how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill

How to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill? (4 best kinds of wood to try)

Although wood pellets were designed for high-end pellet smokers and grills, many people now use them in gas or charcoal grills as well. Do you know how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill?

The best way to do this is by using either a hopper or a gravity-fed system. These hoppers feed your grill with wood pellets as it burns down, providing the perfect temperature and smoke. It’s easier than you think! Here’s how!

How to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill?

  • First, you’ll want to fill up the charcoal pan with your preferred type of wood pellets. You can find them in many different flavors, and they’re all good! I prefer applewood.
  • Next, you’ll want to light the pellets on fire. Be careful not to use too much lighter fluid as it will give off a sour taste and cause your food to taste burnt.
  • Once the pellets are lit on fire, place them in the chimney starter and wait 15 minutes for them to heat up.
  • After waiting for 15 minutes, you’ll need to remove the hot coals from the chimney starter and put them into your grill so they can be heated again by burning at a higher temperature. 
  • Place the briquettes where you would typically put charcoal. 
  • If you’re a first-time user and need to learn how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill, focus on this step. The best way to do this is to start using a small number of wood pellets in the center of your grill and work outward so that there’s an even distribution across the entire surface.
  • If you’re using a gas grill, set your cooking temperature high. With an electric grill, preheat it according to manufacturer instructions and then turn off one or two burners before putting the briquettes in place.
  • For this process, ensure adequate ventilation as well because if there isn’t enough airflow, your pellet may ignite instead of combusting. 

One final note: Once the pellets are extinguished, don’t reuse them. They should only be used once and then disposed of safely outside.

The Benefits of Cooking with Wood Pellets

how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill

Wood pellets are a great way to add flavor to any dish. 

The best thing about using wood pellets in a charcoal grill is that you can change the taste of your food with just one or two pieces of wood. But one must know how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill before experimenting with anything new. 

There are different flavors for various dishes, so you’ll find that you’re open to what dish you can make when cooking with wood pellets. 

Try grilling steak and chicken with hickory wood pellets, and you will taste the sweetness they provide while giving off that smoky char taste of a traditional grill.

how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill
  1. Wood pellet grills offer many benefits over traditional gas and charcoal grills. If there’s no electricity nearby, you won’t need to worry about it catching fire like a conventional barbecue because there’s no flame and heating element directly under the cooking surface. So you better learn how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill and speed up savings.
  2. You also don’t have to worry about blowing out an entire tank’s worth of propane because it runs on electricity or natural gas – meaning it doesn’t use up gas as other grills would. 
  3. Another benefit of using wood pellets instead of traditional fuel sources is that it saves money. Wood pellets are much cheaper than gas and charcoal, which means you’ll spend less money in the long run and enjoy more barbecues!

Read more about: how long do pellets last in a pit boss grill?

Best pellets to use inside charcoal grill

When using a charcoal grill, it is essential to use the correct type of pellets. Many different types of wood can be used on a grill. These woods can have an effect on the taste of the meat, so it is essential to know what type of wood you plan on using before starting your fire. Here is a list of some common types of wood and their flavors:

how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill
  1. Applewood – tart, fruity flavor
  2. Almond – sweet, nutty flavor
  3. Alder – mild, delicate flavor Walnut-earthy, rich tone
  4. A couple of good sources for these woods are hickory; apple; pecan; oak; mesquite.

For a mesquite flavor, you want to use mesquite wood pellets.

If you want a fruitier flavor, then cherry wood will work well for you.

The most popular type of wood for smoking meat is hickory. Oak and apple are also great options and has a more mild flavor than hickory. It’s also effortless to find oak pellets in stores. 

You can also mix different types of wood together, giving your food a fantastic depth of flavor that no other cooking method can offer.

While some say you should only smoke with real logs, this is only sometimes necessary. You don’t need any fuel source besides wood pellets if you have a smoker that runs on electricity or gas, like one from Camp Chef or Traeger.

The Right Way to Use Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

Wood pellets are an excellent way to cook food on a charcoal grill. However, there are right and wrong ways of using them.

If you want the best results, you must follow these steps.

1. You’ll need to set up your grill to allow you to cook with wood pellets. This means that the charcoal grate must be removed from the bottom of the grill and replaced with a cooking grate made of wood pellets.

The size of this cooking grate will depend on the type of pellets you use. For example, if you’re using Kingsford Original Briquettes, you would use the standard 18×18-inch cooking grate. 

