Best Ways To Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill

There’s not a lot you can’t do with a trusty charcoal grill.

When it comes to grilling and smoking, simply adding wood chips or chunks can go a long way for that added delectable smokey flavor we all love, and frankly, are addicted to.

But you don’t hear much about using wood pellets in a charcoal grill. You would think since they are actually engineered to produce a beautiful clean smoke then they would go great in a charcoal grill, right?

Absolutely. Here’s whether you can use wood pellets in a charcoal grill, the best ways to use them, and which ones to use to get the most smoke flavor. 

Can You Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill?

When choosing to smoke wood on your charcoal grill, the usual picks are wood chips or wood chunks. They’re consistent, provide real smoke, and give you control over just how much smokiness you really want.

But, have you heard of using wood pellets in a charcoal grill?

Although wood pellets are very different from wood chips, the principles remain the same. That is, you can add as much or as little wood to your charcoal to reach your desired smokiness.

If you’re using the snake method as your charcoal arrangement, you can even delay the smoke just as you would if you’re using chunks or chips too.

Sure, there are a few differences in the approach you should take in how to get the best out of them, but you absolutely can use wood pellets in a charcoal grill, to great success I might add. 

How To Use Wood Pellets In A Charcoal Grill

Just like you would use wood chips on a charcoal grill, you can use wood pellets. Just be aware that wood pellets burn much more easily and quickly than wood chips, especially when used directly over hot charcoal.

This is because wood pellets are actually condensed sawdust, which naturally catches on fire a lot more easily.

To account for this, adjust how many wood pellets you are adding, and where you place them to optimize the amount of smoke you’re going to get, without risking wacky temperature swings.

Here are the top three ways you can use wood pellets in your charcoal grill.

Directly On The Coal

Putting a handful of wood pellets directly over the charcoal certainly does work, but it doesn’t tend to get better results than wood chips or chunks. The pellets simply burn too quickly, and don’t get a chance to produce a slow, steady, delicious smoke.

However, to get the best out of this method, make sure you:

  • Do not soak your wood pellets. Although you can soak your wood chips if you want to add some unique flavor, soaking wood pellets will cause them to literally fall apart and disintegrate as the binder loosens the sawdust. 
  • Make sure your charcoal is adequately lit before you add any kind of wood, regardless of whether you are using the snake method or normal pyramid arrangement. Use a charcoal chimney starter to make it easy.
  • You only need a single layer of wood pellets. The more congested they are the more likely they will completely go up in flames. You want it to gradually burn, releasing it’s clean smoke. 
  • You can always add more, but you can’t take some away. Start off with a small amount to get a feel for how much smoke is produced. Gradually add more until you’ve found your sweet spot.

Use A Pellet Smoker Tube

A pellet smoker tube is a special device that allows you to slowly release smoke to circulate throughout your smoker. I’ve even used these bad boys to get more smoke flavor out of my Traeger.

The design is simple, fill with your favorite type of wood pellets, ignite at one end and enjoy hours of constant, gradual smoke. You can place this down next to your charcoal, or even on the side of the grill grates. 

I’ve used the LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker and highly rate it, for use in a charcoal grill, gas grill, and even a pellet grill.

Use A Classic Smoker Box

If you prefer a reliable option that’s super simple, convenient, and easy to clean, then you could simply pick up a smoker box.

Typically a smoker box is used with wood chips, but adding wood pellets works perfectly fine too. 

It’s best not to fill up the entire smoker box, but adding two layers of wood pellets, igniting them, and setting the box aside on the grill grates above the charcoal does wonders.

You can’t look past the trust Weber Universal Steel Smoker Box for quality at an affordable price. Works great on gas grills too!

Which Wood Pellets Are Best In a Charcoal Grill?

If you prefer a reliable option that’s super simple, convenient, and easy to clean, then you could simply pick up a smoker box.

Typically a smoker box is used with wood chips, but adding wood pellets works perfectly fine too. 

It’s best not to fill up the entire smoker box, but adding two layers of wood pellets, igniting them, and setting the box aside on the grill grates above the charcoal does wonders.

You can’t look past the trust Weber Universal Steel Smoker Box for quality at an affordable price. Works great on gas grills too!

Wrap Up

Although some prefer using wood chips or wood chunks, there is a place for wood pellets in the world of smoking.

Although they are designed for, and do best in pellet grills or pellet smokers, you can use them in your charcoal grill for that distinct smoky flavor we always chase in classic traditional barbecue.

The most reliable method is certainly using a pellet tube smoker, but if you’ve got a smoker box you can try that too. If you don’t have any of the equipment, you can still sprinkle a few wood pellets over your charcoal while it cooks to release a bit of that delicious savory smokieness.

Just remember, it doesn’t work both ways. You can add wood pellets to a charcoal grill but you can’t add charcoal to a pellet grill!

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