5 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking (2023 Review)

Every part of owning a smoker is an adventure in decision-making, from the best pellet smoker to the pellets inside. If you’re searching for the perfect wood pellets for smoking in your pellet grill, it can feel impossible to land on the right one. 

Not to worry – we’ve been smoking for a long time and trying all the pellets we come across to find the best pellets for smoking, no matter what you need. We’ve made the below list of all the best wood pellets for smoking, hands down! 

Our Top Picks for the Best Pellets for Smoking 

Here are our top picks for the best wood pellets for smoking:

  1. Best Overall: Bear Mountain BBQ Wood Pellets
  2. Runner-Up: Camp Chef Competition Blend
  3. Best USA-Made: Traeger Signature Blend
  4. Best Value: Green Mountain Grills Gold Hardwood Pellets
  5. Most Versatile: Pit Boss Blend Pellets

1. Best Overall: Bear Mountain BBQ Wood Pellets

BEAR MOUNTAIN 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
$21.90
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07/13/2024 06:42 am GMT

Pros

  • Low moisture content for an effective grilling experience
  • Multiple flavors available for variety in smoking/grilling
  • Excellent for many different meat types
  • Burns evenly for easy temperature maintenance 

Cons

  • Incredible taste has the potential to overwhelm the flavor of the food

One of the best pellets for smoking is the Bear Mountain BBQ Wood Pellets. With a premium flavor blend and low moisture content, this pellet option will cook your food evenly and infuse it with an incredible aroma. 

Interested in mixing up your smoking experience? Bear Mountain Pellets come in many flavors, including cherry, apple, and more. Each works with a different meat or side dish, allowing you to easily swap from one aroma to another on the grill.

The Bear Mountain BBQ Wood Pellets are our top pick thanks to their consistent sizing and incredible blend. They will burn evenly and require minimal maintenance, letting you sit back and enjoy your smoker.

Our personal favorite is their cherry wood, but be careful of their mesquite and hickory bags because cooking over these could overwhelm meats like chicken or fish!

2. Runner-Up: Camp Chef Competition Blend

Camp Chef Competition Blend BBQ Pellets, Hardwood Pellets for Grill, Smoke, Bake, Roast, Braise and BBQ, 20 lb. Bag
$16.99 $14.99


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07/14/2024 01:03 am GMT

Pros

  • Easy to use, no matter your experience level with pellet grills 
  • Tested and approved in real competitions for the ultimate level of trust
  • Delicious flavor, no matter the flavor you choose

Cons

  • More expensive than other wood pellet brands

Our runner-up is the Camp Chef Competition Blend, a solid bag of premium, all-natural pellets for your smoker. We love it because it goes with everything from meats to veggies to pizza.

The pellets in the Competition blend come from hardwood, leaving out binding agents, chemicals, and oils, all of which could damage the human body. If you are looking for a premium chemical-free pellet, the Camp Chef pellets are the way to go. 

Camp Chef Pellets are a little more expensive than other options, which is the only reason they aren’t in the first place. They are all-natural, made in the United States, and come in a variety of flavors. 

These are the only competition pellets on our list, so if you are competing, these are a must. We also strongly recommend their Cherry-Charcoal flavor pellets which go perfectly with burgers, giving you that charcoal taste along with the smoky taste of cherry wood. 

3. Best USA-Made: Traeger Signature Blend

Traeger Grills Signature Blend 100% All-Natural Wood Pellets
$19.95
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07/13/2024 10:38 pm GMT

Pros

  • One of the most popular choices for beginners and experts
  • Consistent excellence across the board
  • All-natural ingredients to keep users safe
  • Top-notch burn qualities for easy clean up and good flavor

Cons

  • Powerful flavor can overwhelm the food on the smoker
  • Flavor oil additions aren’t appealing to everyone

If being made in the USA is a critical trait for your pellets, the Traeger Signature Blend is an excellent choice. It combines the taste of hickory, cherry, and maple for a quality smoky addition. It’s their signature choice for a reason.

The Traeger Signature Blend is made in the USA and keeps chemicals from their product. This careful attention ensures you get a clean burn, and there’s minimal mess to clean up once you’re done.

Traeger is a well-known face in the smoking world. Although they add flavor oils to their pellets, which may not be for everyone, they’re trustworthy and made here in the United States.

If you aren’t up for trying the signature blend, our second pick from this pellet maker is their pecan wood, we’ve had trouble finding pecan wood from other top brands so this is our go-to when shopping from Traeger. 

4. Best Value: Green Mountain Grills Gold Hardwood Pellets

Pros

  • Much more affordable than other hardwood pellets
  • Bold flavor that pairs well with most food products
  • Large diameter for long-lasting grill and minimal ash

Cons

  • Less variety than in other products

If you’re hunting for value in the best pellets for smoking, Green Mountain Grills Gold Hardwood Pellets are right up your alley. You can get a 28-pound bag for about $20, an incredible deal and the best way to stretch your dollar to the max.

These pellets are made from Red Oak, American Hickory, and Mountain Maple. It’s a tasty blend but isn’t wildly overpowering once the food comes off the grill.

