9 best wood pellets for smoking and grilling in 2022

best wood pellets for smoking

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We love our pellet grills, and if you have found your way here, it is because you do too. Now that you have gotten your feet wet and are ready to up your meat smoking game using your pellet smoker, you will need to pair that awesome grill with the best wood pellets for smoking meat to get the most out of it.

This article will go over the best woof pellets brands, wood pellet flavors, and meat pairings. By the end of this article, you will know which wood pellet brands are producing a good product and which wood pellet flavors are suitable for smoking meats.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What are the different flavors of wood pellets.
  • Brands and pellet grill manufacturers make the best wood pellets.
  • Which foods go well with which flavors of wood pellets.
  • Where to find them.

A Quick Into: What are smoking wood pellets?  How are they made?

Wood pellets are a by-product of wood manufacturing and event forest management. Wood manufacturing plants (lumber mill ) generate thousands of pounds of wood sawdust. The sawdust is recycled and turned into wood pellets.

So, if you are sitting on a nice wood chair, part of the sand dust left behind from its manufacture was most likely converted into the best pellets.

Also, some pellet companies use recycled trees discarded during the forest fire mitigation process, which is environmentally friendly and needed to reduce the risk of forest wildfires. So wood pellets are considered a renewable fuel.

The majority of wood pellet products are manufactured from recycled timber from lumber mills. The wood is shredded into little bits or compressed sawdust is dried before being pressed into the thin pencil pellet shape we are all familiar with.  The compression allows lignin, a natural polymer in plant tissues, to soften.

Did you know that Pellets are a Biomass fuel?

Biomass fuel is an agricultural product or by-product, including wood chips that can be used as a source of fuel or energy. For the product to be considered a biomass fuel, it must be renewable.

How do we choose the best wood pellets?

When deciding on the best wood pellets, we considered a broad range of sorts and flavors. We know that different types of wood flavor are more suitable for specific foods, so we included choices that pair great with poultry, pork, and seafood, as well as vegetables.

This list includes some suggestions that may be used in a variety of ways. However, quality is the most important consideration when purchasing wood pellets. For the best results, choose pellets that are completely natural (no fillers or binders), produce minimal ash, and come from high-quality wood.

You should also check for pellets that are compatible with your smoker. If you buy cheap pellets, they may become jammed in your grill’s auger and ruin your dinner plans.

Pellet grill manufactures will play with the blend to find the perfect mix for their grills and taste, but to pick a good wood pellet, you want to focus on all-natural hardwood pellets without fillers or additives.

Hardwood Pellets  VS Softwood Pellets

The controversy over hardwood vs. softwood has been waged for a long time, and it also pertains to wood pellets. In the arena of smoking wood pellets, however, hardwoods and softwoods do not make much of a difference in terms of density.

When it comes to firewood logs and lump charcoal, hardwood burns hotter and longer because the wood is denser, and you are burning the direct product of nature. But when the wood is turned into dust and then compressed into pellets, the density factor balances out, and density is almost the same in hardwood and softwood pellets.

However, the manufacturers can control the pellets’ density by adding other products to their mix and alternating the pressing process. The best wood pellets for smoking are those that are 100 percent natural, contain no fillers or binders, yield minimum ash production and premium wood pellets burn cleanly.

The main difference between hardwood pellets and softwood pellets is BTUs of heat output. Softwood pellets contain more lagin, so they do burn hotter. As a result, softwood pellets are ideal for use in a pellet stove.

Finally, the pellet quality will vary based on the quality of the wood, the manufacturing process, and the blend. Some manufacturers do an excellent job of selecting the best wood, but others use reclaimed wood with disappointing results.

Hardwood pellets

Good smoking pellets burn longer and come in a variety of flavors. Hardwood pellets can be found in great flavors: apple wood pellets, mystique wood pellets, and oak wood pellets.

Softwood pellets

Softwood pellets burn hotter, faster and produce less ash. Softwoods heating pellets are an excellent fuel source for home heating equipment,  heating stoves, and commercial heating systems.

There’s a big difference between smoking ( Food-grade ) and heating pellets.

Smoking  ( food quality) wood pellets are made from hardwoods like hickory, maple, apples, mesquite and oak. Food-grade wood pellets are made out of natural woods, and good brands produce a natural product without fillers, binders or preservatives.

The manufacturing process is also different, and food-grade pellets are manufactured using food-safe machinery and methods. These pellets are intended for use with pellet smokers and grills and to cook food. Common blends are pecan wood pellets, applewood pellets, hickory wood pellets, and Oak pellets.

