Getting the right type of pellets is crucial for obtaining the meat flavor you’re craving for. You might be tempted to think that you can use just any pellets in any grill for any type of food, but you’d be wrong.
Certain pellets are of higher quality, meaning they burn property and have a balanced amount of moisture, just like the Traeger pellets do. And speaking of Traeger pellets, how about we show you some high-quality and conveniently-priced pellet bags?
Top 3 Picks
Best Overall: Traeger PEL331 Signature Blend Grill
Combining cherry, maple, and hickory hardwoods, this is one of the best options for those seeking quality pellets for Traeger grills or for those made by other manufacturers.
Most Versatile: Traeger Grills PEL314 Hardwood Pellets
Whenever you want to give your food that exquisite taste that only pellet grills can provide, a bag of these pecan pellets works for cooking anything from vegetables to baked goods.
Great for Pizza Ovens: Traeger Grills PEL310 Hardwood Pellet
“The pizza was delicious with NO unpleasant taste & burned quite well! I’ll definitely be purchasing these pellets again!” (Customer review)
Pellets vs. Gas
Some of you might be wondering which is better: a pellet or a gas grill, two different products because they have distinct fuel sources. This topic is very complex, so we’re going to try and describe the differences between these two as briefly as possible.
Pellet grills are very convenient because they come with a hopper that can be loaded with a large quantity of pellets… and that’s pretty much all you have to do. They are cheap to run because pellets aren’t all that expensive and they come in large bags that should last a while. They don’t make that much of a mess either, considering the fact that pellets don’t make as much ash as other fuel sources. But, when you look at pellets and gas grills side-by-side, what are the differences and similarities between the two?
- They are both easy to use. Both pellet and gas models will ignite with a simple twist of a dial or push of a button. Gas grills run either on propane tanks (which run empty at some point and require refilling/replacing) and pellet grills have hoppers that need to be loaded with pellets that should provide enough full for a grilling session (depends on the capacity of the hopper too).
- If you want to use your grill as a smoker, it’s easier to do so with a pellet grill. You can also do it with a gas grill, but it takes a little more practice and know-how to make it happen.
- Pellet grills are easy to adjust when you need to cook at specific temperatures, but most models will not reach 450° F. Gas grills, on the other hand, can reach temperatures of up to 500° F and higher-quality models can go all the way up to 700° F. However, they make it more difficult to maintain steady low temperatures because they struggle with heat retention.
Pellets vs. Charcoal
Comparing pellets and charcoal grills is easy, but in the end it might be difficult to say if one is better than the other. Let’s take a side-by-side look and we’ll let you determine which one of them is worth it:
- Pellet smokers basically use wood to cook, which means that your food will eventually have that wood flavor (which may vary depending on the exact type of pellets used). Charcoal grills will give your food that smoky flavor a lot of people crave to taste. The high temperatures that charcoal grills can reach also make them better for searing. However, it’s not uncommon for people to combine charcoal and pellets in their grills, to get the best of both worlds.
- Pellet grills tend to me more expensive compared to charcoal grills and a good model can cost up to $1,000. Make no mistake, high-end charcoal grills can be that expensive as well, but you can pick a good one for a couple hundred dollars.
- As far as fuel is concerned, it really depends on how much you’re willing to spend on it. Some wood pellet brands have products that are more expensive than others. Charcoal briquettes are less expensive but if you opt for lump charcoal, it’s going to cost you more because it burns quicker and hotter.
- Pellet grills are easy to understand and use. As we mentioned before, it’s pretty much a matter of loading the pellets into the hopper, firing up the grill, and sitting back while it does its thing. With a charcoal grill, there’s a little more work to it. You will typically need a charcoal chimney or lighter fluid to get the grill going, and it can take even half an hour for the grill to be hot enough and ready to use. With charcoal grills, it also takes a little bit of practice to get them to reach your desired temperature.
- In terms of temperature range and control, these two products are quite different. Even the best pellet grills will have a hard time reaching temperatures of 500° F, while high-end charcoal grills go as high as 800° F. With a digital pellet smoker, it’s going to be very easy to hold the grill at a steady low temperature. Controlling the temperature on a charcoal grill, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. These grills are usually made with top and bottom vents that require opening and closing if you want to control the temperature as precisely as you can. It does take a little while to adjust to this modus operandi, but a lot of people appreciate the fact that charcoal grills make them “work for it”.
Related: Pit Boss VS Traeger: Which is Best?
What to Look For
Not all pellets are created alike, just like not all grills are identical. When you’re out hunting for pellets, the wood that’s used to make them is going to play an important part in their quality. Hardwood pellets are higher in density and burn longer in their raw form. Softwood pellets will provide a higher heat output due to their nature, which means that the fire will burn hotter when using them.
You want to make sure that you’re choosing food-grade pellets and not heating pellets, as each of them is made for a specific purpose. You are going to find a variety of different pellets, so here is what you should know about each variety:
- Alder wood pellets are versatile and can be great for cooking all sorts of different foods, they have mild aroma and flavor and produce a decent amount of smoke.
- Apple pellets will add a fruity flavor to your foods and work really well with chicken and baked goods.
- Cherry pellets won’t just make your food fruitier, but also sweeter. Thanks to their robust smoke, they are some of the most chosen varieties on the market.
