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How To Use Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill - The Ultimate Guide

How To Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill – The Ultimate Guide

BBQ wood pellet smokers have gotten more buzz recently. They’re a kind of bbq that uses compressed wood pellets, often flavored, as the source of cooking fuel and adding smoke flavors to meats and vegetables. Because of that people want to know “How to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill?“. 

How do these wood pellet grills contrast to the traditional charcoal bbq when it pertains to ease and convenience of use, and most importantly, taste?


You can NOT use the same pellets used in your home furnace in your barbeque! BBQ pellets are pure wood without any fillers, while the kind made for heating can have both fillers and also chemicals.

BARBEQUE wood pellets are flavored with types, or blends of wood to get the smoky flavors you want. Without pellets in your BBQ, you would have to add wood chips.


Charcoal briquettes are fairly economical given that they last a long time. Lump charcoal burns more swiftly so is more expensive, particularly if you cook a great deal.

Wood pellets can get expensive, they burn rapidly and at greater temperature levels. High-quality pellets are needed for food, which is a little more costly.

Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill


Pellet BBQs are better at smoking than at straight cooking. They do exceptionally well at ‘low and slow’ cooking, not well at searing meat.

Hardwood pellets provide a better ‘wood’ flavor than using charcoal. Who would have guessed?.

Some people have actually complained that the ‘smoke’ taste with a pellet grill is too light for their taste.

Using charcoal does flavor the food with the taste many people connect with grilled food. A taste that is hard to beat!

For searing and straight cooking, like steaks, burgers, hotdogs, and also poultry like chicken, the charcoal BBQ can create a good sear. Excellent smoky tastes can be done, not as easily or quickly as using a wood pellet grill, but with a stronger smoky taste.


Wood pellet smokers are becoming more mainstream. They are generally faster as well as easier to use, yet in terms of cost and preference as contrasted to a charcoal grill, it is a toss-up.

We certainly like our charcoal BBQ!

Barbecuing is one of America’s pastimes. According to the Fireplace, Patio Area and Barbecue Association, 75 percent of Americans have an outdoor BBQ or smoker.

While barbeques can be utilized to cook steak, fish, pork, lamb, chicken, and also vegetables, almost 60 percent of Americans favor cooking hamburgers on their BBQ.

For years, your selection of a grill was rather restricted. Your 2 major options were charcoal grills or gas grills. Some may have had electric grills if they lived somewhere that did not permit fires.

Over the last 10-20 years, there has been increased interest in cooking with wood pellets, as a source of fuel and pellet grills/smokers. Many people are choosing to grill with wood pellets for many reasons including increased taste and convenience.

Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill


Pellets are pieces of compressed food-grade wood that serve as fuel for a pellet grill.

Some pellets come from flavorful woods, like apple or hickory, which add layers of flavor to food.

– Fuel-efficiency: Contrasted to various other kinds of cooking fuel, wood pellets are an extremely affordable and also environmentally-friendly choice. A bag of pellets can last a long time if stored correctly

– Flexibility: If looking for those grill sear marks or trying your hand at tender, low-and-slow smoking, wood pellets can help you attain both.


One reason that pellet smokers are so prominent for outdoor cooking is that wood pellets instill foods with a natural wood-smoke taste. Nonetheless, these are no normal pellets. To qualify as food-grade and safe for consumption, pellets go through a process that guarantees top quality.

High-quality wood pellets depend upon several factors, consisting of just how much dampness the timber includes, the degree of ash in the bag as well as where the timber is sourced. For the best cooking experience, search for wood pellet bags noted with the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) High-Quality Mark, a type of third-party accreditation.


Pellets are often sold in 20-40 pellet bags, which may seem like a lot initially. Proper storage will keep your pellets in usable condition.

Exposure to moisture or water will destroy the high quality of your pellets, which affects how they burn and taste. 

The best pellet storage is a five-gallon bucket with a closed lid or a plastic tub. 


Keeping your pellets outside sounds great but you have the elements to battle. Keep them off the ground and cover the container with a tarp.

