10 Best Grill Pellets for Both Grilling and Smoking

If you want to dominate at your next BBQ party, you don’t only need the best pellet grill and the best ingredients money can buy but also the right type of pellets.

Pellets are just as important as the grill itself. If you choose the wrong pellets, you just might ruin the taste and, in turn, the whole barbecue.

Below, I have gathered the best of the best grill pellets for any occasion, be it smoking, grilling, chicken, burgers, and other types of food and cooking techniques, leaving no stone unturned.

What Are the Best Pellets for a Pellet Grill?

Best Of the Best Smoker Grill Pellets

THE BEST QUALITY WOOD PELLETS

Lumber Jack Competition Blend Maple-Hickory-Cherry BBQ Grilling Pellets – 20 lbs

Get the best bang for the buck and cover as many types of food and cooking styles as possible in a single bag with Lumber Jack.

Competition Blend

Being a competition blend, this one covers a lot of ground.

Consisting of maple, hickory, and cheery (all of which are 1/3 of the bag), it’s best suited for everything and anything, including:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Veggies

100% Pure

It’s made from purely natural hardwood – no residual sawdust and no second-grade wood here.

What’s more, only the bark and cambium layer of trees is used. This is where the trees have the most flavor.

Cook With Peace of Mind

Because the pellets don’t have any oils, sprays, fillers, binders, and other artificial ingredients in them, you can rest assured that both the environment and your body won’t be contaminated in any way.

Cost-Effective

The pellets are smaller than usual.

This creates a hotter burn and more smoke with very little waste.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Made from pure wood
  • No additives
  • Environmentally friendly
Cons
  • Not uniform in size
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR STEAK

Louisiana Grills Texas Mesquite 55408 Pellets, 40-Pound -Limited

Once you’ll spice up the grill with these pellets, you’ll never go back to charcoal again.

Ideal for Tex-Mex

These pellets give out a strong spicy flavor that will make your Tex-Mex cuisine even more Tex-Mex-y.

Premium Blend

The Texas Mesquite is a combination of maple and mesquite (ratio 2:1), making this ideal for:

  • Steaks
  • Burgers
  • Pork
  • Veggies
  • Turkey

100% Natural Hardwood

Only the best of the best trees from North America end up in this bag.

Completely Natural

You won’t find any artificial chemicals here.

The pellets are glued together by the wood’s natural lignin.

Don’t Worry About Running Out

Instead of coming in a regular 1 lb or 20 lb bag, this one comes in a massive 40 lb bag.

Pros
  • All-natural
  • Brings out the spiciness
  • Ideal for big BBQs
  • Great flavor
Cons
  • Inconsistent burning
  • Expect some dust in the bag
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR BRISKET

Ol’ Hick Cooking Pellets Outdoor Grill Hickory Wood Smoker Grilling Cooking Pellets, 40 Pound Bag

Backed by pros and enthusiasts alike, these hickory cooking pellets will infuse any food you place on the grill with majestic and tasty smoke.

Go Strong With Flavors

When it comes to smoking, especially brisket, Ol’ Hicks is your best bet.

If you combine it with the Texas Mesquite reviewed above, your next Texas-style brisket will taste orgasmic.

It doesn’t end with briskets. This blend of pellets goes particularly well with other parts of beef including steaks and:

  • Burgers
  • Pork
  • Vegetables

And other foods that you can smoke.

You can grill and even sear but the result won’t be the same.

It’s All in the Wood

The fantastic taste and smoke these pellets produce are because of the wood itself – Appalachian hickory wood to be precise.

There are no taste and odor additives added.

It’s all-natural.

Durable Bag

I’ve read a lot of complaints from other grillers about how their bag of pellets arrived with at least one tear at their doorstep.

But never with this one.

The bag is tear-resistant and has a thick wall.

