Mastering The Pit Boss P Setting Like A Pro [A Complete Guide]

If you are doing BBQ at your Pit Boss, we understand how challenging it can be to maintain a low and slow cook for it. The longer smoke exposure at low temps is what creates the prized pink smoke ring on the meat exterior, making it tender and juicy. That is when the Pit Boss P setting comes into action. 

The P setting, also called “smoke” mode, is one of the key features that sets Pit Boss pellet grills apart. This setting allows you to run the grill at low temperatures between 180-250°F in order to produce maximum smoke for flavor infusing and low-and-slow barbecue cooking.

So, are you excited to take the best advantage of the Pit Boss’s signature P-setting capabilities? Let’s dive right in and explore the ultimate benefits of P setting and how to ensure the best usage of it!

pit boss p setting

Pit Boss P Setting: What Actually It Is

P stands for “Pause” in Pit Boss, a special “slow and slow cook” feature designed for optimal smoke production, especially during extreme weather, affecting the internal cooking temperature. Here, “Pause” refers to the intermittent pellet feeding required to maintain proper smoking temperatures.

Beyond the low-temperature cook, it can be optimized in various ways to control the temperature and smoke output on the food while the grill is in smoke mode.

How Does A Pit Boss Pellet Grill Work: Quick Overview

Before getting into the P-setting details, let’s walk you through a short glimpse of how this pellet works. This will help ensure that you can effectively use the P-setting and achieve the desired results when cooking.

Well, the function of a pellet grill starts with the use of hardwood pellets. These are the fuel sources of the system. The pellets are fed into a firepot by an auger. Basically, you place the food in the cooking chamber and start the grill. 

The pellets stored in the hopper start pushing into the fire pot through the auger and an electric heating element ignites the pellets, creating heat and smoke for cooking.

The grill’s temperature is controlled by adjusting the rate at which the pellets are fed into the firepot and the speed of the combustion that regulates airflow. 

This allows users for precise temperature control, making it suitable for various cooking techniques such as grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking. 

List Of Pit Boss Pellet Grill Models With P Setting

Not all Pit boss models feature the P-settings function.  Even you will rarely find this feature in the newer model. Here is the comprehensive list of the Pit boss with the P settings:

  • The Pit Boss Sportsman Series
  • The Pit Boss Navigator Series
  • The Pit Boss Mahogany 440D
  • The Original Pro Series
  • The Austin XL
  • Pit Boss’ including the 700FB, 820 FB, and 1000SC

 If you’re confused about your Pit boss model, check the manual you have received with your pellet grill and check whether it has a P setting or not. 

How Does the P Setting Work?

The P-setting is an outstanding feature of Pit Boss that allows users to customize the grill temperature setting according to their preferences. It is mainly an indicator of the pellet feeding cycle in the auger system. 

Think of it like this:

You increase the pause time for the auger, which means the pellets are smoldering longer before another batch feeds in. This will lower the temperature, creating more smoke. 

And a shorter pause?  Vice versa of longer pause means less smoke in high temp. 

But here your question would be how do I control this auger pause with the term P-settings? 

Well, I will it clear to you. But before that have a short glimpse of the below Pit Boss P setting chart to get a better understanding. 

Pit Boss P Setting Charts:

‘P’ SettingAuger OnAuger Off
P018 seconds55 seconds
P118 seconds70 seconds
P218 seconds85 seconds
P318 seconds100 seconds
P418 seconds115 seconds
P518 seconds130 seconds
P618 seconds140 seconds
P718 seconds150 seconds

Understanding The Different P Settings On Pit Boss

As you can see in the chart above, the P Setting has different numbers ranging from 0-7, presenting the timing of auger feeding pellets in the grill firepot. By adjusting the P from 1 to 6, you can adjust the auger stop timing as with how much smoke you need at a certain temp.

For example:

You are using your grill at the lowest temp set to bring robust smoky flavor to your meat. But it is too cold & windy outside and your grill is almost fighting against flame dying out. And you can’t increase the temp as it may burn your marinated meat at once. 

So what’s the solution?

Press the P button on your control panel and set it in between any number from P4-P7. It will increase your pellet burning time and help get more smoke without even increasing the temp. 

