Pit Boss P Setting: What It Means and How To Use It

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Pellet Grill

When you spend your hard-earned money on a Pit Boss pellet grill, you want to get a good return on your investment. Understanding the different settings can go a long way toward helping you achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at the Pit Boss P setting so you can take the first steps on an efficient and rewarding journey.

About Pellet Grills

These nifty inventions work by transferring the wood pellets from the attached hopper into the main unit. The pellets are fed into the firebox by an auger component, where they’re ignited to bring the grill up to the desired temperature. As a bonus, they also create the smoke flavor we all know and love.

When the grill reaches the set temperature, the grill automatically cuts off the fuel supply. If the temperature begins to drop, then the auger gets going again so that the fire will remain hot enough for cooking.

The nature of the system means that minor fluctuations are inevitable. If your pellet grill seems to be experiencing more extreme temperature swings, it could indicate a problem with the system.

What is The Pit Boss P Setting?

Pellet Grill

Put simply, the “P” in the P setting stands for “pause.” When you turn up the P setting on a Pit Boss grill, you’re increasing the amount of time between each pellet cycle.

What does this mean? Cutting down on the pellet supply will lower the ambient temperature of the grill. It also means that the firebox will produce more smoke, because the pellets that are already inside will have a chance to smolder, rather than igniting in a clean burst of flame.

By contrast, when you adjust the P setting to a lower number, you’ll be supplying the firebox with a steady intake of pellets. They’ll ignite at a faster rate, thereby increasing the temperature of the grill.

This feature is designed to give you complete control over the cooking environment. When you know how to use the P setting, you can compensate for high or low ambient temperatures, strong winds, and excessive humidity. It can even compensate for wood pellets that aren’t the best quality to begin with.

Recommended Initial Setting

According to Pit Boss, you should start your first cooking session with the P setting at 4. This is the factory default setting, and it allows the auger to run at 18-second intervals with 115 seconds in between each cycle. This should get the temperature where you need it to be.

Making the Adjustments

The P set button is recessed, so you don’t have to worry about hitting it accidentally as you cook. You can access it using a toothpick, screwdriver, or shish kabob skewer. Just be careful not to press it too hard–usually, light pressure will do the trick.

When the button is pressed, the P setting will begin to flash, then the number displayed will go up in value. For example, if you have it set to the default level of P4, it will switch to P5 after you press the button. Once it gets to the highest setting of P7, it will reset to P0 next.

When To Adjust the P Setting

If the Pit Boss grill is set to the SMOKE function–that is, if it’s set to a temp below 200 degrees Fahrenheit–and the temperature begins to fluctuate, now is the time to adjust the P setting.

The P setting was designed for the SMOKE mode because it’s the only mode that’s controlled exclusively by timing. It might also help if you have the grill set to temperatures in the 200 to 250 degree range, but it’s most useful for the smoking function.

What does this mean, exactly? When the temperature dial is in the SMOKE position, the auger is running in a manual mode. It will run and feed pellets for exactly four minutes, and then switch to the selected cycle. If it’s in the default setting of P4, that means it will stop for 115 seconds, run for another 18 seconds, then continue to repeat the cycle.

Adjusting the P Setting: What You Should Know

pause button

When you adjust the P setting, you’re interfering with the auger system. Rapid increases or decreases in pellet flow can damage this vital component. Therefore, you should always proceed carefully when you’re making the switch.

Adjust the settings one at a time, waiting about 30 minutes before making the next adjustment. If you move too quickly or make the changes too often, the flame might die out entirely, meaning you’ll have to start the grill all over again. This can be ruinous to a well-planned cookout, particularly if you’re slow-cooking Boston butt for pulled pork.

If you suspect that the flame is dying out already, or if the temperature seems to be dropping rapidly and then swinging up again, make sure to lower the P setting. Don’t be tempted to increase it in hopes of lowering the temperature.

For Maximum Smoke Flavor

If you’d like to extract the most wood flavor possible from your pellets, increase the P setting. This will keep the temperature low enough to give you that prized smoke ring on your pork butt and beef brisket. It will also increase the cooking time, so make sure to plan ahead.

