Using Pellets in an Electric Smoker: The Complete Guide

If you’re looking for a new grill, then an electric smoker is always a good choice. They’re convenient to use, operate quickly and they aren’t overly complicated. There is just one problem though – is it actually possible to use pellets in an electric smoker? Don’t panic if you’re new to grilling and have this question – it’s a common concern.

If you want a really short answer, then yes – it’s absolutely okay to use pellets in an electric smoker most of the time. It’s even a fantastic choice of wood to use since it will give you a delicious smoky taste that anyone is sure to enjoy.

You may also be questioning the reasons as to why a person would prefer pellets instead of wood chips. This is also a great question!

We will be answering it, alongside the best ways to use them in electric smokers and what brands out there are not going to work with pellets. With that being said, here’s everything that you need to know! 

Wood Chips and Pellets – The Main Differences

There are two key choices for electric smokers on the market – pellets and wood chips. As far as smoking tools go, they’re both pretty fantastic. From both of these kinds of tools, you will get a delicious smoky flavor.

Neither of them cost a whole lot of money to buy either which is always a welcome bonus. Of course, there are some key differences between the two of them and these are things that any novice grill chef has to know.

What To Know About Pellets

A pellet consists of hardwood, and then it is ground into sawdust. When this has been done, it’s tightly sealed into pellets shaped like cylinders and put into a container for selling.

They’re a good choice for cold and hot smoking alike. One particular advantage that comes with wood pellets is that they can burn at higher temperatures, and they tend to burn slowly so it’s much easier to control the temperature.

In addition to this, pellets can give a thick smoke that stays consistently, and the flavor is generally much stronger than what you would get from chips. Finally, you can get pellets in all sorts of different flavors, such as hickory, apple and bourbon oak – and so many more! 

Wood Chips

Much like pellets, wood chips consist of hardwood but they aren’t made in quite the same way. You will get smaller wood chips instead that are about an inch or so long. They’re a good choice for plenty of flavor that’s a little bit more bitter.

They burn at a significantly faster rate. They come in lots of flavors too, like hickory, mesquite, pecan, cherry and oak. Unfortunately though there are many wood chips that need to soak before you grill them if you want the smoke to last for a long time, and this can be a little inconvenient because it takes up more of your time.

Things to Know Before Putting Pellets in An Electric Smoker

You may be eager to put pellets in your electric smoker, but hold your horses. There are some things that you need to think about first.

You need to first know as much as you can about how smoking with pellets actually works. Not only that, but you are going to have to consider the smoker that you have and whether it will even be compatible with pellets. You need to think about the pellet brand, too.

Brand of Smoker

First of all, you’re going to need to think about the brand of the smoker. The vast majority of electric smokers will allow you to use pellets, but there are some out there that aren’t compatible. Here are two of them.

Masterbuilt Electric Smokers and Pellets

So can you use pellets with Masterbuilt smokers? Unfortunately, if you have an electric smoker from Masterbuilt, or one of their propane versions or a cold smoking attachment, it is best to just use wood chips instead.

Pellets aren’t supposed to be used in Masterbuilt smokers unless they are especially made for using pellets, i.e. pellet smokers.

There are people that have said that they have used pellets with these smokers though and they have said that it turned out well, advising people to give it a try at home.

This would be ignoring the advice from the brand, so make sure that you are just using a quarter of a cup of the pellets every four hours.

Pit Boss Smokers and Pellets

Unfortunately Pit Boss doesn’t actually recommend that you use pellets with their smokers, and they instead advise using one of their specially made pellet smokers for the job.

Of course, there are people that have used pellets in these smokers and have had no problem – just do so at your own risk.

Brand of Pellets

The next thing to consider is the pellet brand itself. Pellets can vary, and not all of them have the same quality. As such, you need to be careful about your selection since it can impact how well your food is going to cook and taste.

There are a wide variety of brands out there so you need to do your research in order to know that you are making the correct selection for you. There are also certain brands that veteran smoking fans will swear are the best thing ever.

For the most part, there are a few names that stand out when it comes to wood pellets. This includes Louisiana Grills, BBQers Delight, Traeger and CookinPellets.

You should always choose the pellets that sound the best to you though, and think about the flavors available so that you have something that’s going to work well for the food that you are going to grill.

A Few Quick Tips for Wood Pellets and Electric Smokers

Wait a moment before you start using pellets in your electric smoker! First of all there are a couple of things that you need to know. Here are just a few great tips to employ when you are using wood pellets in an electric smoker.

First of all, pellets should be used in a similar manner to how you would use your average wood chips in an electric smoker. Remember that the wood will catch fire at a very fast rate, so you need to ensure that you keep an eye on the grill. A lot of smoke will be generated too, so add pellets in gradually. 

If you want to get optimal results, it is recommended that you put the pellets inside some tinfoil, put a couple of holes in it and then put it in the smoker like that. This will help to control the amount of smoke generated. 

In case you were wondering, using pellets inside of a smoker that has been specifically designed not to hold pellets can void the warranty. Therefore, if you have a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, you will need to keep this in mind since the brand advises against using pellets in this smoker.

When you are not using the pellets, you should ensure that they are stored in a dry location. They can disintegrate if they get wet. Make sure that you are also using pellets that will work well with the specific meat that you are using.

This is what will give you the best results in terms of flavor. Use a smoke tube or a smoke maze instead of the smoker’s tray for the best possible results.