Using Pellets In A Charcoal Grill: How To Do It Right

Pellets are efficient fuel sources since they are made from recyclable materials. So, can you use pellets in a charcoal grill? We have the answers.

Can you burn pellets on a charcoal grill?

It is possible to use pellets in a charcoal grill because they are more compatible and have other benefits in terms of affordability and practicality. Additionally, they improve the flavor of the meat you are grilling. You can also mix wood pellets with charcoal to enhance the smoky flavor.

Typically, the primary purpose of creating wood pellets was to use them as fuel for pellet barbecues. The wood pellets are produced from recyclable and biomass materials such as sawdust and other wood products that are regarded as wastes. 

With high temperatures, these materials are combined to form high-quality and compact pellets.

Even though wood pellets are ideal for charcoal grills, there are two primary varieties of pellets; heating and grilling.

Ideally, heating pellets are manufactured from biomass materials combined with other chemical elements that help increase their heating characteristics. 

This is why it is not advisable to use heating pellets for grilling because they release the chemicals that the meat will absorb when it burns. It can lead to food poisoning and other related conditions. Therefore, when buying wood pellets, ensure that they are grilling pellets.

Burning Pellets In A Charcoal Grill

For fuel to be used in a charcoal grill, it has to offer particular results for the meat to cook effectively. 

One of the characteristics of a grilling fuel is that it should provide enough heat output and produce harmless smoke. 

Additionally, it should be easy to access and affordable as well. When it comes to a wood pellet, it is both affordable and produces efficient heat while grilling. 

Therefore, it is possible to use it on a charcoal grill as long as the correct quantity and type of pellet are used. Other characteristics that make pellets suitable for use in a charcoal grill include the following:

Provides a Smoky and Fruity Flavor

Typically, the purpose of grilling meat is to cook it and ensure that it gets a flavor profile. Even though charcoal provides a smoky flavor to the meat, it does not offer other flavor profiles that you need. 

The benefit of using wood pellets is that they will provide your meat with the various flavors and smoke required because pellets are a byproduct made from different woods. 

The following are examples of wood used in the manufacture of pellets and the ideal meat to grill to acquire a good flavor:

  • Hickory:  hickory pellets are among the commonly used sources of fuel used in small quantities. Mixing it with other kinds of pellets is advisable because it can leave a strong after-taste in the meat. The hickory pellets are suitable for enhancing flavor in beef and mutton meat.
  • Maple pellets: most individuals like using maple pellets because of their sweet flavor. Due to this flavor, it is suitable for birds such as turkeys, geese, and chickens. Additionally, it is also advisable to use some pieces of charcoal or wood chips.
  • Cherry pellets: cherry pellets provide a moderate flavor suitable for meat such as pork and beef. However, cherry pellets are not ideal for grilling sea meat because they might leave a reddish stain.
  • Applewood pellets: Applewood pellets are an excellent choice for grilling chicken and pork meat because of their sweet and fruity flavor. However, it is unsuitable for beef, mutton, and goat meat because they don’t require a sweet taste.

Produces less Ash Residue

Unlike charcoal which requires frequently removing the excess ashes while grilling, pellets will produce fewer ashes that will be easy to clean.

Typically, the ash produced interferes with the ability of the charcoal to produce efficient heat and will also take much space if you do not remove it after grilling. 

Therefore, utilizing pellets will ensure that you do not waste your time removing ashes and that there is heat efficiency.

Pellets are Environmentally Friendly

Even though charcoal offers meat a smoky flavor, it may be in excess because of the heavy and dark smoke it produces. 

Also, charcoal is made by cutting down and burning trees which is not environmentally friendly.

But, pellets are manufactured from wood products such as sawdust and wood waste, making them environmentally friendly. Keep in mind that some of the pellets are made of chemical elements, and confirming the pellets before using or buying them is advisable.

How to use Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

Use the Chimney Starters

In this step, you will need some charcoal pieces to light up the grill. 

Take the pieces of charcoal and put them in the chimney starter, and then light them up using a matchbox. Alternatively, you can also use other flammable liquids to light up the grill, but be careful because the charcoal may produce flames that can cause injuries. 

Another ideal way is to put papers below the area where the chimney starter is and then light it up.

Add the Pellets to the Charcoal Grill

Once the charcoal is hot and ready, you can set up 2 areas in the grill if you want some meat before grilling. Then, you should add the pellets to the burning coal to ensure they light up. 

The amount of pellets to put into the charcoal grill will depend on the quantity of meat you are planning to grill and the period you intend to use the grill.

Alternatively, you can place the pellets in aluminum foil if you don’t like the idea of burning the pellets directly on the charcoal.

You will need to place the pellets on the aluminum foil and then make a little space to allow the smoke to escape. 

Place the aluminum foil on top of the hot charcoal to heat up. This method is suitable for people who want to use the pellets for flavor improvement rather than grilling.

Smoke and Grill the Meat

The primary purpose of smoking is to dry it and improve its flavor. After that place, they meet in the other section for grilling. 

One of the most significant advantages of using a pellet is that it retains its heat efficiently, and there will be no need to add other pellets. Additionally, the smoke helps to fuel the fire for an extended period.

Factors to Consider before using Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

The Quality of the Pellets

The market has got different kinds of pellets to offer to you. This means that every pellet is of varying quality. Therefore, before buying pellets, thoroughly research the best pellets provided in the market.

 Additionally, be cautious about the ingredients or materials used to make the pellets because some contain hazardous chemical compounds that make them unfit for grilling.

Ideally, when looking for high-quality pellets, they should feature a soft and shiny surface that is not cracked. This is because cracked pellets indicate that the company involved did not put the materials used to manufacture them in the right proportion.

Type of Pellets

If you are using pellets for flavor, consider using the right type for your needs and preferences. 

For instance, if you are thinking of grilling chicken or pork meat, it is advisable to use pellets with fruity woods such as maple, apple, and pecan, among other trees.

If you want an all-rounded flavor to your meat, you can buy and combine different pellets.


The price is also crucial before buying pellets because you will be required to buy pellets at a given price according to your budget.

However, it is advisable to avoid purchasing cheap pellets because the chances of being of low quality are high. Go for reasonably priced pellets to avoid the risks of getting non-legitimate pellets.

The Purpose

Before you buy the pellets, check the function or the purpose you want to use the pellets for. If you buy them for smoking, the quantity will differ from an individual purchasing them for grilling.

Additionally, if you buy pellets from smoking your meat, you can also consider buying other equipment, such as a tube smoker. 

When using the tube smoker, you must fill the pellets in the tube tightly and then pacing the tube on top of the charcoal fire. This will offer your barbecue grilling an incredible experience.

Storage Method

The storage method is also essential because some of the pellets, such as the oak wood pellets, are water resistant while others are not.

Therefore, when you buy pellets that are not water resistant, you will be required to store them in a dry place away from any source of water or moisture. Even though there are water-resistant pellets, it is also advisable to put them in a dry place to make them perform effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • It is possible to use pellets in a charcoal grill
  • There are different types of pellets offered in the market
  • Pellets are known to enhance the flavor of meat on the grill
  • It is advisable to mix pellets with some pieces of charcoal for heat efficiency
  • There are various methods you can use pellets in the charcoal grill

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