Traeger Not Smoking? Top Solutions to Try!

August 25, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

Traeger grills are not designed to throw out massive puffs of smoke – if your grill is hot, it is working as designed! However, if your Traeger isn’t smoking at all, you might have wet pellets or need to clean out the firepot, for starters!

As an amateur pitmaster, I’ve flipped my share of burgers on several Traeger models. I’ve had a Pro Series for a few years now. While it’s a personal favorite, I have had trouble with my Traeger not smoking a few times. So I know all the fixes.

I’m bringing you all the solutions to help you get more smoke out of your Traeger. Let’s go!

Traeger Not Smoking

Understanding Smoke Levels in Traeger Grills

Just because your Traeger pellet grill isn’t producing as much smoke as you think it should doesn’t mean that something is wrong.

Modern pellet grills don’t produce the thick and heavy smoke that you may be picturing. These plumes of smoke make bad BBQ.

Instead, they make a thin, wispy, white, or blue smoke. It should be barely visible. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong – this is how your Traeger grill is supposed to function. It’s making good, high-quality smoke.

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Why is Your Traeger Not Smoking?

Here are some of the reasons that your pellet grill isn’t producing enough smoke for you to cook with, along with how to get your Traeger to create more smoke:

Smoking Temperature is Too High

Pellet smokers produce less smoke at higher temperatures. To maximize the smokiness of your food, smoke it at 225°F.

This is known in BBQ-land as low and slow cooking. Low and slow means we’re cooking the food at lower temperatures for longer periods of time.

The traditional temperature meat is smoked is 225°F – it’s the ideal temperature for brisket and pulled pork. And it’s the temperature you’re cooking at when using the “Smoke setting” on a Traeger pellet grill. Again, with lower temperatures comes more smoke.

As using the smoke setting cooks at the low temperature of 225°F, it takes a longer time to cook. Some impatient cooks might nudge that temperature up to shorten cooking times. They are trading time for taste. You might shave an hour or two off your cook, but the cost is sacrificing some of that delicious smoke flavor.

Ribs are usually cooked at 250°F, and poultry is generally smoked at around 300°F. Cook the ribs at 225°F on a pellet grill, and they’ll taste smokier.

Sausages and Burger Patties on the Grill

Using the Wrong Wood Pellets

The level of smoke and the smoke flavor is tied into the wood pellets that you use. If there’s something wrong with the pellets, then the pellet smoker will not generate smoke as needed.

Make sure you’re not using wet pellets. If not stored properly, your pellets can get damp. No good fire ever got started from wet wood, and that’s especially true for a cooking fire. Store your pellets in a dry location (mine are in the garage). Keep your smoker covered after it’s cooled down from a cook. You’ll be protecting your investment and keeping the pellets in the hopper dry.

The issue could also be cheap pellets. I get it. Buying expensive pellets is literally lighting money on fire. But it’s important to invest in high-quality pellets if you want a great smoke ring and a smokey flavor. Look for pellets that are 100% wood with no additives or flavoring oils.

Play around with different wood pellets – you don’t have to choose the most expensive option. Look for a well-reviewed brand. I like Oklahoma Joe’s, which is a cheaper option than the Traeger pellets.

Some people swear that you should only use Traeger wood pellets for the smoker. Brand loyalty is great – for the brand. I work hard for my money, and I’ve had great results using less expensive pellets. As always, do what works for you.

A Dirty Firepot

If your firepot is full of ash and grime, then it will not ignite. No fire means no smoke.

This issue is an easy one to fix. Simply power down your grill and let it cool down completely. Unplug the grill.

Next, remove the cooking grates, the drip tray, and the heat shield. This will give you access to the firepot. Inspect it for built-up debris. Then, use a shop vac to clean it out completely.

Inspect the sides of the firepot. If you notice any buildup, use a wire brush to clear it away. Use the shop vac to remove the debris.

If you’re stuck, give this video a watch. It guides you through the process.

Replace the components and fire up your grill. It should function normally.

A Jammed Auger

If there are too many pellets crammed in and around the auger, then your smoker won’t work. Where there’s no fire, there’s no smoke. Let’s get that auger working.

Unplug the Traeger. Break out your trusty shop vac. Use it to vacuum out the pellets. You may need to break some up with your hands or a slotted screwdriver (use this carefully)!

Pro tip: clean out the inside of your shop vac first. Dump any debris out and clean it with a sponge and warm, soapy water. Dry it with a towel. Now, you can reuse those wood pellets.

A Lack of Ventilation

Oxygen is key to burning and ignition. If the airflow is compromised in any way, then your pellet grill won’t create enough smoke.

The first thing that you should check is that the vents are open and that they aren’t being obstructed in any way. If there is any kind of build-up, it is a good idea to clean this away.

The other element to inspect is the fans. If they are broken or not as working as efficiently as they should, then there isn’t going to be a lot of smoke. Get in touch with Traeger customer service if your fans aren’t working.

Other Options to Produce More Smoke

Here are some other ideas that you can consider if you want more smoke:

Use a Different Species of Wood

Different species of wood produce different levels of smokiness in the food. A brisket smoked with hickory will taste “smokier” than one smoked with a lighter wood, like apple.

Oak and hickory are my go-to smoking woods. They produce plenty of that enchanting smokey flavor.

Use a Smoke Tube

This is a small metal tube with perforated sides. Fill it with pellets and light it, then set it on your grill grate. It should burn for hours and add an extra bump of smokey flavor to your food.

Use the Super Smoke Setting

Do you have a Traeger grill that belongs to the Timberline or Ironwood series? Great. Your grill has a Super Smoke setting. Activate this after you have preheated the grill, and it will produce more smoke. 

Super Smoke works by cooking at lower temperatures than traditional ‘que – between 165°F and 225°F. If you’re smoking something like a pork shoulder that needs to hit 203°F internally, try using Super Smoke until your meat hits the stall. Then finish your cook at 225°F. 

Again, you won’t see columns of smoke just because you use this setting. The visible smoke that is produced will be minimal.

Juicy Steak and Meat on the Smoker

Contacting Traeger with Issues

If the above solutions didn’t work for you or you aren’t sure of what the issue is, it is a good idea to contact Traeger customer support for help. Especially before you make any big repairs or changes.

Remember, anything that you do to the grill may void its warranty. If something goes wrong while you are tackling the repairs, you may be on the hook for all future problems and costs.

When contacting Traeger, make your concerns and problems clear. Accompany your email with photos as well. 

Wrapping It Up

Just because your Traeger isn’t producing as much smoke as you like probably isn’t cause for concern. If it’s hot, it’s smoking. You just might not be able to see the smoke. Your goal isn’t billowy white smoke. Thin, wispy, barely there white or blue smoke is the good stuff.

Check for wet pellets, keep your fire pot clean, and splurge on some decent pellets (made from 100% wood). If this explainer didn’t solve your problems, contact the fine folks at Traeger before doing anything major to your grill. Happy smoking!

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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