Smoking foods can add a deep and irreplaceable flavor to foods. By deciding to smoke your foods, you’ve already taken a step towards crafting a rich and delicious meal that neither you nor your guests will be able to forget.
Another way to increase the unique flavor that smoking offers is through the use of a pellet grill.
Smoking foods using wood pellets allows you to use both hot and cold smoking. They also allow for greater control over the burn than other forms of wood.
But if you are going to enjoy all of the benefits that using wood pellets for smoking can offer, it’s important to use the very best wood pellets for smoking instead of simply choosing mediocre ones.
This guide will help you decide which wood pellets are right for you by reviewing their features and the pros and cons of using each type of wood pellet.
Top Wood Pellets for Smoking Reviews
1. Traeger Grills PEL331 Hardwood Pellets Grill
If you are looking for a quality hardwood pellet to use for your smoking needs, Traeger offers one of the best deals by allowing you to purchase 20 lbs. of their product for a budget price.
Traeger’s pellet mix has a great diversity in what types of foods can be smoked, including BBQ meats, vegetables, and fish. But these pellets are particularly beloved by meat enthusiasts who crave that particular deep smokey flavor enhancement.
Designed to be used for a variety of cooking methods. In addition to smoking, you can use these pellets for grilling, baking, roasting, braising, and barbecuing.
When reviewing the product, customers typically focus on the quality of the hardwood that they receive in these pellets.
- Customers report needing to sort through the pellets to look for any that had been contaminated with paint or plastic.
- No filler woods are used.
- The product is designed primarily for an auger feed and may not work well for other styles of grills or smoker devices.
2. Bear Mountain BBQ 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
These pellets are preferred by those looking to add a deep and rich flavor to their foods through smoking.
Customers praise these pellets for providing a flavor strong enough to use with meats such as ribs and brisket, yet subtle enough to work well with fish and chicken.
The unique blend of different types of hardwood makes it versatile enough to be used with different types of meat and vegetables.
- These pellets are praised for their ability to produce an abundance of smoke.
- Very little ash is produced after burning these pellets.
- The pellets are produced by kiln-drying them until their moisture level is 5% to increase the burn quantity and quality.
- No artificial binders or fillers are used.
3. Traeger PEL319 Hickory Hardwood Grill Pellets
These hickory pellets typically rank very high among premium wood pellets reviews because of the unique taste that they provide to the food they are used to smoke.
Their high ranking can also be attributed to the customers’ ability to buy 20 pounds of a high-quality pellet for an affordable price point.
- Traeger believes in sustainably sourcing the wood from existing hardwood in order to reduce the environmental effects of producing the pellets.
- The mills used to produce the products are located in the USA.
- The majority of the base is typically either alder or oak, with only oils used from the hickory. This makes the product cheaper to produce and more affordable for the customer, but you will not be receiving 100% hardwood.
4. Pit Boss 55433 BBQ Wood Pellets
These pellets are among the top-rated wood pellets because they are consistently easy to use and offer a great taste at an affordable value.
Customers reported that the Pitt Boss brand of pellets burns very hot in comparison with other types of pellets. This allows you to use this product for a very long smoking period without fearing that it will burn out before you are done.
Customers praise the natural smell and taste of the smoke these pellets produce.
- These pellets do not feature any artificial fillers, such as flavors, scents, chemicals, or glues.
- The pellets are made from a variety of sources throughout North America.
- No sulfur smell is reported.
- Some customers reported having problems with these pellets at low temperatures, while other customers reported that they did not have that experience at all.
5. BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
If you are new at smoking, this variety value pack might be a great way for you to become accustomed to what types of wood pellets you prefer to use. For under 35 bucks, you will be able to sample six different varieties of wood pellets.
If you are an experienced smoker and simply looking for a way to add variety to your typical smoking routine, this variety pack may also be right for you.
The hickory pellets are popular if you want to achieve a barbecue flavor. The pellets in this variety pack come from 100% hickory wood and can be used for any type of meat.
