You’ve just started to grill and smoke food, but it doesn’t taste like what you get at the local BBQ joint. I’m here to tell you that you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong. It’s just that you’re missing a key ingredient: wood pellets.
It’s important to find the best wood pellets for smoking, and my goal is to give you all the information you need to decide which ones are the best wood pellet products for you.
Pellet grills run on pellets, so it’s important to find the best smoking pellets. That way, you don’t have something that burns too fast or doesn’t taste right.
I’m sure you are excited to get started, but some people might not have the time to read through everything. You can use the quick compare section to get helpful information. When you are finished learning about each of the pellets, you can then find out how to buy them and what to look for! Let’s get started!
Short on Time? Consider These Top 3
Cookin' Pellets 40PM Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets Best Overall
Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets Best Runner-up
10 Best Wood Pellets Comparison Table
10 Best Wood Pellets for 2021: Detailed Reviews
The Cookin’ Pellets brand comes to you in a 40-pound bag, and it’s a top choice for smokers and grillers. While I think it’s a bit more expensive than other types of wood pellets for smoking, it’s very high quality.
I recommend this brand to almost everyone. The packaging isn’t fancy, but you’re probably going to put them in a bucket anyway.
You’re going to like that the wood pellets are made of 100% hardwood, and it’s a premium brand. In fact, there are four wood types inside, which gives you that amazing smoke flavor you crave.
They’re just as good as other pellets made by your smoker’s manufacturer, and you’re going to be delighted at the hickory wood flavor. If that weren’t enough, it contains natural binding agents, so there’s no fear of health problems or a funny taste when using these food-grade pellets.
If you're looking for something made of high-quality this is the brand to get. Though it's more expensive, you also get what you pay for!
- High-quality wood
- Four hardwoods in one blend
- More expensive than other brands
When you want wood pellets for smoking, there are tons of products. I feel that the Camp Chef Competition blend is a great choice because you don’t need to be an expert to use them. Beginners can easily start smoking or grilling with this option and aren’t going to have a problem.
I like the Competition blend instead of just using hickory or another flavor. That way, you get complex flavors and don’t have to mix it all yourself.
The company claims that these wood pellets are made with cherry, maple, hickory. Also, they’re made to be less dusty, so you’re not going to have as much as to clean out of your pellet smokers.
Since they’re completely natural, you can be sure that they’re safe to use in all pellet grills. I also like that they’re made in the US, have a reasonable price, and taste pretty good for what they are!
Those who prefer to work with a top brand are sure to appreciate these wood pellets. They produce less dust and ash and are all-natural. However, they can change the heating temperature in your smoker/grill.
- Less ash and dust produced
- All-natural blend
- Bag features a zip-style seal
- Might affect grill/smoker heating temperature
When you want the best pellets, you want to go with the apple wood version from Camp Chef. These pellets are made using premium apple hardwood and are perfect for grilling. I believe that these pellets can be used with any smoker, though if you’ve got a Camp Chef one, you’re already halfway there!
Those who want a smoky and apple taste are sure to love these pellets. Plus, there are no other wood types, so the flavor really stands out when compared to different brands. Still, you can mix them with other flavors to try new enhancements for your food.
I like that you can use these pellets with other grills, such as Pit Boss or Traeger. Plus, they’re made with 100 percent apple hardwood, and there are no added flavors, oils, or fillers. If that weren’t enough, you can be happy that they’re manufactured in the US!
Those who prefer applewood are sure to appreciate this brand. It gives you the perfect taste and works in any smoker. However, it might be a tad more expensive!
- Works well with all grills and smokers
- Perfect when you want a smoky, apple taste
- 100% applewood
- Can be more expensive when compared to other brands
Pit Boss is probably the name most synonymous with smokers, and it also has some great wood pellets for smoking. You can use them for all grills and smokers out there. In fact, I think it might be the best if you want hickory flavor, though there are other blends.
The hickory wood pellets from Pit Boss come in a 40-pound bag, and they’re made of 100% hardwood. Plus, all the wood is sourced from the US. They tend to burn clean and hot when compared to lower-quality products. I like that the pellets don’t contain spray-on scents, chemicals, or glue of any kind.
