It’s barbecue/grilling time with the family, and you want things to be perfect; you want your food to have that flawless smoky quality.
Different types of wood can be used on a grill, both small wood chips, and big logs. For those of you who use wood chips, you begin to wonder if you can use wood pellets instead of wood chips.
Is there even a difference between wood pellets and wood chips? Yes, there is a significant difference between the two that we will discuss, along with what you need to know about wood pellets and wood chips.
What Is There to Know About Wood Pellets
Wood pellets are small cylindrical or capsule-like items made from highly compressed sawdust, finely ground hardwood, and other waste made from milling lumber; this sawdust and industrial waste are strongly held together by lignin.
Wood pellet is biofuels that burn with only little emission of carbon, in other words, burning wood pellets doesn’t contribute to global warming.
Wood pellets were invented in 1980 and have become very popular since then; they have also become more available to the public.
If you want to use wood pellets to get that original smoky quality, you may need to go for a search hunt as most manufactured brands of wood pellets contain additives that tampers with the flavor of your food.
Wood pellets have a lot of flavor options to consider compared to wood chips.
Wood pellets are produced with low moisture, and they are very dense, making them very slowly to create a very hot environment. This factor is important because it is easier for you to regulate the temperature you want your meat to cook. It also uses lesser fuel to cook at a specific temperature, making it cost-effective.
Wood pellets also produce less ash after burning, making them suitable for people who do not wish to spend a lot of time cleaning. Wood pellets can also be made of different types of wood, thereby giving you the option of different flavors.
Wood pellets are awesome as they create a hotter environment, leave very little ashes behind, are cost-effective, and offer you alternatives when it comes to the flavor of your food.
What Is There to Know About Wood Chips
Wood chips are made from bigger chipping pieces of hardwood into smaller pieces. Wood chips are irregular in shape and rough in texture. Wood chips are usually wrapped in foil paper with holes to allow smoke to pass through.
Wood chips do not produce a constant and continuous smoke; it burns rapidly giving off an intense burst of smoky flavor.
Some people soak these wood chips in water to ensure that it doesn’t burn rapidly. Soaking wood chips in water also helps it generate steam, and this steam makes your meat juicier.
It is possible to overcook your meat when using wood chips as they burn quickly.
Wood chips add a very high-quality smoky taste to your meat, as they can be made from the following wood.
- Mesquite is the strongest flavor with a certain spicy taste, and you need to be cautious about how much of this flavor you want in your food.
- Oak: gives a nice flavor to whatever meat suits it. Using oak for the wrong type of meat may not produce desirable results.
- Apple: gives put a sweet flavor, especially when paired with chicken.
- Hickory: Hickory is next in line after mesquite. It has a strong flavor but not as strong as mesquite. Hickory also goes with a variety of meat types.
- Maple: Maple offers a milder flavor of meat than mesquite and hickory. Maple is best for all meat types.
- Cherry: perfect for pork and lambs, cherry offers a mild and fruity flavor to your meat.
- Pecan: pecan has a smooth flavor compared to mesquite and hickory.
But while wood chips give your meat all these natural flavors, manufacturers customize wood pellets to offer a variety of flavors, and some of these flavors may taste better than the strong natural flavors wood chips offer.
Are Wood Chips and Wood Pellets the Same Thing?
No, they are not. Physically wood pellets are smooth and have a cylindrical or a capsule-like shape, while wood chips are rough and irregular.
In terms of burning, wood pellets burn slowly and create a hot environment while wood chips burn rapidly, giving out intense smoke.
Other features show that wood pellets and wood chips aren’t the same things; you will notice the difference as you read on.
Which Are Better Wood Chips or Wood Pellets?
From previous features of wood pellets and wood chips we have discussed, it is clear that wood pellets are better than wood chips.
Wood pellets burn slowly and create a hot environment; this makes it easier to regulate the temperature and allows your meat to cook properly.
Wood pellets produce very little ash after burning, thus saving you the stress of a lengthy clean-up session.
Another upside of using wood pellets is that they come in a variety of flavors that can alter the taste of your food. Sure, you can get wood pellets that don’t change your food’s taste, but there are other options out there.
Though in terms of flavor, wood chips are better as they produce meat with high quality and intense flavor from different types of wood.
Wood pellets also help you save money as the ability to control its temperature helps you to buy less fuel. There have been a few complaints that wood pellets are usually small for some smoker boxes.
Can You Use Wood Pellets Instead of Wood Chips?
Of course, you can use wood pellets instead of wood chips. Wood pellets are best for cold smoking, so you should use wood pellets if you are considering cold smoking.
Unlike wood chips, you cannot use wood pellets to give your meat a strong bitter taste (which is not bad), so it is advisable to know how you want your food to taste before purchasing wood pellets or wood chips.
Do Smokers Use Wood Pellets or Wood Chips?
Smokers can use both wood pellets and wood chips. The offset, kamado, pellet, and charcoal smokers can use wood pellets or wood chips.
Although gas smokers do not require wood pellets or wood chips, there have been complaints that gas smokers make everything tastes like bacon.
An electric smoker also doesn’t need wood pellets or wood chips, but it doesn’t give the food that characteristic smoky quality. So, if you want that smoky taste while using an electric smoker, you will need wood chips or wood pellets.
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Can You Use Wood Pellets in A Regular Smoker?
Yes, wood pellets can be used in a regular smoker. Using wood pellets for smoking, whether alone or combined with another fuel type, has incredible advantages, ranging from its low ash production to how easy it is to use these wood pellets.
Although wood pellets are best used with pellets grills and smokers, wood chips can be used in any smoker or grill, unlike wood pellets.
Should You Soak Wood Pellets Before Smoking?
It is unnecessary to soak wood pellets, so you shouldn’t do it. The aim of soaking is to make the selected material burn slowly, and as we have discussed, wood pellets burn slowly and don’t need to be soaked.
However, some people soak their wood chips to burn slower and produce more steam to add moisture to the meat.
It is also unnecessary to soak wood chips as there will be no significant difference. If you want to add moisture to your meat, you should try spritzing your meat with water or apple cider.
In addition, soaking your wood pellets or wood chips also takes up to 24 hours for the water to fully penetrate the wood, thereby wasting your time. Dry wood pellets or dry wood chips will grill or smoke your food just fine.
With this guide, we hope that you will be able to choose the right material (wood chips or wood pellets) for your grilling or smoking.
We have discussed the special features of wood pellets as well as wood chips. Wood chips offer high-quality flavor, while wood pellets burn slowly, allowing you to control their temperature and maintain it.
We have also seen that wood pellets are best used in pellets grill and smokers, but wood chips can be used with any other type of grill or smokers since they are all built to suit the use of wood chips.
Most importantly, do not soak your wood pellets or wood chips as they are unnecessary and waste your time.
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We trust this article helped you know whether to use wood pellets instead of wood chips. You may also want to check out Best Propane Fire Pit for Roasting Marshmallow.
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