But one thing to note here:

P4 is the default setting in the P functions in which temperature ranges between 160°F – 200°F. The best part is that you can use this factory setting for all your cooks to get a balanced smoke.  

Just turn on your grill with this P4 default setting and set the temp indication to smoke mode. You will expect to run your grill at 180-210° F in the smoke mode. 

 But more or less smoke, just tweak the setting. 

How To Adjust P Setting On Pit Boss?

P-setting or power setting is an essential feature of the Pit Boss that allows users to fine-tune between their cooking temperature and smoke production for various foods. But all that is possible by proper adjustment of the P-setting.

Here is the simple step-by-step guide for you to adjust the P-setting on Pit Boss:

Step #1: Turn on your Pit Boss grill by flipping the power switch to the “on” position.

Step #2: On the main control panel, locate the “P” setting button and press it firmly to change the setting. If needed use a toothpick or a similar long, thin-tipped tool.

pit poss P setting button

Adjust P Setting For A Maximum Smoky Flavor

To extract the most wood flavor, set the P setting higher for example P6 to P7 It causes longer pauses between auger running, allowing pellets to start smoldering lightly which ensures maximum smoke production. But take note, after a P7 cycle, the grill will go back to P0.

Adjust The P-Setting for Maximum Heat

To run the grill at maximum temperature, set the P-setting lower like P1, P2, or P3. This causes more pellets to be fed through the auger, resulting in higher temperatures and less smoke. 

Step #3: In most Pit Boss models, users need to adjust the P setting through the temperature dial. For instance, use the up and down arrow buttons and Set your desired P setting temperature. The temperature range is from 180°F to 250°F.

Step #4: For light smoke flavor, aim for lower temps around 180-200°F. For heavier smoke, use 225-250°F.

Step #5: Let the grill preheat until it reaches your set P temperature. This usually takes 10-15 minutes.

Step #6: Place your food on the grill grate and close the lid. Monitor the temperature to ensure it stays steady.

Additional Tips:

  • You can add smoke wood chunks or use a smoke tube if desired for additional smoke production.
  • Cook your food using the P setting and smoke to your desired doneness.
  • Allow about 5 minutes for the grill to transition off the P setting before setting a new cooking temp.

Risks With A High P-Setting

When you’re setting the P-setting too high, be sure you’re poising too many risks in your growing seasons. From my own experience:

1. Grill Keeps Shutting Off:

Too high P-setting simply means the pellets are feeding through the auger for a longer period. At this stage, the grill can struggle to maintain a steady heat. The temperature may dip too low or spike higher than desired. 

2. Fire Goes out

In case the temperature drops too low (under 180°F), the pellets may stop burning altogether, causing the fire to go out completely. This leads to a shutdown.

3. Creosote Buildup

Higher P-settings generate excessive smoke in low heat. At times, the smoke production is too high which promotes creosote residues inside the grill, requiring thorough cleaning.

At times, too much smoke from very low temps can make food taste bitter. The flavor balance gets thrown off.

4. Pellets Wastage

Too high “P” setting on a Pit Boss grill results in the fire dying out completely. But the auger continues to feed pellets with no flame, resulting in fuel wastage. 

What About Too Lower P-Setting?

Not just higher P settings pauses risks in grilling, too low P pauses may lead to several hurdles during grilling season. As per expert suggestion:

  • Less smoke- Too low P-pause means too high heat output in the smoke setting. At very temps, the pellets burn hotter and too faster, producing less smoke. Temps over 300°F greatly reduce smoke.
  • Drying out – High temperatures cook meat quicker, which can lead to drying out quicker as well, especially with longer cooks.
  • Pellet jam – The fast auger cycling to meet higher heat output can lead to jams.
  • Difficulty maintaining high temps – Once the grill becomes too hot, bringing it back down to low temps can be tricky.

When Should You Use The P Setting

You are using your Pit boss in smoke mode and the temperature starts swinging, failing to maintain your desired smoke level, be sure it is the time to use the P –setting. If it is about the best timing, I would prefer to use it in harsh winter conditions, where there is often a drop or rise in temperature.

During winter, it is enough hard to maintain and regulate the grill temperature due to windy conditions. This is the time, it is quite impossible to cook at a lower setting. 