On the other hand, if you were to use Kingsford Match Light Wood Pellets instead, then a 14×14-inch cooking grate would be necessary. The idea behind this is to make sure that whatever type of wood pellet smoker kit was purchased has adequate room for airflow

2. There’s no need to soak or prepare your wood pellets before they are used

3. Fill up your charcoal grill with unlit briquettes as usual. Now, sprinkle one layer of soaked wood pellets on top of the lit coals at one end of the grill. Ensure that your grill lid is closed

4. After five minutes have passed, add another layer of soaked wood pellets overtop and keep the lid closed for another five minutes. Now, open the lid and close it again after 10 seconds. Repeat this process until all the wood pellets are burned away

5. Place food on the opposite side of the grill from where you placed the un-lit briquettes earlier

how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill

6. Don’t worry about adding more fuel once everything is done cooking. When your grill reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the gas supply valve and wait 30 minutes.

7. Once you’ve waited 30 minutes, you can remove the ashtray from underneath your grill and scrape off any remaining ashes left over. Replace the ashtray and check that all burners are off before leaving it unattended.

8. It’s important to note that while some may think it doesn’t matter what kind of meat they put on their grill when using wood pellets, this isn’t true! 

The flavor varies depending on what type of meat you’re cooking, but how well each cut absorbs smoke varies.

How to Store Your Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are a reliable and convenient fuel source for your grill. But, like any fuel, they have a shelf life and must be stored correctly. 

Here are some tips on how you can store your wood pellets correctly:

  • Store them in a dry place at room temperature.
  • Refrain from stacking them. Keep them in a storage container that has an airtight lid.
  • Be sure the container is labeled with the date they were purchased.
  • Throw away any wood pellets that are over six months old. The pellets will still burn but might give off different flavors or leave ashes behind that could get into the meat.
  • Make sure to only store the amount of wood pellets you know you’ll use within a few months, and ensure they’re stored properly, so they go smoothly before you use them!

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Grilling

Grilling has been around for centuries and continues to be a popular way of cooking. 

To get the best flavor, try this straightforward step-by-step guide:

how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill
  • Build your fire by starting with charcoal at the bottom of your grill. If you are using a gas grill, turn it on now. 
  • Place wood pellets on top of your charcoal or place them in a smoker box on your gas grill and close the lid. 
  • Allow 30 minutes for the smoke to infuse into your food.
  • Next, remove the grate from the center of the grill and replace it with a skillet so that you can cook both sides at once. Turn up one side of the grill to be about 4 inches higher than the other, and pour half of your marinade onto one side. 
  • Now, use tongs to flip pieces of meat over so they are lying on the slanted side. 
  • Pour the remaining half of your marinade on top and cover with foil. 
  • Repeat this process until all pieces have cooked through. 
  • Then, lay out each cooked piece flat across the unheated part of your grill, but leave some space between each piece so they will cool more quickly. 
  • It’s important not to stack these pieces because if you do, they will not stay hot enough long enough to allow their juices to soak back into the meat’s fibers. 

Continue turning every few minutes until finished; then serve immediately.

Can you add pellets to a non-pellet grill?

It’s easy for someone who has never used wood pellets before to get the wrong idea about how they work. The truth is, yes, you can use them in a non-pellet grill. But before anything else, learn how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill to avoid hazards. 

You need to know a few things to ensure that they will work well with your grill. 

You’ll want to find out what kind of heat distribution the grill has and whether or not it will allow for indirect cooking by turning off one-half of the grill’s burners. 

  • Most grills have one side that is more direct than the other, so if this is true for yours, you may want to turn off the side with more direct heat. 
  • The next thing to do is to figure out how long it takes for your grill grate to reach optimum temperature. It will help you know when it’s time to add your wood pellets so that they don’t ignite too early and create an uneven sear on your food. 
  • If you’re using a pellet grill, wait until the fire from the pellets dies down a little before adding them because it will take longer to heat up. 
  • You should also be aware that different pellets produce different flavor profiles that may not go well with certain foods; experiment with different types to find out which ones taste best with your dishes.

The chemistry behind mixing charcoal and wood pellets

1. You will need a charcoal chimney, wood pellets, and a grill. 

2. Pour the wood pellets into the bottom of the grill and light them up with a match or lighter. 

3. Wait for all the smoke to go away before you place the coals on top of the lit pellets. 

4. Place one coal on each side of the grill so they will be evenly distributed over both sides 

5. Make sure that there is an empty space in between both coals, so they don’t burn together 

6. Wait for 15-20 minutes before cooking any food. Lastly, take it easy and enjoy yourself! 

The Bottom Line

If you know how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill safely, you’re a champion. This way, you can save a lot meanwhile adding the perfect smoky flavors to your grilled food. 

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