Find the best wood pellets for your grill or smoker

In the market for wood pellets to smoke your food? Learn some tips to Find the best wood pellets for your grill or smoker.

  • Be sure they are labeled food-grade
  • Heating pellets should be used only for wood pellet stoves or wood stoves.
Best wood pellets


Wood pellets for food are made of only wood and come in flavors such as oak, hickory, mesquite, apple, or cherry wood. Check that the sawdust contains no chemical preservatives or insecticides that could contaminate food.

Food-grade hardwood sawdust is often used as material for barbecue premium wood pellets. These can be bought at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and barbecue stores, or you can make your own barbecue pellet fuel at home.


One 40-pound bag is enough for several cooks, usage varies depending on cooking temperature, weather, and quality of pellets. A windy, cold or hot day will affect the number of pellets used.

Plan on 1/2 pound to one pound when using a smoker.

When using the grill and the pellets are for smoke and not as wood pellet fuel plan on 1/2 pound an hour.


Scientists have not found evidence that grilling with quality pellets is healthier than other methods to grill food.


Pellets provide a nice smoky flavor of the wood being burnt.

The flavor of the wood is meant to complement the food cooked.

There is a smokey taste from the wood pellets most people prefer the charcoal taste over the pellet flavoring. The charcoal flavor is tough to beat.

Luckily for grillers, some pellets provide a charcoal flavor. Experienced smokers will tell you that the quality of your smoke really does comes down to the pellets used.


Wood pellets are made of hardwood that has been ground into sawdust and compressed. Wood chips are hardwood pieces that have been put through a wood chipper.

 Pellets are also better suited to smoking meats because they burn at a hotter temperature and at a slower rate than wood chips. Wood chips are better for grilling. Suppling flavor during a quick cook.


Only use food-grade pellets for cooking with your pellet grill or smoking.  Some people will tell you that heating pellets, those that are used in wood pellet boilers and wood pellet stoves will work just as well in a smoker. This is not necessarily true.

Many types of heating pellets are made from woods that you would not use for cooking like pine or spruce. These softwoods can ruin the flavor of your food.

Heating pellets may be made from products like plywood or particleboard, and include binding agents that could also sour the flavor of your meat as well as create unhealthy toxins in the food.

When using these pellets as a fuel source to heat your home this is not a problem, but when cooking food, you could be risking more than just the taste.

Stay safe and cook smart with food-grade wood pellets.

Best wood pellets


Pellets can be used in any type of grill or smoker to add flavor but only a charcoal or pellet grill as fuel. The use of pellets in a charcoal grill as s fuel source is not very efficient. They should be mixed into the charcoal to get the best flavor results.

For a better smoke flavor, you need to add wood to your fire using wood chunks, chips, or pellets.

Most grills have a “flavorizer” or barrier that sits on top of the burner. Simply put a wood chunk on top of this barrier and it should smolder and smoke away. If it bursts into flames, you can still use pellets or chips.

Do not put pellets and chips on top of the burner since they need to smolder to smoke. To do that there are several accessories you can use.


smoker box is a small metal container that can be used on a BBQ grill to give a smoky flavor to cooked foods.

Fill it with pellets or wood chips then place it under the grill grates or on the “flavorizer”, it acts like pellet burners. 

Smoker boxes are an inexpensive add-on to your grill.

Should you soak wood chips before using them?

No, it is not necessary. Wetting or soaking the chip will only delay the smoldering process since they will have to dry first.


It is a 6-12in. tube of mesh wire tube, similar to pellet baskets, that holds the pellets. Fill it with pellets and light the open end.

Once a good flame is burning blow it out.

Now the lit end will smolder, producing great smoke.

This will gradually work through the pellets over the course of 2‒4 hours, depending on the size of the tube.

Can you use wood chips in a pellet smoker tube?

Yes, you can. But you will use a lot more chips than you would have used pellets. Wood pellets are more flavorful than wood chips, so it is better to use pellets.


