How Long Do Pellets Last (And How To Make Yours Last Longer!)

Pellet grills are an amazing way to grill and smoke a variety of meats. But the last thing you want to do is run out of them as you are cooking a large cut of meat.

So how long do pellets last? We’ve got the answer! 

In this guide, you will learn:

  • How long pellets last in a grill
  • How long you can store pellets
  • Reasons why your grill is burning a lot of pellets
  • And much more!

How Long Do Pellets Last?

Pellet smokers are great because they typically come with a large hopper that you can load with pellets to last your entire cook time. But if you have a smaller pellet grill or maybe only half a bag to put into the hopper, you may be wondering if you have enough to cook your meal. 

As a general rule of thumb, pellet grills burn somewhere between 1 and 3 pounds of pellets per hour. The exact burn rate will change based on the make and model of your grill, as well as the temperature you have it set at. So a 20lb bag of pellets will last 4-20 hours.

We always recommend airing on the side of caution and rounding up the number of wood pellets you think you will need to cook a cut of meat. This way, you won’t be left with a half-grilled meal! 

Want to learn more about how long wood pellets last and how to store them? Then read on, as we will cover everything you need to know about wood pellets.

How Long Do Pellets Burn For? (At Different Cooking Temperatures)

As mentioned above, the number of pellets you will need will depend on both the size of your grill as well as the temperature you are cooking at. Higher temperatures will require more wood pellets. 

At 225°F, for example, your pellet grill will only burn about 0.5-1lb per hour, but let’s be honest, you got a pellet grill, so you can cook things at HIGH temperatures! Therefore if you are cooking at 450°F, you need to plan about 4lbs per hour of your cooking time. 

But you also need to take into account the size of your grill. Grills with large surface areas will need more pellets than those with small cooking areas. 

We recommend taking a look at the owner’s manual for your specific grill to get an idea of the pellet burn rate. No matter what it says, round up! It’s easier to run to the store now than after you’ve run out of pellets and have a half-cooked brisket. 

How Long Pellets Last in Different Grill Models

Lucky for you, we know the burn rate of some of the grill models that we use frequently, and we’ve put them in a handy chart for you. Remember, these are just estimates, so always round up!

Pellet Grill Model

Low Temp Burn Rate (225°F)

High Temp Burn Rate (450°F and up)

Camp Chef Woodwind

0.75lbs per hour 

2 lbs per hour

Traeger Pellet Grills

1lb per hour

3lbs per hour

ZGrills 700 Series

1lb per hour

2lbs per hour

Pit Boss Pellet Grills

1 lb per hour

3lbs per hour

Louisiana Grills Black Label

1.6lbs per hour

4.5lbs per hour

Green Mountain Trek

0.5lbs per hour

2lbs per hour

Weber SmokeFire

1.25lbs per hour

4lbs per hour

As you can see, there is quite the variance between grill models. If you don’t see your specific model on this list, then we recommend estimating a safe 2lbs per hour for low cooking temperatures and 4lbs per hour for high cooking temperatures. 

Editor’s Note: Not all wood pellets burn the same. Different woods burn at different rates, which is why the numbers above are just estimates. If you are mixing woods in your hopper (which we recommend), there may be additional variance in the burn rates of the wood pellets.

wood pellets in a pellet smoker hopper

How Long Can You Store Pellets in Your Pellet Grill?

Besides just how long your wood pellets will last in your pellet grill, it’s also important to ask how long your wood pellets will last when you aren’t using them, such as when they are stored in your hopper or in your garage. 

Generally, we don’t recommend storing your pellets in your hopper at all. You should try to clean out the hopper after every use otherwise, the wood pellets may expand and clog the augur. But, if you live somewhere hot and dry, it is okay to leave the pellets in the hopper for a week or two. 

Once they have been stored in the grill for any period of time, pellets will only last about 6 months before you should toss them out and purchase new ones. This is why we don’t recommend keeping them in your grill. 

Otherwise, you should always aim to store your pellets in your garage or in a shed. You want to keep them out of direct sunlight. If you live in an especially humid place, we additionally recommend that you consider storing them indoors.

Don’t worry if you can’t get them back in the back, a metal or plastic bucket works just fine for pellet storage. If you are diligent about removing your pellets from the grill and storing them indoors after each use, your pellets will last for 6 months to a year.