You’ll need to pay close attention to the temperature when you use the P6 or P7 settings. Because the fire is burning so low, it’s at risk of burning itself out.

For Maximum Heat

At low P settings, the grill’s internal temperature will rocket up. It will also result in greater pellet consumption, since the auger will be repeating its on/off cycle more often.

If you switch to the SMOKE setting after preheating the grill at a higher temperature, the auger will automatically continue to feed pellets for four minutes. Don’t panic when you see the temperature rising–it will stabilize after the grill has had a chance to adjust to your chosen P setting.

With a Temperature Dial Preset

You can also use the P setting on a Pit Boss pellet grill with one of the temperature dial presets. For best results, however, you should preheat the grill on the SMOKE setting first.

After the grill has had a chance to preheat, choose the correct temperature using the dial presets. At this point, the auger will continue to run until it reaches the set temperature, at which point it will begin the feed cycle based on the chosen P setting. The grill should remain at the designated temperature for the remainder of the cooking time.

More Tips for Temperature Control

While the P setting is an important component of every Pit Boss pellet grill, it’s not the only option for achieving control over the temps. Here are a few other tips that might come in handy.

Invest in a Grill Blanket

Insulated grill blankets are a remarkable invention. If the blanket is well-made, it will protect your pellet grill from the elements, thereby helping it to maintain consistent temperatures. You may also save money in the long run, since pellet grills burn through fewer pellets when they’re running at peak efficiency.

Use a Dome Thermometer

If you use a dome thermometer, you can get a fast and fairly accurate reading. Bear in mind, however, that the readout will be taken from the highest point of the grill, so don’t rely on it for information about how the meat is coming along. For that, you should use a meat probe (see below).

For best results, clean the dome thermometer regularly.

Use the Meat Probe

If you don’t trust the temperature readouts of the grill itself, use a meat probe to test the internal temperature of your creation. You can look for this accessory on the company website if it doesn’t come standard with the unit that you buy. Digital meat probes are also available through other online retailers.

probing grilled steak

Cook With Quality Pellets

For best results, only use Pit Boss brand pellets. Not only will they last longer, they’ll burn at an even pace, giving you better control over the internal temperature of your grill.

Another tip: Keep the pellets sealed tightly and store them in a cool, dry place.

Keep The Door Closed

If you’re opening and closing the door all the time, the pellet grill will lose its heat rapidly. Have patience and resist the urge to get visual updates on the progress of your barbecue. You’ll be rewarded with faster and tastier results.

Check the Burn Pot

When there are holes in the burn pot, heat can escape in the same fashion. It’s especially important to keep an eye on the condition of the burn pot if you have an older Pit Boss model that’s seen many long years of frequent use.

Make Adjustments to the Smoke Cap

Check the chimney cap and adjust it to achieve the proper amount of airflow. Often, the grill won’t heat to temperature because the interior isn’t getting enough air. Similarly, if the cap is open wide, the temperature might be climbing too high.

Our Favorite Pit Boss Pellet Grill

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to adjust the P setting on your Pit Boss pellet grill, you can fine-tune the temperature and smoke output to achieve the best possible result.

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar


9 thoughts on “Pit Boss P Setting: What It Means and How To Use It”

  1. Thank you for the article Darren, this is a very interesting setting. However, I have the Pit Boss Pro Series 850 with the PID controller. I don’t see any recessed button for the the P-setting. Do you know if there is a way to adjust the P-setting on the PID controller?

    • @Dave, Pro Series 850 and 1150 have a PID controller so there is no P setting on them. Pro Series 800 and 1100 do not have PID controllers so there is a P setting button on them.

  2. Thanks Darren. The manual that came with the unit was not easy to understand. You helped me understand the settings much better. Love my unit and know I will have to make adjustments depending on weather. Thanks again………….


  4. If I’m in the default P settings 4 do I cook while I’m in the smoke position or am I able to move my knob to a desired temperature and it was still feed my pellets at the default P settings 4 wile I’m at at different temperature?

  5. Very good article. I haven’t adjusted my p setting much. My p setting seems to only be available at 180 degrees. If I want to smoke at 225 degrees, will I still get good smoke? The p setting only seems to be available at 180 degrees.


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