Can You Use Pellets in An Electric Smoker? – What Will Happen if You Do

If you own an electric smoker, you’re probably familiar with the use of wood chips. Wood chips are what causes the smoker and is what gives the meat its delicious smoky flavor. Wood pellets, which are mainly used in pellet smokers, are slightly different to wood chips, but are also what causes the smoke. So, What do you have an electric smoker, and you’ve somehow ended up with pellet? Can Pellets be used in an Electric Smoker?

Can I use Pellets Instead of Wood chips in My Electric Smoker?

Pellets can easily be used in an electric smoker, if the allowed be the manufacturer. In fact, they often work just as well as wood chips, as they both add the same amount of flavor to the meat. They are both built and designed for generating smoker of a specific flavor, when heated up.

To use pellets instead of wood chips, simply put them in the same tray as you would normally put the wood chips.

When Not to use pellets in an Electric Smoker

In some cases, the manufacturer of the product advices against using wood pellets. If you use wood pellets anyway and your smoker breaks, the warranty won’t apply. In the case that pellets are prohibited, do not use pellets in your electric smoker, and stick to wood chips instead.

The reason some brands don’t like pellets is because they need a high temperature before they work, which can cause damage on the metal.

Wood chips need a very low temperature, and will begin to smoker almost immediatly.

Can you Also use Wood Pellets in Other types of Smokers?

The answer is yes, pellets works for pellet smokers as well as all non-pellet smokers such as charcoal smokers, gas smokers, electric smokers and so on.

Pellets or Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker – Which is Better?

If you’ve used your electric smoker yet, you’re probably familiar with using wood chips. Although wood chips are considered the “standard” when talking about electric smokers, pellets will work just as well.

The main difference is really in how you should go about using either one of them; both will add a nice flavor to the food. Here are some of the main differences.

Wood PelletsWood Chips
Pellets will burn hotter than wood chips. They will create a spike of heat and smoke, which is not what you want.Heat and smoke will come more evenly without boosting the temperature too much.
Use very few pellets at a time. Too many can be dangerous or ruin the meat.You won’t have to add in wood chips as often as with wood pellets. Wood pellets are meant to automatically be dispensed by a pellet smoker. A pellet smoker will automatically keep in the correct amount of pellets.
Creates less ash than wood chips.Wood chips are cheaper than pellets.
Needs a higher temperature before they begin to burn.Smoke and heat will come more easily at a low temperature (can depend on the pellet types)
Main Pellet and Wood Chip Differences

The best option is no doubt to use wood chips and keep the pellets for a pellet smoker. If you want to use pellets anyway, it can still work fine and give you much the same results.

Also Read: Pellet Smokers vs Electric Smokers

Is There a Difference in Flavor?

Both pellets and wood chips will add the same amount of flavor and smokiness to the meat. There really isn’t much of a difference in flavor between the two.

The only thing that can go wrong with the flavor is if you add too many pellets, which I did when I first used pellets in my electric smoker. Too many pellets will result in too much smoke, and basically ruin the flavor of the meat.

Best Pellets for Electric Smoker

The best pellets for an electric smoker are those that smolders at the lowest temperature.

As mentioned, the high temperate often needed for pellets to smoke is the reason some brands like master built prohibits the use of pellets in their non-pellet smokers.

Pellets that smolders with little heat are best for your smoker, and it will also help you keep the temperature and smoke flow at a constant rate.

How to use Wood Pellets in an Electric Smoker?

It is very simple to use wood pellets in an electric smoker. If you’re familiar with using wood chips, the process is pretty much identical. Really, the main difference is that you’ll have to refill pellets more often, and use way less pellets than you may think you need.

Here are some things to consider when using pellets.

Tips for Using Wood Pellets in electric smoker

  • Cold smoking is the best option. Cold smoking means that you’re only smoking the meat and adding flavor, but not cooking it (cooking that much). For this you need pellets the will smoke at a low temperature.
  • Keep the pellet amount low, so there won’t be too much of a heat spike and too much smoke.
  • Spread them as evenly as possible on the wood tray.
  • Keep an eye on the smoker as pellets ignite can ignite “aggressively” when at a high enough temperature.

How many Pellets Should you use?

The amount of pellets will depend on the size of you’re wood tray. I have generally found that a small handful works fine. This way they won’t the temperature will be stable, and there will still be enough smoke.

This also varies depending on the brand, size and density of the pellets you’re using. If you’re using big, dense pellets, around 5 should be good. It doesn’t sound like a lot but remember, the pellets are densely packed sawdust and has a lot of energy stored in it.

Check the Product details for the pellets, to help determine how many to use.

You can’t add to many, as the temperature will spike. Too much smoke will also come out at once. The best option is too keep the amount of pellets low, an adding on as needed. This is of course also depended on how long you’re planning on smoking for.

How Often Will you Need to Refill?

This depends on the temperature you smoking at, and the electric smoker you’re using. A general rule I follow is that around burn per hour. Take this with a grain of salt however.

They should burn out the same for an electric smoker as a pellet smoker, so check the product details on the pellets you’re buying.

But, if you just check every one or two hours it should all be fine.

Do you Soak Pellets Before Smoking?

Do not soak pellets, as some would do when using wood chips. Pellets are compress saw dust and will usually just disintegrate when soaked.

How to use Wood Pellets on Other Types of Grills

Smokers pretty much all have some sort of wood tray. If you’re using a normal grill as a smoker, or a smoker without a designated wood tray, you can also use pellets. Here are methods.

Sprinkle the wood pellets on charcoal

This can be done on a charcoal grill, simply sprinkle the wood pellets around on the hot charcoal.

Smoker box

Put the wood pellets in a smoker box. A smoker box is basically a small box that can be used on any type of grill. The smoker box contains the pellets or wood chips, and will emanate smoke. Read our guide on using a smoker box.

The Verdict

Using pellets in an electric smoker instead of wood chips is definitely possible, and can in my experience create more or less the same results.

The secret is too have low amount of pellets, so the meat doesn’t get over-smoked, and so the temperature stays constant.

Also, electric smokers are not really designed for pellets. If you do decide to use them instead of wood chips, constantly keep an eye on the smoker to make sure that a fire doesn’t ignite, the smoker doesn’t overheat or that too much smoke emits.

Hope you found this article helpful!

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