out and smoke it.

Then, cook it as usual.

I should warn you that your meat – especially larger cuts – is going to a bit longer to smoke. Plan accordingly. But cold meat attracts more smoke flavor than warm meat. Keep your meats cold until they are ready to smoke.

Wrapping It Up

If your Pit Boss isn’t smoking, there is no need to fret! This is a fairly common issue with lots of causes behind it. Most likely, your pellet grill is functioning normally – it’s just producing thin whisps of smoke (which is perfect)!

I’ve dropped the top reasons here, so now you also know what the main solutions are. So, go ahead and get that grill fixed and get grilling!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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