The 14 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking Food Like a Pro

Wood-Pellets-for-Smoking-Food

Pellet grills are made to accommodate special wood pellets instead of hunks of wood or charcoal.

The best wood pellets for smoking are essentially nothing more than small chunks of compressed sawdust.

Typically made from pieces of real wood that’s salvaged from lumber mills, these pieces are shredded and dried then forced through a small hole to create these mini pellets ideal for grilling and smoking your favorite dishes.

When the pieces are compressed, the natural polymer found in wood – lignin – heats up and then softens. Once the pieces pass through the hole in the die, this lignin cools, causing it to perform like glue, binding the wood into a pellet shape.

These shaped pieces are then cut to length and packaged.

The first thing you need to consider when you’re looking for the best wood pellets for smoking is the flavor. You’ll find pellets in a broad spread of flavors, but in one of just three main types:

  • Flavored wood pellets: Made from completely flavored wood – oak, cherry, or pecan, for instance – flavored wood pellets contain filler in the form of oak or older. While this burns efficiently, it does little to contribute to the overall flavor profile. These are the most expensive types of pellet you’ll find
  • Blended wood pellets: Blended pellets use flavored wood mixed with a filler like oak or alder. There will normally be roughly 70% filler to 30% flavored wood. The most popular and the most common wood pellets for smoking, these burn consistently, deliver robust flavor, and are also keenly priced
  • Standard wood pellets: Made from random woods with minimal flavor and often not food-safe, these pellets are best reserved for heating duty

The best wood pellets for smoking are made from a range of different hardwoods. Each of these hardwoods has varying properties that can influence the end result.

Here are the most popular flavors for wood pellets:

  • Hickory: Hickory works wonderfully for smoking pork. Chicken and beef also work well with hickory wood pellets
  • Maple: Ideal for chicken and veggies, maple wood pellets are similar to cherry. It’s always worth having some maple pellets on hand
  • Cherry: Cherrywood pellets are among the most versatile and can be used for smoking just about any dish
  • Apple: Best for smoking chicken, lamb, pork, and seafood, apple wood pellets are mild, and they also mix well with other flavors
  • Oak: Oak pellets are fairly mild in terms of flavor, but they work well for vegetables and all forms of protein
  • Mesquite: Perfect for beef, mesquite pellets work especially well with beef brisket
  • Pecan: Pecan wood pellets are great for smoking chicken. The flavor blends neatly with other flavors, too

OK, now you have those basics sketched in, you should be perfectly positioned to compare all the best wood pellets for smoking to determine if any make the right fit.

Dive in!

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I. The 14 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking

1. Our #1 Pick: Traeger Grills Mesquite Hardwood Pellets

Traeger-Grills-PEL305-Mesquite-100%-All-Natural-Hardwood-Pellets-Grill

Features

  • Flavor: Mesquite
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3 x 16 x 24 inches

Our overall favorite wood pellets for smoking come from pellet grill specialist Traeger. It’s no surprise that the brand behind the enduringly popular pellet grill delivers first-class fuel for those grills. It’s not only Traeger grills and smokers these pellets work with, though.

These pellets pair well with beef, poultry, or seafood giving you a versatile grilling fuel capable of imparting a wonderful smokiness to your food.

If you want intensely flavored wood pellets, this subtle mesquite formula is probably not the best fit. The flavor is very subtle.

The smoke to burn ratio of these pellets is commendable as you would expect from a specialist like Traeger.

Made in the USA and kicking up very little ash, these pellets will burn cleanly and consistently while ensuring your smoked delicacies come out wonderfully every time, even if you’re a complete beginner. They are all-natural charcoal containing no additives and no fillers, giving you everything you need and nothing you don’t, and making these arguably the best wood pellets for smoking.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • All-natural hardwood
  • No additives or fillers
  • Impeccable brand heritage
  • Not the strongest flavor

2. Louisiana Grills Competition Blend Pellets

Louisiana-Grills-55405-Competition-Blend-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Maple, hickory, and cherry
  • Bag size: 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 6 x 24 inches

Louisiana Grills serve up some superb competition blend pellets ideal for most smokers and outdoor grills. You can check on the listing page to see if your grill is compatible. Do this before committing to purchase.

