Last summer, the party at your aunts' place served a juicy and flavored beef that you've never had before. You know, it's not just the rubs and meats that rely on flavor. The beef had a mild smoky taste that never overshadowed the meat's scent. After researching, you find that pellets also add flavor to get a professionally cooked barbecue. Now, you can choose the best wood pellets for smoking according to the flavors you like.
Are you looking for a different flavor in your barbecue? But also you do not want to waste the pellets that you already have. You can buy a small quantity of 100% flavored pellets and mix with your pellets to get a new flavor. Pellets made of hickory, maple, apple, etc adds a sweet flavor to your veggies and poultry. Sometimes it's hard to choose the proper wood pellets for smoking. Various brands are offering various pellet blends that bring out the flavor. Many people don't know that there is a difference between food grade pellets and standard wood pellets. It is better not to use standard wood pellets for cooking because they contain barks and leaves of trees that make the taste worse. You also need to store the pellets properly so they don't get wet. Wet pellets are hard to light, leaving a deep pungent smell in your food. We've mentioned the tree woods that give mild, medium, and strong flavors which will help you pick the right pellet.
CookinPellets is the best pick on our list as it is a combination of the best four hardwoods. Hickory is used as the base wood which emits a deep smoky taste that complements the beef. Often, these pellets do not leave a large amount of ash that helps the barbecue or smoker work more effectively.
Traeger PEL319 Hardwood Grill Pellets is our best budget pick because the pellets are made of 100% raw hardwood and have low moisture content. The pellets offer a steady burn that makes grilling and smoking easier. Also, Traeger has a broad option of flavors from where you choose according to your preferences.
Quick Comparison: The 10 Best Wood Pellets
1. CookinPellets for smoking
This 40-pound pellet bag is a combination of Hickory, Apple, Cherry, and Hard Maple. These smoking woods are compatible with all forms of smokers and grills.
The woods were hard-dried before packaging so that the pellets do not create smoke that might hit your eyes while cooking. Depending on the temperature, these woods can last up to 20 hours. Pellets are made from the center of the log and produce less quantity of ashes.
2. Traeger PEL319 Hardwood Grill Pellets
Traeger offers a wide variety of flavors as it uses woods from Apple, Alder, Maple, Oak, etc. This 20-pound bag of mixed pellets gives a great flavor to your beef, pork, baked goods, Seafood, etc. Also, it does not carry any fillers or binders.
3. Bear Mountain BBQ Hardwood Pellets
Bear Mountain pellets are made of all-natural hardwood and do not contain any additives or binders as a flavor enhancer. Crafted in the USA, this 20-pound bag of pellets infuses the natural flavor into your dinner.
The smell is not overpowering, and it provides a consistent smoke. However, the size of the pellets can be too long for your barbecue. Check until the pellets are ignited. Pellets come in flavors of Cherry, Apple, Alder, Pecan, and Mesquite.
4. BBQr's Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
BBQr's Delight pellets have six distinct flavors, each of which is packaged individually. You may either blend each of them together or choose one flavor that suits your tastes for grilling. This brand has wood pellets consisting of apple, cherry, pecan, etc.
Another feature is that the pellets end up creating less ash and generate a constant fire that can perfectly grill or smoke your food. The internal flavor of the meat deepens when the heat is applied. Using these pellets, you can experience a perfectly cooked barbecue.
5. Louisiana Grills Blend Pellets
We all want wooden pellets that last a long time and have no overpowering flavor. These pellets come in a 40-pound bag with a small amount of sawdust. The pellets have a combination of 50% Maple, 25% Hickory and 25 %Cherry that gives you a sweet, fruity, and fresh flavor.
However, these pellets require a longer time for smoking your meat and they are not compliant with all forms of grills or smokers.
6. RecTec Grills Ultimate Blend Pellets
These pellets are a fusion of Oak and Hickory that provides constant heat for smoking. As soon as you open the bag of pellets, you'll get the scent of natural and fresh wood that tends to produce the pellets. The aroma is not overpowering, so you don't have to wonder whether or not the meats will lose their flavor.
