How To Choose The Right Kind of Wood Pellets For Your Smoker Or Pellet Grill

What Are Wood Pellets?

Wood pellets are compressed sawdust, and they make a great fuel alternative to charcoal for grilling and smoking meat.

The compact form of each pellet means they release a lot of energy when heated. A precise amount of moisture and uniform sizes enables your pellet grill to burn fuel at an efficient and fairly stable rate. The moisture also helps prevent your food from drying out during the smoking process.


Often, the most common problems experienced when using a pellet grill or smoker can be attributed to the wood pellets themselves. Knowing the right type of wood pellet to use will make your grilling and smoking a lot easier, more enjoyable, and flavorful.

Heating Pellets

Be sure that you don’t use heating pellets in your pellet grill! Made in the same way as regular pellets, heating pellets are specifically for use in pellet stoves or home furnaces. They are unflavored and they don’t produce the bluish smoke that is ideal for smoking meat.

If your pellet smoker isn’t producing adequate smoke, check the pellet type to be sure you are using smoking pellets.

Smoking Pellets

burning wood pellets

Smoking pellets are designed for use in a wood pellet grill or smoker. They are shaped, cut and designed to burn at a calculated rate. Many leading brands of grill manufacturers, such as Traeger, Char-Broil, and Rec Tec make their own specific brand of wood pellets. These are designed for high efficiency and best used with their complimenting brand.

Rec Tec, for example, makes their own brand of 100% natural wood pellets for their pellet smokers and grills, but you can use any quality flavored wood pellet as well. Check out these helpful reviews to find the best Rec Tec smoker.

Flavored Wood Pellets

Flavored wood pellets are typically the most expensive kind, but they can really bring out the natural qualities of your smoked dishes.

There are many flavors and not all are suitable for every dish.

Wood Pellet Chart

Wood Pellet Type Flavor Profile Best Suited For
Walnut heavy, smoky, nutty Red meat, wild game
Oak dense wood, long, slow burning (also used as filler) Red meat, pork, fish
Hickory bold, robust flavor All meats, especially ribs and pork
Cherry Mild, fruity, smoked flavor Beef, Pork, Salmon
Apple Sweet, strong, dense flavor Beef, Poultry, Fish
Mesquite Earthy, bold, can be mixed with other wood chips All meats, especially beef
Pecan Nutty, earthy, mild flavor (may contain nuts) All meats
Alder Light and sweet, can be mixed with other flavors Fish, Poultry
Maple Sweet, mild, mixes will with other flavors Pork, Small game, Steak, Cheese, Vegetables
Plum Mild, sweet, smoky,, can be mixed with other flavors Most meats, Fish

Blended Wood Pellets

Less costly than flavored wood pellets or natural wood pellets, blended wood pellets contain filler wood, usually oak. They are largely available in flavored wood pellets at a ratio of 30% filler, 70% flavored wood.

Quality Vs Economy

Wood pellets with bark on them, moldy wood pellets, or pellets that are poorly compressed make poor fuel for your smoker or pellet grill. A 20lb bag of quality wood pellets may be more costly, but it will burn more efficiently and last you much longer than a low-grade, no-name brand.

Flavored wood pellets and natural wood pellets will enhance your food’s flavor and add a pleasing aroma to all your outdoor cooking. Your pellet grill will also function more efficiently if you invest in the right wood pellets.

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Emma

It's a little lonely being one of the two female writers here, but I do my best! You'll find me covering everything from relationships to the newest gadget I'm excited about.

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