If you don’t have much time and just want to find out what the best wood pellets are, then I recommend the CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix as the best ones.
Good wood pellets bring a distinctive flavor and character to your smoked meat. You can use them on wood pellet grills or standard offset smokers for an amazing smoky taste every time.
Whether you’re a smoking pro or you’re just starting out, there’s a wood pellet to suit everyone’s needs.
So, check out my guide to the best wood pellets money can buy.
What Are Smoking Wood Pellets?
Wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust. This compression causes lignin to form. Lignin is a natural polymer found in plant tissue. When it’s been heated and cooled, lignin hardens to act as a glue. This means it can be set into a pellet shape.
Unlike wood chips, wood pellets don’t need to be soaked before you use them.
How Do You Use Wood Pellets?
Using Wood Pellets With a Pellet Smoker
The best pellets for pellet grills make your food taste incredible. You simply pour them into a side box, known as a “hopper.” From this clever little box, the pellets ‘hop’ into a hot box at a controlled rate. This is where they’re ignited to produce smoke, which flavors your food.
Using Wood Pellets With a Charcoal Smoker
Wood pellets for grilling create a beautiful smoky flavor when using a charcoal smoker. First, fire up your charcoal. When it’s ready and you’ve placed in your grill, add a layer of wood pellets on top.
Once the pellets ignite, they’ll add a lovely smokiness to your food. Half a cup of pellets will last around 45 minutes, so you’ll need to refill to keep the smoke coming for longer smokes.
You could also make an aluminum foil pouch that envelopes the pellets. Then, simply poke a few little holes in the pouch and place it on top of the hot coals. Add your meat, close the lid, and away you go!
Using Wood Pellets in a Gas Smoker
Instead of using wood chips in your gas smoker, you can use wood pellets. They burn hotter, last longer, and smoke more evenly. Simply place the pellets in the wood chip drawer, turn your propane smoker on and you’re good to go.
What’s the Difference Between Heating Pellets and Smoking Pellets?
Heating pellets are used in pellet stoves to heat your home. They’re normally made from hardwoods that contain lots of nasty chemicals.
Smoking pellets are made from natural hardwoods free from chemicals. They’re made specifically to add flavor to your food.
Make sure you never use heating pellets when smoking food!
Different Flavors of Wood Pellets
Wood pellets come in lots of different flavors. These flavors come from the types of hardwoods that are used to make the pellets.
Each flavor has a totally different effect on your food. Some are subtly sweet. Some are big and intense. Some are light and mild. And each of them has their favorite foods that they complement perfectly.
Some wood pellet bags come in ready-made blends. You can also experiment and make your own blends. When mixed together, different types of wood pellets can bring a very interesting mix of flavors and aromas. For example, when blending apple and mesquite wood pellets, you can create a strong earthy flavor, with a subtle fruitiness.
Sometimes wood pellets are made from 70% filler of cheap wood like oak. The other 30% is made up of flavor. Other wood pellets are 100% hardwood, giving you the full force of the flavor.
Here are some of the different wood pellet flavors:
- Apple – fruity and mild, applewood pellets go well with chicken, pork, lamb, and seafood.
- Cherry – a very versatile pellet that can be used to smoke most foods.
- Hickory – chicken and beef both go great with this wood, but pork and hickory are a match made in heaven.
- Maple – mild and subtly sweet, maple does wonders when paired with great chicken and turkey. Also really good with vegetables.
- Mesquite – mesquite is all about the beef. Mesquite flavored are the best pellets for smoking brisket. Pair with brisket and you’ll be blown away.
- Oak – a very good all-rounder, oak is often used as a standard filler as it goes well with other flavors.
- Pecan – great with chicken and works especially well when blended with other flavors.
How to Store Wood Pellets
When it comes to storing wood pellets, the most important thing is to keep them dry. Moisture is a pellet’s worst nightmare. If they get damp or wet, they’ll be no good.
Even worse, they could grow mold or fungus. If you use moldy pellets to smoke your food, you could become ill.
Most pellets will need to be stored in a bucket or bin. A charcoal caddy is a perfect place to store them.
Some pellets come in clever packaging, resealable and designed to be stored in their original bag. You’ll still need to keep them in a warm dry place, off the ground.
Best Wood Pellets Review
Ok, let’s dive in! Here’s my pick of the best wood pellets available.
Traeger is the big granddaddy of wood pellet grills. So, it’s no surprise to find that they produce top-quality pellets.
