You may be thinking of purchasing a smoker grill, and if you are, you’ll have to know something about its power source – smoker pellets.
These small bits of smoker grill magic are generally made from hardwood that is dried, ground into sawdust and then compressed into pellets. They not only heat up to cook your food, they also add subtle flavors to the final product, enhancing the inherent goodness of meat, fish and chicken.
The smoker pellets you buy should be made from food-grade wood with no added chemicals, glue or fillers to ensure none of the toxicity of those ingredients is infused into the food. Good quality pellets are made from a variety of wood, each one producing a unique flavor and aroma through its smoke.
We feature five different smoker pellets you can purchase online. Read on to find the flavor and type that works best for the food you like to smoke.
Top Pick Best Signature Blend: Traeger Grills PEL331 Signature Blend 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
Sometimes you know you want hickory flavor on your smoked ribs, while other times a sharp mesquite is what you’re looking for. There will be days, however, it’s not one flavor over another that’s appealing. Instead, a blend is the order of the day.
For a smooth, perfect blend of hickory, maple and cherry hardwoods, we commend this signature blend from Traeger. These pellets deliver a pure wood-fired taste for a perfect blue-smoke blend to flavor your favorite food.
This combination blend is ideal for all cuts of beef, bringing out the inherent taste of each joint or rib you choose to grill, smoke, BBQ, roast or braise. However, it’s also versatile enough to bring out the best flavors in fish, poultry and vegetables.
Made from 100 percent, sustainably sourced, all natural hardwood with no binding agents or filters, you know these smoker pellets offer up only pure smoke with no harmful chemicals.
- Clean, dependable burn
- Signature blend of hickory, maple and cherry hardwood
- No fillers or binders
- Made from sustainably sourced hardwood
- Made in the USA
- The blend of flavors might not be the right choice for some people
Top Pick Best for Beginner: BBQr’s Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
Wood smoker pellets are all about infusing the specific flavor of a hardwood into the smoke and by extension, subtly into the food you are cooking. If you’re just starting out, you may not know which flavor you prefer. Or perhaps you’d like to try different flavors with a range of foods, but don’t want to spend a lot on just one kind.
This smoker pellet variety pack from BBQr’s Delight is an economical and fun way to discover some of the more popular wood smoke flavors.
Each bag contains one pound of each of these flavors: apple, made of 100 percent apple wood for a sweet, fruity smoke perfect for beef, port, ham and wild game; hickory, made from 100 percent hickory wood for a strong flavor that complements most meats; mesquite, made of 100 percent mesquite, a southwestern favorite that produces a very distinctive smoke and stronger smoke flavor; cherry, made with 100 percent cherry wood for a mild, sweet fruity smoke that gives a rosy tint to lighter meats; pecan, made of 100 percent pecan wood, which is similar to hickory but milder and sweeter with a nut after-taste; and Jack Daniel’s, made from the used mellowing charcoal from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, which is soaked in whiskey for weeks, then is mixed with oak wood.
Only 1/3 of a cup is needed every time you fire up the smoker, for approximately 10 uses per bag, and when used as directed, there are enough pellets for 60 cooking events. Made from food-grade wood, they work on any gas, charcoal, electric or smoker outdoor cooker. Use them separately or mix and match to make your own delicious blend.
- Variety pack of six popular flavors
- Six, 10-pound bags
- Made in the USA
- Free of contaminants
- May not be a good choice for someone wanting larger quantities or one smoke flavor
Top Pick Best Versatile: Green Mountain Grills Fruitwood Blend Pellets with Free Grill Light GMG-2003
If you prefer a fruity smoked flavor to your grilled meats, but can’t choose one, this fruitwood blend from Green Mountain Grills offers up a nice combination of cherry, pecan and beech hardwood for a bold taste.
These cooking pellets are made from 100 percent hardwood, triple screened for minimal fines, with no fillers, binders or additives for pure flavor and taste. This blend is a favorite choice of competitive barbecue teams from around the world. Manufactured in the USA, the smoker pellets can be used in any grill.
Along with the 38-pound bag of fruitwood smoker pellets, this set includes a handy Pellethead grill light. Equipped with a magnetic base, it is 50 percent larger for a stronger hold, has nine super bright LED bulbs, and a flexible gooseneck head. Use it anywhere, even during a power outage, but especially for grilling on your smoker after dark.
- Pellets are a blend of cherry, pecan and beech wood
- No fillers, binders or additives
- Pellets are made in USA
- Can be used in any grill
- Includes a free Pellethead grill light (batteries included)
- More expensive than other smoker pellets
Top Pick Best Hickory: PIT BOSS 55436 BBQ Wood Pellets
While there are many different flavors of smoker pellets available, one of the most popular is hickory. This type of hardwood smoker pellet creates a sweet, yet strong bacon-flavor especially delicious paired with pork and ribs.
