Hopper with no pellets in it - familyguidecentral.com

How to Remove Pellets from a Traeger (7 Easy Steps to Clean Out the Hopper)

“A clean grill is a happy grill, and a happy grill makes for delicious meals.”

When it comes to maintaining your Traeger pellet grill, one of the most important tasks is cleaning out the hopper and removing pellets. Not only does this help your grill function at its best, but it also allows you to switch between different types of pellets for the perfect flavor.

In this guide, we’ll cover the steps you need to take to remove pellets from your Traeger, as well as tips and tricks for keeping your grill in top condition.

7 easy steps on how to remove pellets from a Traeger

1. Turn off and unplug the grill

Before performing any maintenance tasks, make sure the grill is completely turned off and unplugged from the power source. This ensures your safety during the process.

2. Empty the hopper

The hopper is where the pellets are stored. To empty it, remove the lid or cover of the hopper and use a scoop or your hands to remove any remaining pellets. Place them in a suitable container, or discard them if necessary.

3. Remove the pellet grate

The pellet grate is located at the bottom of the grill. Open the grill’s main chamber and locate the grate. Carefully lift it out of the grill and set it aside.

4. Clean out the remaining pellets

Using a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment, gently suck out any remaining pellets in the hopper and main chamber. Be thorough in removing cookouts and any loose debris or ash that may have accumulated.

5. Clean the grill interior

Take a brush or a damp cloth to clean the interior surfaces of the grill, including the walls and the bottom. Remove any ash or residue that may have built up during previous uses. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning materials and methods.

6. Reinstall the pellet grate

Once the grill is clean, carefully place the pellet grate back into its original position at the bottom of the grill. Ensure that it fits securely.

7. Refill the hopper

With the grill cleaned and the grate reinstalled, you can now add fresh pellets to the hopper. Pour the pellets into the hopper, replace the hopper lid or cover, and make sure it is securely in place.

What to consider when changing pellets in a Traeger

  • Pellet type: Choose the right type of pellets based on the flavor profile you desire. Traeger offers a variety of wood pellet flavors, including oak, hickory, apple, cherry, mesquite, and more. Each wood type imparts a unique taste to your food, so consider your personal preference and the type of food you’ll be grilling.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that the pellets you choose are compatible with your Traeger grill. Traeger grills are designed to work with standard-sized wood pellets, so make sure the pellets you purchase match the specifications recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Quality: Opt for high-quality pellets from reputable brands. Look for pellets that are made from pure hardwood and are free from additives or fillers. Quality pellets will burn efficiently, produce consistent smoke, and result in better flavor.
  • Storage: Properly store your pellets to maintain their quality. Keep them in a cool, dry place, protected from moisture and pests. Moisture can cause pellets to break down and create blockages in the auger system.
  • Cleanout: Before adding new pellets, it’s a good practice to clean out any remaining pellets from the hopper and the grill. This ensures that you don’t mix different types of pellets or have old, degraded pellets affecting the flavor of your new batch.
  • Gradual transition: If you’re switching to a different pellet flavor, consider gradually transitioning by mixing the new pellets with the remaining old ones. This helps your taste buds adjust to the new flavor and prevents any sudden flavor changes.
  • Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pellet flavors and blends. This allows you to discover new taste profiles and find your favorites for different types of food.

How often do you need to clean your Traeger hopper?

The frequency of cleaning your Traeger hopper depends on several factors, such as usage frequency, pellet type, and environmental conditions.

As a general guideline, it is recommended to inspect and clean your hopper every 5 to 10 cookouts, or approximately once a month.

However, if you notice any signs of pellet degradation, moisture buildup, or pest activity, it is advisable to clean the hopper more frequently, up to each time you cook.

Regular cleaning helps prevent pellet blockages, ensures proper pellet flow, and maintains the quality and performance of your Traeger grill.

