Three Things To Think About When Buying BBQ Grilling Pellets

Make sure your pellets are made from hardwood sawdust and that the advertised "flavor" comes from the wood, not an additive.

Steak grilled using pellets
Take your steak to the next level by grilling it over with oak, pecan, or mesquite pellets.José Ignacio Pompé/Unsplash

The competition’s heating up. Who’s really the best griller in the neighborhood? You’ve invested in a new pellet-fueled grill because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of consistently grilling the best ribs and brisket in the universe. Oh baby! But you know just how critical it is to choose the right pellets, because, after all that’s BOTH your heat and your flavor. Here are three essential factors in choosing what’s best for you.

1: Use only hardwood

CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix
BBQ grilling pellets like these are 100% sourced from hardwoods.CookinPellets

Pellets are formulated out of compacted sawdust. For grilling, the source of the sawdust is critical to providing a uniform heat with a minimum of ash. Grilling pellets should be 100% hardwood and preferably from the actual wood of the flavor being advertised. Avoid cheaper pellets that might contain byproducts picked up in the sawdust.

2: Avoid additives

Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets
Check the labels to ensure the lack of additives and a food-grade product.Pit Boss Grills

Pellets made of oak sawdust injected with mesquite flavor might work OK, but if you really want genuine mesquite, make sure the pellets are made of 100% mesquite sawdust. Avoid pellets flavored with oils or that have other binders or additives. The use of potentially toxic binders and other sawmill byproducts is an ongoing controversy for wood stove pellet manufacturers. You want to be sure your cooking pellets are food-grade and pure.

3: Look for Natural Flavor

Traeger Grills Signature Blend
Blended flavors like this one (oak, mesquite, pecan) pair well with beef.Traeger

Pairing your meat or vegetables with just the right wood flavor is how you elevate grilling into true art. Typical woods used include hickory, mesquite, pecan, cherry and apple, and often you can find blends of these (or create your own!).You can find recommended pairings online at many grilling websites and blogs.