If you are looking for the pungent, smoky goodness of hickory, we recommend these smoker pellets from the Pit Boss. Made with no artificial flavors, spray scents, glues or chemicals, these pellets burn hot and clean.
The raw wood is sourced from across North America and the pellets are made from 100 percent all-natural hardwood that is dried and ground into sawdust. Applying high pressure to the sawdust during production forces the natural juice in the wood to bind the pellets together with a flavor that is unique to each blend.
Producing a strong and smoky taste that is ideal for beef, pork, poultry, and vegetables, these pellets can only be used in a pellet grill and produce very little ash.
- Pellets made from 100 percent natural premium oak and mesquite hardwood
- Produces less than one percent ash
- No chemicals, fillers or additives
- Can only be used in a pellet grill
Top Pick Best Overall: Bear Mountain BBQ 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
When you can’t decide which flavor smoker pellets you want to use for a specific food, this gourmet blend from Bear Mountain BBQ takes the guesswork out it all by paring nicely with pretty much everything.
Offering up a balanced sweet, smoky flavor, this is the perfect go-to choice for any meat, poultry, fish or vegetable you want to grill in the smoker. Made from 100 percent all-natural premium hardwood, these pellets have low moisture for the perfect smoke, and contain no binders, fillers or additives. Versatile enough to use with all outdoor pellet, gas, charcoal or electric grills and smokers.
- Gourmet blend works well for any food
- Low moisture for perfect smoke
- Works with all outdoor pellet, gas, charcoal or electric grills and smokers
- Contains no fillers, chemicals or additives
- Made from 100 percent premium natural hardwood
- May not be appealing for someone looking for specific flavors
Things to look out for:
Consider these factors when choosing smoker pellets:
Use: Smoker pellets come in a variety of flavors and each one pairs well with specific foods. Some are versatile and can be used with a variety of meat, poultry and fish, while others really bring out the best in only one or two food types. Before choosing your smoker pellets, consider the foods you are going to grill in the smoker for an optimal experience. If you can’t decide, consider a blend, or a variety pack that lets you try an assortment of smoking flavors.
Types of flavors: Below is a list of the more popular smoker pellet flavors and the foods they are best paired with.
Hickory pellets: This flavor is a popular choice and easy to find with most brands of smoker pellets. Expect a sweet, yet strong bacon flavor, with a pungent smoke that will add a nice strong aroma to most meat cuts, Pairs nicely with brisket, chicken, beef and vegetables.
Cherry pellets: This is a nice, flavorful option with a sweet, mild flavor that goes well with most foods including beef, fish pork and baked foods like bread.
Alder wood pellets: This is a versatile and aromatic flavor, mild with a hint of sweetness and a great overall choice. While it produces a lot of smoke, it will not overpower food and pairs well with beef, chicken, pork, seafood, vegetables and baked foods.
Oak pellets: Oak pellets offer up a medium smoky flavor that is stronger than apple and cherry, but lighter than the more pungent hickory or mesquite. This flavor works well with pork, poultry and small game birds.
Mesquite pellets: Mesquite is a strong, earthy aroma with a tangy, spicy flavor. It is one of the hottest burning woods and ideal for most red and dark meats, as well as chicken and turkey.
Food grade versus non food-grade: It’s important to purchase only food-grade smoker pellets, since you don’t want any toxic ingredients infused into your food. Non food-grade pellets are used for heating in a wood pellet stove. These can be made from wood products like spruce or pine that are not meant for smoking meat. Heating pellets can also contain glues and chemicals.
The best pellets for smokers are made from 100 per cent hardwood without any binders, fillers, glue or chemicals. The hardwood is dried and ground into sawdust, which is then pressurized at extreme heat to create the small pellets.
The quality of the pellets: No matter how good a pellet grill you have, there could still be a problem with temperature fluctuations. After making sure it’s not the grill to blame, the next step is to check the quality of the pellets you have purchased.
Poor quality pellets can burn slower and produce more ash, which can interfere with the temperature control sensor in your grill. But even if you don’t have problems with maintaining a steady temperature, for an overall better outcome for all of your smoking and grilling, it’s best to look for a good quality pellet that burns cleanly and produces very little ash, right from the beginning.
Price: Smoker pellets are available in different sized bags, and come at various prices. The better quality pellets will be more expensive, but they will burn cleaner and last longer, so sometimes it pays to spend a little more. Before purchasing smoker pellets, read the product description. Many brands will say how much to use at a time for optimal results, and how many cooking events to expect from a bag. You can use this as a guideline to decide if the price is right for you.