Can You Use Pellets In A Regular Smoker?

August 21, 2021

Make no mistake, smoking with wood pellets is the best source of fuel when it comes to outdoor barbecuing for various reasons. Whatever the type of smoker you are using, switching from one fuel source to another is always a concern. However, I am a huge supporter of wood pellets simply because of the flavor they add to the food that I cook. One of my buddies recently asked me, can you use pellets in a regular smoker? This article is all about the answers that I gave to him. Let’s dive in.

What Are Wood Pellets?

Pellets are usually made from hardwood shaving and sawdust. This combination gets compressed during the production stage, and typically a piece of pellet is about half an inch long.

The compressing process takes away the moisture of the wood and sawdust, and when you burn the pellets, there won’t be barks or any other thing as you would find with ordinary wood logs.

This means that smoking with pellets is incredibly efficient compared to wood logs, and you can call the fuel source pretty much clean as well. So, I hope you can come to a conclusion that smoking with pellets vs wood is totally two different methods. 

Uses of Wood Pellets

Can you use pellets in a regular smoker? I’ll come to this topic a bit later in the article; for now, let’s see some of the uses of wood pellets. There are the three most prominent uses of pellets.

  • Heating and heat supply
  • Industrial boiler fuel
  • Thermal power generation. 

Heating and Heat Supply

As you already know, wood pellets can be used in heating stoves and furnaces. With the help of wood pellets, it is not challenging to generate your own heating system. Also, their small stature makes transport and storing easy. 

Industrial Boiler Fuel

When it comes to mass production industries, using charcoal or gas can be pretty expensive as well as injurious to the environment. In contrast, wood pellets are carbon neutral and way more affordable compared to other sources.

Thermal Power Generation

The high heat value combined with low pollutant emission means wood pellets are ideal for thermal and gasification power generation. In fact, most countries around the world have understood this theory over the years and stick with wood pellets in place of natural gas. 

Pros and Cons of Wood Pellets

There are two sides to every story. So, these are the pros and cons of smoking meat with wood pellets, according to my knowledge.

Pros of Using Wood Pellets

  • They are dry and easy to use on most smokers.
  • The pressure that is applied during the production stage means there are no contaminants while you burn them. In addition, there is no need to soak the pellets before you start cooking with them.
  • There are pellets made from different types of wood, which means you can have different flavors to the food you cook. This versatility is pretty much helpful to avoid changing wood during smoking to get the intended flavors. 
  • Since they are small in size, you can easily control the smoke output by adding the right amount of pellets to match the requirement. 

Cons of Using Wood Pellets

  • Using cheaper or low-quality products can be toxic if they contain chemical binding agents. When you are buying wood pellets, make sure they are from a reliable manufacturer such as Pit Boss!
  • Pellets tend to burn rather quickly, so you have to keep a close eye on the process. To mitigate this issue, cold smoking with pellets would be the best option. 
  • Although you have control of the smoke output, if you happen to put pellets more than the required amount, getting more smoke from pellet smokers and filling up your place with smoke is inevitable.
can you use pellets in a wood chip smoker

Can You Use Pellets In A Charcoal Smoker?

The simple answer would be a big yes. There is hardly a barrier to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. However, I must tell you that it is a must to use food-grade wood pellets, not heating ones.

In addition, note that pellets should not be the primary source of fuel for the charcoal grills. I usually add wood pellets to a charcoal grill just to add some smoky flavor. So, keep these elements in mind if you are going to use wood pellets in your charcoal grill. 

Can You Use Pellets In A Propane Smoker?

Yes, you can use pellets in gas smokers as long as they are specifically made for cooking or smoking, for that matter. However, there are certain factors that decide the compatibility of using wood pellets in gas grills, such as the type of pellets and the design of the machine.

The easiest method you can implement is using a pouch made of aluminum and put wood pellets in it. After that, you should make a hole on the top to increase the smoky flavor. 

Can I Use Pellets In My Electric Smoker?

Again, my answer would be yes. That said, you have to investigate whether the manufacturer of the electric smoker has permitted to use of wood pellets as there are certain brands that do not recommend using pellets with their products.

If you have that opportunity, there is nothing wrong with using, and you will be amazed by the results you receive by adding wood pellets. The wood pellets do an amazing job in blending thick smoke into the food, and you will find it very easy to provide high temperatures without much of a problem when you use pellets.

