How to Use Wood Pellets On a Gas Grill | 3 Easy Methods

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 19, 2024

I used to think that wood pellets could only be used with a pellet smoker, but that’s not the case. I wanted that smoke flavor from my propane grill as well without investing in a brand new smoking grill.

The Carnivore Style team and I got together to write you a guide for getting that pellet grilling flavor with your propane grill. The results were smokey food with minimal effort.

Quick Summary

  • Wood pellets can be used on a gas grill to add a smoked flavor to BBQ meats, offering different flavors like apple, hickory, cherry, and mesquite.
  • There are three methods to use wood pellets with a gas grill: the smoker box method, the pan method, and the foil pouch method, each with detailed step-by-step instructions.
  • A 2021 research published on Science Direct studied 45 types of BBQ wood pellets and chips found that grilling with wood pellets and chips leads to elevated emissions of NO2, SO2, CO, CO2, and formaldehyde compared to recommended exposure limits [1].
  • Using wood pellets on a gas grill provides an efficient fuel source, various flavor options, and easier cleanup compared to charcoal or hardwood chunks.

Benefits Of Smoking With Pellets On Gas Grills

Food being grilled while wooden pellets are being poured on a smoker

According to a 2020 research done by Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, around 64% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, with 3% of grills being wood pellet grills [2].

This number is expected to rise due to all the benefits of using wood pellets.

The main advantage of wood pellets is the smoked flavor that you will get with your BBQ meats.

There are also several different flavors of pellets that you can add to your grill to get a different taste each time. The most popular ones include apple, hickory, cherry, and mesquite.

Another benefit is that pellets are much easier to clean up than charcoal or hardwood chunks.

They leave less ash residue, which also makes them an efficient fuel source if you’re on the search for one.

You don’t need to soak the wood pellets before you use them each time.


  • Efficient fuel source
  • Many different flavor chips
  • Easier to clean than charcoal

Read More: Can You Put Charcoal in a Gas Grill?

3 Methods To Use Wood Pellets With A Gas Grill

wood pellet

1. Smoker Box Method

Step 1

Preheat your backyard grill on high for about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the lid closed and allow the heat to get as high as possible. The high internal temperature will make it easy to ignite the wood chips once you put the wood pellet smoker box in the grill.

For electric smoker users, you can use wood chips in your electric smoker by adding it at the bottom of the wood chips tray, or you can learn how to use wood pellets in an electric smoker.

Step 2

You should prepare your wood pellet smoker box while the grill is heating up. When you use a grill as smoker, you can create your own box, but we highly recommend buying one since they are made of better source materials.

If you go with the do it yourself route, you will need a small metal box with some holes in it to let the smoke out.

Place an ample number of pellets in the box and close it up. You want to make sure that the pellets are evenly spread along the bottom of the container.

"The smoke flavor from pellet grills is milder than that from wood fires or wood chips,"

- Nancy Loseke, writer, Barbecue Bible (1)

Step 3

Next, you have to set up your grill for indirect cooking. With most gas grills, this means turning off one or two of the burners. The wood pellet box should be placed on the lit burner so that the flames can ignite the pellets. The food will be cooked using ambient temperature and smoke. The internal temperature should remain around 250 degrees (121 C).

Step 4

Once you have finally reached the desired internal temperature, place your food on top of the unlit burners. You should have enough smoke coming from your wood pellet smoker box, and the heat should remain consistent with the lid closed.

2. Pan Method

Step 1

We are going to use an aluminum foil or any other metal cooking pan you can find. Fill up your pan ⅓ full of wood pellets. You want it to be almost full but with room to breathe in the foil. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan and poke holes in the top.

Step 2

Once the grill reaches the desired internal temperature, you can turn off all of the burners except for one. We find that the ideal internal heat should be around 225-250 degrees (107-121 C). We are going to place the pan over the direct heat and your food on the other side.

Step 3

Cook your BBQ meats using indirect heat and smoke. After 2 hours, use a quality meat thermometer to check on the progress of your smoked meats. You can also learn how to use grill mats for your BBQ here.

3. Foil Pouch Method

foil pouch method

Step 1

The foil pouch method is designed for situations where you are in a pinch and don’t have a pan or smoking box. Use a medium piece of aluminum foil and place a handful of pellets in the center. Crimp the edges and poke holes in the top.

Step 2

Similar to our previous procedure, place the small pouch over the flame on your grill and let it burn well until it produces a good amount of white smoke. Place your BBQ dishes on the opposite side.

Keep the lid closed throughout the cooking process. If you would like more smoke, then add a small number of wood pellets at a time. You may want to create a new foil pouch once you are halfway done to keep the wood pellets from falling out.

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What are the best wood pellets to buy?

We recommend using BBQ hickory flavored pellets for bacon and other pork products. Cherry and applewood pellets are best for fish and other seafood. Mesquite and pecan are best for red meat. You can mix and match many options to try a variety of flavor combos. As for brands, Traeger and Pit Boss produce BBQ pellets that are ideal for smoking on the grill.

Can you use wood pellets with any type of grill?

Yes, wood pellets will work with a pellet smoker, gas grills, an offset smoker, a reverse flow smoker, a charcoal grill, and an electric smoker.

Should I create a wood pellet box?

We recommend using a small wood pellet box that is specifically designed for turning your propane grill into a pellet smoker. You can create your own out of stainless steel or a metal tube, but they will not last as long. If you plan to use charcoal, then a DIY box won’t cut it because the charcoal burns much hotter.

Do wood pellets make your food taste different?

Yes, wood pellets will add a unique flavor to any BBQ dish. Wood pellets may make your favorite BBQ foods taste like the wood from which they are made.




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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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