Last Updated Jan 2020 – You’ve taken the dive and picked up a smoker. Whether you’ve got a standalone smoker, a grill with a smoker attachment, or a contraption you’ve built for yourself in your own backyard, you’ll need plenty of wood to use your smoker. These days, wood is added to smokers in the form of pellets. These small chips increase the surface area of the wood to facilitate better burning while also making transport easy.
Can You Buy Wood Pellets For Smokers Online?
While you can buy smoker pellets locally, it’s often cheaper and easier to get a well-reviewed bag of wood smoking pellets online. I find this incredibly convenient. I don’t have to lug a 20 or 40 lb bag of wood around in the store and then out to my car. Instead, it’s delivered right to my doorstep.
The quality is better, too. Previously, I had to live with whatever was available locally. When I buy online, I can get bags of 100% hardwood pellets in the exact combination of woods that I want. This lets me choose between competition mixes, pure woods like hickory and apple, or even pellets made from old bourbon barrels.
Not only is this healthier (since I’m burning pure, food safe hardwoods with no fillers or added ingredients), it’s also remarkably affordable. These carefully chosen bags are no more expensive than the bags I used to buy locally.
What Are The Best Pellets For My Pellet Grill?
The brand of your smoker (or pellet grill) doesn’t matter. As far as wood smoking pellets are concerned, you’re primarily looking at a simple mix of factors. You want pellets made from food-safe wood with no fillers, no binders, and no other added ingredients. This means it’s important to avoid products that are “scented” to smell like other types of woods when they burn.
The reasons for this are pretty simple.
When you smoke food, you’re creating an environment where your burning pellets end up on the food you’re cooking. The smoke that comes off of your pellets enters the cooking chamber, cools down, and then precipitates onto your meat (or whatever it is you’re smoking). This means that anything that’s in your pellets will wind up in your mouth.
As long as your pellets are pure, food grade hardwoods, that isn’t a problem. You’ll get a small amount of burned hickory or apple or cherry or mesquite or oak along with each bite. When the pellets are made with other chemicals, however, you end up with wood glue, sawdust, or artificial flavors in each bite. This often results in sour flavors and unpleasant experiences. I said earlier that brand doesn’t matter. I mean it.
The best Traeger pellets aren’t sold by Traeger. Instead, they’re sold by a company that specializes in producing food-grade hardwood pellets for smokers. You usually won’t void your warranty by using pellets from a different brand, but that will depend on the actual smoker you have and what warranty you’ve gone with. If you’re worried, call the company that manufacturers your smoker and ask.
What Wood Smoking Pellets Go With What Types Of Food?
There’s a big difference between pellets that are made from different types of wood. It turns out that this has little to do with what the wood smells like. Some experts think that the biggest difference between hickory and cherry smoke is that hickory smoke is strong, while cherry smoke is a bit more delicate.
“Strong” woods put more smoke flavor in your dish, while “delicate” woods impart a smaller amount of the same flavor. In other words, the amount of smoky flavor that ends up in your dish will be more noticeable than any unique flavors in a given type of wood. Here’s a quick rundown on how the flavor profiles of several types of wood differ, and what you should smoke with them.
Hickory goes pretty darn good with everything. It’s somewhat sweet at first, with a bit of savory backbone. If you add too much hickory flavor, however, your meat will come out somewhat bitter.
Hickory goes great with ribs and pork, as long as you’ve got plenty of meat (and not too much hickory). It’s also excellent on both poultry and all red meat.
Oak is a classic hardwood that lends a strong flavor to your meat. It’s pretty hard to go too far, however, so don’t worry about going overboard. It’s got a generic smoky flavor that goes best with beef, lamb, sausages, and brisket.
Maple is quite a bit more subtle than most other woods. It gives a sweet, light smoky quality without overwhelming the meat you’re smoking. Use maple with delicate meats, like poultry and thinner cuts of pork.
Applewood is very similar to maple. While the flavor is slightly different, it’s also sweet and fairly mild. When you’re smoking with apple, be sure to give the smoke plenty of time to penetrate the meat.
Alder is a third sweet wood. It’s slightly less subtle than maple or apple, but the flavor is still pretty delicate. It’s best on fish, especially salmon.
Mesquite gives you an intense, unique flavor. It’s incredibly powerful, so if you’re new to smoking you might want to mix mesquite with other woods or go easy on your smoke times. It’s great with red meat, but you can also use it to add a bit of extra flavor while you grill.
Pecan wood is very sweet and nutty. It’s quite powerful, unlike the other sweet woods, so it’s best used on a robust meat or in conjunction with other woods. Pecan goes best with ribs, roasts, and briskets.
Mild and quite fruity, cherry offers a unique flavor that’s not too overpowering. It’s often mixed with other woods (especially hickory) to give you a flavor that’s better than the sum of its parts. You can use a cherry blend or pure cherry to smoke poultry and ham.
Now that you know a little more about smoker pellets, here are four of the best bags of pellets you can find on Amazon
This Lumber Jack collectiongives you 3 20 lb bags of pure hardwood pellets. Like our other recommendations, you get food grade hardwood with no additives, binders, or preservatives. In other words, you get the best possible ingredients for your smoker.
When you purchase this Lumber Jack pellet collection, you get to choose from 21 flavors of wood. The company that fills the order will e-mail you and ask you what 3 20lb bags you’d like to receive. The list of options is pretty long and includes blends, popular hardwoods, and a few exotic options to inspire your creativity.
Of course, the best part about this is that you get 3 20 lb bags for a pretty low price. Between the high-quality pellets, the great selection of flavors, and the incredible quantity for the price, there’s not much more you can ask for.
Louisiana Grills makes these 40 lb bags in a huge number of flavors. Admittedly, this is one of the more rare ones, but it’s one that’s near and dear to my own heart.
Whiskey is a pretty unique drink. It’s made from spirit that’s left in wooden casks for a long time. The interaction between the spirit and the wooden casks is responsible for the incredible, complex flavors that you get when you drink a fine, aged whiskey.
features a blend of normal oak (80%) and oak from actual whiskey barrels (20%). This gives anything you smoke with it a bit of a unique flavor. It lends an “aromatic tang” (manufacturer’s words) that goes pretty well with most red meats.
I think that this particular blend of pellets is pretty fun and great for smoking. Even if it’s not your style, check out the other Louisiana grills pellet bags. They’re quite cheap and come full of pure food grade hardwoods with no nasty additives.
Our final selection, CookinPellets, offers a similar package of pure, food-grade hardwoods. I’ll go over both of these bags at once. The hickory pellets are pure hickory, while the blend bag has a mix of hickory, cherry, maple, and apple.
Like the other options, these pellets are exactly what you want. You get flavorful wood that you don’t mind putting on your food in a big, inexpensive bag. Shipping costs wind up being quite reasonable, especially given the quality of the pellets that you receive.
Both the hickory bag and the blend bag work pretty well on just about everything you smoke. The blend bag is a bit more “idiot proof“, however, since the resulting flavor profile has been carefully engineered by the folks at CookinPellets to taste good on all types of foods.
If you want more control, go with hickory and blend your own mix. If you’re willing to trust CookinPellets, choose their excellent mixed bag. You really can’t go wrong with either option here.
The Best Wood Smoking Pellets
When you’re ordering wood smoking pellets online (and you should be), look for pure, food-grade hardwood pellets that come in a big bag. As long as there are no added fillers, glues, or other nasty ingredients, you’ll probably be fine.
Choosing a bigger bag usually helps you save on shipping and gives you plenty of wood to smoke all of your favorite foods with.