Pros
  • Ideal for smoking
  • Tear-resistant bag
  • Versatile
  • Provides a diverse taste
  • Premium hardwood
Cons
  • Dusty
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR BURGERS

CookinPellets Premium Hickory Grill Smoker Smoking Wood Pellets, 40 Pound Bag

Infuse them burgers with a strong smokey flavor with these premium hickory pellets.

Premium Pellets for Premium Cooking

The issue with burgers is they have a short cooking time which makes smoking more or less impossible because you need to hit them with as smoke as much as possible in a very short amount of time.

For this, you need strong and aromatic pellets which is what the CookingPellets are.

This blend also goes extremely well with:

  • Pork (especially pulled)
  • Brisket
  • Steak
  • Vegetables
  • Fish

Wide Range of Use

Grilling, barbecuing, smoking, or low-and-slow cooking, these pellets have you covered in all cases.

Plenty of Fuel

You get two 40 lb bags which should last you for quite some time.

Enhanced Flavor

Made from the finest parts of only hickory wood (other types of wood aren’t mixed in) and without any artificial chemicals that pose a risk to your health and/or environment, these pellets will turn your BBQ into an orchestra of flavors.

Pros
  • Amazing flavor
  • Produces little ash
  • Almost no dust
  • 100% pure hickory
  • Versatile
Cons
  • Sensitive bag
  • Burn fast
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR SMOKING TURKEY

Z GRILLS Premium BBQ Wood Pellets for Grilling Smoking Cooking,20 LB Per Bag Made in USA (Fruitwood)

Make a thanksgiving turkey everyone will remember for the rest of their lives using these fruitwood pellets from Z grills.

You Just Can’t Go Wrong With a Reputable Brand

Z grills is a very liked brand in the pellet grilling world.

Known by their entry-level and high-end pellet grills, the Z grills never let me down (and neither should you) regardless of the budget.

Their range of pellets is no exception.

Not Just for Thanksgiving

The pellets don’t just go well with turkey.

Fruitwood pellets don’t give the food a fruity sweet taste but also a pinky color making it ideal for:

  • Pork
  • Vegetables
  • Seafood
  • Other birds

Combined with hickory, it makes a tasty combination for a brisket.

Eco-Friendly

Having no preservatives and other harmful chemicals, the smoke and ash these pellets produce won’t hurt both you and the environment.

The combustion is safe as well (as far as burning wood pellets goes).

No Fillers

It’s all-natural American hardwood.

Low-Maintenance

Since they produce very little ash and are as dry as a bone, cleaning your grill becomes child’s play.

Pros
  • Superb taste
  • Produces very little ash
  • Efficient burning
  • No additives or fillers
  • Last quite a while
Cons
  • The bag may arrive damaged
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR SMOKING

ONMOG Green Mountain Grills Premium Texas & Fruitwood Hardwood Grill Cooking Pellets

From the creators of the Davy Crockett, one of the best portable pellet grills, the Green Mountain Grills (GMG) pellets are just as exceptional as the grill itself.

Different Blends for Different Tastes

This set contains two different blends for a variety of tastes, cooking styles, and foods.

The Texas Blend contains black oak, American hickory, and Texas mesquite.

The Fruitwood Blend contains orchard cherry, American beech, and sweet pecan.

Mix the bags together to create a unique smokey flavor.

Highly Versatile

Having so many types of wood, there’s virtually nothing you can’t cook.

Great for smoking, barbecuing, grilling, searing, and anything in between.

Other Reasons Why It’s One of the Best Grill Pellets

After the cookout, you’ll be surprised by the low amount of ash.

They fire up extremely fast.

Pros
  • Contains many types of wood
  • Low moisture content
  • Premium hardwood without additives
  • Efficient burning
  • Leaves very little ash
Cons
  • Not uniform in size
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR GRILLING

Ol’ Hick Cooking Pellets Genuine Jim Beam Bourbon Barrel Grilling Smoker Cooking Pellets, 40 Pound Bag

Why use bourbon BBQ sauce when you can infuse every fiber of the food while cooking it.