The bumper 40-pound bag is packed with completely natural hardwood pellets. The competition blend includes 50% maple along with 25% cherry and 25% hickory. Favored by pitmasters the world over, this blend pairs well with a variety of dishes from chicken and beef to pork and fish.

The raw wood used for these pellets comes from the United States, and you’ll be getting no cheap additive or fillers spoiling the mix.

In terms of flavor, this blend manages to marry sweet and savory, undercut with a hint of tartness.

The only real gripes we could find among a sea of positive user reviews concern the large size of the pellets.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Blend of sweet, savory, and tart
  • Optimum combination of smoke and flavor
  • Raw wood sourced from USA
  • Pellets are quite large

3. BBQr’s Delight Super Smoker Variety Packs

BBQr's-Delight-Wood-Smoking-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Mesquite, apple, hickory, pecan, cherry, Jack Daniels
  • Bag size: 6 x 1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.75 x 4.75 x 8 inches

Are you unable to decide between the various flavors of wood pellets for smoking? Well, you don’t need to with this pack of 6 x 1-pound bags from the inimitable BBQr’s Delight. What do you get for your money, then?

Firstly, be prepared to dig a little deeper for these pellets. You’ll only be getting 6 pounds in total, with each bag capable of fueling up to 10 cookouts. Pound for pound, these are some of the priciest pellets out there. Are they worth the money, though?

You’ll benefit from an all-natural product proudly made in the USA, and you won’t get any of the cheap bulking agents or additives that plague the worst wood pellets for smoking.

The other obvious advantage is the choice of 6 flavors you get, ideal if you have a family with mixed tastes, or if you simply like to ring the changes when you’re smoking food.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Variety pack with multiple flavors
  • Get 10 uses per bag
  • For use with all outdoor grills
  • Work out quite expensive

4. Cookin Pellets Hickory Smoking Pellets

CookinPellets-40H-Hickory-Smoking-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Hickory
  • Bag size: 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 22 x 12 x 16 inches

Next up in our quest for the best wood pellets for smoking come some hickory-infused pellets from Cookin Pellets.

Made using only the top four hardwood, and with no fillers, no additives, and no oak or alder, these pellets deliver as promised with an all-natural formula.

The value-sized 40-pound bag means you’ll have enough fuel for the rest of the summer, even if you often whip out your pellet grill, smoker, or BBQ.

As well as this single pack of pellets, you can also pick up multipacks with up to 5 packs of 40-pound bags if you’re looking for even greater value and increased convenience.

With low moisture and ash, there is also surprisingly little flavor imparted by these pellets. If you want something with a more dramatic taste, we’d suggest scoping out some of the other wood pellets on our shortlist. If you’re content with a subtle trace of hickory undercutting the smokiness, you’re in safe hands.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • No fillers or soft woods
  • High BTU capability
  • Low moisture content
  • Minimal flavor imparted

5. Green Mountain Grills Hardwood Grilling Pellets

Green-Mountain-Grills-Premium-Apple-100%-Pure-Hardwood-Grilling-Cooking-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Apple
  • Bag size: 28 pounds
  • Dimensions: 24 x 12.6 x 5.5 inches

Next in line we have some great hardwood pellets from Green Mountain. How do these differentiate themselves in a crowded field?

Firstly, the apple flavor is one of the most striking you can use for smoking food. Along with the applewood, you get a blend of red oak and American hickory to complete a taste sensation. Many of the wood pellets on our shortlist have a much gentler flavor, so if you’re looking to make a real statement when you’re grilling out, roll with this tasty blend.

You won’t get too much ash or moisture, delivering a clean smoking experience. The burn is efficient and consistent, allowing you to grill like a pro even if you’re just starting out.

The bulk of reviews for these pellets are positive, but we unearthed a series of complaints about the quantity of dust in the bag. This set aside, you’re in safe hands with these pellets, and you’ll enjoy a delicious new taste when you’re smoking food.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Little ash or moisture
  • Efficient burn
  • Premium hardwood pellets
  • Quite dusty in the bag

6. Bear Mountain BBQ Hardwood Pellets

Bear-Mountain-BBQ-100%-All-Natural-Hardwood-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Gourmet blend
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14 x 4 x 20 inches

Bear Mountain offers up some great hardwood pellets to fuel your smoker or outdoor grill. Compatibility is impressive and you’ll be free to use these in almost any outside grill or smoker.