The Jack Daniel’s wood pellets are made from charcoal that comes from Jack Daniel’s distillery. The charcoal is soaked for weeks before being mixed with oak and forged into wood pellets.
The cherry, mesquite, and pecan pellets are 100% wood with no filler. While mesquite produces a very strong and distinct flavor, the other two flavors are much milder.
- With a recommended 1/3 of a cup used for each time you smoke, you will have enough pellets for 60 smoking events.
- You can mix the individual pellets to develop your own special blend of pellet flavors.
- If you are only interested in one or two flavors, it may be more cost-effective to order only those flavors instead of this variety pack.
6. CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix
This product rated as one of the best hardwood pellets that you can use for smoking foods.
CookinPellets 40 PM Perfect Mix also only uses wood from the center of the log when making the wood pellets. Other companies may try to cut down on the price of making their pellets by using only bark.
While some hardwood pellets use oils or filler woods, such as oak, to make their product cheaper to produce, CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix does not include that in their products. Your pellets will only be made of the finest hardwood available.
Customers report that the wood is great for brisket, pulled pork, and any food that you’d like to add a mesquite flavor to during smoking. Customers also enjoy being able to purchase these quality hardwood pellets for under 40 bucks.
- The product can be used for both long and short clouds of smoke.
- They leave behind a significant amount of ash.
- Customers report needing to sort through the pellets to look for any that had been contaminated with paint or plastic.
7. Camp Chef Bag of Premium for Smoker
These affordable brands of pellets are among the most efficient wood pellets.
Customers enjoy being able to buy 20 lbs. of quality hardwood pellets for the price. They also enjoy the quality of the pellets, though some customers were not pleased by the strength of the flavor that using these pellets provided.
- These pellets burn well and tend to stay solid while they burn.
- Produces limited amounts of ash.
- The apple wood is actually blended with alder.
- Customer experiences with taste and smoke are mixed. Some report that the smoke smell and resulting taste are very neutral, while others report an acrid taste.
8. recteq Ultimate Premium Hardwood Grilling Cooking Pellet
With an expensive price, some customers are hesitant in purchasing these pellets. But that price will give you 80 lbs. of hardwood pellets.
Customer reviews consistently praise RecTeq’s ability to provide a smokey flavor that was neither too strong nor too weak.
- The pellets produce very little ash.
- Customers report being able to store the pellets long-term without any moisture content making them difficult to burn.
- Some customers reported difficulty using these pellets at a long temperature, and you may find that they do not work well for low temperatures needed for a long smoke.
9. Camp Chef Competition Blend Pellets
While other brands focus on selling you one specific type of hardwood, the focus of these pellets is their strength as a blend.
Customers enjoy the unique flavor offered by the mixing of different types of hardwoods. They also praise the price of these pellets.
Most customers report that these pellets leave a subtle wood-fired taste. The blend of the wood can become stronger if you smoke the food for a longer amount of time.
The subtle taste of the smoke can be a good reason to purchase these pellets if you want to use the same types of pellets on different types of meat.
- No extra oils, chemicals, or additional artificial flavors are added to the pellets.
- The pellets are low-moisture in order to increase the burn offered by the pellets.
- The product is made in the USA.
- Some customers reported a brown residue left over after using these pellets.
- These pellets produced more ash than other types of wood pellets.
10. Lumber Jack Apple Blend BBQ Grilling Pellets
These high-quality wood pellets are made from actual wood. Customers love that these pellets come from real wood and not simply wood residue, as is the case with many other types of wood pellet brands.
Despite the high quality of these pellets, you will pay under 25 bucks for 20 lbs. of these pellets.
- Some customers reported that these pellets were less effective than using wood chips.
- Customers reported that the flavor that comes from these pellets is strong and far less subtle than other brands.
- These pellets are reported to produce a heavier amount of ash than other types of pellets.
Tips on Choosing
What Will You Be Smoking?