Made From the Barrels Used to Store Bourbon

These pellets aren’t made from regular trees but from actual barrels in which Jim Beam bourbon is stored and aged.

Not only is the wood (oak) infused with the aroma but also the barrels are being reused instead of being thrown away at a landfill.

Now, THIS is recycling.

Uses

Being oak, it’s best suited for grilling:

  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Game
  • Beef
  • Pork

Although you can use it with other foods and cooking styles, you won’t get the same tasty results as with other types of pellets.

Keep in mind that oak doesn’t produce intense smoke. Also, there’s little to no aftertaste.

Nothing but Pure Flavor

Just like the barrels, the pellets are made from 100% all-natural oak without any artificial flavoring, glues, and other chemicals.

What you’re tasting is pure Jim Beam and nothing else.

The Bag Is Just as Tough As the Brand

In order to make barbecuing as stress-free as possible, they made the bag resistant to tearing and other forms of damage.

Pros
  • Bourbon-infused aroma
  • Tear-resistant bag
  • Not too strong smokey flavor
  • Made from actual Jim Beam barrels
  • All natural wood
Cons
  • Produce little smoke
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR CHICKEN

Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets, 20 lbs

The Camp Chef Competition blend is the go-to choice for grillers who love to cook low and slow one day and sear at high heat the next.

A Truly Unique Blend of Pellets for Every Palate

Being a competition blend, you can use it on every type of food and for every cooking style.

I’ve found out that his blend goes the best with chicken, especially Tahini chicken.

What this blend actually contains is a mystery because it’s a closely guarded company secret but some folks reported maple, hickory, and cherry.

Taste the Wood Not the Chemicals

Just like others on this list, the Camp Chef pellets are completely natural hardwood.

No oils, chemicals, or binders added

Efficient and Clean

Low moisture content means faster ignition, clean burn, and little ash.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • All-natural
  • Produce very little ash
  • Premium hardwood
  • Efficient burning
Cons
  • It’s nowhere officially stated what woods this blend contains
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR RIBS

Rec Tec 40Lb Bag Grills Ultimate Premium Hardwood Grilling Cooking Pellet Barbecue BBQ Grill Smoker Blend, 40 Pound Bag

When it comes to smoking ribs, especially Texas-style, nothing beats this ultimate blend of premium pellets by Rec Tec.

The Perfect Combination of Heat and Flavor

The combination of oak and hickory infuses the food with a mouth-watering smokey taste and provides a consistent burn that really puts the heat to the meat.

Hickory goes great with all sorts of:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Poultry

While oak excels at grilling:

  • Seafood
  • Burgers
  • Veggies

To name a few.

A Versatile Combination

Hickory is well known for producing intense smokey flavor and is, therefore, the perfect go-to option for smoking and barbecuing but struggles when it comes to high-heat searing.

Oak is perfect for high-temperature cooking but has a faint smoke.

You’d think combining the two would cancel each other out but instead combines the best of both worlds.

While cooking with these particular pellets I’ve confirmed this statement but also realized that although I’ve tasted the smoke, it wasn’t all that strong.

Maybe because the blend contains more oak than hickory.

Even and Consistent Cook

The pieces are consistent in size, very dry, and tightly packed.

This makes for a consistent temperature and even heat distribution.

Additive- and Binder-Free

It’s just pure oak and hickory.

No glues, no filler wood, nothing except pure condensed flavor.

Pros
  • Wide range of use
  • No additives
  • Pure hardwood
  • Produces little ash
  • Amazing flavor
Cons
  • Produces mild smoke
  • Fast burning
See Reviews

THE BEST WOOD PELLETS FOR PIZZA

Pit Boss Competition Blend BBQ Wood Pellets – 40 lb Resealable Bag with Pellet Barbeque Cookbook

A balanced combination of taste and smoke, the Pit Boss Competiton blend is the last on this list but certainly not the least.

An Orchestra of Flavors

This blend of maple, hickory, and apple makes the food taste sweet and smokey at the same time.

