How to Choose Wood Pellets

If you’ve spent any time researching pellet grills, you’ve probably encountered the variety of flavored woods that serve as their fuel. Wood pellets are a biofuel made from compressed sawdust and leftover wood chips from lumber processing, which are then bound with small amounts of moisture. They contain no fillers, meaning you get 100% hardwood flavors such as apple, hickory, and oak.

But how do you know what meats works best with mesquite, or which foods should be paired with pecan? There’s a wide world of wood pellets out there — and some people even mix flavors together to create special blends — so we’ve broken down what stands out about each one below. You’ll also find a handy chart that indicates which types of pellets bring out the best in certain foods.

Types of Wood Pellets

  • Pellet:

  • Description:


  • Alder

  • With a hint of sweetness behind its earthy taste, alder pellets elevate the delicate flavors of seafood and poultry.


  • Apple

  • The mild, fruity flavor and subtle sweetness of apple pellets are perfect for pork and poultry.


  • Cherry

  • In addition to their extremely mild fruit flavor that complements the saltiness of pork, cherry pellets can help your meat achieve great color. Our smokey turkey recipe is all the proof you need!


  • Competition

  • This blend of wood pellets typically includes cherry, hickory, and maple. Because of their makeup, competition pellets work well with just about anything.


  • Hickory

  • Looking for a bold flavor profile? Hickory pellets pack a smoky bacon flavor that enhances all types of beef, pork, and poultry.


  • Maple

  • Pork and poultry stand to benefit most from maple pellets, which leave a sweet and mild wood flavor with light smokiness.


  • Mesquite

  • A staple of Texas BBQ, mesquite pellets are both bold and sweet while adding a touch of piney flavor. Those elements are meant for beef and poultry, especially game birds.


  • Oak

  • Oak pellets have a well-balanced smoke flavor that’s bolder than cherry and apple but much milder than mesquite or hickory. Try it with seafood and veggies.


  • Pecan

  • Though many people associate pecan pellets with baking, their nutty smoke flavor can also add a slight kick to beef, pork, and poultry.


What is Each Wood Pellet Good For?


Beef

Pork

Poultry
Seafood icon
Seafood
Veggie icon
Vegetables
Alder
X
X
Apple
X
X
Cherry
X
X
Competition
X
X
X
X
X
Hickory
X
X
X
Maple
X
X
Mesquite
X
X
Oak
X
X
Pecan
X
X
X
Pellet Food Type
Alder Poultry Icon Seafood icon
Apple Pork IconPoultry Icon
Cherry Pork IconPoultry Icon
Competition Beef IconPork IconPoultry Icon Seafood iconVegetable icon
Hickory Beef IconPork IconPoultry Icon
Maple Pork IconPoultry Icon
Mesquite Beef IconPoultry Icon
Oak Seafood iconVeggie icon
Pecan Beef IconPork IconPoultry Icon