Can You Use Charcoal In A Pellet Grill?

  • By: Brendan

So, I’m in the backyard cooking up some sweet and sticky Chinese BBQ pork on my smoker, and guess what—I’m out of pellets.

But as luck would have it, I did have a couple of bags of charcoal in my garage and was wondering if I could use charcoal in a pellet grill.

The short answer is no—you can’t use charcoal in a pellet grill for several reasons, most notably the larger shape and size of charcoal.

Can You Use Charcoal In A Pellet Grill

Charcoal comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, which if used in your pellet grill will most likely jam the auger.

First, you should always ensure that there are enough pellets in the auger before firing up your smoker. You can try and use charcoal pellets in your smoker, but charcoal generates too much ash and gasses that can negatively affect the quality of your food.

Why Can Lump Charcoal Not Be Used in a Pellet Grill?

You can use lump charcoal in a pellet grill, but doing so can cause permanent damage to the auger of the smoker.

Lump charcoal is essentially wood and is regarded as a natural option by BBQ enthusiasts.

It is manufactured from pieces of wood from sawmills, lumber scraps or unprocessed limbs and branches.

Another reason some grilling aficionados prefer lump charcoal is it burns a little hotter and quicker than pellets.

1. Bigger in size

Lump charcoal is much bigger in size than pellets, owing to which may get stuck in the hopper of your pellet grill.

2. Generates too much ash

Lump charcoal generates too much ash and gas that can not only build up in the pellet smoker but also degrade the quality of the food.

Wood pellets contrarily are a source of natural, clean-burning fuel, and produce little smoke.

What Can be Used in a Pellet Grill to Get Charcoal Flavor? 

The best way to experience charcoal flavor without adding lump charcoal to your pellet smoker is with charcoal pellets.

Yes, they are a thing! Pellet smoker manufacturers have introduced charcoal pellets for one reason only—to give your food the flavor of charcoal when cooked in a smoker.

Charcoal pellets are similar to any type of pellets, in that they are made from all-natural 100 percent hardwood.

They most emit an aroma of oak hardwood and provide the same distinct strong and smoky flavor of lump charcoal.

With charcoal pellets, you can cook myriad different types of meat, and can use them to bake, grill, smoke, barbecue, char grill, sear, or roast.

However, because you are using charcoal pellets and not lump charcoal in your pellet grill, the cooking process is slower, so don’t expect speedy results.

Benefits of Using Charcoal Flavored Pellets

1. Burn Cleaner

Charcoal pellets aren’t the same as lump charcoal, therefore burn cleaner and do not generate a lot of ash.

2. Great flavor

Charcoal pellets produce the distinct flavor of lump charcoal and doesn’t contain any oils, chemicals or binders.

3. Burn hotter

Even though not much, charcoal pellets do tend to burn hotter than regular pellets, making them a great choice if you’re trying to achieve searing temperatures.

Charcoal pellets such as the Pit Boss Charcoal Blend Hardwood Pellets give you the robust, classic taste of lump charcoal.

Pit Boss All-Natural Hardwood Charcoal BBQ Grilling Pellets

These 100 percent natural hardwood pellets contain no added flavors, binders or spray scents, and are an ideal blend of oak and hardwood charcoal.

Can You Mix Pellets with Charcoal in a Pellet Grill?

You can’t mix pellets with charcoal in a pellet grill, because they are larger and will not make it to the auger from the hopper.

Adding to this, they will produce more ash, leaving you with a big mess to clean up after your grilling session.

Pellets also burn quicker than charcoal, leaving the charcoal behind in the hopper of your pellet grill.

Can You Use Charcoal in a Traeger Grill?

You can’t use lump charcoal in any pellet grill, but you can use charcoal pellets in a Traeger grill.

However, Traeger does not recommend using any other brand pellets with their smokers for several reasons.

As mentioned earlier, charcoal pellets do tend to generate more smoke than Traeger pellets, leading to too many ashes and gas that can degrade the quality of your food.

Traeger wood pellets are available in an assortment of flavors and are designed specifically to be used in Traeger smokers.

Charcoal pellets are made from compressed wood, and Traeger wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust.

Traeger Grills Signature Blend 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellet

This pack of two comes with the Traeger Signature blend and the Hickory blend. These real hardwood pellets provide enhanced flavor, and add pure hardwood flavor to everything you grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ.

Traeger wood pellets are also highly efficient, in that they burn rapidly, making them a great choice for large volume cooking.

Adding to this, wood pellets can also be used as a substitute for charcoal in a grill. Perhaps the biggest difference between Traeger pellets and charcoal briquettes is the size of the pellets.

Traeger pellets are made up of single compressed pieces, whereas as charcoal briquettes are made up of many small pieces, resulting in consistent cooking temperatures.

Adding to this, Traeger pellets burn at lower temperatures compared to charcoal briquettes, which is the secret to low and slow cooking.

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