The all-natural formula contains no artificial flavors or additives. You won’t be plagued by cheap fillers and bulking agents either.

The manufacturer recommends these pellets for:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Vegetables

Whether you’re grilling with a Traeger smoker or an outdoor grill from Louisiana Grills, you can create some great smoked dishes, even if you’re a complete novice.

Aside from some reported issues with the strong smell these pellets give off, most customers seem very satisfied. If you’re not convinced about the unflavored pellets, there are multiple alternatives to choose from, including hickory and oak.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • No fillers, flavors, or additives
  • Suitable for all outdoor grills
  • Balance of sweetness and smokiness
  • Strong smell when burning

7. Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets

Pit-Boss-55435-40-Pound-Bag-BBQ-Wood-Pellets-for-Pellet-Grill

Features

  • Flavor: Maple, hickory, and cherry
  • Bag size: 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 5 inches

Pit Boss are responsible for some first-class grills and smokers, so as you would expect, these wood pellets for smoking are produced to a very high standard.

You get a bumper-value 40-pound bag of these pellets, a competition blend of real hardwoods.

In terms of flavor, you get sweetness along with a savory element and a degree of tartness to complete a winning combination perfect for enhancing your smoked and grilled dishes.

The blend of cherry, hickory, and maple comes from North America. You won’t get any artificial flavors or colors marring the formula, and there are no glues, chemicals, or spray scents either.

As well as imparting a showstopping flavor, these pellets also bring out a rosy hue in your meat. What’s not to love?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Imparts bundles of flavor
  • Value-packed bag
  • Pellets burn hot and clean
  • Some reported issues of plastic in pellets

8. Louisiana Grills Pennsylvania Cherry Pellets

Louisiana-Grills-Pennsylvania-Cherry-55404-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Cherry and maple
  • Bag size: 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 6 x 24 inches

Next in line we have some of the best wood pellets for smoking from specialist Louisiana Grills. How do these cherry and maple pellets shape up, then?

Firstly, you get a large 40-pound bag, meaning you won’t need to be continually sourcing and buying small bags of pellets. Stored properly, these pellets will last for months on end.

The pellets are made from completely natural hardwoods blended to deliver a subtle flavor with traces of cherry and maple.

The raw wood is all sourced in the United States, assuring you of a certain level of quality.

In terms of flavor, the profile is predominantly sweet accompanied by a slight tartness.

With the exception of some scattered complaints about the amount of dust in the bag of pellets, the majority of user reviews are positive, praising the consistent and clean burn, as well as the absence of excessive ash and moisture.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Lip-smacking blend of flavors
  • Raw wood sourced from USA
  • Sweet but slightly tart
  • Lots of dust in bag

9. Lumber Jack BBQ Pellets

Lumber-Jack-LJACK-Hick-Charcoal-20-20-pounds-BBQ-Grilling-Wood-pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Hickory and charcoal
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14 x 20 x 4 inches

How do Lumber Jack’s BBQ pellets stand out in a crowded field?

Well, this char-blend is made from virgin tree fiber, hickory, and charcoal. This ensures you get a clean taste that’s free of chemicals, additives, and cheap filler.

The bag is robust and designed so it’s easy to carry rather than slipping out of your hands.

Suitable for use in wood pellet grills and smokers from most major brands, you’ll be free to whip up some delicious grilled and smoked dishes this summer with a powerful addition to the taste.

Aside from some gripes about the less than distinctive charcoal taste, most users are delighted with these wood pellets, consistently rated among the best in this class of fuel.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Made from virgin tree fiber
  • No additives or filler
  • Easy to carry bag
  • Charcoal flavor is quite muted

10. Jack Daniels Smoking BBQ Pellets

Jack-Daniel's-Smoking-BBQ-Pellets-20-Pounds

Features

  • Flavor: Jack Daniels whiskey
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4 x 13 x 18 inches

Cooking with whiskey and bourbon-flavored wood pellets is certainly not to everyone’s taste, but if you’re partial to some Jack Daniels and you appreciate that incomparable taste, why not introduce it to your favorite smoked dishes.