Tips and tricks for removing hard to reach pellets

  • Use a vacuum cleaner: A vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle attachment can be handy for reaching into tight spaces. Insert the nozzle into the hopper and gently suction out the pellets. Move the nozzle around to capture pellets from different angles.
  • Use a long-handled brush or rod: Attach a brush or rod with a long handle to loosen and dislodge the pellets. Carefully maneuver it around the hopper, pushing the pellets towards the opening where you can easily scoop them out.
  • Shake the hopper: If there are pellets stuck in corners or hard-to-reach areas, give the hopper a gentle shake or tilt it to encourage the pellets to move towards the hopper opening. Be cautious not to tip the grill too aggressively, as this can disrupt the pellet auger system.
  • Use a flexible snake or cable: If you have access to a flexible snake or cable, you can try inserting it into the hopper and maneuvering it around to break up any compacted pellets or dislodge obstructions. This method requires care and precision to avoid damaging the auger system.
  • Break up pellets with a long tool: If the pellets are stuck or compacted, you can use a long tool, such as a wooden dowel or a metal rod, to break them up. Insert the tool into the hopper and gently break apart the pellets, making it easier to remove them.
  • Patience and persistence: Removing hard-to-reach pellets may require some patience and persistence. Take your time and work methodically, ensuring that you safely remove the pellets without causing any damage to the grill.

Where are the different compartments of a Traeger where you can find loose pellets?


The hopper is the main storage compartment for pellets. It is typically located on the side or back of the grill.

Loose pellets can accumulate in the hopper if they were not fully emptied during previous use or if pellets have spilled during the loading process.

Auger tube

The auger tube is a long, vertical tube that runs from the bottom of the hopper to the fire pot.

Loose pellets can sometimes get stuck or accumulate in the auger tube, especially if there are pellet jams or if the grill has been tilted or moved.

Fire pot

The fire pot is where the pellets are burned to generate heat and smoke.

Loose pellets can accumulate in the fire pot if they were not fully consumed during previous cooking sessions or if there were pellet jams that caused pellets to overflow into the fire pot.

Pellet grate

The pellet grate is located at the bottom of the grill, above the fire pot. Loose pellets can accumulate on the pellet grate if they fall or are pushed out of the fire pot.

Drip tray

Some Traeger models have a drip tray that collects grease and drippings from the cooking process.

While not directly related to loose pellets, it’s worth mentioning as pellets can sometimes find their way into the drip tray if they are pushed or fall through the pellet grate.

Can you flush out any remaining pellets from the hopper?

It is not recommended to flush out the remaining pellets from the hopper of a Traeger grill.

The hopper serves as a storage space for the pellets until the auger system gradually feeds them into the fire pot.

If you wish to remove pellets from the hopper, it is necessary to manually scoop or vacuum them out.

Flushing the hopper with water or any other liquid is not recommended, as it can lead to pellet degradation, clumping, or blockages in the auger system.

It is best to rely on manual methods of removal and ensure that the hopper is properly emptied before adding new pellets or performing maintenance on the grill.

How do I prevent pellets from clogging the auger on my Traeger pellet grill?

  • Use high-quality pellets: Choose high-quality pellets made from pure hardwood without additives or fillers. Inferior-quality pellets can break down more easily and create a higher risk of clogs. Look for reputable brands that produce consistent and reliable pellets.
  • Store pellets properly: Ensure that your pellets are stored in a cool, dry place, protected from moisture and pests. Moisture can cause pellets to swell or disintegrate, increasing the likelihood of clogs. Use airtight containers or bags to maintain the quality of your pellets.
  • Check for debris or foreign objects: Before loading new pellets into the hopper, inspect them for any foreign objects, debris, or excessive dust. Remove any impurities that could potentially cause blockages in the auger system.
  • Empty the hopper before adding new pellets: Whenever you change pellet flavors or finish using the grill, it’s good practice to empty the hopper completely. This helps prevent the mixing of different pellet types and reduces the chance of residue or compacted pellets causing clogs.
  • Avoid overfilling the hopper: Fill the hopper with an appropriate amount of pellets based on your cooking needs. Overfilling the hopper can put excess pressure on the auger and increase the chances of clogs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended pellet levels.
  • Keep the hopper lid closed: When not actively loading pellets or performing maintenance, keep the hopper lid closed. This helps prevent foreign objects, moisture, or pests from entering the hopper and potentially causing clogs.
  • Regularly clean the hopper and auger: Perform routine cleaning of the hopper and auger to remove any residual debris or pellet fragments. This maintenance practice helps keep the auger system clear and reduces the risk of clogs.

Why do we need to remove pellets from the auger?

Removing pellets from the auger of a Traeger pellet grill is necessary in certain situations to ensure the proper functioning of the grill and prevent potential issues.