The pellets are uniform in size that helps them to burn at a steady pace and generate a minimal amount of ash. Another factor about these pellets is that they are compatible with all kinds of the grill.
7. Green Mountain Grills Premium Cooking Pellets
These pellets are made of clean and dry sawdust that allows you to smoke at a very high temperature and pressure. Green mountain green pallets come in a variety of blends such as Apple blend, Texas blend, Fruitwood blend, etc. These pellets have a slightly sweet taste that does not suppress the taste of grilled meat.
These pellets are good for fish, poultry, and veggies without producing an enormous amount of ashes. You can use these pellets in front of your children as they burn with a moderate amount of smoke.
8. PIT BOSS BBQ Wood Apple Pellets
During the preparation of the pellets, the manufacturer used natural wood juice to bind the pellets together. Pit Boss apple pellets pull out the mildly sweet flavor that is perfect for smoking chicken, pork, tomatoes, etc.
If you want a strong taste, you can pick the Pit boss hickory hardwood pellets that will give your meal a smoky taste. The pellets are fully dried and burn very quickly, leaving a very small amount of ash.
9. Pit Boss 55435 Wood Pellets Competition Blend
Made of 100% hardwood, the natural lignin in the wood fibers binds these pellets together. The woods come from the USA and added no toxins during processing the pellets.
These finely blended pellet woods improve the taste of your steak, pizza, beef, etc. The mixture has the perfect flavor that goes with all sorts of food. Another consideration is that the pellets generate less ash that keeps your smoker clean.
10. Camerons Smoking Wood Pellets
Camerons bring out the delicious smoky flavor of your pork, poultry, etc. The pellets come in a bucket which makes it easy for storage.
Another function is that you can use these pellets indoors to enjoy a cozy meal. As Cameron offers a wide variety of flavors, you can choose the flavor that perfectly pairs with your meal. These pellets do not need soaking in water before use.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Wood Pellets for Smoking
As there are many options for pellets, it can get confusing for you to choose the perfect flavored pellets. If you are buying pellets for a barbecue party, you might want to keep in mind that everyone does not like bold flavors. However, before buying the pellets, you need to keep some factors in mind so that the pellets do not go to waste.
Softwood or Hardwood for smoking
Hardwood is better than softwood for smoking. Hardwood pellets burn for a long period and provide a stable heat to your meat. The wood pellets listed in our article are a mixture of fruit trees that are processed into pellets. Using these pellets for smoking will improve the taste of your food through the emitted smoke.
On the other hand, softwood burns quickly and gives a very light taste to the meat.
Flavored pellets vs Blend pellets
Pellets come in a wide variety of flavors to choose from. It solely depends on you how you want your meal to smell.
Purely flavored pellets or 100% flavored pellets use a particular category of wood for the flavor. As they do not incorporate any kind of additives or essential oil, they are quite expensive compared to other pellets. These pellets bring out an intense flavor to your meal.
Blended pellets are a mix of flavored wood and fillers in a ratio of 1:2. As the quantity of fillers is more, the price of the blended pellets is less than the pure flavored pellets.
Ordinary or standard pellets are usually used for bonfires during the winter season. They have a very flat flavor which badly impacts the food. These pellets are made from Oak trees.
Wide variety of flavor
We mentioned in our article that the pellets manufacturers process various flavored pellets to satisfy your preferences. The pellets come in mild, medium, and strong flavors. Oak is commonly used in pellets and they can be blended with fruity wood to enhance the flavor.
Apple has a faint fruity scent that goes well with chicken, pork, ham, etc. The woods are hard and can be well mixed with oak or mesquite for a better flavor.
Maple gives a mild, sweet, and smoky flavor to your veggies, cheese, and meat. It easily blends with other woods like apple, oak, etc.
Alder is mostly considered for smoking or grilling fishes. It has a very light flavor that does not overpower any flavor and brings out the natural flavor of pork and poultry.
Cherry is almost the same apple but it makes a mahogany color texture on the meat. It gives a subtle fruity flavor to your meal and can be combined with other wood to intensify the flavor.