These pellets are made from 100% real oak mixed with flavorwood. Charcoal is included to mellow out the flavor profile.

Burning with a high BTU rating, while delivering minimal ash or moisture, you have all the components you need in place for clean and consistent grilling.

Compatibility is excellent, and these pellets work well with just about any outdoor grill or smoker.

If you’re a JD lover and you can’t get enough of that sweet taste, adding some of these pellets to your grilling supplies should liven up the rest of your summer. Available in a generous 20-pound bag, you’ll have enough pellets for months of cookouts.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Low ash and moisture
  • Delectable JD taste
  • Charcoal to mellow flavor
  • Often need relighting

11. Jim Beam Bourbon Barrel Cooking Pellets

Ol'-Hick-Cooking-Pellets-Genuine-Jim-Beam-Bourbon-Barrel-Grilling-Smoker-Cooking-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Jim Beam bourbon
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.3 x 3.6 inches

Jim Beam is the main rival of Jack Daniels, so how does this bourbon legend perform when it comes to producing wood pellets for smoking food?

Just like the opposition, Jim Beam makes use of all-natural oak for that trademark smoked taste. This is enhanced as the process uses wood from proprietary bourbon barrels. There are no artificial flavors thrown in, so you’ll get to appreciate this flavor profile uncontaminated.

The rugged bag is easy to carry and also designed to withstand rips and tears.

These pellets pair well with a wide variety of foods, so imagination is your only limitation. Whether you’re roasting or smoking, grilling or braising, these wood pellets will add a delicious dimension to the end result on your plate.

If you are expecting a strong and very distinctive taste here, you might be in for a mild disappointment. The flavor is subtle rather than arresting, but this also means people are less likely to be put off by an overpowering sensation.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Made from all-natural oak
  • Ideal for a range of smoked dishes
  • Tear-resistant bag
  • Not the strongest flavor

12. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Pellets

Camp-Chef-Smoker-Grill-Competition-Blend-Hardwood-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Cherry, maple, and hickory
  • Bag size: 2 x 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 4.3 inches

Camp Chef produces a deep bench of fuel for BBQs and grills, including these superb wood pellets for smoking your food like a pitmaster.

Made from completely natural hardwood, these food-grade pellets give you no safety concerns at all. You won’t be loaded up with cheap fillers and additives either.

Whether you’re smoking poultry, beef, fish, or veggies, these pellets will burn cleanly and consistently. With an efficient burn and very little ash generated, generate impressive results when you’re smoking food, even if you’re just starting out. There is not much moisture generated either, so you’ll enjoy superior performance when you’re smoking.

We found mainly positive user reviews for this grill, but some complaints about these pellets not working well in Traeger grills. This gripe aside, these clean and lean pellets are well worth popping on your shortlist.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • All-natural and food-grade hardwood
  • Highly efficient burn
  • Ideal for chicken, pork, and fish
  • Not a great fit for Traeger grills

13. Lumber Jack Competition Blend Grilling Pellets

Lumber-Jack-Competition-Blend-Maple-Hickory-Cherry-BBQ-Grilling-Pellets

Features

  • Flavor: Maple, cherry, and hickory
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 3 inches

As we near the end of our showcase of the best wood pellets for smoking, Lumber Jack throw some competition blend pellets into the ring. How do they shape up, then?

These pellets are made in the United States, allowing you to buy with total confidence. Made from a blend of maple, cherry, and hickory in equal parts, you won’t get a super-strong flavor from these pellets. That said, subtlety wins the day when you’re smoking, and you will get that trademark smokiness.

Made from real pellets rather than residual wood, you’ll benefit from more flavor derived from the bark and cambium layer of the tree.

You get a hot burn when you’re smoking with these pellets, and you’ll also enjoy a great deal of smoke with a greater surface area.