  • Form a piece of aluminum foil into a pouch leaving one end open
  • Crimp the other three sides.
  • Fill the pouch with wood pellets and punch holes in the top.
  • Place pouch on the “flavorizer”.
  • Wait for it to start smoking.
Best wood pellets


Simple answer “YES”!

Hardwoods burn at higher BTU, hotter. and produce heavier flavor from the invisible vapor.

Harder smoking woods like hickory and mesquite will bring out a stronger smoke flavor. Lighter ‘hard’ woods like fruit woods generally produce more subtle flavors like apple, peach, pear, or grapevine wood.

Some pellet brands also add oils or other additives to increase smoke. Some wood pellets are mixes of various woods. Read the label, all wood pellets are not the same.

If you want a stronger smoke flavor use Mesquite for beef or chicken, and Hickory for pork.

The quality of the wood can make a difference. If the wood has gotten wet or damp it can start to rot which will cause it to not burn or smoke as well and lose its flavor.



There are many different types and flavors of wood pellets that can enhance the taste of your food. The most common are competition blend, mesquite, hickory, applewood, gourmet blend, fruitwood blend, and charcoal blend.

There are many ways to pair foods with wood/smoke flavors. I have listed some of the most common. Part of the fun of smoking and cooking is experimenting to see which combinations work best for you.

Competition blend is a mix of cherry, hickory, and maple hardwoods to create a sweet, smoky flavor with a fruity taste ideal for a broad range of foods, including beef, pork, fruits, or vegetables.

Mesquite wood pellets are a robust fragrance and a smoky dry taste described as a sweetness that they embed in your food, mesquite pellets a good choice for chicken and pork.

Hickory wood pellets provide your food a smoky bacon flavor that is great for smoking roasts.

Applewood pellets are a smoky flavored mix of mild sweetness, they are ideal for smoking pork.

The gourmet blend has multiple bold flavors, pecan, hickory, and mesquite, which add a full-bodied taste to chicken, pork, or fish.

Fruitwood pellets are sweet-smelling and sweet-tasting, with a subtle taste that goes well with beef, chicken, and pork.

Charcoal blends provide the food a robust, smoky charcoal flavor like the taste of food cooked over a charcoal grill.


Wood pellet flavors are divided into two groups, flavor blends or single flavor. Usually labeled as 100 percent flavored wood.

You must read the label so you know what to expect from the pellets.

100 percent flavored wood describes a single flavor profile or tells about the purity of the wood pellets if they have no-filler. This ensures you of the quality of the product you are cooking with. These wood pellets can also include other types of wood, such as with a competition blend, but must disclose the types of wood. They can not be made with wood filler without disclosure.

Flavor blends may be less expensive than 100 percent flavored wood pellets because they will have a percentage of a filler of two or more wood types. These blends allow you to use different wood types in a variety of ways that tend to produce a lower quality result when compared with non-filler wood pellets.

Best wood pellets


Choosing the best flavor for your pellets will depend on what food you grilling and smoking. In this article, we have gone over several different factors to consider when choosing your pellets.

Most pellet grill owners agree that the grill itself does not give you a lot of smoke flavor. To up the amount of smoke or if you are not using a pellet grill try a smoker tubesmoker box, or foil pouch as described above.

Decide if you want to start with a blended flavor profile or a singular flavor profile. Many pellet producers advertise All-Natural Hardwood Pellets Grill.

The difference in pellets from one manufacturer to another can be large so start with a smaller bag until you find what you like. Because you like a flavor from one manufacturer does not mean you will like the same flavor from someone else.

These pellets are all available from Amazon but I have found the same product to be much less expensive locally. I suggest shopping around big box stores and local hardware stores.

