Last Updated: May 19, 2023 @ 10:57 am.

What are the best wood pellets for smoker? We fired up the BBQ and tried out eight top brands of wood pellets with steak, fish, chicken and more. Which had the best aroma? Flavor infusion? Here are the best bets.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don't take freebies for money from the brands we review—that keeps our work independent! Our reviews are 100% reader-supported, so we thank you for reading this article.

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Best Budget-Friendly

Sweet + smoky flavor
Excellent mix of hardwoods (maple, cherry, oak, hickory) at a price that is easy on the wallet. No added fillers or additives. Balanced flavor and pleasant aroma.

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Best Budget-Friendly: Bear Mountain BBQ FK99 All-Natural Hardwood Smoky Gourmet Blend BBQ Smoker Pellets

Pellet smoker grills are excellent at BBQ ribs and chicken and even cold smoking foods like cheese. But once you get that pellet smoker, what kind of pellets should you buy to go in it? We tried out several top brands of wood pellets in a smoker tube on our grill before picking these favorites.

One thing we quickly realized is how expense pellets can get—they can really add up! It can take 15 pounds to slow cook a brisket.

Good news: we found a brand of wood pellets that provided excellent smoke flavor . . . but at a price that is easier on the wallet: Bear Mountain’s BBQ All Natural Hardwood Smoky Gourmet Blend BBQ Smoker Pellets. Yes, that’s a mouthful!

Here’s why we chose them:

What We Liked

• Great aroma.

• Balanced flavor.

• No flavorings, fillers or additives.

• Mix of 100% natural hardwoods: hickory, maple, cherry oak.

What Needs Work

• Dust? The bag we tried was all pellets, but we see occasional reports online that some bags contained sawdust (or ground up pellets). We don’t think this is a widespread issue, however.

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Best Sweet + Smokey Blend

Sustainably sourced
We loved the flavor these pellets imparted to BBQ ribs and chicken. Blend of hickory, maple and cherry. Nice aroma. Made in the USA, but a bit pricey.

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Best Sweet + Smokey Blend: Traeger Grills PEL331 Signature Blend

Traeger lays claim to having invented the modern pellet smoker back in the 80’s, after its founder adapted a pellet stove for BBQ. As the market leader, it was no surprise to us that their companion wood pellet blends were excellent performers in our BBQ test. Here’s more:

What We Liked

 All natural hardwood.

• Great flavor.

• Blend covers all the bases, from chicken to fish, beef to pork.

• Hickory, maple and cherry.

• Sustainably sourced.

• Made in the USA.

What Needs Work


• Not ideal if you want an specific species like hickory. Some folks want a more aromatic blend of pellets (say, just hickory)—this blend is more on the mild side. On the plus side, that makes it more flexible.

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Best Variety Pack

100% wood from the USA
Want to cold smoke cheddar? Or try out some apple-smoked salmon? This variety pack is a good bet, with six strong flavors. Great for the novice BBQ-er!

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Best Variety Pack: BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets

If you are new to smokers, a good place to start is with a variety pack. We tried out a handful of these before deciding BBQr’s Delight pack is the best bet. It performed best in our tests, enabling a sampling of different smoke flavor profiles.

What We Liked

• Six 1 pound bags: apple, mesquite, hickory, pecan, cherry and a whiskey infused version.

• All made in the USA.

• Strong flavors.

• Best for smoker tubes. These tubes hold a smaller amount of pellets and provide smoke for a regular BBQ grill.

• Excellent for cold smoking items like cheese. 

What Needs Work

• Not enough wood to cook much meat. If you are smoking an entire brisket low and slow, you might need 12 pounds of pellets for 12 hours of cooking. This variety pack won’t do the trick.

• Not ideal for smoker pellet grills. Again, these require more pellets than just a pound!

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Best Hickory

Made in the USA
Instead of a blend of different hardwoods, this 20 lb. wood pellet pack is just hickory. That's great for more flavor punch and stronger aroma—excellent for veggies, chicken or steak.

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Best Hickory: Traeger PL319 Hickory

If you prefer a stronger, smokier taste, we’d recommend this hickory-only bag of wood pellets from Traeger. Same pros and cons as the Traeger blend we recommend above, but just one type of wood.

Hickory is probably the most popular single-species wood for BBQ pellets—it’s excellent for meat and chicken. And great for cold smoking cheese.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability. When we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money. 

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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