Most user testimony concerning these wood pellets is positive, although we found some complaints about the amount of ash generated. Overall, you’re getting some pellets that perform well and come from a highly reputable stable, so see if they make the right fit for your smoker this summer.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Made in the USA
  • Fruit flavor undercut with hickory
  • Great brand image
  • Kick out lots of ash

14. Pecan Flavor BBQr’s Delight Smoking Pellets

Pecan-Flavor-BBQR's-Delight-Smoking-BBQ-Pellets-20-Pounds

Features

  • Flavor: Pecan
  • Bag size: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.75 x 5.1 inches

BBQr’s Delight offers another superb 20-pound bag of wood pellets perfect for creating your favorite smoked delicacies.

If you enjoy the flavor of hickory wood pellets, but you like the idea of something milder and sweeter, why not give pecan a try? You’ll also be rewarded with a gentle nutty undertone to add a new dimension to your smoked treats.

This flavorwood is blended with oak so you get a clean and consistent source of fuel capable of burning at a high BTU rating while kicking out little by the way of ash.

As well as delivering fully on the performance front, these pellets are also very keenly priced, so they make some of the best affordable wood pellets for smoking, as well as some of the most effective.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Consistent, clean burn
  • High BTU and low ash
  • Cost-effective pellets
  • Mild flavor

II. FAQs

1) Is it safe to smoke food using wood pellets?

Absolutely. Wood pellets designed for smoking food are made from food-grade hardwoods. These are consumable products perfectly safe for human consumption. You should not buy heat pellets for prepping food you’ll eat. Heat pellets often contain chemical treatments and contaminants. It’s vital to store your wood pellets properly so they are not exposed to any moisture. This can lead to a toxic environment with mold or fungus developing.

2) Do I need to soak my wood pellets before use?

No. Indeed, moisture is the last thing you want in wood pellets for smoking. When you soak pellets, the water will break down the composition and cause them to disintegrate.

3) How long will wood pellets last in my smoker?

As a rough guideline, pellet grills typically consume a half-pound of pellets for each hour of smoking. The level of wind and the ambient temperature can both influence this to some extent. Additionally, some wood pellets burn more rapidly, causing you to get through more of one type of pellet than another. The other factor that impacts the amount of pellets you’ll use is the size of the meat you plan to smoke. Beef brisket that needs to be smoked for 12 hours, for example, will clearly require far more pellets than a slender shoulder of pork.

4) How should I store my wood pellets for smoking?

Always store your wood pellets in an airtight container. Make sure no moisture can penetrate the pellets. Not only will these cause your pellets to crumble and fall apart, they could also go bad through mold or fungus. Ultimately, this can block the auger in your grill, causing all sorts of problems.

5) How long will a 20-pound bag of pellets last in my smoker?

This will depend not only on the brand and model of your grill, but also on the smoke setting and how hot you’re planning to cook. If you’re smoking food at low temperatures of 225F, you’ll use anywhere from a half-pound to a pound of pellets per hour. Ramp up the heat setting, and you’ll start burning through up to three pounds of pellets per hour.

6) Is it necessary to use the same brand of pellets as that of my pellet grill?

No. Even if some brands claim you need to use specific pellets, this is often a marketing trick to drive revenue. Mix and match pellets if you want to and don’t feel hemmed in to any particular brand if you fancy a little variety.

7) How long will wood pellets last when stored?

If you keep them in the sealed bag they arrive in, wood pellets should last for six months or so. Once you open the package, they will last anywhere from one to three months, assuming you store them properly and as outlined above. If you are planning to invest in some of the larger 40-pound bags of pellets, you should first consider how often you smoke or grill food. If you only occasionally grill out, you would be better advised to stick with smaller bags of pellets. There isn’t much sense in trying to buy larger packs to save money if you only end up throwing away wasted pellets.


III. Conclusion

If you arrived here today at Madiba with no clear idea about how to choose the best wood pellets for smoking, you should now be in a much stronger position.

The quality of wood pellets counts, so it’s worth exploring out brief buying guide above before whipping out your credit card. Make sure you’re buying the right type of pellets for your grill or smoker, and make certain you understand the quality and flavor options at your disposal.

While it’s not the toughest buying decision out there, it’s a terrible feeling to buy a large bag of pellets and then find yourself disappointed with the flavor. Hopefully, today’s comprehensive guide should prevent you from making any blunders.

Bookmark our blog before you go and be sure to pop back soon for more great grilling content.

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