Green Mountain puts these pellets together by kiln-drying their wood, ensuring they stay clean throughout the smoking process. They’re excellent for keeping more money in your pocket.

The only downside is that this brand only has the blends. You either have to pick the signature blend, the fruit blend, or the apple blend. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we are really choosy when it comes to our wood flavors in our household and this doesn’t always fit the bill. 

5. Most Versatile: Pit Boss Blend Pellets

Pit Boss 20 lb Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets
$33.87


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07/14/2024 01:24 am GMT

Pros

  • Excellent flavor without additives and oils
  • Lower price than other wood pellet selections
  • Versatility in flavor and wood type

Cons

  • Not as well-known as brands like Traeger

Versatility is a given when you get a Pit Boss pellet bag. You can choose from competition styles, hickory, cherry, maple, pecan, and more. There are options to give you the taste of cooking on a charcoal grill without using one to smoke. 

Let me just say, the Pit Boss Charcoal Blend Pellets are our favorite when it comes to grilling a quick meal like burgers or bratwurst. You get that delicious charcoal taste infused in your food even while using a pellet grill. This is something that can’t be beat! 

Pit Boss pellets are 100% all-natural, so you can feel safe smoking with their products. The wood comes from all across America, packed in an effective body to release tasty smoke. There’s nothing quite like a Pit Boss pellet.

What Are Smoker Pellets?

Smoker pellets are small, hard pieces of wood, often in the shape of a tiny rod. They act as a fuel source for your grill, powering the heat and putting flavor inside the food. When you burn them, they release a unique taste into the smoke which goes into your meat.

Pellets are made by taking water off of wood fiber, grinding them, and pressing them together. These pellets are then put in bags for distribution.

How Are They Different from Heating Pellets?

The best wood pellets we talked about are smoker pellets, but there are also heating pellets. These are two different products and it’s critical to know the difference.

Heating pellets have many different types of wood, including softwood. Softwood, like pine, will infuse a bitter taste in the food if used on the grill. They’re not ideal for cooking and can infuse toxins inside your meal. Don’t use them in a smoker because they might ruin your dinner.

Smoker pellets cost a little more but are made from hardwood and are 100% food-grade. They also have no fillers, additives, or binders, though some do have flavored oil to give them a unique taste.

Flavored Vs Blended Vs Standard Pellets

When you search for pellets for your smoker, there are multiple types within the smoker pellet category. You’ll find flavored, blended, and standard.

Here’s the difference between each:

  • Flavored: These are created with 100% wood and don’t have additives.
  • Blended: These are made from a mix of hardwood and filler to cut down on cost, typically a 70/30 mix of wood and filler.
  • Standard: These are made from random woods and typically are not safe for human consumption.

Each pellet will have a different impact on your food.

Pick a quality brand, and then choose the type of pellet you want. Your choice will impact the overall flavor of your grilled meal!

Factors To Consider Before Buying Wood Smoker Pellets

There are many factors to think about before buying wood smoker pellets. Not every product is created equal, and these will help you establish what you want before picking the brand for your life.

Quality and Sustainability 

First, think about the quality and sustainability of your wood smoker pellets. 

Quality matters when picking your wood smoker pellets. You want smoker pellets free from additives and other chemicals to prevent ingesting carcinogens when you consume food smoked over these woods. 

Consider sustainability. How does the brand get its pellets? Do they cut down trees without considering how to repopulate the natural growth? Whenever possible, purchase pellets from sustainable brands that you trust to do their part to combat deforestation. 

Type 

The best wood pellets come in many varieties, from blended to flavored. Think carefully about the type you want to buy.

Although blended pellets are cheaper, they’re also partially full of filler. Sometimes, it’s better to spend a little more to get a product without fillers, especially if you plan on grilling often. 

Flavor Options 

Another consideration is the flavor options. There are a million choices when picking out wood pellet varieties, and each will impact your smoking experience. Do you want something sweet? Oaky? Natural? 

Here are a few of the most common flavor options for smoking pellets:

  • Mesquite
  • Oak
  • Cherry
  • Peach
  • Pecan
  • Apple
  • Lemon
  • Hickory

Some are sweet, while others are a little more savory.

Flavor matters. If you want to go with a classic BBQ taste, pick Mesquite. If you want a sweeter fruit flavor, pick an apple-based pellet.

For beginners who do know what to pick, cherry is always our go-to, it’s got great flavor and is still mild enough to make any dish come out great! 

In time, you will feel confident enough to experiment with available flavor options. 

Burn Rate

Finally, think about the burn rate of the wood pellets. Consider how many pellets will burn per hour based on what you buy. Some burn fast(especially those with additives!), which means you will spend more money to smoke your dinner.

Also, think about the size of your grill. The bigger the grill, the more pellets you will go through when you cook.

What To Watch Out for When Buying Wood Pellets

Of course, there are also some dangers to wood pellets. We want you to stay safe when picking out your brand, so keep these in mind when searching for your heating tool for your grill.

