Skip to content
Stores Contact

How to Choose Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are made from a natural wood compression process. Pellets are made to bring out sweet, mild, and robust flavors in your favorite smoked foods. Trying to figure out how to choose wood pellets doesn't have to be complicated. In this guide, we'll teach you the basics.

Hardwood vs. Fruitwood

Wood pellets come in standard, combination, and flavored forms as hardwood or fruitwoodpellets. As the name implies, they make fruitwood pellets from the wood of natural fruit trees like apple or cherry.

It's important to note the difference between food-grade pellets made for cooking and non-food grade pellets made for heating. Non-food grade pellets may contain chemicals or dyes that aren't safe for consumption.

Types of Wood Pellets

With so many types of wood pellets available out there, it can be hard to know which ones are the best for you and your choice of meat to smoke or grill. Some are classics and well-known, but for the new smokers out there, let us help you break down some of them for you!


Alder adds hints of natural smoky wood flavor and pairs exceptionally well with beef, pork, seafood, and vegetables.


Apple pellets to add zings of sweetness, and a hint of tarty flavor to your chicken, pork, baked goods, and grilled vegetables.


Cherry pellets add a sweet and tangy flavor, consider using cherry wood pellets when smoking beef, chicken, and pork.


Mesquite adds a pungent and earthy Southwestern flavor and is a signature of Texas-style barbecue dishes.


Hickory wood pellets offer a sweet, pungent, and "bacon-like" flavor that adds a classic barbecue flavor to anything.


Oak adds a vanilla-like flavor that when used sparingly brings out the flavors in beef and seafood on the grill.


Maple adds a subtle natural sweet flavor that blends well with other woods and is great with beef, pork, and cheeses.


Pecan adds a seat and nutty flavor that pairs well with almost every kind of meat except for fish.


Competition wood pellets contain blends of hickory, cherry, and maple. This special blend gives a sweet, smoky flavor with a hint of tang.

Premium Blends

The combination of natural wood flavors like hickory, oak, maple, and cherry in premium blends are ideal for cooking most anything.

What is Each Wood Pellet Good For

While everyone has their favorite flavor of wood pellets, there are a few tried-and-true pairings of wood pellets with foods that stand the test of time.

For example, we know hickory and mesquite pellets for their strong flavors and their ability to overpower the flavor of simple foods. Hardwoods often pair better with smoked meats, while fruitwoods bring out the best flavors in pork and veggies.

Powerful Smoked Flavors

Wood pellets can produce mild, medium, or strong flavors. Hickory and mesquite are examples of hardwoods that produce powerful smoked flavor for meats, chicken, and poultry.

Oak, peach, and pear provide a medium-smoky flavor and are ideal for smoking lightweight foods. Add mild flavoring to seafood, poultry, and vegetables with mild fruity wood pellets like maple, apple, or cherry.


The best pellets for smoking beef include hickory, oak, cherry, and pecan.


Using hickory pellets for pork gives it a strong flavor that complements its natural flavors.


Use apple wood pellets for accentuating mild flavors and adding a hint of sweetness to poultry.


Competition blends, apple woods, and fruit blends bring out the muted flavors of seafood.


Smoke flavorful fruits and vegetables using apple, cherry, and competition blends.


Lighter flavored hardwood pellets like maple or apple brings a hint of sweetness to any desserts.

What are Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are cooking fuels made from food grade compressed wood. They make the pellets by grounding natural wood into dust. After the wood is ground, it goes through a compression process that produces the pellets. These pellets are then used to bring that classic smokey flavor and aroma to grilled or smoked food.

Hardwood pellets give a mild and fruity flavor to smoked barbecue foods. They make hardwood pellets from natural woods to provide stronger and bolder flavors to meats like beef, chicken, and pork. Today's pellet grills can smoke, braise, and grill a wide variety of fresh foods.

It's important to note the difference between food-grade pellets made for cooking and non-food grade pellets made for heating. Non-food grade pellets may contain chemicals or dyes that aren't safe for consumption.

Behind the grill

Professional recipes from incredible chefs!

Christie Vanover - GirlsCanGrill Nick Hill - SaltFireBBQ Chuck Matto - ChucksFlavorTrain Derek Perry - FreedomSoHard Jason Glover - DadsThatCook Chris Apple - WhiteBullsBBQ