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Why My Wood Pellets Don’t Last Very Long

Besides just the type of grill you are using, there are a few other aspects that will affect how long your pellets will last in your pellet grill. If you notice your pellet grill is going through pellets very quickly, it might be time to consider some of the following reasons it may be happening. 

Your Grill is Old

Old grills are less fuel efficient, it’s as simple as that. If your grill is over 5 years old, it probably isn’t burning pellets as efficiently as it used to. Not to mention that technology has come a long way in 5 years, so it may be time to upgrade. 

Your Grill is Dirty

Clean grills burn pellets more efficiently than those that are dirty. It makes sense when you consider that ash and debris buildup can cause the grill to need more pellets to maintain a certain temperature. For best results and fuel efficiency, you should plan to clean your pellet grill after each use. 

You Are Buying Cheap Pellets

Yes, quality pellets can be expensive, but you will get a much slower burn out of quality pellets over cheap pellets. We also recommend purchasing pellets from the maker of your specific grill, as these pellets are usually the ones the grill was tested with.

This doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with other pellets, just know that the price is often directly indicative of how long the pellets will burn. 

Pit Boss Whiskey Barrel Blend Hardwood Pellets, 40 lb
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It’s Stormy Outside

If it’s cold, windy, or rainy as you are trying to use your pellet grill, know that it will need extra pellets. This is because it will take more pellets for the grill to maintain temperatures when it is cold and rainy outside. 

Don’t let this discourage you from using your pellet grill year-round. Just ensure you grab an extra bag of pellets in the winter months. 

You’re Storing Your Pellets in the Grill

Pellets stored in the grill may absorb ambient moisture, even if it’s just a small amount, changing the speed at which they burn and the amount the grill needs to burn in order to hold temperature. It’s best to just store your pellets indoors when you aren’t using your pellet grill. 

Your Grill is Large

As we said before, large grills will just take a lot of pellets. If you previously purchased a large pellet grill, but your kids have since moved out of the house, it might be a good idea to get a smaller pellet grill for the nights when it’s just the two of you. This will save you a fortune on wood pellet costs. 

Just tuck the old grill in the garage and pull it out when it’s time for the holiday season, and you’ve got extra mouths to feed. 

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You’re Cooking at High Temps

Unfortunately, if you are searing steaks or cooking at high temperatures, you are just going to use a lot of pellets. While you can try to clean your grill beforehand to conserve as much as possible, you should probably just buy that big bag of wood pellets, so you are prepared for a hot grilling session!

Tips for Making Your Pellets Last in Your Pellet Grill

Looking to use fewer pellets next time you use your pellet grill? Here are our tips to make it possible.

  • Buy high-quality pellets (remember, you get what you pay for!)
  • Clean your pellet grill of ash and other debris before use.
  • Keep your pellet grill closed as much as possible during the cooking session.
  • Place your pellet grill out of the wind.
  • Store your pellets in the garage or indoors when not in use in your pellet grill.

If you have followed all of these tips and still find your pellet grill is burning through pellets quickly, then it’s time to upgrade to a new grill! 

Related >> Pit Boss vs Traeger

How Long Do Pellets Last FAQ:

How Long Will a 10lb Bag of Wood Pellets Burn?

Based on the above chart, you should expect a 20lbs to last you anywhere from 5-20 hours of smoking depending on the temperature you set your grill at. Since it is common to smoke things low and slow, 20lbs should last 1-2 long smoking sessions of up to 10 hours each. 

Cost of Wood Pellets Versus Other Energy Sources

It can seem expensive to keep adding wood pellets to your shopping list, but the reality is that wood pellets are typically much cheaper than propane–depending on where you live and shop. 

Additionally, wood pellets burn more more evenly allowing you to better predict how much you will need. This is much different from charcoal which is hard to gauge in advance and needs to be monitored regularly. 

How Many Bags of Wood Pellets Should You Buy?

When buying your first pellet grill, we recommend grabbing 2-3 large bags of pellets to start. A large bag is usually at least 30lbs. We suggest grabbing 2 different flavors so you can experiment a bit and choose your favorite before you really stock up!

Once you are a master at using your pellet grill its a good idea to grab 5-10 bags of pellets whenever they have a sale–as long as you have room for all of them inside your garage!

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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