When you are choosing the best wood pellets, you might not be sure exactly what type of wood pellets you should buy. In general, the type of wood pellet that you choose will depend on exactly what you are wanting to smoke.
Do you see yourself smoking primarily beef products? Then you will want to use products that contain alder, mesquite, hickory, or oak woods.
Are you more likely to smoke pork? Wood pellets made of apple, pecan, maple, cherry, or hickory will provide you with the best results.
Are you aiming to smoke your chicken and turkey? You can choose between cherry, apple, pecan, alder, and hickory wood pellets.
Seafood requires a much more subtle flavor and your best choices will incorporate alder or oak as part of their blend. If you’re a vegetable lover, your best wood pellet choices should include maple, pecan, apple, and alder.
Consider the Blend
Many of the products listed in this guide were a product to offer “Maple” or “Apple” Hardwoods, but closer inspection revealed that they were blended products. Commonly, more expensive woods such as cherry and hickory are blended with more common trees in order to to keep the prices of their product.
Alder and oak are very subtle flavors and allow stronger flavors to shine through.
Consider the Additives
While mixing woods is common and will not affect your smoke in a negative way, artificial flavors and fillers can. Avoid pellets that list any source of glue, flavor, or filler that does not come from the wood.
Factors To Consider
You might not think that the packaging of the pellets matters, but it can make a significant difference. These are some of the considerations for bags that you should keep in mind:
- If a bag is cheaply made and thin, it might rip easily, and you’ll end up leaving a trail behind you each time you
- use the pellets
- Some bags are too thick and take excessive work to open.
- A bag with a handle can be a lifesaver, especially if you want to move your pellets often.
The amount of ash that you want to clean up is definitely a consideration that you should keep in mind as you are shopping for wood pellets. Some ash is going to produce no matter what brand you use, but certain brands produce either a smaller amount of ash or a greater amount of ash than is typical.
Some wood pellets work best with a smoke tube. Some wood pellets will not work with a tube at all. When you are buying your pellets, keep in mind the set-up that you are planning to use them with, and only buy the type of pellets that are designed to work with your particular smoker, grill, or tube.
What is the best wood for smoking brisket? There are lots of varied species for doing this. Some woods are better for achieving particular types of flavor while others will produce good results when cooked on a grill by themselves (without charcoals) But due to the variety of briskets, knowing what works best for your food and grill might not be an easy thing for you to figure out.
That’s why you should familiarize yourself with as many woods as you can, and the way in which they can be smoked. Below is a brief evaluation of wood types and flavors. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a good grasp on which wood you want to try out for your next grill/outdoor barbecue. Let’s look further.
Different Types of Wood for Smoking Brisket
Here’s a descriptive briefing of the most popular smoking briskets. Most can be easily found online, at your local grocery, and depending on where you live, even around your home.
Medium to Strong Flavors
Mesquite is one most popular brisket choices, due to its natural ability to burn quickly and produce a strong, smoky flavor. Best for southern and Texas-style barbecue recipes.
Hickory is a lot like mesquite in the sense that it also has a very strong flavor that smokes quickly, no matter if on charcoals or burning alone. It has a tendency to overpower the flavor of seasonings, so you should cook with it for too long.
A lot of grillers like hickory for pork. It has an aroma that’s almost similar to bacon in flavor but also adds a lot of depth to beef brisket.
A blend of smoking briskets is commonly used for pellet grills. Most professional grillers will recommend them for individual use, only after becoming familiarized with standalone hardwoods. It’s the best pellet flavor for brisket grilling if you want to go the safe route or find individual species to be too strong.
Here are some of the milder flavors:
Oak has gained lots of ground over the years, due in part to its magnificent burning time. Its mild flavor makes it suitable for slow-cooking meats of all kinds and can be smoked with no risk of impurities taking out the flavor of the meat.
Pecan’s flavor has a sweet and nutty flavor. It is not as bold as mesquite or hickory but packs enough flavor to know the taste when eating meat that’s cooked with it. Its sweetness is very mild, and not overbearing.
