Grilled meats are among the many things that most people all over the world enjoy, which is why most households own some type of grill. Charcoal grills are the most popular because of the fact that they are cheap and charcoal is readily available. However, a lot of people also ask: can you use wood pellets in a charcoal grill for fuel?
Traditionally, we cooked our meals by burning logs, which means that it is very challenging to control the flame. For that reason, more and more people switched to using charcoal, gas, and electricity. Yet, in recent years, there has been a rise in popularity among cooking devices that are fueled by wood pellets.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about wood pellets and how it can improve how you grill your meats. We will list down its many benefits as well as determine whether they can be used to fuel charcoal grills. But, before we can move on to more in-depth details, we must first define what pellets are.
What Are Wood Pellets, Exactly?
Wood pellets are made from the byproducts of wood and sawdust, which are compressed into quarter-inch cylindrical pellets using heat and binding agents. Today, they are mostly used as a fuel for grills and smokers. They offer a true, hardwood flavor to grilled meats.
If you wish to use a grill to cook your meats, then you should be aware of the different types available on the market. There are two:
- Heating Pellets. These are wood pellets used as fuel for home heaters. In any case, heating pellets should never be used for cooking because, chances are, they include construction materials such as paints.
- Barbecue Pellets. These are wood pellets that are specially made as fuel for pellet grills and smokers. They give meats an added wood fire flavor, which is pretty much the same as what you get from grilling meats using charcoal.
The Benefits of Using Wood Pellets
While it is believed that charcoal offers the best smoked flavor when it comes to grilling meats, there are also certain benefits to be derived from using wood pellets. Here are some of them of the advantages that you would get if you use wood pellets for grilling:
- Using wood pellets will provide you with the same smokey flavor that you would from charcoal. Yet, compared to charcoal, you won’t need to get your hands all dirty.
- Wood pellets burn evenly and do not produce too much ash. This means that it helps reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning your grill.
- Wood pellets are an environment-friendly source of energy. By using wood pellets when grilling, you will not be emitting any sort of petrochemicals.
- Compared to other forms of fuel, such as natural gas and fossil oil, wood pellets are believed to transform about 90% of its contained energy into usable heat.
- As what we have mentioned earlier, wood pellets are made from renewable materials, making it the preferred fuel source of many.
- They come in various types where each one produces a distinct wood flavor such as cherry, hickory, maple, oak, apple, pecan, alder, and mesquite.
Can You Use Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill?
If you want a straightforward answer, then, yes, you can—as long as you know where to buy some that are of good quality. Also, as we said earlier, you should make sure that the wood pellet you intend to use is designed for grilling.
If you are certain you want to use it with your charcoal grill, you can do so by mixing it with your charcoal. Here is how you can do it:
- Start up your charcoal grill as you normally would by igniting a good amount of charcoal.
- Once the charcoal is hot enough and is already covered with a layer of white ash, you can now place a handful of wood pellets under the rock grate.
- Wait for them wood pellets to ignite before you start grilling.
- Keep the lid cover closed to retain the smoke coming from the wood pellets. This smoke will add a delightful flavor to your meat.
Alternatively, you can also use wood pellets alone without the charcoal. However, they tend to burn too quickly, so some people use a smoker box or add foil. A one-third cup of wood pellets should be able to provide you with about half an hour of smoke.
Yet another method you can practice is by using a pellet tube smoker. This small device acts as a container for wood pellets, allowing you to mix it in with your charcoal. As a result, you get an ample amount of smoke that will add flavor to your meats. They are a pretty cheap alternative too, so you might want to check them out.
While wood pellets can be used as fuel in a charcoal grill, it is advisable to mix it in with charcoal to achieve the best results in terms of flavor. After all, charcoal grills are not designed for wood pellets in the same way that wood pellets are not really made for charcoal grills.
Then again, you can also invest in a pellet tube smoker for a more even cooking. Most pellet tube smokers are compatible with almost any kind of grill. Investing in one would mean that you get to enjoy the benefits of having two BBQ equipment—a grill and a smoker.
Despite its many benefits when it comes to cooking and home heating, wood pellets are still not as popular a source of fuel as charcoal, gas, and fossil oils. That being said, it can be quite challenging to locate a store that sells good quality ones. Nevertheless, it would still be a good investment especially if you wish to show your concern for the environment.
Taking everything into account, we can conclude that using wood pellets for grilling is a good way to add some taste distinction when grilling meats. This is especially important if you plan on grilling different kinds of meats at the same time.