For instance, the P setting is perfect for traditional low and slow smoking of tough cuts of meat like brisket, ribs, and pork shoulders. The low temp will produce heavy smoke, making your barbecue more tender and flavorful.

Here are some more aspects when I need to use P or “smoke” setting in my Pit Boss:

#Cold Smoking: Because it maintains such a low temperature, I use it to cold-smoke my favorite food like cheese, nuts, or salmon. Cold smoking won’t cook the food, just infuse it with a smoky flavor.

#Adding extra smoke: If you want to add an extra layer of smoke to your food being cooked at high temps, just set a P setting for the first 1-2 hours of cooking before raising the heat. This will infuse your food with smoke

#Smoking fish & vegetables: Delicate vegetables, Fish and other seafood do well with a short smoke at low temps. In this instance, The P setting will give just enough smoke without overdoing it.

#Making jerky: If you are also favorable to jerky like me but always struggle to dry the meat, you can rely on the Pit Boss’s P setting to get the job done.

ensure the jerky dries properly

The low heat will ensure the jerky dries properly.

How To Use P Setting In Cold Weather?

Wondering but it’s a fact that the overall functionality of the Pit Boss P setting varies depending on the seasonal condition. Like in Spring and hot weather during Summer, you can easily use a higher P-setting number. The higher the P-setting, the more smoke you’ll get. 

But when it is extremely cold outside, you need to shorten the pause between the auger running. For instance, keep the P setting lower to feed the pellet faster and prevent the flame from going out

Here are some other key concerns that I always follow when using the pellet grill in wintry conditions:

Adjust The P Setting:

Usually, you will find the default P setting in P4 (appropriate for a normal environment). If you want your food to come out nice in the harsh weather, understanding the amount of pause time using this setting is the key here.  

For instance, adjust the P setting at P2 or P3 to feed the auger tube less frequently and allow the grill to become hotter.

Monitor The Pellets Level:

When you’re lowering your P setting, you will expect your grill to become hotter quickly. As a result, your grill is more likely to consume more pellets than usual due to the high temperature. So while grilling in cold weather, check the pellet availability as well. 

Here are some more pro tips you can apply to use Pit Boss grill in winter: 

  • Try to position your pellet grill in a protected area, away from direct wind and snow. This will help you to prevent heat loss.
  • Allow your pit boss to preheat for a longer period. 
  • Consider using an insulating blanket designed for your specific Pit Boss model. This will help retain temperature in cold weather.
  • Keep a close eye on the internal temperature of your grill and adjust the P setting accordingly. Your main aim would be to achieve the right smoke level at an accurate temperature.
  • Last, but not least, ensure 100% hardwood pellets for a stable temperature

Pro Tips For Proper Use Of The P Setting On Pit Boss

P setting is not just press the P button on the controller, sit back and enjoy! You need to be professional in improving temperature control as well as getting the most benefits of this feature. 

Wondering some wonderful tips to be a pro in it? Okay, have a short glimpse at below:

1. Inspect Your Pellet Grill

Start by inspecting the overall condition of your pellet grill, especially the burn pot. It should be clean enough to ensure the efficient burning of the pellets. 

At times, it develops holes or damages, most likely due to unmaintained temperature. If that is so, replace the burn pot as soon as possible to prevent unusual heat loss while using the p setting.

2. Make The Best Usage Of Temperature Probe

Adjusting the P setting on your Pit-boss grill will impact the internal temperature of your food. Thus while using this feature, you’ll need to constantly check the temperature and adjust it accordingly.

For instance, you can use a meat probe or aka thermometer. It is the most reliable way to measure the internal temperature of the meat. Also, you can use Leave-in thermometers to measure temperature throughout your cooking process and send data to your phone or a display panel. 

3. Keep The Hopper Full

During the growing season, check and ensure that your hopper is full with adequate fuel. But avoid overloading it as too many pellets affect the functionality of P-setting. 

4. Use Good Quality Pellets

Use high-quality wood pellets in this instance as they burn evenly and allow you better control of your temperature setting. 

More Tips For Optimizing P Setting To Get More Smoke

P- setting is an amazing feature from Pit Boss that makes it convenient to adjust the grill temperature and smoky production with the weather changes. Well, we’ve already discussed you can adjust it to get optimum benefits. 