With the blend, there’s an amazing flavor profile, which is a combination of sweet and savory tones with a touch of tartness. If you don’t know what to choose, you can never go wrong with hickory, though I also like cherry and maple. I find that it offers a smoky taste with the mild sweetness, and the hickory flavoring is rich and reminds me of bacon (and bacon can never be a bad thing!).
I always recommend picking up a couple of bags at once. That way, you aren’t scrambling to get wood pellets if you want to smoke on a whim.
Everyone seems to want a blended flavor, and this brand makes sure you get it. However, it's not for all grillers!
- Excellent price
- Works for all smokers/grills
- Made of 100% hardwood
- Blend with different woods and might not be ideal for some people
Traeger is also a name that commands respect when it comes to owning a pellet smoker. If that’s the brand you use, it’s a good idea to get the same of brand wood pellets for smoking. You’re not going to be disappointed, either.
I like that the pellets burn cleaner and produce less ash than some of the other brands out there. While that means you have less to clean up, it also means the smoky flavor is getting on the meat and not escaping into the atmosphere.
These pellets come in a 20-pound bag, and hickory is the flavor of the hour. In fact, I find that the hickory makes me salivate and crave what’s cooking inside!
You’re going to enjoy that there are no fillers or additives, and the hickory pellets are 100% all-natural hardwood. It’s possible to use them in all types of pellet smokers to cook beef, chicken, pork, and more. Plus, you can smoke cheese and veggies with these pellets!
You've spent way too much on the smoker, and now you don't have wood pellets. This budget-friendly choice is ideal and still offers tons of flavor.
- Less ash produced
- Amazing flavors
- Might have issues with heating up to the right temp
When you want the smoky flavor that only hickory pellets can give, you need RecTec. Though it’s a blend, it works for all grilling and smoking needs. Plus, I think it burns better than normal pellets. If that weren’t enough, the hickory flavoring is strong and produces a much better smoky flavor.
I like that every pellet is roughly the same size. When you’re burning them, that’s a good thing because you’re not going to have one that’s still half-formed while the others are ash.
The 40-pound bag gives you enough to smoke plenty of meat, but I recommend that you buy a couple of bags at a time. Plus, the pellets are compact, so they last longer.
Since it’s a blend, I must warn you that oak is also in there. However, since it’s a premium wood, you probably aren’t going to mind. The price is pretty decent, and you can move on up to the finer things in life.
If you want something that's delicious and doesn't create tons of ash, these are the pellets for you. The brand focuses on quality as it claims, but I wasn't able to find much info about it.
- Compatible with all grills
- Dependable quality
- Doesn’t produce tons of ash
- A fine blend
- Can’t find information about the oak/hickory specs (how much of each)
When you’re searching for wood pellets for smoking, you may want to take a stroll to find some uncommon flavors. The BBQrs brand has six different flavors to pick from. I prefer the Jack Daniel’s one, but there is also apple wood, cherry wood, and more.
You’re always going to get a smoky flavor, regardless of the one you pick.
Plus, every flavor is designed for use with any smoker or grill, even if it’s electric or charcoal!
I believe you can use each pack about 10 times because you only need 1/3 cup of pellets for each session. Plus, you can mix up the flavors to achieve a unique blend for yourself.
If you’re interested in mesquite, hickory, cherry, pecan, then you need to get this pack because they’re all there. Plus, I find that the hickory wood pellets are ideal for smoking and give you an extra-special smoke flavor.
Yum! If flavor is your number one reason for using pellets, try this brand! You get various flavors, but I'm not sure the quality of the wood is all that great.
- Use with any grill
- One purchase contains tons of flavors (six to be exact)
- Might not be good-quality wood
When you want wood pellets for smoking, you can’t go wrong with the Lumber Jack brand. You get a variety pack that is suitable for any pellet grill. Each one is food-grade, and you’re going to get an immense flavor from them.
I prefer the mesquite hickory blend, but there’s also apple and more. They have an intense smoke feature, which adds tons of flavor to whatever you’re grilling. Plus, the pellets only contain hardwood and no binders or oils.
The flavors available include:
- Pecan blend
- Hickory blend
- Mesquite blend
- Oak/Hickory/Cherry blend
- Maple/Beech/Cherry blend
If you're trying to find your signature flavor, this is the brand for you. There are plenty to choose from, but the pellets might give trouble to your hopper.
