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Can you use pellets in an electric smoker? [the REAL answer]

So, you are the proud owner of an electric smoker and keen to get cooking. But, of course, you need something to give it that wonderful smoky taste, and a thought crosses your mind, can you use pellets in an electric smoker? 

This is a question that we get asked a lot by people that have bought an electric smoker. So you are not alone if you are wondering if you can use pellets in an electric smoker. Maybe you have some pellets lying around at home, or maybe you are online and not sure what type of wood to order for your electric smoker. 

Well, we are here to help! If you are looking for electric smoker pellets we will point you in the right direction of what you should be buying so that you can have perfect smoked meat or fish at home.

Can pellets be used in an electric smoker?

It is possible to use pellets in an electric smoker, but most manufacturers recommend against it. You should ideally be using wood chips instead of pellets as they will provide the best level of heat and smoke for your electric smoker. 

It may void your warranty to use wood pellets in an electric smoker so this is something that you may wish to consider before trying pellets.

Having said this, many people have successfully used wood pellets in their electric smoker and it is unlikely to do any damage to your smoker.

If you are wondering can I use wood pellets in my electric smoker? Then the answer is “Yes, but”. Yes, but it isn’t recommended. If you have a few pellets lying around at home and no alternative then, sure, go ahead and give it a try.

If you do try it we suggest that you don’t use too many at one time. You will still get a nice smoky flavor using wood pellets, but if you are looking to buy wood to go in your electric smoker, go for wood chips.

What is the difference between wood chips and wood pellets?

What are wood chips for smoking?

It is usually recommended to use wood chips in an electric smoker. These are exactly as the name suggests, chips of wood. Each one is a couple of inches long but they are not uniform in shape or size as they have been chipped from a larger piece of wood. 

They are quite reasonably priced and are great for producing the smokey flavor that we are all after. They will burn for longer and cooler than wood pellets and will provide a smokier taste.

This is why they are the best choice for an electric smoker since these cook at a lower temperature for longer than charcoal or gas alternatives. Wood chips give a nice consistent level of smoke and heat for a longer period. 

Wood chips come in a variety of flavors so that you can give your food an even better taste. Things like hickory, maple, apple, and oak are available and each will give a distinctive taste to your food. 

Buy Wood Chips Here

What are wood pellets for smoking?

Wood pellets are generally produced to be used with a pellet grill. They are made from compressed sawdust that has been squeezed into a pellet shape. Pellet grills have control panels that allow you to maintain a steady temperature while your food is cooking. 

To do this a pellet grill has an auger slowly feeds the pellets onto an electric heating element which sets the pellets on fire. The pellets then provide both the heat and smoke that you need. The auger controls the rate at which the pellets are fed into the element so that the pellet smoker stays at the desired temperature. 

It is worth noting that most pellet grills have to be used with pellets made by the same manufacturer as your grill. This is because they have to be the correct size so that they don’t get caught up in the auger or hopper, or get jammed anywhere.

This is a bit of a pain so it is worth checking the cost of compatible pellets if you are buying a pellet grill. There are some non-branded ones but be sure to check they are the correct size because a pellet jam could make a mess of your grill. 

Wood chips or pellets for electric smoker? Which is best?

Wood chips are better than wood pellets if you are using an electric smoker. This is because they burn for longer and at a lower temperature. This will give your food a wonderful smokey flavor. So if you are trying to choose between wood chips or pellets for an electric smoker then we go for wood chips every time. 

Comparing wood pellets vs wood chips is an easy decision if you have an electric smoker since your smoker is designed to be used with wood chips and not pellets. 

Can you use pellets instead of wood chips in an electric smoker?

You can use pellets instead of wood chips in an electric smoker but it is not the ideal thing to use. They burn too quickly and too hot to work perfectly in an electric smoker. But, if it’s all you have you can use them. 

If you do want to use wood pellets in an electric smoker be sure to do so sparingly. Don’t fill up the whole grill, just put in a small handful and you should be fine. Keep an eye on it and top up when you need to. 

Can I use wood pellets in my Masterbuilt electric smoker?

You can use wood pellets in a Masterbuilt electric smoker. The manual advises that you should only use wood chips and it may void your warranty if you use wood pellets, but they will work if you do. 

So it is up to you whether you want to give it a try or not. If you do you should only use a few pellets as they will likely flame if there are too many. 15 to 20 pellets will cause way too much smoke for the first 15 minutes and you may even find that you have to open the door.

If you are using pellets we recommend just using about 5-7 pellets but you will have to refill fairly often, around every quarter of an hour. 

You might be wondering why can’t you use pellets in a Masterbuilt smoker? The reason is that the manufacturer advises against it and you will void your warranty if you do. For this reason, you cannot buy Masterbuilt electric smoker pellets.  It is unlikely to do any harm if you just use a few pellets as we have recommended. 

Can you use pellets in a Pit Boss electric smoker?

You can use pellets in a Pit Boss electric smoker. As with most manufacturers of electric smokers, Pit Boss does not recommend that pellets are used in its electric smokers. If you have the choice then you should use wood chips. If you have no alternative the pellets will work but only use a few. 

What can I use instead of wood pellets?

If you are wondering what to use instead of wood pellets then we recommend using wood chips in an electric smoker. These provide the right amount of smoke for a longer period than wood pellets do. You can get them in various flavors like hickory, oak, and maple.

Rather than buying pellets for an electric smoker we recommend that you buy wood chips to give the best smoke flavor. You might like to check out our post on the best wood for smoking turkey

Do you soak wood pellets before smoking?

You should not soak wood pellets before smoking. Wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust, so soaking them will just cause the sawdust to expand and fall apart. This will ruin your smoke and runs the risk of damaging your smoker too. 

When pellets are manufactured all of the moisture is removed so that the sawdust can be squeezed as tightly together as possible. This means that they can all be the same size and burn consistently. If you soak them they will swell and fall apart and generally make a mess. They then won’t burn as well as they should or they might not even burn at all. So in short do not soak wood pellets before you smoke food!!

Using Pellets in an Electric Smoker – Top Tips

So, as you have seen above, it is not really recommended to use pellets in an electric smoker. But, if they are all you have you might decide to give it a try. If so, here are a few tips on how to use wood pellets in an electric smoker. 

  1. Don’t fully load the wood chip tray with pellets. If you do it might flame and will definitely produce way too much smoke. 
  2. Use just a few pellets. We have found that using around 5-7 pellets gives the best result.
  3. Put the pellets in tin foil and poke a few holes in. The pellets will release a lot of smoke in just a few minutes so the tinfoil helps control this.  
  4. Make sure that you keep your pellets somewhere dry and don’t ever think about soaking them. 
  5. Be aware that many electric smoker manufacturers advise against using wood pellets, so you could well void your warranty.

Can you use pellets in an electric smoker – The Verdict

We hope that you have learned something reading this post and are no longer looking for electric smoker pellets. For the best results, you should be using wood chips in your electric smoker. Can you use wood pellets instead of wood chips? Sure, they’ll do the job but unless you have no other option just grab yourself some wood chips there is no such thing as electric smoker wood pellets.

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