BEST OVERALLLouisiana Grills 55405 Competition Blend Pellets,

This Competition Blend is a perfect blend of sweet, savory, and tart with a blend of 50% Maple, 25% Hickory and 25% Cherry

BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKBBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets Variety Value Pack

1 Lb. Bag each – Apple, Hickory, Mesquite, Cherry, Pecan, and Jack Daniel’s

10 uses per bag (only 1/3 cup per use is needed) – No soaking necessary– Easy to Use

Works with any type of outside grill: Gas, Charcoal, Electric, or Smoker

BEST MESQUITEBear Mountain BBQ 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets

“I’m almost afraid to say how rich a flavor these produce as I fear everyone will buy them and the price will climb.”

BEST HICKORY: CookinPellets 40H Hickory Smoking Pellets

Top 4 hardwoods only

100% of what we say it is NO oak or alder filler

100% hardwoods

Our Pellets are 100% of the wood named! We don’t add filler or softwoods as others do. Some companies use up to 70% Oak or Alder, a cheaper filler wood mixed into the wood you are buying!

Ask if it is 100%! Our woods feature: 100% of what we say it is NO oak or alder filler. Low moisture Low Fine, (dust). High BTU, Average 8500.

BEST SWEET AND SMOKY: Green Mountain Grills Premium Apple Hardwood Pellets

Wood pellets designed for grilling and adding flavor to the smoke during the grilling process

Perfect for grilling and outdoor cooking

Oak-based and a larger diameter pellet that allows them to last longer than standard size pellets

Pellets feature a sublime blend of applewood, American hickory, and red oak that’s both mature and gentle

Helps produce a long burn with modest smoke

BEST CHARCOAL BLENDLumber Jack BBQ Grilling Wood pellets

It burns a little hotter than other pellets

Great smoking pellets to add that charcoal flavor to your smoked meats

BEST WHISKEY FLAVOR: Jack Daniel’s Smoking BBQ Pellets

Made from All-Natural 100% Premium Oak Mixed with Flavorwood

Best wood pellets


No, you do not have to. Some people have complained that some pellets are longer or fatter than others and that they jam the auger. 

Shop around but be aware.


Eating great grilled food, hot off the smoker can become an obsession.

What happens when the weather turns cold?

You can easily modify your pellet grill to work in cold weather.

The cold weather will likely require:

  •  increasing the fuel
  • longer cook times
  • reducing lid openings
  • added heat-resistant insulation

How Do Pellet Grills Work in Cold Weather?

How a pellet grill works is an easy process that can be taken back to the simplest steps. 

Wooden pellets are used for fuel to provide heat for cooking the meal.

Cold weather will mean the amount of heat required to cook will increase, and oxygen levels in the air often go down. Meaning more fuel will be needed.

With more fuel, insulation, and patience you can still cook outside.

Additional Fuel

More fuel will be because more heat will be required to maintain the temperature inside the grill.

Also, more heat will be required to make up for the opening and closing of the. 

You will probably use twice the fuels that would be used in warmer months.

Use high-quality wood pellets that will last longer rather than replenishing low-quality wood pellets more frequently.

When looking for high-quality wood pellets, be sure to check for any chemical fillers or extraneous “wood materials”. These will be found in lower-quality wood pellets that will burn much quicker and cost more money you in the long-run. 

Try to find pure hardwood wood pellets when grilling in the winter to limit the additional fuel needed.

Best wood pellets

Longer Cooking Times

It is important to plan on longer cooking times. You as well as your family and guests will expect to eat at a reasonable time so prepare everyone for the time food will be ready.

Keep the grill closed as much as possible

You do not want to open the grill and allow the heat to escape.

You will disrupt the balance of oxygen within and outside of the grill, this will have a negative effect on the grill’s ability to function. 

Instead of opening the grill, consider buying in a digital thermometer or meat probe that will let you monitor it remotely.

By keeping the grill shut and continuing to monitor the meat’s cooking temperature remotely.  You will be able to maintain a consistent temperature

Add Insulation To The Grill

Using heat-resistant insulation will go along way to maintain a consistent temperature in the grill.