Heating pellets are solely used for heating and as a fuel source in pellet stoves and home heating equipment. The pellets are created from a blend of softwoods and turned into a fuel source, and they contain charcoal and fillers, which might leave a chemical flavor in your food.

You do not want to use these pellets in pellet smokers, they are fuel for heating equipment. Also, because the heating pellets are not intended to be used to cook food, the production method differs from that of food-safe processing.

Instead of interacting with food, these pellets are burnt as fuel so machinery and other components that come into contact with the pellets during manufacturing might not use food-safe lubricants for example.

Although heating pellets are less expensive, they should not be used for cooking ( food grade ) in your pellet smoker or pellet grill.

Benefits of smoking wood pellets?

Besides the point that wood pellets are a renewable energy fuel source, wood pellets are a natural way of cooking food and getting that sought-after wood fire flavor. If you use 100 percent natural pellets, you are cooking with the closest natural fuel to real wood.

Unlike other fuel types, natural wood pellets have no preservatives or additives to get in your food. This means your food tastes better.

  • Renewable fuel.
  • Woodfire smoky flavor.
  • Many brands and different wood pellet flavors are available.

Which are the best wood pellet flavors?

Smoking wood pellets are available in many favors and are not one taste fits all. The best wood pellets flavor will vary based on your taste and preference, but Oak and hickory are two prevalent flavors for smoking meats.

However, there are main categories of flavored wood pellets:

  • Mild, neutral flavor: Mild smoke taste, but leave no smoky aftertaste in your mouth. Flavors include Maple, Ash, and Alder.
  • Mild and Sweet flavor or Fruit Wood Pellets”fruity” flavors: A slightly sweet or nutty taste. Blends include Cherry pellets, Pecan, Apple, Pear, Fruitwood Blends, and Maple pellets.
  • Robust and strong smoky flavor: Strong barky smoke aftertaste. Best at coloring meats and creating “smoke rings.” Savors include Mesquite wood pellets, Hickory smoking pellets, and Oak.

There are other woods times, and you can read more about all the different woods and their flavor profile in our wood for smoking guide.

Smoking Pellet Pairings – wood pellet flavor guide/chart

Wood flavor and food pairings are subjective, but here is a wood pellet flavor guide chart to help you get a good idea of what flavors work best with what meats.

( chart )

What brand of pellets are best? Best Wood Wood Pellets for smoking  – Our 9 favorite wood pellets for smoking meat

Here is our list.

1. Traeger Wood Pellets

Traeger makes amazing pellet grills and makes great accessories for their grills, including cooking pellets.

Traeger’s BBQ pellets are known to produce less ash than other wood pellets. These pellets are manufactured from 100% hardwood and do not contain any additives or binders. Less ash means there will be less mess to be cleaned and less time using a shop vac to clean the firepot.

These Pellets are available in different flavors and work well in many smoker brands.

2. Bear Mountain BBQ 100% All Natural Hardwood Pellets

Bear Mountain BBQs pellets contain 100% natural hardwood without any additives, binders, or fillers. Their most popular pellets are Oak and Alder made entirely from natural recycled hardwoods sawdust locally sourced from mills around the United States. This company has been in business since the 1990s.

3. Pit Boss Pellets –  BBQ Wood Pellets in many flavors

Pit Boss is another big name producing good wood pellets. Pit Boss Wood Pellets are available in popular flavors and blends, including Oak.

These pellets work on Pit Boss grills and smokers as well other grill brands. The wood to make these pellets is sourced from all around the USA and do not contain chemicals or binders. We like Pit Boss competition blend. It goes well with everything!

4. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets

Camp Chef’s Pellets competition blend goes well with most meats and is a popular mix. This hickory maple and cherry mix combines wood pellets made from a selection of premium virgin hardwoods and made in the USA.

5. Asmoke Apple Wood Pellets

All Asmoke wood for their pellets is sourced directly from real fruit orchards trees. The apple trees are harvested, brought to their plant, and processed within a few days to preserve their flavor and freshness. Asmoke wood pellets are packaged in tear-resistant bags. Asmoke knows a thing or two about pellets, they make one of the finest portable pellet grills in the market today.

A few days after our trees are harvested, they are chipped and turned into wood pellets. One of Asmoke highest priorities is the protection of the environment. All Trees that are cultivated are replanted right away, So That Future Generations May Enjoy Them.

6. BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets

BBQrs Delight wood smoking pellets are another great selection and quality pellets for barbecuing. Their flavors include cherry, pecan, mesquite pellets, hickory pellets, apples, and Jack Daniel’s pellets( yes, as in the whiskey brand ).

I use Jack Daniel’s wood chips, and the flavor is amazing. When the wood pellets burn, expect a strong smell and taste. This product is also made here, in the USA.

7. Cookin’ pellets 40 Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets

The Cookin’ Pellets brand makes good smoker pellets blends, and those who like fruity smokey state can enjoy these blends. These pellets are made overseas unlike the top brands in this list.

8. Louisiana Grills Pennsylvania Cherry Grilling Pellets

Louisiana GRILLs is a 25-year veteran of the BBQ manufacturing game. There is a good choice of flavors available: oak-hickory, peaches, whiskey cans, cherry, and apple. All flavors are available in 20 lbs and 40 lbs bags.

We recommend the slightly sweet Cherry Blend or the Competition Blend Pellets as a good all-rounder. The competition blend pellets combine maple, hickory, and cherry, making them ideal for almost every food.

9. RecTec Grills Ultimate Blend Pellets

RecTec Wood Pellets make good pellets. Their combination is safe to use for every smoking and grilling type. It burns much better than a traditional pellet, and its flavor is strong but not overpowering. The final results are great for different types of fish and meat with a natural smoky taste throughout. The oak and hickory mix is much better than you may think. They could last several hours and can be used for cooking and smoking a broad selection of food. The ash output is minimal with good heat energy compared to other brands. The wood pellets smell nice.

Bonus: Lumber Jack Competition Blend Maple-Hickory-Cherry BBQ

Lumber Jack is another hickory wood pellets mix. These smoking pellets blend is made out of virgin trees.

Wood Pellet FAQs

Are wood pellets safe?

Food grade and quality wood pellets are safe to use in your pellet smoker. Properly store wood pellets to avoid getting mold on your pellets. If you have moldy pellets, do not burn them and discard the

How long do wood pellets last in a smoker?

The average pellet grill will burn about one pound of pellets per hour at normal cooking and grilling temperatures. It will be fine if you leave pellets in your wood pellet smoker overnight in dry conditions. However, if the pellets are exposed to moisture or get wet, they will expand and turn into crumbs, not work, and even damage your grill.
It is the best idea to store pellets in an air-tight container.

Do you have to use the same brand of pellet as your grill?

Absolutely not. However, many people don’t think there can be an alternative to purchasing wood pellets from a pellet grill manufacturer. Wood pellet manufacturers sometimes recommend against using other brands of wood pellets except their own.
You can use other brand pellets in your grill as long as they are good quality pellets. Sure cheap brands of wood pellets can damage your grill but any good pellet brand should work. You can check with the pellet grill manufacturer and ask them specifically what type of pellets to avoid.

Other things to consider when choosing the best wood pellets?

Besides looking for good flavor food grade pellets and good manufacturing, here are other aspects you should consider besides the pellets themselves.

Your smoker

Wood pellets can be used in different types of pellet grills, and pellet smokers but also offset smokers, kamado grills, and even in some electric smokers. However, certain smokers might have direct specs from manufacturers only to use specific wood pellets. This is rare, and most grills will work with any standard wood pellets.

Flavor Profile – Strength

Wood pellets are available in many flavors varying from mild and strong. Blended pellets might yield different results, so be sure to try a few flavors to find what you like.

Manufacturing Process and Origin

We like products built and manufactured in the US mainly because we understand the laws and guidelines governing food manufacturing and processing.

How do I store wood pellets?

Although it might appear unnecessary to some, the proper safe storage of your wood pellets is important. Proper storage prevents mold, soil fungus, or other toxins from entering or growing on pellets.

Avoid Moisture

Moisture is the nemesis of wooden pellets. Not only will the moisture break down the pellets, but it will also introduce molds and fungus. Some wood pellets can be expensive, so invest in a proper pellet storage container.

Use Buckets or Bins

Storing wood pellets in air-tight buckets or bins is one way of preserving the pellets. A wood pellet container is preferred but a good bucket will do. Pretty much any air-tight container will do better than the shipping pellet bag.

Keep Them Off the ground

Bags of wood pellets in direct contact with the soil are prone to moisture exposure.

Conclusion

Wood pellets are a great way of cooking and getting great wood-fired flavor. Experiment with different combinations of meats, vegetables with several of the best wood pellets for smoking. In our research, we found that Trager and Asmoke pellets are the  Best Wood Pellets for Grilling. 

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