Perfect for grilling and barbecuing, these pellets have exceeded all my expectations in terms of taste, look, and juiciness.

Even pizza tastes delicious. A rare occasion as most pellets I’ve tried didn’t make pizza any more special than an oven.

If You Have a Pit Boss Grill, Then You Already Know the Quality

The brand has produced many amazing pellet grills over the years.

They also made the pellet grill what it is today.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that their line of pellets is just as amazing as their grills.

Sourced From Local Wood

The pellets are made from all-natural North American hardwood that is free from additives, binders, and scents.

Resealable Bag

You don’t see this every day.

In most cases, the bag is either regular or at the very least tear-resistant.

The folks at Pit Boss took a different approach and made the bag as convenient as humanly possible by making it resealable.

Being a 40 lb bag, this feature is a lifesaver.

Gift Included

The pellets come with a neat and practical gift: a cookbook entitled “Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook”.

This cookbook will increase your cooking arsenal and chances are you’ll surprise both yourself and your loved ones at the next cookout.

Pros
  • Great combination with taste to match
  • Large and resealable bag
  • Included cookbook
  • Efficient burning
  • No additives or fillers
  • Last quite a while
Cons
  • Dusty
  • Expect a tear upon delivery
See Reviews

Wood Pellet Flavor Guide

holding grill pellets

This is a short, yet informative buying guide that will make your decision on which pellets to choose much easier.

Note: If you’re not interested in reading the whole deal, simply scroll down and see the video. It’s less than a minute long.

There are many reasons why there are so many different grill pellets on the market.

The main reason is taste. Different wood gives a different taste.

The amount of smoke a certain type of wood produces also varies.

Heat retention is also another factor. Some perform extremely well (meaning you cook at high temperature without issues) while others don’t and are therefore used mainly for low and slow cooking.

Because of this, each type has its own intended use (some go well with beef while others go with pork, and so on).

There are pre-made mixes (called “blends”) where there are at least 2 pellets types mixed together for increased versatility and ease of use.

A special type of blend is called a “competition” blend which has a wide variety of pellets and is considered to be universal (i.e. you can use it on any type of food and cooking style).

Without further ado, let’s see the most common wood pellets, how strong/mild is their flavor, and their intended use.

Pecan

pecan

These pellets give out a nutty and somewhat spicy flavor and are ideal for beef, poultry, pork, and pizzas.

Oak

Exceptionally versatile, oak wood pellets produce a strong smokey taste while producing little to mild smoke.

It pairs well with most food, especially game, venison, fish, pork, veggies, and beef.

Mesquite

A go-to choice when it comes to smoking. If the strong super smoky flavor you want, go with mesquite.

It gives a distinct piney flavor full of aroma with a hint of sweetness.

Because of this, it’s an obvious choice for beef (try a brisket or reverse sear a tomahawk steak, you won’t be sorry).

It goes well with foods with a short cooking time like burgers, sausages, hot dogs, and vegetables, to name a few. This is because of its intense smokey flavor.

Maple

maple leaves

Ever tried maple syrup? The taste is quite similar.

A mixture of smoke and sweetness.

Use it in conjunction with chicken, turkey, vegetables, and even some types of cheese.

Hickory

Burning this bad boy produces a bold smoky flavor that reminds me of bacon.

It doesn’t go well with vegetables but it’s a great choice for most meat except fish and seafood.

Cherry

A mild type of pellets, it produces a fair bit of smoke and covers your meat with the darkest smoke rings out of all pellets.

It’s most commonly used with pork, chicken, and fish. You won’t go wrong if you use it with other foods.

Apple

apple tree

Apple pellets enhance the food with light sweet fruity smoke that compliments pork (ribs especially), chicken, turkey, and to some extent, fish.

Alder

A mild wood best known for its mild flavor with a hint of sweetness.

These pellets produce quite a lot of smoke, making them a great option for pork (bacon especially) and even delicate foods like chicken and fish.

What Type of Pellets Should I Buy?

This is a quick summary of the above.