Oak gives your meat and fish a medium smoky taste. The woods are strong and are commonly used in all brands. In addition, the flavor mixes well with all other fruit trees, but make sure the food is not over-smoked. The meal tastes bitter if it's over grilled or smoked.
Peach produces a medium fruity scent while burning. Pellets from these trees are used to grill chicken and pork.
Hickory pellets emit a deep smoky aroma that is suitable for use with any kind of meat. Like oak, it is commonly used for pellets. If you want a strong bacon flavor in your ribs, hickory pellets will serve the flavor to your meal.
Pecan has the same taste as hickory but not as strong as hickory. It works well with pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, etc. It leaves a bitter and sour taste if it has been smoking for a long time.
Mesquite produces extreme heat and gives a strong taste to your beef. It is widely used in Texas and can be used to smoke veggies and meat. The wood is sort of oily, which helps to provide excess heat while burning. Excessive heat can burn your food, so you need to keep the temperature under control.
Pimento adds a natural peppery flavor to your food. It is used in Jamaica for grilling chickens.
Walnut pellets are mostly used for red meats. It is often mixed with other wood to neutralize its flavor as it gives a strong bitter flavor.
Different grade of wood pellets
Different tree pellets provide different flavors to your meat and different pellet grade gives different usage which might or might not be suitable for smoking.
Premium wood pellets: This grade of pellets is expensive and is considered top-quality pellets. Developed from the waste sawdust, premium pellets have low moisture density and low ash content. Tree barks are not added in the production of the pellets and also chemicals or additives are used to enhance flavor.
Food grade wood pellets: These pellets are made for smoking and grilling. This grade does not contain chemical substances and is meant for use in food. Heating pellets are not the same as food pellets. Heating pellets can burn your food with excessive heat.
Standard wood pellets: These pellets create a huge amount of ash and that will change the flavor of your meat. This grade of pellets is not fit for cooking and grilling.
To get a perfect grilled or smoked barbecue you need to keep the meat up to a certain temperature. Too much heat can burn the meat without properly cooking it. Less heat might make the meat soggy and not cooked enough to eat. Look out for the BTU (British Thermal Units) on the pellets to get perfectly cooked meat.
When you burn wet wood, it generates an immense amount of smoke. Wet pellets are hard to ignite since the moisture in the pellets puts out the flames. Since wet pellets give a lot of smoke, it can be bothersome for some people. Massive amounts of smoke can make the eyes watery and create complications for those who have trouble breathing.
If your wood pellets are wet it would not light up properly. The water in the pellets will vaporize as smoke and mix with the actual wood smoke giving burning a flavor to your food. Buy the pellets that have moisture content 6.5%or below.
Quantity of Ash
You don't want to have the bother of cleaning your grill or smoker while smoking your food. To avoid this problem, pick a pellet that leaves less ash after burning. Your barbecue is not going to work productively if there's a lot of ash leftover. As a consequence, the stash of ash on the grill will affect the flavor of your meal.
Heating pellets or smoking pellets?
In the market, you will find various pellets used for various things. Heating pellets are not typically used for cooking. They are made of softwood, like pine, used for bonfires in the winter. Heating pellets also create a lot of ashes. Heating pellets are often made with various ingredients such as leaves, the bark of trees that might give the food a bad taste when used for cooking.
On the other hand, smoking pellets are specially processed for cooking purposes. The center of the log is used to make smoking pellets. As the woods are from various fruit trees, you can enjoy sweet, sour, and organic taste on your meat.
Size of pellets
Usually, all pellets are about the same size, but certain brands make small pellets that burn quickly. Not all brands have uniform pellet shapes. After the dry woods are shredded into the fiber, the pellet mill exerts extreme pressure to form a uniform and compressed pellets. Uniform pellets give a long and constant heat that is ideally suited to your barbecue.
Which is the better option for cooking, heating pellets, or smoking pellets?
Heating pellets are made of chemicals and used for bonfires or for pellet stoves for heating a particular area. Heating pellets are not food grade pellets so they should not be used for cooking.