But the more you get control over this setting, the more you can elevate your grilling game and get the desired results.

Here are some additional tips that I always follow while grilling with P setting on:

  • I always try to adjust my P setting once at a time and give it time for up to 30 minutes to set in. Adjusting the P-settings too frequently or too slowly causes temperature issues like the flame dying out or unexpected temperature swings.
  • Low temperature is the key to enhanced smoke production. Thus start with lower P temperatures and let it go for 30 minutes to an hour. Then turn it up to 225°F or 250°F. 

[225°F is considered the ideal temperature range for low and slow barbequing with balanced smoke production. Check out our detailed guide on this fact and get more control over Pit Boss P-setting for 225. ]

  • Open the lid as little as possible when cooking at low P settings This maintains smoke levels.
  • If you are a beginner, I recommend you keep an experimental record of the P setting every time you use it with the achieved results. It will work as a reference for you in the next cooking and help you to get the finest results and avoid mistakes.    
  • Always ensure your pellets are dry before grilling. 
  • Do a burn-off cycle periodically to clean the auger and fire pot to enhance smoke output. 
  • When I need to enhance the smoky flavor of my food, I prefer to use a smoker tube. Just fill a stainless steel tube with pellets, light it, and place it in the grill. This gives constant extra smoke.

Troubleshooting Guide If Your Pit Boss P Setting Not Working

If you are trying to use your P setting and it is continuously failing to show your desired results even though everything other looks in tip-top condition. Don’t fret not! I was also in the same condition as you. Then I inspected my Pit boss and found these key points to fix:

Degradation In The Power supply:

Make sure the grill is plugged in and the power outlet is supplying electricity. Reset the breaker if needed. Inspect the fuse as well and replace it if required.

Test The Hot Rod:

The hot rod needs to be heated up to ignite the pellets. See if it is getting hot after 10-15 minutes on the P setting. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace it.

 pit boss hot rod

Clogged Hopper:

Old pellets and debris can prevent new pellets from feeding. Empty the hopper and vacuum thoroughly. Use new, dry, premium pellets with no filler wood.

Faulty Auger Or Fan Blades:

Inspect the auger and fan blades for any obstructions, like bone fragments or unburnt pellets, stopping pellet flow. check out our complete Pit Boss troubleshooting guide to fix the auger and fan issues.

Examine Temperature Probe:

Make sure the probe is clean and well-secured to its. Replace the probe if faulty.

Check Igniter Wiring:

 Loose igniter wires could be interrupting power. Reconnect or replace as needed.


Is it okay to use my Pit Boss P setting grill in the rainy season?

It is possible as long as you can take some basic precautions, especially keeping the grill covered to prevent excess water from getting into key components, causing fire hazards. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, when it rains you’d avoid grilling as much as possible.

What pellets should I use in my Pit Boss grill?

It is best to use the pellet grill from the Pit Boss brand to ensure the optimal performance of the grill. You can use other brands but make sure it is  100% hardwoods, free of additives, and in Consistent sizing and shape to allow reliable feeding in the auger.

How many pellets do I need while using the P setting in my Pit Boss?

Well, the factors depend on your chosen p setting of your Pit boss. In case of a higher P setting, the ager turns slower, allowing an adequate pellet amount to urn. In the other case, a low P setting allows the auger to turn faster and you need more pellets to keep the temp stable.

Can wood pellets go bad?

Yes, wood pellets can go bad if they are exposed to moisture for an extended period. Moisture can cause the wood pellets to swell and become unusable for heating or cooking. It’s important to store wood pellets in a dry and well-ventilated area to prevent them from going bad.

In Closing

Well, that’s all our discussion here on the Pit Boss P setting. After reading this long guide, it should be clear to you that while P setting is a blessing, it can be your struggle point as well if not correctly maintained. 

That’s the point, you need to care about readjusting the setting for your different dishes and smoke requirements. Still, if you are in any confusion, hit a comment in our comment box. Our grill experts are always ready to provide assistance.

About William

William is the founder of He has real life practical skills in fixing smoker & heating appliance issues. He loves to share his knowledge & helps others in fixing their appliances & saving their money. William firmly believes that anyone can repair his or her unit with the correct guidance & knowledge. See more at about us.

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