- Use with any grill or smoker
- Quite affordable (get six in a pack)
- High-quality wood used
- May not work with newer brands that have hopper alarms
The Bear Mountain BBQ Pellets are made from renewable and recycled sawmill residue. That means you get a high performance with lower moisture contents and much less ash.
I like that these BBQ Pellets come in a 20-pound bag and have no binders or glue. You don’t have to use them in a pellet grill; they can work in almost any grill you have. Plus, you can choose your flavor of wood, such as hickory or oak. There’s also maple, mesquite, pecan, cherry, apple, and alder.
If you’re interested in a balanced blend, you can’t go wrong with this product. It’s designed to infuse the tenderness of the meat with robust flavor so that your meal is exquisite.
Whether you’re cooking poultry, seafood, or pork, these pellets are going to add more to the mix. Plus, they’re relatively inexpensive!
When you want a bag that lasts forever, that's not possible. However, this one does last a long time and there are various flavors to choose from. Just note that they can burn hotter, so you may need to adjust the damper.
- Tons of flavoring options
- Large bag (lasts a while)
- All-natural blends
- Can burn hotter than other pellets
It is time to focus on the last product in our wood pellets for smoking review. I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment to see what made the list. Smokehouse Products is a well-known brand and has been around since the 60s.
When you go with this brand, you can choose your flavor of wood, such as mesquite or hickory. There’s also apple and alder. Regardless of the flavor you choose, you only get 100% wood material, so you know it’s safe to use. Though the company is based in the US, it claims that its products could be imported. I’m not sure why that is, but I wanted to give you that information for reference.
I suggest that you pull out one of the pellets when you buy this brand and look at it closely. Amazingly, they are very compact, which is from the hard-press manufacturing process. That way, you get a longer burn with less ash.
When you want something that burns longer, this is the brand for you. Though it could have a bitter taste, it's all natural.
- 100% wood material from the Pacific Northwest
- No oils or chemicals
- Hard-pressed for compactness and longer burns
- Pellet can ignite instead of smoking
- Might product a bitter taste
If you want to get the best wood pellets for smoking, it’s important to know what to look for. When I first started using my pellet smoker, I didn’t realize the difference between quality wood pellets and cheap ones.
That’s part of the reason I’m including this buyer’s guide. With the right wood pellet products, you can have more delicious food that is safe to eat.
Low ash content focuses on how much ash is left based on how many wood pellets you put in and how fast the pellets burn. The smoker or grill isn’t going to run efficiently if there’s tons of ash left when you’re done. The more ash that gets produced, the harder it is to keep the right temperature. Therefore, you want the lowest ash content possible.
No Additives or Bark
You want wood pellets that don’t contain binding agents or fillers. These can include bark, cardboard, glue, and other materials. Typically, these fillers, binders, and additives are added to the wood pellets to help them burn hotter, but they can be dangerous to you.
The moisture amount in the wood pellets determines how much work it’s going to take to light the pellet smoker. Typically, the best pellets have a low moisture content. It doesn’t take very long to get a burn going when there’s less moisture in the wood pellets. I recommend that you look for pellets with a moisture content of 6.5 percent or less.
Sometimes, you can find “moisture-free” pellets. However, I feel that those ratings are unrealistic because the wood pellets aren’t stored in a vacuum-sealed pouch when you get them home.
Wood pellet products are measured in BTUs for heat output. This is the best way to measure the heat emanating from your pellet grill and other heating appliances.
One BTU is necessary to heat a pound of water by a single degree (Fahrenheit). Look for wood pellets with higher BTU ratings. I recommend 8,000 to 8,500 BTUs for the best results.
Most wood pellets are designed for certain pellet grill kits. However, manufacturers are starting to make wood pellet chips that can be used with any smoker or grill.
When people want to flavor wood pellets, they often talk about the wood used to create the pellets. You can always find BBQ flavors, such as cherry, pecan, and more. However, there are tons of other wood pellet flavors to consider. Each flavor of wood has a unique taste. For example, cherry is slightly sweet, while pecan is a touch nutty.
You can flavor wood chips yourself, but that often requires adding fillers and other things to the mix. Instead, you want a natural flavor wood to complement the naturalness of the wood. For example, many professionals pick cedar wood pellets to smoke fish because it offsets the strong fishy flavor. Maple works great for poultry and pork because it adds a touch of sweetness. It’s possible to mix different flavored wood chips to create complex pellet flavors, too.