Smoking pellets are made from logs and food-grade certified. They do not have harmful flavors that can be harmful to health.
How to store the pellets so that they don’t turn into sawdust?
You need to store the pellets in a place where there is less moisture. Wet pellets are hard to light and do not give a long burn. It is advised to use the pellets within six months so that they don't turn into sawdust.
Airtight bins: After you bought the bag of pellets try to check if there is a hole in the bag or not. It might be hard to find a small hole. It is better to store the pellets in an airtight bin so that they are exposed to oxygen and moisture. Wet pellets are good for none.
Do not store on the ground: During the rainy season water might enter your store and the bag of pellets can get wet. Placing the bag on the ground increases the risk of explosion to the pellets. So, try to store pellets in a higher place to avoid wastage.
Do not open the bag until required: Try not opening the bags or bins frequently to check on the flavor. Frequent checks on flavor may decrease the strength of flavor and you might not get the taste you want at the time of your meal. Also frequently opening the bag exposes the pellets to humidity and moisture.
Which one better Wood Chunks, Chips, or Pellets for Smoking?
Wood chips are small in size and do not have uniform shapes. They can be used for fast cooking as it burns away quickly. Wood chips need to be added frequently and opening the grill to add chips takes away the flavor.
Wood chunks are bigger. You can use wood chunks if you want a steady and long flame. The wooden chunks give a fantastic taste to your barbecue but make sure if your grill or smoker is compatible with the wooden chunks.
Logs are processed in several steps to form wood pellets for smoking. Wood pellets can be blended with several kinds of wood and give less burn time compared to wood chunks. Wood pellets may contain a chemical that acts as a binding agent of the pellets. Make sure to buy food-grade pellets. Smoking with the chemical pellets will penetrate the food which can be injurious to health.
Are wood pellets eco friendly?
Pellets are made of wood but they contain toxins or glue to bind the wood dust together. Pellets are designed in such a way that they burn for a long time without producing much quantity of ashes and smoke. Additives are added into the pellets so it gives an effective use to the people. So, wood pellets are not totally eco friendly.
How do wood pellets add flavor to your food?
The wood pellets are loaded into the hopper and then moved to a burning pot where the pellets are burned. As the grills are electrical, the temperature can be controlled by the controller. If you want high flames, you also need to add pellets frequently. By burning, the aroma is combined with the natural smoky wood scent. The grill fan circulates the heat and smoke to the meat. The smoke penetrates and brings a tasty, flavored meal to your table.
Why are pellet grills more convenient than charcoal and gas grills?
Cooking with charcoal requires a lot of time and is also hard to control the heat. Charcoal grills bring out the classic smoky flavor of the meat but it is tiresome to set the fire.
Gas grills are easy to use but they barely add flavor to the meat. You can easily heat up the gas grill but your food may remain undercooked.
Pellet grills are simple as you can always control the temperature. Also, you will find an array of flavors to enrich the taste of your food. Pellet grills are easy to clean as the pellets are made in such a way that produces less amount of ask and smoke.
However, pellets grills are expensive compared to charcoal and gas grills.
If your barbecue is not properly smoked, you need to check whether or not smoking pellets are still eligible for cooking. Flavors and texture depend on the heat and temperature of the smoking pellets. Our article on the best wood pellets for smoking would be enlightening to you to choose the better wood pellets. As we discussed all the details about the pellets, we hope you enjoy a perfect smoked barbecue with your family.
Nowadays, it's hard to find ideal flavored pellets when there is a wide variety of them. You need to determine whether you want 100% flavored pellets or mixed pellets. Blended pellets offer a mild smoky taste relative to pure flavored pellets. People who don't like the heavy fruity taste on their meat can choose the blended flavored pellets. Also, the pellets need to have a low amount of ash so that the meat does not have an unpleasant smell. Besides, your pellets need to burn for a long time because you don’t want to refill the grill with pellets in a short time span. Last but not the least, ensure that the pellets are dry. Otherwise, there will be a lot of smoke which might be a bother to some people.