The flavor of smoked maple wood is very pleasant and sweet. There’s more emphasis on sweetness here and less woody texture. If you’ve tried woods like Hickory but dislike the conspicuous nature of its woody taste, this is a good alternative wood for you to try.
As far as taste, olive wood is identical to mesquite, but not as strong. Try it out if you like the mesquite flavor but dislike its bold aftertaste. It also pairs well with Hickory and the other mild woods shown in the list.
Cherry wood goes well as a blend with other bolder hardwoods, such as mesquite or hickory. You can use it as a standalone as well, but it won’t deliver the same punch that the other aforementioned woods can. Its flavor is a mix of sweet and fruity, with very mild notes of wood.
About Wood Size for Smoking Brisket
For most grills, wood sizes should be no larger than about the size of one’s fist, or a bit smaller. This type of cut is commonly known as a chunk. It’s the most versatile cut and is suggested for the average griller.
Unless they’re pre-cut, you can cut chunks until each size measures about three inches across. Whether or not you want to keep on the bark (if you see it) is up to you.
There’s no need to cut it off if you don’t want to. In fact, some find that it adds a bit more depth to the meat when left intact, especially with milder woods.
It’s imperative that you not make the wood chunks too large. If you do, you’ll find that the pieces burn slower than what you will want.
Unless burning very mild woods, you want them to come to a burn rather quickly, without it smoldering in your grill.
Hickory and mesquite are particularly susceptible to smoldering when charring is extended for a longer time than suggested. If this occurs, the meat could end up tasting too bitter due to the impurities that such species contain.
There are also wood chips and logs. Chips are best for gas and electric grills and are easy to maintain constant heat. There’s less work that needs to be done to keep the wood chips at a constant temperature. Logs are suited when no charcoal is required during cooking.
Tips for Choosing Your Wood
When picking wood for the first time, there are a few key things to remember. The following is what you should always have in the back of your head before adding anything to your grill:
Seasoning of Wood
Regardless of the wood that you’re cooking with, make sure that it has been thoroughly dried, or seasoned. This can be done in a number of ways. If you’re getting the wood from a retailer, then it might be dry already.
However, some pieces could still retain a bit of moisture. Consider setting it out in the sun for a couple of days until it’s visibly free of all moisture. Wood doesn’t burn well when water is inside, no matter what flavor you’re working with.
How the Wood is Cut
Picking up from the previous section, wood is typically cut between two and four inches across. But there are some exceptions to this.
For example, you’ll want to cut in slivers when using cooking without charcoal.
This will allow for clean smoke that doesn’t burn out too slowly.
Grilling is something that takes time to perfect and never is the statement truer when said in the context of smoking a brisket.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some find that a stronger, bolder flavor is their choice while others dislike all things bold and go for sweeter results. If in doubt, you can always make your own blend, or purchase them pre-mixed.
Although the best wood pellets for smoking brisket are commonly used, there are certainly ways to make whole chunks of wood useful in your cooking, no matter if you add charcoal or not. If there’s anything to remember, it’s that you do not stick to one wood.
Give them all a try until you find the flavor that you like more than the others. Mild and bold, sweet and (slightly bitter), there are lots of variances in cooking brisket. Perfecting your smoke will keep your neighbors coming back for more brisket by the aroma of the cuts alone!
Making the Decision
When you are choosing the best wood pellets for smoking, you will definitely have a great variety of choices. Whether you are looking for a subtle smokey flavor to add to your macaroni and cheese or you are dreaming of a long, steady smoke to add depth to your favorite slab of beef, there are wood pellets that will work for you.
If you have made it this far in the guide, you are now well aware of the different flavors and brands available to you.
The pros and cons of using different blends and the drawbacks that can come with each decision have been made clear to you.
Decide what you want to use your wood pellets for, weigh your options, make your choice, and enjoy the benefits of your careful research as you enjoy food with that special rich and vibrant flavor that only smoking with wood pellets can provide.