I find that many people pick mesquite flavored wood as the go-to, but this can overpower your food and has an assertive, strong flavor.
Hickory and apple are two popular wood pellet flavors. You can cook almost anything with them, including vegetables and seafood. It’s also possible to pair other combos of wood chips to get unique wood pellet flavors.
Flavored woods with oak might be the best choice because they are less expensive and can produce various levels of smoke and heat. Ultimately, you’re going to get the flavor of the oak, but it’s mixed with other wood chips to create a blend.
Depending on how often you use the wood pellet products, you may want to go with a less expensive brand. That way, you can smoke a lot of meat without adding to the cost. Remember that you buy it by the weight, so make sure to figure up the cost-per-pound for the products.
Choosing wood pellets for smoking isn’t easy. I’ve been down this road before, and it’s taken me some time to figure out which wood pellet products are the best. During my research, I had tons of questions about smoking wood pellets, and I figured you probably did, too. This list of FAQs is sure to help you understand what wood pellets to get and how to use them correctly.
What Are the Different Types of Wood Pellets for Grilling and Smoking?
The wood pellet industry has been booming for many years because heating companies use them. Plus, people now want to BBQ, grill, and smoke. You need the right wood pellet mindset to know what type of wood pellets are out there and what’s right for you.
Ultimately, the type of wood pellets you choose can include these three categories:
- Standard Wood Pellets – These wood pellets contain organic ash at a rate that’s about 0.5 percent. Typically, pellets made from forest industry waste are included in this category. You definitely don’t want to use these wood pellets in your grill or smoker because there are binding agents and additives added.
- Food-Grade Wood Pellets – To make wood pellets safe for grilling food, they need to be food-grade. There can’t be any additives used to make them, so look for the food-grade label on the package of your wood pellets.
- Premium Wood Pellets – These wood pellets don’t contain bark and have less than 0.5 percent of organic ash. They’re also food-grade pellets and cost more because they include maple or oak.
How Do I Pair My Pellets and Meat?
Pairing your wood pellets with the meat you smoke isn’t required. However, I like to enhance the flavor of my food with different types of wood pellets. This is subjective, so please take my suggestions with a grain of salt. You can always experiment yourself!
- Apple – These are best for chicken, pork, seafood, and lamb. The pellets are mild, and you can mix them with other flavors.
- Cherry Wood- You can use these pellets to smoke just about anything.
- Hickory – I like to use these pellets for chicken, pork, and beef.
- Maple – This is best for vegetables and chicken.
- Mesquite – Used mainly for beef brisket, it’s powerful and delicious.
- Oak or Alder – Typically, oak is mild, so it’s often blended with alder to enhance vegetables and all proteins.
Do I have to Use the Same Pellet Brand as My Grill?
Most smoker manufacturers also sell smoking wood pellets. Though it might be best to use them, you can try other wood pellets from different brands. Though some companies try to void warranties if you use any other wood pellet, they can’t legally do this.
How Long Do Wood Pellets Last in the Smoker?
Typically, a pellet grill uses about half a pound of pellets during smoking. Wood pellets may need to be added during the cooking process if it’s cool or windy that day. Also, some wood pellets have a fast burn rate, so you go through more of a particular flavor.
Do I Have to Soak My Wood Pellets Before Using Them?
When smoking wood pellets, you aren’t required to soak them in water before using them. Some people incorrectly believe that they can prolong the pellet’s life if they submergethem, but it just makes more ash and mess for you!
What’s the Difference Between Wood Smoking Pellets and Heating Pellets?
You can have smoking wood pellets and heating pellets, and they’re not the same, though they do look similar.
Smoker pellets are made of hardwood and don’t contain anything bad. On the other hand, heating pellets contain different wood materials and resin that can leave a funny aftertaste to the food. It also includes bark, which might leave behind other impurities. These pellets could be dangerous, and it’s best to avoid them.
I truly believe that the best wood pellets for smoking depend on what flavors your want and how well they work. Since you’re expecting a specific answer, I’m going to say that the Camp Chef Competition Blend is the winner, and it works for all pellet grills.
However, I must also point out that you may want a slow-burning or less ash-producing brand, depending on your needs. I hope you’ve enjoyed my review. If you want to learn how to pick the right brand, continue reading the buyer’s guide!