Do pellet smokers give good smoke flavor? Ease vs smokiness

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 5, 2021
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Pellet grills are outdoor grills that use hardwood pellets as their fuel. They are becoming the latest trend in home grilling.

But no matter how trendy these grills may be, for most people, the bottom line will be the flavor.

If you’re wondering if pellet smokers give good smoke flavor, there’s some back and forth on the matter.

Do pellet smokers give good smoke flavor

Pellet grills produce a lighter flavor profile than most other types of smokers so for flavor, you’re better off choosing an offset smoker. But the ease of use is why lots of people choose a pellet grill. You can enhance the smokiness by using the right pellets and cooking method.

Read on to find out more about if and when to use pellet smokers for your next project.

Why do pellet grills provide a less smoky flavor?

Why pellet smokers produce less smokiness

The main reason why a pellet grill does not give as much of a smoky flavor as other types of grills, such as offset grills, is because it doesn’t produce as much smoke.

The type of pellets do matter and I’ll get into that but the pellet smoker you choose does matter as well because some overcome some of the construction drawbacks of these types of smokers.

Which pellet grill smoker produces the most smoke?

Pellet grills offer a lot of flexibility and ease of use so I decided to look a lot into this if you can overcome most of the drawbacks.

And the best smokiness I’ve found coming from a pellet smoker is from the Traeger line of grills, this Ironwood 885 to be precise:

Most Innovative Grill: Traeger Ironwood 885

(view more images)

The reason being that this particular model has a super smoke mode, a patented design by Traeger that overcomes the absence of smoke of pellet grills that work at very precise temperatures, which cause the pellets to burn to cleanly.

Super smoke mode isn’t available on all Traeger models but it is on these 5:

  1. Ironwood 650
  2. Ironwood 885
  3. Timberline 850
  4. Timberline 1300
  5. Silverton 810

I’ve got a full review of the top Traeger models right here if you want to take a closer look.

Plus you can even get more smoke, or a smokier flavor from any type of pellet grill while cooking.

I’ll provide some answers to that question later in the article. But first, let’s take a look at how a pellet grill works.

How does a pellet grill work?

A pellet grill is kind of like an electronic version of an offset smoker. Like an offset smoker, both have fireboxes that are connected to where the grilling takes place.

However, the pellet grill relies solely on wood pellets to give food a smoky taste whereas an offset can use charcoal as well.

It also has an LCD display that can be used to control the temperature. This feature makes it a more convenient choice than an offset smoker as it requires less babysitting.

However, even though it may be easier to use, many people will tell you it lacks that smokey taste that you can only get from an offset.

Offset smoker vs. pellet grill: pros and cons

When comparing pellet grills to offset smokers, here are some points for and against.

When you compare the two, it’s obvious they both have their shares of pros and cons.

If it comes down to taste, you may be better off with an offset. But if you’d rather go for convenience, a pellet grill will be more your speed.

Offset smoker vs. pellet grill: what people are saying

The pellet grill vs. offset smoker debate is a topic of much discussion.

For instance, if you look at this thread on BBQ Brethren, you will find it’s an issue cooks feel strongly about.

Many of the hardcore grillers and smokers on this forum have both an offset and a pellet smoker in their possession and use them for various applications.

Here’s what one man had to say:

There is a definite difference in smoke intensity between the two. Obviously, the wood smoker places more smoke on the food being cooked. I use the wood smoker for cooks between 5 and 8 hours. I cook chicken, ribs, etc. within that time period. I use the pellet smoker for very long cooks like pork butt and brisket. The major reason that I do this is because I can leave the pellet smoker unattended for 18 to 24 hours except for one refill of pellets until the meat is ready to remove. With the wood smoker, I have to check fuel and air flow every hour in order to keep the temperature where I like to cook the meat.

How to get a smoky flavor from a pellet smoker

While it’s difficult to get a deep smoky flavor from a pellet smoker, it’s not impossible.

In order to get a stronger profile, it is best to grill at lower temperatures for longer amounts of time.

For best results, start your grill at around 180 – 190 degrees for the first few hours. Lower temperatures are ideal because they create more smoke.

Once enough smoke is created, increase the heat as necessary to make sure you get the right cook.

The type of pellets matter

The type of pellets you use will also come into play in creating a strong flavor profile. You want a brand that makes a high-quality pellet so it will infuse your meat with a great smokey flavor.

Here are some brands that are recommended.

What are the best pellets for smoke flavor?

Just like any type of wood used to smoke, pellets come in a variety of flavors.

You may be able to find exotic flavors depending on the brand you use, but here are some basics.

Because pellets are small and fit into the storage container in the grill, it’s easy to blend flavors to get the taste you desire.

While choosing the pellets that are right for you will be a matter of taste preference, they will also affect how smokey the taste is.

Hardwoods not only have a stronger flavor, but they also burn slower and longer, to produce more smoke that will make meat more flavorful.

They may be your best choice if you’re trying to get a smokey taste from your meat.

Products that can enhance the smoke flavor

In addition to using the right wood and cook methods, there are also products you can buy that enhance smoke flavor.

For instance, Mojobricks are small cubes that can be added to grills to provide a deep smokey taste. These are all-natural compressed hardwood squares that contain no chemicals or binders.

The Amazen Tube Smoker is also recommended. You can put this tube directly on the grill and it will produce extra smoke giving your meat that rich taste you are looking for.

Find that one & more pellet & wood chip smoker boxes & tubes reviewed here!

A pellet smoker may not provide the smokiest taste, but its ability to burn clean and cook at a fixed temperature makes it a low maintenance option.

And when you consider that the right cook methods, woods, and added products can help you achieve a richer flavor, it may be a worthwhile investment.

Will you be using a pellet smoker for your meat cooking adventures?

How about a recipe idea? Check out these Pellet Smoker Baby Back Ribs | Scrumptious Recipe & Pellet Choices.