Skip to Main Content
Start Traegering With 0%* APR Financing  |Shop Now

Running out of Pellets

Have you gotten a low pellet level notification, only to open the hopper and see that it's still practically full but has just created a funnel shape in the middle? Or have you run out of pellets in the middle of a cook? Let's review what to do when you run out of pellets, and let's introduce you to a term called, "tunneling."


Tunneling is a term we use when the pellets in the hopper create a funnel-shaped void while feeding pellets into the grill. The grill basically feeds all the pellets in the middle of the hopper but leaves a large collection of pellets on the sides of the hopper.

While newer grills have improved design to reduce this from happening, it still occurs occasionally, particularly in small cavity grills like the Junior, Tailgater and Bronson models. If you find that your pellets are tunneling, try the following:

  • If this occurs only occasionally, periodically check the pellets when you go out to check your food. Stir around the pellets in the hopper with a long spoon or spatula, being careful to keep your hand away from the bottom of the hopper.
  • If you notice this happen often, check the inside of the hopper for any damage. Damage can increase the chance of tunneling.
  • Clean out the hopper. If you have a lot of saw dust or blockage in the hopper, this can also increase the frequency of tunneling.
  • If you have tried all the above solutions and still find your pellets tunneling often, please contact Customer Service.

Running out of Pellets during a Cook

While tunneling is a false alarm of sorts, it's still possible that you will actually run out of pellets during a cook. If you do run out of pellets in the middle of a cook, don't worry: getting back grilling is easy.

  1. First, check your grill's temperature.
  2. If the grill is still at your set temperature, refill the hopper. You may experience a dip in temperature in the next few minutes due to a possible empty pocket within the auger, but the grill will get back to your set temperature momentarily.
  3. If your grill has already started dropping in temperature, or if it has already shut itself off, remove your food from the grill, place it in the oven to keep warm, and wait for the grill to cool.
    1. Once cool, pull out the grate, the drip tray and the heat baffle.
    2. Look in the firepot to ensure it is not full of pellets.
      1. If it is full of pellets, clean out the firepot.
    3. Turn the grill on and set to a high temperature.
    4. Wait for the auger to fill with pellets and then turn off the grill.
    5. Replace the heat baffle, drip tray and grates.
    6. Turn the grill back on and resume your cook.