Looking to smoke some mouthwatering brisket, chicken, steak, or any other protein? Then you need the best pellets for smoking. These hardwood pellets deliver consistent heat and impart unique flavors into your meat. From the rich and iconic flavor of hickory, to a bold mesquite, to a sweet maple, it’s easy to get these flavors by using the right pellets.
We’re going to answer some of your biggest questions about getting the best smoking pellets. Read on and find out which pellets are right for you.
What are Wood Pellets for Smoking?
These are hardwood pellets that have been cut to uniform consistency and size. The pellets are made to impart special flavors while also maintaining optimal heat output to ensure your food is thoroughly cooked.
The most common pellets you can find include:
While these are the most common, there are other options available. Just be sure to choose pellets that give off a good amount of heat, flavor, and don’t have an overpowering amount of ash.
Choosing the Right Wood Pellets
We’ll go over the best pellets for smoking soon, but you might have your own opinions about what is best. You may also be unsure about what to check for when looking at other options. We are going to quickly cover some of the top considerations you should be making.
One big debate is whether your wood pellets should have bark or no bark. Most people believe that no bark is better, but things are a little different with smoking. Having no bark means that the pellets burn cleaner and more consistently, which is great. Bark produces more smoke (which could be good for this application), but the burn is inconsistent as the bark and inner wood ignite at different temperatures. These also produce more ash, which means more clean up.
Some people enjoy softwood, but hardwood tends to be more popular and flavorful. You also have to consider whether you want a single source or a pellet blend. Blends allow you to make unique flavors, but this makes it harder to taste one single wood. So if you really want hickory smoke, then choosing single-source hickory is better.
You should also consider whether you want unflavored wood or wood infused with wood oil flavoring. If you’re a purist or you only want the true wood flavor, then unflavored is the best. If you enjoy having an extra level of flavor added to your meal, then consider pellets with flavoring.
Lumber Jack is one of the most trusted providers of wood pellets. Not only do they source their own wood, but they give you some of the purest blends and single-source pellets on the market. Their most popular item is Competition Blend pellets. This together the rich flavors of maple, hickory, and cherry into one.
Their blends aren’t just a mix of different woods, they are also a mix of bark and unbarked pellets. They intentionally keep the bark on primary woods so that you get more flavor from that specific wood, whereas the secondary woods have the bark removed. They also use the cambium layer of the tree. This imparts the most flavor so your food always turns out amazing.
That’s not all. Their pellets are thinner than most others. This is good because the wood burns hotter and creates more smoke, which is ideal for smoking meats.
If you’re looking for real wood flavor straight from the source, then Lumber Jack is the brand for you.
CookinPellets Perfect Mix is similar to Lumber Jack, but with a few differences. This mixed blend combines hickory, cherry, maple, and apple together into a smoky, flavorful combination that you’re sure to love. Hickory is the primary wood here with the other three equally mixed.
Much like Lumber Jack, CookingPellets only uses the most flavorful wood layers to ensure your meals taste amazing. The major difference though is that they only used unbarked wood. You’ll find that this produces a more consistent burn, but it does make less smoke and the flavor is more mild. If you found that barked pellets are too strong and you want a good alternative, then CookingPellets is right for you.
You won’t find any fillers here, it’s just pure flavor. Give this a try and see how good your meats turn out.
Some people dislike wood pellets that use additives like oak and alder, but these woods do have their benefits. The best thing about oak is that it gives you a very consistent and hot burn that some other woods can’t match. If you find that other pellets aren’t burning hot enough, then you may want to consider BBQR’s Delight.
These blends mix about two-thirds of oak with one-third of the flavor wood (such as cherry, apple, or hickory). This ensures that you get great flavor along with a good amount of smoke to ensure your meats are thoroughly cooked. Despite the smaller amount of the flavor wood, you’ll find that the flavor still comes through strong and tasty.
Whether you own a Traeger grill smoker combo or not, you’ll find that this trusted brand delivers big flavors while having little impact on the environment. Traeger uses sawdust to form their pellets. You get all the flavors you love, plus without any major impact on the planet.
You can choose from many flavors. There are single-source woods like maple, hickory, cherry, and apple. You can also choose the Traeger Signature Blend of maple, cherry, and other hardwoods mixed together.
One thing you will notice is that the pellets are larger, which means they need more time to heat up. You can easily fix this by breaking the pellets into smaller pieces. Since smoking is such a long process, you likely won’t need to do this if you’re smoking, but it’s good to keep in mind with grilling.
Traeger woods go with anything. From beef and chicken to seafood and vegetables, you can impart beautiful flavors into any meal.
The best pellets for smoking give you a strong flavor, often combine both bark and unbarked wood, and burn for a long time to give you that delicious smoke. Whether you choose single-source or blends, you’re in for a treat when using pellets. We covered some of the best here, but we invite you to share your opinion as well. Let us know what you enjoy.