I recommend sticking with these types depending on the type of food you’re planning on cooking:

  • Pizza: Pecan
  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey): Cherry, apple, mesquite, pecan, alder
  • Fish: Hickory, oak, alder, cherry, apple
  • Steak: Mesquite, hickory, pecan
  • Brisket: Mesquite and hickory
  • Pork Ribs: Cherry and Mesquite
  • Burgers and Sausages: Pecan, hickory, mesquite, oak
  • Game: Oak
  • Vegetables: Hickory, mesquite, oak, apple, cherry

Let’s look at this from a different angle:

  • Pecan: Pizza, poultry, steak, burgers, sausages
  • Oak: Fish, burgers, sausages, game, beef, vegetables
  • Mesquite: Beef, burgers, sausages, hit dogs, vegetables, pork, turkey
  • Maple: Poultry, vegetables, cheese
  • Hickory: All “land” meat
  • Cherry: Pork, chicken, fish, vegetables
  • Apple: Pork, chicken, fish, vegetables
  • Alder: Pork, chicken, fish
  • Competition Blend: all of the above

Wood Pellet Flavor Chart

If you find the lists above confusing, this should make the job easier.

Chicken Turkey Beef Burgers Seafood Vegetables Game Pork Pizza
Pecan
Oak
Mesquite
Maple
Hickory
Cherry
Apple
Alder
Competition Blend

How to Grill With Wood Pellets

Here you’ll learn how to properly use pellets on all types of grills, not just pellet ones.

How to Use Wood Pellets on a Pellet Grill

loading pellet grill with pellets

Your only job here is to fill the hopper and close the lid.

Then set the controller and off you go cookin’.

How to Use Wood Pellets on a Gas Grill

pellet smoke bomb gas grill

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Smoker box method
  • Pellet tube method
  • Pan method
  • Smoke bomb method

Smoker Box Method

A smoker box is exactly what it sounds like: a box in which you place pellets so you can safely smoke.

  1. Preheat the grill
  2. Fill the box with pellets and spread them evenly
  3. Set up the grill for indirect cooking by turning off at least one burner
  4. Place the box on the lit burner
    • The flames will quckly ignite the pellets
  5. Wait a while until the pellets inside get hot
    • If you have a probe, the internal temperature should be around 250°F (121°C)
  6. Place the food above the burners you’ve turned off previously

Smoker Tube Method

This is a variation of the above method instead of a box it’s a (hexagonal or round) tube.

The process is pretty much the same with some minor differences:

  1. Fill up the tube almost to the top
    • Leave about an inch
  2. Place the tube on the warming rack
  3. Ignite it
    • You can use a torch, heat gun, match, burner, lighter,…
  4. Let it burn for about a minute
  5. Preheat the grill
  6. Set up the grill for indirect cooking by turning off at least one burner
  7. Place the food above the burners you’ve turned off previously

Pan Method

  1. Fill a pan with pellets up to about 1/3 or 1/2 max
  2. Place a sheet of aluminum foil and make a few holes
  3. Preheat the grill
  4. Turn off all the burners except one
  5. Place the pan over the lit burner
  6. Place the food above the burners you’ve turned off previously

Smoke Bomb Method

Also known as the foil pouch method, it’s the simplest and cheapest method.

You only need a sheet of aluminum foil.

Keep in mind that this thing lasts between half an hour to one hour.

Prepare at least another one ahead of time.

  1. Tear a sheet or two of aluminum foil
  2. Place a handfull or two of pellets in the middle
  3. Crimp or fold the edges
  4. Make some holes on the top
  5. Place the bomb/pouch above the burner under the grates
  6. Turn only the burner above the bomb on
  7. Preheat the grill
  8. Place the food above the burners you’ve turned off previously

How to Use Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

pellets in charcoal grill
  1. Fill half a cup or a whole cup with pellets
  2. Arrange the charcoal for low and slow cooking
    • I’m going with the snake method in this case because it’s my favorite
  3. Add the pellets on top of the charcoal
  4. Ignite the charcoal snake at one end
  5. Wait for the grill to heat up

Tip: Add a smoke bomb or two for increased flavor

Note that a cup of pellets should last you about an hour and a half.