Keep pellets away from your smoker and also water resources. Sprinkler system, tubes, swimming pools as well as areas where water tends to gather might all be a risk to your wood pellets.

Do not mix new pellets with old ones. To check freshness break a pellet. if it breaks in two, it is fresh. If it crumbles it is old.


This depends on the original quality, type of pellet, and how they are stored. Old pellets will still burn but will lose the flavor.

Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill


Charcoal and wood pellets are inexpensive and popular sources for fueling barbecues. With the increased availability and quality of wood pellets, it is no wonder people are asking whether they can be used in other types of grills and how to do it.

The answer is YES!

As stated at the beginning:

You can NOT use the same pellets used in your home furnace in your barbeque! BBQ pellets are pure wood without any fillers, while heating pellets can have both fillers and also chemicals.

When using wood pellets in a charcoal grill the pellets are NOT the main source of fuel. They are complimenting the fire by improving the flavor of cooking food thru the smoke.


– Light the charcoal fire in your grill like you normally would. I use a Chimney Starter, it saves me a lot of time.

– Wait till the charcoal heats up to cooking temperature and has a burning glow, signaling it is hot and ready to cook.

– Add a handful of pellets. I estimate 1/2 cup of pellets should give you about 40-45 minutes of smoke. 

– Wait for the pellets to ignite. As soon as they do, we’re ready to cook. When the pellets ignite they’ll start to produce that delicious, great smoky flavor.

– Close your grill’s lid and also vent as needed to maintain the temperature for your food.

– You might need to add pellets depending on how many hours of cooking you are planning. If you’re cooking a steak or burgers you may not need more. You might require more if you are smoking a brisket all day.

That is the most basic and reliable way to use wood pellets for smoking with a charcoal grill.

Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill


Depending on how your grill is set up, it might easier to use a pellet smoker tube. Fill the tube with wood pellets, light the end and it produces smoke for up to 5 hours.

A pellet tube smoker may be the most effective way to fill your grill with smoke.

Keep in mind, the smoke created by a smoker tube will be stronger and more plentiful, so adjust the vents and distance from food accordingly. 


smoker box cast iron box with vents on the top. It holds either wood chips or wood pellets.

Place the smoker box on the grill or the charcoal. When it gets hot it will start smoldering. It does not catch on fire because there is no airflow.

The smoke will then exit around the lid of the smoker box and flow over and add flavor to the meat.


This is up to you and thru trial and error. 

The longer the lid is left closed the more smoke that will be absorbed by the foods, the stronger the smoky flavor.

Try short periods of time first and then up the exposure time to suit your own tastes. Try leaving the meats to smoke for say 15-20 minutes and doing a taste test, lengthen the exposure if you want a more smoky flavor.


No, it is not necessary. Pellets are compressed to eliminate any air or gasses so the water will not be absorbed.

The idea behind soaking is to make the pellets smoke. By design, pellets will produce all the smoke you need.

Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill


Why use wood pellets with charcoal and not wood chips or logs?

There are many benefits associated with wood pellets:

– By utilizing pellets you are using repurposed scrap wood and supporting an environment-friendly operation.

– Nothing beats wood-smoked foods– the taste is so incredible and one-of-a-kind.

– Wood pellets come in all sorts of flavors — any type of wood you might typically smoke with you will find a pellet version of. Faves are Hickory, Mesquite, Maple, Apple, Cherry, Oak, Alder, and Pecan.

– Compared to other fuels, wood pellets are incredibly efficient. They are effective in the sense that most of their energy can be turned into heat because the sawdust fragments are compact. Pellets are also efficient in the sense you get more bang for your buck contrasted to wood chips or logs. You get more smoke with fewer dollars invested.

– Compared to other forms of smoking wood, you’ll need 5-10 times the weight of wood to achieve the same results as pellets. The cost per use is much less for pellets than any other form of wood.

– Wood pellets are simple and clean to work with contrasted to charcoal. They leave marginal ash and residue so the cleaning up is easy.

– The smoky flavor they generate is delicious.


I hope all your questions about how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill has been answered.

BBQ wood pellets are a great way of adding flavor to the different meats you cook.

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