You can add a pellet grill blanket that is heat-resistant to your specific pellet grill.


Do wood pellets go bad?

Wood pellets can go bad, but if properly stored will last over a long period of time. Pellets deteriorate only when exposed to the climate and the elements – mainly humidity – and are of no use once damp. Keeping your wood pellets cool and dry is essential to their longevity.

How to store wood pellets properly?

The storage of pellets is pretty simple, protect them from the climate and away from insects.

Using a sealable plastic container is the easiest method. The benefit of a plastic container is that it is easy to reduce exposure to humidity, move the container close to the grill to access the fuels, and easy to move out of the way.


Can you make your own wood pellets?

Pellets are usually made in bulk by industrial pellet mills, but homeowners and small businesses who have access to the raw materials can produce them at home. Food-grade hardwood sawdust makes an excellent material for barbecue pellet fuel.

If a person lives near a forest or in the country they may have access to quality lumber that can be turned into usable sawdust.

Make your own pellets by breaking raw wood into small pieces and pressing the wood into dense pellets.

Best wood pellets

What’s the difference between softwood pellets and hardwood pellets?

Softwood pellets burn hotter than hardwood because they usually have a higher resin content. 

A hardwood mix like hickory and mesquite will provide a stronger smoke flavor.

What is an All-Natural Hardwood Pellets Grill?

It is a label some manufacturers put on a grill to distinguish it from others.

Conclusions on Bulk Wood Pellet Deliveries If you have sufficient space either within your existing buildings or space outside for a wood pellet silo I would encourage you to consider it.

There is obviously an upfront cost the savings on bulk wood pellets over time can be considerable. 

My neighbor gets a bulk wood pellet order every year can I use some of his?

NO! These are probably heating pellets and are not necessarily safe for food use.

A person will seldom use enough pellets in a grill to warrant a bulk wood pellet delivery.

Tips & Hacks for More Smoke on a Pellet Grill

Here are a couple of ways to create more smoke into a pellet grill.

I highly recommend you supplement your smoke with a smoke tube.

A bag of pellets that says “hickory” on them, but does not tell you that it is 100% hickory, is almost assuredly a hardwood mix of hickory and a filler wood OR flavor oils and filler wood (like alder). You have no idea if you’re getting 30%, 20%, or whatever % hickory. This is true with any type of wood pellet. The filler woods generally don’t give you any flavor. I went through this when I first started by buying what the local store had to sell: brands like Traeger which do not list their ratios. This is why my food was a disappointment… There are comments that Traeger uses flavor oils in their pellets but I don’t know if that’s true because they don’t tell you what’s in them. Why won’t a manufacturer tell you this information? It’s because they are hiding something. I went through several brands and they were severely disappointing. I have 4 half-used bags of those various brands/woods types going into the trash (cleaned up my garage yesterday) because it would be a waste of food and time to use them. While it can be difficult to do I no longer buy pellets unless the manufacturer clearly states the mix of woods in the product. No description, no sale.

1) Use a pellet that tells you what’s in it. I like the CookinPellets Hickory Smoking Pellets and highly recommend them, but there are a few others out there. Stay away from brands that don’t specify. While there’s nothing wrong with a mix of wood species (hickory w/cherry for example) they should tell you what your getting.

2) Use a tube smoker and experiment with other wood types than what is in your hopper.

Can you use a pellet grill in the rain?

If rain does fall onto your grill, dry it off and cover it after use. Take all the precautions you can to keep those pellets dry!

The moisture can cause the pellets to become damp, which can cause trouble with the auger. We have covered in this article how to store your wood pellets safely.

Wet pellets will clog the auger. Fixing a clogged auger is a process requiring disassembly, cleaning, and possibly monetary investment.


Your choice of wood pellets will make a difference in the taste and the performance of your grill.

Read the label before purchasing and shop around for the best wood pellet deal.

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