Types of Wood Pellets

When considering the best pellets for smoking, look at the different types of wood pellets. Two of the most popular include hickory and apple, which pair well with pork and poultry. 

Each flavor pairs well with different meat. It’s vital to think about the taste of each pellet before using it on food to create the best taste. Different products work well with different types of food. Let’s dive into a few examples.

Hardwood Pellets

Hardwood pellets are the most common way to smoke food on a grill. Different pellets go well with varying flavor profiles.

Here are a few of the most common:

  • Hickory
    • Sweet and natural taste
    • Best for chicken, beef, and pork
  • Maple
    • Sweet and natural flavor
    • Best for chicken and vegetables
  • Mesquite
    • Classic BBQ flavor for the food
    • Best for beef and beef brisket
  • Oak
    • Natural flavor palette
    • Best for various proteins and vegetables
  • Pecan
    • Nutty taste
    • Best for smoking chicken

Pick different pellets based on what you’re cooking.

Another excellent grilling choice is fruitwood pellets. Let’s discuss what these fruitwood pellets will pair well with on your grill.

Fruitwood Pellets

Fruitwood is like hardwood, but the product comes from the wood of a fruit tree. These products offer a unique, sweet flavor on the grill.

Here are the most common fruitwood varieties:

  • Apple
    • Versatile taste
    • Best for chicken, pork, lamb, and seafood
  • Cherry
    • Universal flavor
    • Best for any meat and veggie
  • Peach 
    • Sweet and fruity flavor
    • Best for chicken and pork

Once all the seasoning and rubs are on the meat, the flavor of the pellets will largely fall away. However, the pellets leave a lovely undertone with every bite so it is still worth choosing your pairings wisely! 

Wood Pellet Storage and Maintenance 

As with any product, you must care for your wood pellets, or they’ll fall apart. We have storage tips and best maintenance practices to ensure your products last for as long as possible in your storage.

Storage Tips

It’s ideal for storing smoker pellets if you want them to last. There are a few quality storage methods.

The best way to keep your pellets in one piece is to store them in:

There are many different ways to keep pellets in one piece.

It’s ideal to know how to keep your product safe. We have more information if you want to learn more about storing wood pellets!

Maintenance Practices

The best wood pellets deserve the best care. It’s critical to protect your pellets when you aren’t using them, or you’ll be throwing money down the drain (and have no pellets next time you want to smoke something!)

Keep your pellets in an airtight container to keep them as dry as possible. You should also keep an eye out for mold or pests who might make their home in your wood pellets. 

We recommend always keeping your wood pellets indoors in a garage or shed and don’t leave them in your pellet grill! 

FAQs 

How Long Do Pellets Last?

Pellets, as long as they are stored properly, last pretty much forever. You’re honestly likely to use the pellets before they go bad, even if you use them slowly.

For more information on testing whether or not pellets have gone bad, check out our article How Long Do Pellets Last.

Should You Empty Your Pellets After Each Use?

Pellets rot when they absorb moisture, and one common place they take in liquid is inside your grill. Empty your pellets after each use and store them properly to extend their lifespan.

Can You Use Pellets in a Charcoal Grill or Smoker?

Although it might seem strange, you can use pellets in a charcoal grill. It will provide a more robust, smoky flavor profile. But make sure you use them along with the charcoal, as it will be needed to keep the grill hot. 

Should I Soak My Pellets Before Using Them?

Do not soak your pellets before using them. If they’re wet, they will fall apart in the grill. You should actually aim to keep them as dry as possible before turning on your grill.

Are Wood Pellets Safe?

Many people worry that smoker pellets aren’t safe and for good reason. Some cheap brands contain carcinogens and toxins, which will make their way into your food as you cook it. Ensure you stick with a top-notch brand and your pellets will be completely safe for smoking.

Do You Have to Use the Same Brand Pellet as Your Grill?

Although it’s been a long-standing belief that you have to use the same pellet brand as your grill, the rumor isn’t true. Feel free to test out different brands as long as they are of high quality and won’t damage your grill.

Do Wood Pellets Go Bad?

Yes, wood pellets go bad when they take in moisture and rot. You can tell wood pellets are going bad when they grow mold and fall apart. Keep them away from moisture and your pellets should stay good for a long while. 

Are Pellets Better than Wood for Smoking?

Pellets are always better than the wood chip alternative for smoking with a smoker. They burn slower and more evenly, allowing higher efficiency and control over the temperature. Never put wood chips in your pellet grill. 

Can You Mix Wood Pellets for Smoking?

It takes a little skill, but it’s possible to mix wood pellets when smoking. Cooking flavors like apple and mesquite pair well with meats and veggies. Try a 50/50 ratio of your selected flavors for the best taste.

Do Large Smokers Use More Pellets?

The bigger the smoker, the more smoker pellets you will need. Keep this fact in mind when buying a smoker – larger options require you to spend more money for them to work. 

If you’re only going to cook for a few people, get a smaller grill. It doesn’t make sense to waste money on pellets for large grills unless you always have large gatherings.

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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