An electric smoker is a fantastic tool that makes the smoking process quicker, easier, and way more convenient. Many people who are new to the world of electric smokers find themselves asking one very important question: can pellets be used in an electric smoker?
The answer is YES! For the most part pellets can be used in an electric smoker. In fact, it’s probably the best wood choice to ensure that thick, rich, deep, permeating smoke that every novice smoker seeks.
For those of you who are wondering why someone would want to use pellets over wood chips, how to use them in an electric smoker and which top brands aren’t pellet-compatible, keep reading because today’s article will be covering all of this & more.
Table of Contents
Pellets vs Wood Chips
When it comes to smoking food in an electric smoker the two main wood choices are wood chips and pellets. Both smoking tools are great, offer a naturally smoky flavor, and are relatively inexpensive to purchase. But there are a handful of differences between the two tools that any smoker worth the name needs to be aware of.
They are made from hardwood that has been ground extremely finely into a sawdust that is then packed and pressed into small cylindrical-shaped pellets. They are:
- Suitable for hot or cold smoking
- Able to burn at a much hotter temperature than wood chips
- Slow-burning so temperature control is easier with pellets than with wood chips
- Known to supply a thick, consistent smoke
- Known to produce a deep smoke flavor compared to wood chips
- Available in an assortment of flavor options such as bourbon oak, apple, and hickory
Wood chips are also made from hardwood but they lack the fine grind of pellets. Instead, the hardwood is shredded into small, evenly sized, wood chips that measure approximately an inch or two. Wood chips are:
- Extremely flavorful and produce a slightly bitter smoke
- Known to burn faster than pellets
- Sometimes in need of a soak to ensure a long smoke which takes extra time
- Available in various flavors including cherry, pecan, oak, mesquite, and hickory
Want to Use Pellets in Your Electric Smoker? Read This First
Before making the decision to use wood pellets over wood chips in your electric smoker you should educate yourself on the ins and outs of smoking with pellets. You’ll need to consider the brand of electric smoker you own or plan on purchasing as well as the brand behind the pellets themselves.
Electric Smoker Brand
The first section we’re going to cover is the brand behind the smoker. While many electric smoker manufacturers encourage the use of pellets in their models there are a few that do not. Namely the two below.
Can You Use Pellets in a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker?
Masterbuilt is one of the best bbq smokers producer. If you own a Masterbuilt Electric smoker, one of their propane smokers, or even their cold smoking attachments you’ll be advised to only use wood chunks and chips. Masterbuilt states that pellets are to be used exclusively in their pellet smokers. However, consumer comments sharing their wood pellet smoking experiences with Masterbuilt electric smokers are positive and advise other consumers to try this method of smoking out for themselves. Should you decide to ignore the brand’s advice and opt instead to listen to your fellow consumers, use a quarter cup of smoking pellets every four hours. Want to see what using pellets in a Masterbuild Electric Cold Smoker attachment looks like? Check out this video.
Can You Use Wood Pellets in a Pit Boss Electric Smoker?
Again, the manufacturer doesn’t specifically recommend this even though Pit Boss even has its own brand of Pit Boss Grills Wood Pellets that can be purchased in-store or online. But if you don’t want to use wood chips don’t worry as there are many who have successfully (and often) added wood pellets to their Pit Boss electric smokers and they & their foods have lived to tell the tale.
As is the case with all things in life, not all pellets are created equal and that will have a big impact on the success of your smoking journey. There are many different brands of wood pellets out there for you to pick from so you need to make sure that you’re picking the best of the best. That means well-known brands that smoking fans swear by in the same way they swear by their BBQ sauce recipe.
The best wood pellets available on the market right now include those produced by Traeger, CookinPellets, Louisianna Grills, and BBQrs Delight. Simply pick the wood pellets that appeal the most to you. Remember to keep in mind the different flavor options to make sure you pick the right one for the foods you plan on cooking.
Tips for Using Wood Pellets in an Electric Smoker
Before you go ahead and start smoking with pellets there are a couple of things you need to be mindful of. View this next section as a short but comprehensive guide to using these smoking tools in your electric smoker.
- You should use pellets as though they are normal wood chunks or wood chips
- This wood ignites very quickly so don’t leave the pellets unattended (cold smoking is recommended)
- Be mindful that they’re likely to impart a LOT of smoke in just a few minutes so add little bits at a time
- For best results, place your pellets in a tinfoil pack and poke a few holes in it for smoke control
- Remember that if the manufacturer of your electric smoker advises against the use of wood pellets then you’ll void your warranty
- Make sure you store them in a dry area as if wet they turn into mush that those in the smoking community call PelletCrepe
- As is the case with wood chips, pick those that compliment the meat you’re smoking otherwise you may not enjoy the end result and once you start smoking with pellets there’s no going back
- Many members of the smoking community advise against using your smoker’s tray and instead using a smoke tube or a smoke maze
As you can tell, using wood pellets in your electric smoker is easy to do and is quite similar to using regular wood chips. It’s entirely up to you to decide whether or not you want to enjoy your smoked meat by using these small smoking tools. At the end of the day, smoking is smoking and wood is wood & the results are almost always mouthwateringly delicious. Pick wood pellets, wood chips or wood chunks – it’s completely up to you and have fun!