Here are a few reasons why removing pellets from the auger may be required:

  • Preventing clogs: Over time, pellets can accumulate or compact within the auger, leading to clogs. These clogs obstruct the pellet flow, affecting the consistent delivery of pellets to the fire pot. Removing pellets from the auger helps prevent these clogs and ensures smooth pellet feeding.
  • Changing pellet flavors: If you want to switch to a different pellet flavor, it’s essential to remove the remaining pellets from the auger. Mixing pellet flavors can result in an inconsistent taste profile in your food. By clearing out the auger, you can start fresh with the new pellet flavor of your choice.
  • Maintenance and cleaning: When performing maintenance or cleaning tasks on your Traeger grill, removing pellets from the auger becomes necessary. This allows you to access and clean the auger system effectively, removing any residual debris, ash, or accumulated pellets that may impact the grill’s performance.
  • Storage and transportation: If you need to store or transport your Traeger grill, it is advisable to remove pellets from the auger. This prevents pellets from shifting, settling, or causing damage to the auger during movement or while the grill is not in use.

How do you tell if your Traeger auger is jammed?

  • Lack of pellet movement or feeding into the fire pot: If the auger is jammed, you may notice a lack of movement or feeding of pellets from the hopper into the fire pot. The pellets may not be advancing as they should, resulting in a disruption of the pellet flow.
  • Unusual grinding or clicking noises coming from the grill: A jammed auger can produce grinding or clicking noises that are different from the typical sounds of the grill. These noises indicate that the auger is encountering resistance or struggling to turn due to a pellet jam or blockage.
  • Appearance of smoke or burning smells from the hopper: A jammed auger can cause pellets to burn or smolder within the hopper, leading to the appearance of smoke or burning smells. This situation is a clear indication that the pellets are not flowing properly and are overheating in the hopper area.
  • Sudden drop in temperature during cooking: If the auger is jammed, it may result in a sudden drop in temperature within the grill. This occurs because the pellets are not being delivered to the fire pot as intended, leading to a reduced heat output and potentially affecting your cooking process.
  • Error message displayed on the grill’s control panel indicating an auger or pellet feed issue: Traeger grills are equipped with control panels that provide valuable information about the grill’s status. If the auger is jammed or there is a problem with the pellet feed, the control panel may display an error message or alert related to the auger or pellet feed system.

Differences when removing pellets from a new vs. old Traeger

When removing pellets from a new Traeger grill compared to an old one, there are a few differences to consider:

Pellet residue

On a new Traeger grill, there may be minimal pellet residue present as it has not been used extensively.

On the other hand, an old Traeger grill might have more pellet residue, ash, and accumulated debris due to prolonged use.

Therefore, when removing pellets from an old Traeger, you may need to account for additional cleaning and maintenance to clear out any residue.

Pellet quality

In a new Traeger, the pellets may be fresh and of good quality, which can make them easier to handle and remove.

However, in an old Traeger, the pellets might have been exposed to moisture or air for an extended period, potentially causing them to break down or clump together.

This could make it slightly more challenging to remove them from the hopper or auger.

Potential obstructions

Over time, an old Traeger grill may experience pellet jams, pellet fragments, or other obstructions within the auger system or hopper.

When removing pellets from an old Traeger, it is essential to be mindful of these potential obstructions and ensure they are cleared out during the removal process.

What would happen if you didn’t regularly clean out your hopper and auger?

  • Auger jams: Over time, pellet debris, dust, or moisture can accumulate in the auger, leading to clogs and jams. These blockages prevent the smooth flow of pellets into the fire pot, resulting in inconsistent heating, temperature fluctuations, or even a complete stoppage of pellet feeding.
  • Poor pellet quality: If old or degraded pellets remain in the hopper, they can mix with fresh pellets, affecting the overall quality of the fuel. This can result in inefficient combustion, diminished flavor, and potentially unpleasant flavors in your food.
  • Pellet degradation: Exposure to moisture, humidity, or extreme temperature variations can cause pellets to deteriorate. In a neglected hopper, pellets can absorb moisture or develop mold, making them less effective as fuel. Degrading pellets can also crumble or clump, leading to feeding issues and potential clogs in the auger system.
  • Pest infestations: A hopper filled with leftover pellets can attract pests like rodents, insects, or birds. These critters may view the hopper as a food source, leading to contamination, damage to the hopper or auger system, and potential hygiene concerns.
  • Inconsistent performance: Without regular cleaning, the accumulation of debris, ash, or pellet fragments can disrupt the proper functioning of your Traeger grill. This can result in inconsistent heat output, temperature fluctuations, poor smoke production, and overall subpar grilling performance.

Other interesting articles: