Can You Use Pellets in a Charcoal Grill?

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Are you wondering if you can use pellets in a charcoal grill? Although the charcoal grill’s primary energy source is charcoal, wood pellets can enhance the smoke flavor. However, before using this method to cook your meat, you should also know other things. This article explains how you can use pellets in a charcoal grill.  

Can You Use Heating Pellets in a Charcoal Grill?

If you cherish using wood pellets to add flavor to your grilled meat but do not have a standalone pellet smoker, you can use the pellets in your charcoal grill. However, you should know from the onset that pellets cannot be used as the sole heat source in a charcoal grill, only for optimum smoke flavor

Wood pellets specifically meant for grills include hardwoods that are compressed to produce uniform pellets. They are made from different hardwoods like cherry, oak, pecan, hickory, apple, and others. You should know the difference between grilling pellets and the ones used to heat homes. 

Heating pellets are made from softwoods, forest scrap, and hardwood. However, they contain chemicals. Softwoods include coniferous or evergreen trees such as spruce, pine, hemlock, fir, redwood, and cypress. They contain resin and sap, which can be toxic when ingested. Therefore, you cannot use these pellets for cooking purposes. Always check the labels when buying pellets to ensure that the brand is meant for indoor cooking. 

How to Use Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

There are three main methods for using pellets in your charcoal grill to cook your meat. You can put the pellets directly on the wood in a tinfoil case, or use a smoker box or smoker tube.

Put the Pellets on the Charcoal

Putting the pellets directly on the charcoal is the easiest and best option. To do this, you must start the fire in your chimney using charcoal. You can use some coals, but make sure they are lit before adding pellets. 

Leave the coals to burn until they are covered with gray ash. Transfer them to your charcoal grill and wear protective gloves to prevent burns. Depending on how you want to grill your meat, you can arrange the coals to provide direct or indirect heat to the cooking zones. 

Add the pellets once your grill reaches the desired temperature. You can add about a half cup of pellets and scatter them evenly across the coals. With this quantity of pellets, you can smoke for about 45 minutes. Allow the pellets to ignite so they start producing smoke.  

Once the pellets have ignited, you can start cooking. Prepare your ingredients in the normal way you always do. You can add more pellets if your cooking session lasts more than one hour. To keep the smoke fresh, it is a good idea to add more pellets after every 30 minutes. You must closely monitor the pellets in your grill; otherwise, they might burn out completely. 

While some prefer to soak the pellets first to enhance smoke production, this may not be necessary because they will take more time to ignite. Once your charcoal has ignited, you can directly add pellets and they will produce blue smoke within a few minutes. 

Pellets for barbecue wood smoker

Put Pellets in Aluminum Foil

If you do not want the pellets to combust directly in your charcoal grill, you can consider using a tin foil container. Get a foil packet and put your pellets inside. Make sure you create some holes in it to allow smoke to escape. 

Aluminum foil cases prevent your pellets from combusting even when you open the lid of the charcoal grill. When you put the pellets inside the foil, they will not ignite. Instead, put the container on top of lit charcoal, which will heat the pellets. Even though the pellets will not ignite, they can still produce smoke when heated inside a foil.

One good thing about using aluminum foil is that it produces clean smoke and the pellets can last longer since they are not placed directly on the burning coals. However, this method is ideal if you seldom smoke your meat. It is a bit slow and the smoke produced might not be intense compared to pellets ignited on the burning coals. 

Use a Smoker Box or Smoker Tube

Investing in a smoker box or smoker tube is a good idea if you enjoy smoking your meat regularly. There are different types of smoker boxes and tubes, so you should pick something that suits your needs. 

Hot smoking with a charcoal grill is convenient and easy to use. Put the pellets inside the smoker tube and place them on the coals. When the pellets inside the tube are heated, they will produce smoke that spreads evenly over your food. 

You can also place the smoker tube on top of the grill grates away from direct fire. The smoke produced from burning pellets can be too strong, which might affect the taste of your food. When the pellets are burning from a special container, they produce clean smoke. 

One good thing about a smoker box is that you can use it repeatedly, which makes it a good investment. It is easy to clean and can last longer if you look after it well. However, make sure you use protective gloves to prevent burns. On top of that, you must also appropriately dispose of the residue from the pellets in the smoker box because they may not burn out completely.      


If you love to cook your meat using a charcoal grill, you can also use wood pellets to add a smoky flavor. The primary source of heat for this skillet is charcoal, so you can only utilize pellets to enhance the taste of the food. A handful of pellets can produce smoke for about 45 minutes. 

You can add the pellets directly onto the burning charcoal or use other options like aluminum foil, a smoker tube, or a smoker box. More importantly, buying the right pellets for grilling would be best.

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