These hickory flavored pellets produce a great taste and a consistent burn. They come in a hefty 20 lbs bag, meaning they’ll last around 6–20 hours of smoking time.
They are a bit larger than most pellets. If you have a smaller grill, this means you might need to break them down for a more even smoke.
Also, although Traeger states they use 100% all-natural hardwood, 70% of these pellets are made from oak or alder. Much of the flavor of these pellets comes from flavored oil.
Still, they do produce a nice subtle smoky flavor. Try with chicken or turkey and you’ll get a great taste. Try with a pork butt and you’ll be in heaven!
- Well-made for a consistent burn
- A decent size bag that should last a good few smokes
- Nice subtle smoky taste that’s great with pork and poultry
- Not flavored with 100% hickory hardwood
- Pellets are on the large side, which might be a problem for smaller grills
Bear Mountain’s BBQ Gourmet Blend brings a gorgeous sweet smoky flavor to your food. It’s incredibly versatile and works with just about any type of food.
The flavor is rich yet subtle at the same time. Great with beef, pork, poultry, game, fish, and vegetables.
This all-round flavor comes from a combination of hickory, maple, cherry, and oak. The pellets come in a 20 lbs bag, giving you plenty of pellets for the price. A big bonus is the lack of sawdust in the bag.
One drawback is that the pellets are a little long. With small smokers, this could be a problem.
Overall, these pellets are fantastic value for money. The versatility makes them worth their weight in gold.
- One of the most versatile wood pellets on the market
- A great subtle smoky flavor
- Decent size bag for 6–20 hours of smoking
- Pellets are a little long, which could be a problem in smaller smokers
These pellets have a really authentic taste! They’re made from a blend of hickory, cherry, maple, and apple. This makes for a beautiful blend – no oak or alder used as filler.
And you can really taste the difference. The blend produces a subtle smoky flavor that can be used for just about any meat or vegetable. That’s the key with blends – it’s all about versatility.
For those who want a pellet that packs a punch, it might be a little on the light side. What blends give you in versatility, they lack in full-on flavor. So, if you’re looking for a strong flavor to add to a brisket, for example, this might be too mild.
It’s definitely a great all-rounder though. And as a bonus, it comes in a big old 40 lbs bag that’s designed for immediate storage. So, no need to transfer your pellets to a caddy.
- A nice balanced blend of flavors gives you great versatility
- No hidden fillers like oak or alder – what you see is what you get
- They come in a massive bag, so will last you a long time
- The bag is designed to keep the pellets dry – so no need to transfer them out
- The mild flavor might be too mild for some pitmasters
This super variety pack of the best BBQ pellets acts like a sample selection. Try each one with your favorite meats and see which one tickles your taste buds.
While you won’t get long term use out of these pellets, there’s plenty of opportunities to mix and match. Perfect for experimenting with your own special blend. And the perfect place for beginners to get a taste for the different flavors of wood pellets out there.
When compared to other pellets on the market, they are a bit pricey. If there are a few flavors that don’t float your boat, you might feel like you’ve not got your money’s worth.
Still, they do produce a nice consistent burn. And the ability to mix flavors to produce your own brilliant blend will be a big draw for some smoking enthusiasts.
- If you’ve never tasted the various flavors, this could be a good place to start
- Lots of variety gives you a chance to make your blends
- Produce a nice consistent smoke
- Small bags that won’t last a long time
- Quite expensive
This is one helluva blend! With a mix of 50% maple, 25% hickory and 25% cherry, these wood pellets tick all the flavor boxes. Sweet, savory and a little bit tart.
This brings a beautiful, aromatic smoke. Great for pork and poultry, as well as beef and fish.
Minimal sawdust in the bag just adds to the money well-spent factor. And the bag is huge – at 40 lbs you won’t be running out any time soon.
They do produce quite a lot of ash when compared to other top-rated wood pellets.
But they burn slow and steady and produce a wonderful flavor. And as value for money wood pellets goes, these are hard to beat.
- Very nice blend of flavors
- A huge bag, meaning they’ll last you a long time
- Burn slow and steady
- Produce quite a lot of ash
Any of the smoker pellets on this list will give you great results. For me, the best wood pellets on the market are the CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix.
While other brands use cheaper woods like oak and alder as fillers, these are 100% the real deal. The flavor is great and the fact that you can store them in the original bag is a big plus.