Since you know the answers to questions like, can you use pellets in a wood chip smoker and can I use wood pellets in a regular smoker, let’s move on to the next phase of the article. 

How to Light Smoker Pellets?

There is no exact method to use pellets in smokers as the burning process is different from one smoker to another. I want you to follow the instructions of the manufacturer written in the user manual before you light the pellets.

That said, almost every smoker has a hopper or firepot to place pellets in. So, fill the firepot as per the product’s guidelines and add around 2tbsp of pellet lighting fluid or kerosene on top of pellets. Now, use a long light match to ignite the pellets. 

Wood Pellet Flavor Guide

Knowing all the ins and outs would make it easy to get the maximum results for the efforts you put in. I have seen many types of wood pellet flavor guides, and some of them are confusing to understand when compared with a few. This is the graph I use to follow, and I want you to do the same to receive high-quality outputs similar to mine.

Type of woodBeefChickenPorkSeafoodBakedVegetable
AlderGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Apple GreatGreat GreatGreat
CherryGreatGreatGreat Great 
HickoryGreatGreatGreat  Great
MapleGreat Great GreatGreat
MesquiteGreatGreat Great  
OakGreat  GreatGreat 
PecanGreatGreatGreat GreatGreat

Do You Soak Wood Pellets?

This is one of the questions that I answer at least a couple of times for a month. I can understand the reason behind this query as most people are used to soak wood before they start to smoke. But, when it comes to pellets, there is no need for soaking.

I say this because the wood pellets are made of sawdust, and if you soak them, it will lead sawdust to expand and eventually fall apart. It does not only act as a barrier to generate smoke but also causes damages to your smoker. 

You may still ask why not soak, and here is why. As I mentioned at the early stages of the article, the compressing process of pellet production takes out all the moisture that is left in the sawdust and the wood.

Allowing water again to the pellets would cause the compression to expand, and ultimately it will be very much a near impossible thing to make pellets burn consistently. 

can you use pellets in a regular smoker

FAQs

The question of “can I use pellets in a regular smoker” is a combination of many minor queries, and the following are a few that most readers have grey spots in their minds. 

How to Use Wood Pellets in an Offset Smoker?

Although you have the opulence of using pellets in an offset smoker, keep in mind that it is not as easy as it sounds. You have to replace the wood constantly, and retaining consistent smoke won’t be the most straightforward job in the world.

Moreover, if you are thinking of using pellets in an offset smoker, I strongly recommend you not to use them for long smoking sessions as they don’t have the ability to burn for extended periods of time. For a quickfire smoking session, yes, it would be a good option. 

Grilling and Smoking with Wood Pellets vs. Wood, Which Is the Best Option?

My go-to option is wood pellets, without a doubt, because wood pellets tend to burn slowly compared to wood chips, and it allows you to control the temperature levels as well. This also replicates that wood pellets are a good choice in terms of cost as well. So, why not?

Do Different Pellets In Smokers Make a Difference?

Regardless of the type of pellets you use, they will provide you with the smoky flavor of the food you cook. But, my experience tells that it kind of fluctuates from one brand to another. If you can find hardwood pellets, you will definitely get a more pronounced smoky flavor than other sorts.  

Can You Use Wood Pellets Instead of Wood Chips?

In most situations and smokers, yes, you can do that. Even though I said yes, using wood pellets in certain types of smoker boxes can be a little difficult because they are just too small to fit the job; having said that, if you want the more consistent burn, great flavor, and good smoke, I have no objection in utilizing wood pellets in place of wood chips.

However, considering the cost side of things, the winner is wood chips. Moreover, comparatively, it is not challenging to find wood chips, but the same cannot be said regarding wood pellets. So, it is like a 50-50 scenario and the decision has to be taken based on your situation. 

Wrapping..

Guys, today’s article was kind of a long-awaited one for me, and I know it is the same with my readers because the queries I’ve received regarding “can you use pellets in a regular smoker” were considerable. The bottom line is that you can use wood pellets in most regular smokers without much of an issue.

However, keep the points I discussed when you execute the task. If you have missed the article, I would like you to spend a couple of minutes on adding some knowledge to your armory to convert yourself into a pitmaster rather quickly. Until the next time, cheerio! 

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