You can also smoke the same way you would on a gas grill.

How to Use Wood Pellets in a Smoker

pellet smoker

The process of using pellets in a vertical pellet smoker is the same as with a pellet grill.

Just fill up the hopper with pellets, set the controller, and off you go.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Grill Pellets

What Pellets Give off the Most Smoke?

Hickory and Mesquite produce the most smoke.

How Long Does a 20 Pound Bag of Pellets Last?

Depending on the cooking temperature, outside temperature, and the quality of the pellets themselves, most 20 lb pound bags will last between 6 to 20 hours.

This translates to about 1 – 3 lbs of pellets per hour.

The higher the temperature, the faster they burn.

When smoking or cooking low and slow at 250°F (121°C), expect the bag to last for about 20 hours. If you’re planning on searing at high heat (at least 450°F or 232°C), it won’t last you more than 6 hours.

Can You Leave Pellets in the Hopper?

pellet grill hopper with pellets

You won’t know until you try it.

Some sources say no while some grillers reported always leaving their hopper full and never emptying it without issues.

Go figure, right?

The main concern here is moisture.

Pellets are naturally dry but if they get somehow wet (during a storm or if it’s very humid outside), they either swell up and fall apart or rot.

If they fall apart, they can easily jam the auger and start a fire.

Rotting speaks mostly for itself. What most people overlook in this case is that the metal surrounding the rotting pellets can begin to rot itself.

I personally leave the pellets and I never had any issues. I always store the grill in a cool dry place with the cover on. I also use it regularly (at least once or twice a week).

While it’s a good practice to empty the hopper after every cookout it’s a very time-consuming task.

And time is something most of us can’t waste.

Do Wood Pellets Go Bad?

If stored and handled properly, no.

Moisture and rough handling are the main reasons why pellets go bad.

So if you store them in a cool and dry place (preferably in a sealed bag), and you don’t throw them around like a football, the pellets won’t go bad.

This, of course, applies to pellets of proper quality. By proper, I mean high-quality.

Can You Use Regular Pellets in a Pellet Grill?

heating pellets

Yes, you can but there’s a chance you can ruin the taste, your health, or both.

Regular pellets aren’t made with consumption in mind (hence the name “heating” pellets) and are typically sourced from woods that aren’t taste-friendly like spruce or pine.

Also, a lot of leftover wood and wood byproducts are often recycled into heating pellets. This wood also isn’t particularly great for cooking.

God only knows what else apart from wood they contain (I’m talking about binders, glues, fillers, and other impurities).

That being said, some grillers have tried this and reported no issues.

I considered doing the same but when I saw how they were made, I woved to never to place the bag in the same room as the food let alone near it.

Do You Soak Wood Pellets Before Smoking?

No. Soaking does more damage than good.

Pellets aren’t the same as wood chips.

Do Pellets Smoke Better Than Wood Chips?

wood pellets vs wood chips

Because pellets are compressed, packed tightly, and have a lower moisture content than wood chips, they give a more smokey flavor than chips.

Smokin’

To reiterate, grill pellets are just as important as the grill itself.

If you truly want a fantastic barbecue, you not only must have the best grill for the job but also the best grill pellets.

Don’t forget that grilling is more of an art form than a science. To get the perfect masterpiece (the magnum opus of grilling), you need to experiment with different types of pellets in order to achieve the perfect taste.

The grill is a canvas and the pellets are the paint.

About Mario 136 Articles
I am the owner of the Kitchen Guru Ideas. I've set up this site so I can share my kitchen tips and hacks that have been passed on to me from my parents and grandparents and show you how a wonderful experience cooking is and not just a way to save money. Even in this hectic lifestyle, there is time to prepare and most important enjoy a home-cooked meal.

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