Can You Use Pellets in an Electric Smoker?


Do you need a smoker that is efficient and time-saving? You can consider electric smokers which are easy to use and control at all times. Some people might not opt for electric smokers as they want their meat to get a smoky flavor.

So, can you use pellets in an electric smoker? Yes, you can use the pellets in an electric smoker to achieve the smoky flavor, as electric smokers tend to maintain the beefy taste. Thus, people who don’t enjoy the smoky flavor can cook their food without using the pellets.

In contrast, those who enjoy the smoky flavors can incorporate the pellets in their electric smokers. Read on to learn how to incorporate pellets into the electric smoker and how the smoker works.

Using Pellets in an Electric Smoker

The pellets give off a rich smoky flavor similar to cooking with charcoal smokers. Electric smokers are suitable for beginner smokers, and you cannot go wrong with pellets. Pellets are dense, making them suitable for cooking food on slow to medium heat.

Thus, they would produce the smoke suitable for BBQ at a low temperature and for an extended time. You can use the electric smoker in an enclosed kitchen without worrying about the smoke as the smoke is locked into the device during BBQ, and you would control how much smoky flavors you need.

Controlling the flavors in the charcoal smoker might be challenging as the charcoal burn gives the food the flavor.

You can consider wood chips, which are similar to the pellets but are less dense, thus offering controlled smoke to the cooking food. The chips are made of compressed dust, thus are denser and store more energy, which heats the electric smoker and produces more smoke for more flavors.

The pellets might need higher temperatures to burn effectively, and the high temperatures and hot air produced might cause internal problems, affecting smoking.

Most people who have electric smokers in their kitchens but would love to enjoy the smoky flavors have hybrid smokers with wood chip trays. But these electric smokers require some skill and constant attention to avoid creating flavors that make the food bitter. You should choose wood pellet flavors that naturally incorporate well with the cooking food.

Elements of an Electric Smoker

The electric smokers are a reliable cooking source that allows a chef to control the BBQ temperatures leading to consistency. An electric smoker is exceptionally reliable as you would control all its functions with a few buttons and ensure it is plugged into a power source.

Moreover, it does not need valve adjustments like the propane gas canister or intense management like the charcoal smokers, which are tedious. If you are a beginner, the electric smoker would be the best option as it offers seamless BBQ compared to other methods.

Although the electric smoker has limitations like reducing portability and constant power supply, it is still among the best smokers for beginners.

The electric smoker might not achieve higher temperatures like the propane gas and charcoal smoker, thus limiting how hot you BBQ the meat. However, you achieve high BBQ temperature quickly as the smoker quickly accelerates the heat supply from the electric source.

The electric smoker cooks the food with the hot air produced by heating the element. However, you can add pellets and wood pieces to create a smoky flavor in the food. You should fully understand the electric smoker elements to utilize the smoker for proper BBQ outcomes.

  • The heat rods are found at the smoker’s bottom, and one or more electric rods heat the device and allow the smoker to simmer the meat.
  • The wood chip tray is where you place your wood chips or pellets. The wood chips burn slowly, infusing the BBQ with a smoky flavor which improves the food’s taste.
  • The electric smoker water pan is located on the top of the wood chip tray, and you can fill it with cold water. This water controls the temperature and will steam up, thus helping in convection cooking.
  • The electric cooker grill racks are primarily stainless steel which prevents rust. You can place the BBQ food on these racks or place the cast iron skillets, which roast the meat in the electric cooker.
  • The dampers and vents help regulate the temperature by controlling the electric smoker’s oxygen intake and outtake.

How the Electric Smoker Works

  • You can plug the electric smoker in a power source and ensure it gets a constant power supply during cooking. The electricity heats the elements leading to proper temperature control.
  • The elements heat up due to rising temperature, and the grills give off energy, which heats the food, and the wood on the tray begins to burn, making it possible to get the smoke that infuses flavor to the meat.
  • The grills’ heat and smoke buildup will help heat the food on the cast iron grill racks.
  • The heat will heat the dense pellets effectively as long as you control the heat at the right temperatures; otherwise, the electric elements might be suitable for the wood chips as they are less dense and are easy to heat.

Pellets vs. Wood Chips Comparison Table

PelletsWood Chips
They are made from pressed hardwood dust and burn very clean as they don’t contain barks and other scrap wood.They are made of thin hardwoods passed through the wood chipper and have been shredded into smaller pieces.
The wood pellets are suitable for hot and cold smoking.They burn faster than the pellets bursting into the flavors.

They burn better and offer constant smoke to the cooking food.
They burn quickly.
They give a deep smoky flavor.They are flavorful.
They offer slow-burn, which is best for food that needs slow cooking.They are suitable for food that burns at high temperatures and for a short time.
They are many varieties like hickory, cherry oak, and mesquite.They are available in different wood varieties.
Cost less per energy unit.Cost a bit more.

Tips for Using Wood Pellets in an Electric Smoker

  • Learn about the number of wood pellets you would need for a particular electric smoker; some electric smokers have a user manual that elaborates on the number of pellets that can smoke food effectively. Thus you should know the electric smoker you are dealing with and the number of pellets that can smoke your food to offer the desired taste.
  • You might be tempted to use many wood pellets in a smoker, which might not be good in the long run. If you use the charcoal smoker, this happens a lot, which offers a smoky flavor. So, when you first upgrade to the electric smoker, your food might have a beefy flavor more than the smoky flavors. Using more wood pellets than expected can lead to creosote buildup, a black sticky substance that accumulates in the electric smoker on the sides and upper parts of the appliance. The creosote might make your food slightly bitter.
  • You can remove the creosote by picking the wood pellet flavor, compliments the food. Such flavors naturally infuse with the food and reduce the bitterness resulting from too much smoke. Then, you can learn how to control the smoke as smoke is affected by the temperature control and the number of wood pellets in the appliance. Moreover, advanced electric smokers offer removable wood pellet trays, and you can eject the wood pellet tray when you feel there is too much smoke in the food.
  • You should not leave the wood pellets uncontrolled for an extended time. You might undermine the wood’s ability to give off smoke, but even if you have a few wood pellets in the electric smoker, they can release enough smoke, which causes the creosote buildup. The pellets might ignite faster, and you can eject the tray when you achieve the desired smoky flavors.

How to Improve the Wood Pellets Performance in an Electric Smoker

  • You should start with a small number of pellets at a time, especially if you have never tried the flavor.
  • The pellets burn at a higher temperature, and you may need more to heat and produce smoke.
  • You should increase pellet exposure to heat which improves smoldering.
  • Wood pellets can turn into mush when soaked as they are compressed sawdust. However, if you choose to smoke your food with wood chips, they would be safe to soak.
  • You can use the pellet tube to light the wood pellets.
  • How often you add the pellets into your smoker would depend on climatic factors, temperature settings, and the desired smoky flavor intensity. Pellet grills use ½ pound pellets per hour, and you can add the needed amount depending on the cooking time and the desired flavor intensity.
  • Choose the right flavors; for instance, BBQ beef would need pecan, hickory, mesquite, or a blend of these flavors. Pork would go well with sweet flavors, which enhances the taste. BBQ poultry goes well with lighter flavors that do not flat out the natural taste, and you would choose apple, alder, pecan, and maple. Fish goes well with fruity wood pellets; on the other hand, veggies do well with universal wood flavors.
  • Place the pellets in tinfoil for best results and poke holes; you can control the amount of smoke released into the electric smoker by wrapping the pellets.
  • If the electric appliances are not compatible with the wood pellets, it would be wise to stay away from them as they would negatively impact the appliance.
  • You can use the smoke tube or smoke maze instead of the smoker’s tray as they are more efficient.


Can You Use Pellets Instead of Wood Chips?

Yes, you can use the pellets instead of the wood chips, as the pellets are suitable for food that cook for an extended time. The pellets are dense and are made of hardwood compressed sawdust. The pellets require high temperatures to heat and release the required smoke and have different flavors, along with different meats.

Can Wood Pellets Be Used in a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker?

Yes, you can use the wood pellets in a Masterbuilt electric smoker as the smoker has a wood chip tray that can hold the wood pellets. Using wood pellets with the electric smoker is easy to control how much smoke you let into the smoker.

Once you achieve the desired flavor, you can pull out the wood pellet tray to avoid creosote forming in the smoker’s insides.

Do You Soak Wood Chips For Masterbuilt Electric Smoker?

When using a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, or any other type of smoker, soaking wood chips isn’t required. The wood chips are used to provide not just smoke but also various flavors to go with the food’s natural flavor.

The wood chips absorb a lot of water when they are wet. This implies that before they are consumed and burnt, the water must evaporate when they’re burned in the smoker. Some people think this extended period of usage is advantageous since it implies you’ll use fewer wood chips over time.

Before the wood chips begin to burn and smoke, they will first release steam from the water they have absorbed. This addition of steam before the smoke may enhance the flavor of your dish by adding another layer to it and ensuring that it has a more delicious finish.

Wood chips soaked in anything other than water might add a more diverse flavor to the food, which can be really delicious. This gives you the option to add an extra distinctive touch to the blend of taste that smoke will provide.

Can You Use Pellets in a Char-Broil Electric Smoker?

Yes, you can use wood pellets with char-broil electric smokers as they are designed with separate smoker boxes for the wood chips and pellets, and you would use the pellets as you would use the wood chips on the smoker.

Can You Use Pellets in a Pit Boss Electric Smoker?

The Pit Boss electric smokers are designed to accommodate the wood pellets, and they help control the number of pellets inserted into the appliance at a go. Thus, the electric smoker offers the best consistency compared to other electric smokers

Can You Use Pellets in a Propane Smoker?

Yes, hybrid propane electric smokers use wood pellets to infuse the smoky flavor into the BBQ. You should choose a propane smoker with a wood pellet tray to enjoy the smoky flavors.

Can You Use Pellets in a Non-Pellet Smoker?

Non-pellet smokers might not have systems that incorporate the smoky flavors into the food as they might be designed for people who enjoy the natural meat flavors. Thus, if your smoker does not have the right systems to incorporate the pellet, you can avoid using the pellets as they might damage your appliance.


If you are upgrading from a charcoal smoker to an electrical one that is more efficient and improves the cooking speed, you might miss the smoky flavors. Some electric smokers might give meaty flavors, which would taste flat for a person used to smoky BBQ.

Fortunately, manufacturers are innovative and have featured designs that improve the BBQ taste. For instance, you can incorporate the smoky flavors into the BBQ with the wood pellets as most electric smokers are hybrid and have systems that incorporate pellet trays to improve the food taste.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.