Can You Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill? Yes, Here’s How!

Can You Use Wood Pellets In Charcoal Grill?

The weekend has arrived, you’ve already planned your BBQ menu for the day, and you are about to light the grill.

But then you realize you’re out of wood chips, and you know your dish will be bland without that smoky flavor.

But the fire is not going to wait, and you don’t have time to run out and get some. So you might be wondering if you can use wood pellets instead of wood chips.

And if your question is can you use wood pellets in a charcoal grill then I’ve got you covered!

In this article, I’ll discuss whether you can use wood pellets in charcoal grills and how to do so.

Can You Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill?

Yes, you can use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. Although this may sound a little “off” at first, it’s actually a great way to add smoke flavor to your food. It’s also very easy to do, and you don’t need any special tools or equipment.

In fact, you can use wood pellets in a charcoal grill without changing your cooking method at all, and the results could be even better if you combine charcoal and wood pellets

Pros And Cons Of Using Wood Pellets For Grilling In Charcoal Grills?

Pros
  • Wood pellets burn hotter and slower than wood chunks/chips
  • Wood pellets generate consistent smoke so you can have more control over the temperature
  • Wood pellets are sold at affordable price
  • There are no additives added to wood pellets
Cons
  • The smoke produced by wood pellets is milder than that produced by wood chips.

How to Use Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill: Step-by-Step

There are 4 main ways to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill:

  • Put the pellets directly on the charcoal
  • Put the pellets in a piece of aluminum foil and fold it up.
  • Use a pellet tube smoker
  • Use a classic smoker Box

Let’s take a closer look at each method and how they work:

1. Putting the pellets directly on the charcoal

Putting the pellets directly on the charcoal

This method is the easiest method and it won’t take as long to create smoke since the pellets are much smaller than wood chunks.

For fast and hot grilling

Step 1: Burn the charcoals with a lighter and wait for 10–15 minutes until there is a thick layer of gray ash on the charcoals.

Step 2: Add wood pellets on top of the charcoals and let them burn to create a smoky flavor.

For low and slow smoking with the charcoal snake method

Step 1: Stack 4 and 5 briquettes across the outside ring of the grill to create a charcoal snake

step 2: Sprinkle 1 cup of wood pellets against the side to fill up the gap so that the smoke can be created evenly all the way

Step 3: Light 6 briquettes and put them at the end of the charcoal snake so it can burn away slowly.

step 4: Wait

charcoal snake method
Charcoal snake

2. Put the pellets in a piece of aluminum foil and fold it up.

Put the pellets in a piece of aluminum foil

Step 1: Make an aluminum foil bag and carefully put the wood pellets inside. Make sure they’re tightly sealed so the pellets don’t fall out.

 Here’s a video to watch if you need some help with making the bag: 

Step 2: Poke holes in the pouch to allow the wood pellets to smoke but not combust or catch fire (this is critical!).

Step 3: Place them on the side of the hot coal  (2 minutes before placing the food) and wait 30 seconds for them to start smoking—it should be pretty obvious when this happens!

Step 4: After 30 seconds, tightly close the lid and cook your food.

3. Use a pellet smoker tube

pellet tube smoker

A smoke tube is a device that helps you get the most out of your smoking session by providing an intense and consistent smoke output. You don’t have to worry about having to refuel or refill your device as often.

Step 1. Fill the bottom of your grill with hot charcoal and place the grates on top.

Step 2. Add wood pellets of your choice to the smoke tube and then carefully light one end of the tube using a match or lighter until it begins to glow red hot

Step 3. Place your smoke tube directly on the grates

Step 4. Wait for about 15 minutes to make sure the pellets stay lit

Step 5. Blow gently on the flame, and smoke from heating pellets will soon fill the cooking chamber.

place smoke tube on grill grates

4. Use a classic smoker box

Use a classic smoker box

To use a smoker box in a charcoal grill, just simply fill it with wood pellets and place the box on top of the grill grates and let it preheat before adding food.

The smoke will then fill the cooking chamber and flavor your food.

One advantage of this type of smoker box over tubes is that it’s easier to refill the pellet supply when needed.

Recommended Wood Pellets

When it comes to choosing a good wood pellet, it’s important to look into both the quality and price.

While you might want to go with the cheapest option available, this may not be the best choice for your grill or smoker.

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of my favorite brands of wood pellets for smoking meat, along with their pros and cons.

1. Pit Boss Hardwood Pellets

Our Top pick

Pit Boss Competition Blend hardwood pellets combine all of the benefits of hardwood with a distinct flavor profile.

You can use these wood pellets for cooking almost any food, like pizza, chicken and pork, beef, fish, and more. 

They are made from 100% natural wood fiber from North America and don’t have any sprays or oils added to them to make them taste better.

2. Camp Chef Competition Blend BBQ Hardwood Pellets

Our Top pick

Camp Chef’s wood pellets are 100% virgin hardwoods with no added oils, chemicals, or binders added. They are 100% natural, just like the hardwoods you find in nature.

Because this wood blend contains less moisture than competing brands, it produces a very dry, hot, and fast-burning shell that ignites quickly and burns well.

3. BEAR MOUNTAIN 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets

Our Top pick

BEAR MOUNTAIN wood pellets are well-known among pit masters for their rich and smoky flavor.

Bear Mountain wood pellets are 100% natural, with no flavorings, fillers, or additives that can affect the taste of your food.

It’s available for you in various sizes and options for many flavors, including hickory, apple, oak, alder, pecan, maple, cherry, and mesquite, so you can choose the perfect flavor for your favorite recipes.

FAQs

Yes, you can cook directly over wood pellets. You just need to make sure that the pellets are lit and smoldering before adding your food.

No, you don’t need to soak the wood pellets before smoking. Wood pellets are best when they’re dry, so you’ll want to make sure that they’re completely dry before you smoke them. If the pellets feel wet when you take them out of their packaging, then they’re not ready to be used.

I think it depends on your personal preference.

If you like the thicker smoke that wood provides, then I would recommend smoking with wood. If you prefer lighter smoke and/or more of a smoky flavor, then I would recommend smoking with pellets.

Final Thoughts

In short, you can use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. You’ll get a similar flavor as you would by using real wood chips.

However, if you’re looking to do this all the time, it’s better to go with a dedicated grill that’s designed to use wood pellets.

On the other hand, if this is something that you do occasionally, It’s certainly worth doing on your charcoal grill rather than buying a new bag of wood chips/chunks when your food is ready to cook.

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