- Hickory pellets are probably the most chosen pellets in America because of the strong flavor they infuse in your meat. It works with a wide variety of meats but people mostly recommend it with briquettes or other traditional barbecue meats.
- Maple is used to make wood pellets that give your food a mild sweet flavor, and nothing beats them for smoking meats during the holidays.
- Mesquite pellets will give your steak a hearty smoke flavor. They work well with different meat cuts and they are a Texas favorite.
- Oak will give your grilled foods a mild and nutty flavor, and a lot of people recommend using oak pellets in your pizza oven.
- Pecan pellets are amazing when you use your grill to make baked goods. They offer a combination of spicy and sweet, making the perfect dishes for those who love the unique flavor.
Tips for Using a Pellet Grill
There are a lot of tips available for those who wish to master the art of cooking on a pellet grill, and we’re going to guide you through some of the ones we found to be the most important:
- What you’re cooking is a big part of how to use the grill and its settings correctly. Different meat cuts need to be cooked in different ways, so determine if you need to cook white meat, dark meat, how much fat it has, or what is its texture. You could also use the grill for veggies and not just meat. Do your research based on what you’re looking to prepare to determine what the best cooking temperature is, if it needs basting/saucing, etc.
- If you used both cheap and high-quality pellets, then you already know the difference in food flavor. There is even a science behind which wood pellets compliment which meats, so you might want to take a look into that as well.
- Experts recommend using your pellet grill just as you would use an over. This might require a little bit of experimenting, but don’t be afraid to roast or bake in your pellet grill just as you would in an oven.
- Thermometer > clock. Always. You want a grill that comes with a built-in thermometer because under or overcooking your meat can ruin it. With ovens, you pretty much know for how long you have to leave that brisket inside, but when it comes to grills, it’s the internal temperature that matters and that’s usually more difficult to control. Whenever you open the lid on the grill, you allow the temperature to escape and you might let out all that smoke that leads to rich and tasty meats. If you already own a pellet grill that doesn’t come with its own thermometer, you can always invest in a third-party one.
- Upper racks are part of your grill for a good reason. While their primary role is to keep your food warm until you’re ready to set the table, these racks can provide you with additional cooking space that you have to learn how to use wisely. Whatever you place on these upper racks is located further away from the heat source, and that’s something that you can use to your advantage.
- Did you know that cold meats are easier to smoke? That’s because the smoke condenses on the cold surface, adhering to the meat to give it that amazing flavor. So, instead of waiting for the meat to reach room temperature, just take it out of the fridge and throw it directly on the grill. If you set a low smoking temperature, the smoke flavor will be even further enhanced.
- One of the most important tips that we can give you is to always keep your pellet smoker clean. We know that the last thing you want to do after such a juicy meal is have to clean the grill, but it is imperative not just for long-term keeping, but also to ensure that you have a sanitized cooking surface ready for your next barbecue.
The Best Traeger Pellets
With the signature blend pellets from Trager, you will purchase a product that combines cherry, maple, and hickory hardwoods, making the best out of your pellet grilling experience. As with other Traeger pellets, these are made with the perfect moisture balance to ensure that blue smoke is clean and won’t temper with the aroma of your food in a negative way. This 20-pound bag should last you for quite a few BBQs and they’re perfect for cooking all kinds of meat, including lamb and seafood.
Made from natural hardwood and free of any other additives or fillers, these Trager Apple pellets are perfect for those who want to cook foods rich in flavor. They don’t produce much ash and are safe for the environment when burned. They are available in a convenient 20-pound bag and are made from 100 percent apple wood.
Another convenient bag with 20 pounds of Traeger pellets is this one. They are made entirely from oak hardwood and can naturally enhance the flavor of your food, smoking and preparing meat with a rich and exquisite flavor profile. Much like its other pellets, Traeger made these with a compact cell structure that leads to a dependable burn.
Mesquite pellets are here, with the same Traeger quality that you see in pretty much all their pellets. Designed with balanced moisture content, these pellets will work for grilling poultry, beef, and seafood. These low-ash pellets work great with Traeger’s grills, but also with grills coming from other manufacturers.
The last suggestion for today is also part of Traeger’s line of pellets, this time with that nutty pecan flavor. That makes these pellets perfect for a wide variety of meats, but it can truly enhance the flavor of vegetables or baked goods as well. Staying true to the quality you always find in Traeger’s pellet, these will also infuse an amazing aroma into your food.
Can you use any brand pellets in a Traeger?
Traeger grill will work with pretty much any pellet you want to buy but the company claims that “using any brand of pellets other than Traeger pellets will void the warranty of the grill.”
What pellets can you use in a Traeger?
It really depends on what flavor you want your meat to have. Traeger offers a generous range of hardwood pellets, including apple cherry, oak, pecan, maple, hickory, or alder.
How much are Traeger pellets at Costco?
A 33-pound bag of Traeger pellets costs around $26 at Costco.
How long does a 20lb bag of Traeger pellets last?
With a single 20-pound bag of Traeger pellets, you can keep a grill running from six to 22 hours (this, of course, depends on whether you’re cooking at high or low heat).
When you use the right pellets, you can bring your meats and other foods to a whole new flavor. They say that once you eat a steak made in a pellet grill, you can never go back, but that always depends on the quality and type of pellets that you choose. If you have a Traeger grill, you want to avoid using pellets from other brands just to be safe about the whole voiding the warranty thing.
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