Spreetail Blog

Grill Pellet Flavor Guide

Pairing Wood Pellets with Your Food

by Kaiti Hill
May 31, 2019

When it comes to using your pellet grill, electric smoker, or smoker box to infuse your food with flavor, the pellets have all the power. Once you know what you want to grill, you should pick your pellets first, and then any seasonings or marinades. There are a variety of hardwood pellets out there and each variety brings its own unique taste.

Pellet Flavors


Alder is the all-purpose pellet. Its mild flavor makes it a perfect pair for nearly any type of food. Alder mixes well with beef, poultry, fish, veggies, and more. It can even be paired with baked goods for a subtle smoky flavor.


Apple pellets give of a fruity smoke that’s mild yet full of fresh flavor. Apple grill pellets pair best with chicken, turkey, and pork – the milder meats. They’re also great complements to fruit-filled baked goods you want to give a go at grilling.


Cherry grill pellets pack a flavorful, smoky punch. They go great with beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and wild game. When using cherry pellets, it’s not necessary to overload your meat with marinades or seasonings, as the pellets bring a bold flavor all on their own.


Oak pellets fall in the middle of the flavor and smoke spectrum. They’re stronger than the mildest of pellets – alder, apple, and cherry – but more subtle than hickory. Oak pairs especially well with seafood and vegetables, but also complements beef.


Pecan pellets give off a signature nutty flavor. If what you’re grilling pairs well with nuts, it’ll probably pair well with pecan grill pellets. Pecan pellets are most often paired with beef, chicken, and pork, but can also work well with veggies or spiced baked goods.


Though a stronger smoke-producing pellet, hickory pellets are super versatile and go well with most meats. It’s hard to go wrong with hickory pellets at your side. Hickory pellets mix well with beef, poultry, pork, and vegetables. If hickory pellets are too strong for your liking, try mixing them with a lighter pellet like oak or apple.


Mesquite pellets fall on the bold side of flavor the flavor spectrum. They provide an intense smoke that best complements beef, chicken, and seafood. Mesquite is the unmistakable flavor that’s often associated with barbecue.

Flavor Blends

There are a variety of flavor blends out there, and each has its own unique combination of hardwoods. Check the pellet’s label to see which hardwoods are included in the mix. You can also experiment with your own flavor blends by mixing together multiple pellets yourself.

It’s important to note that hardwood flavor blends are different than blended pellets. Flavor blends are mixture of multiple different flavors. Blended pellets are pellets that are not 100% hardwood. Learn more about the different types of pellets and the importance of using real hardwood pellets here.  

Ready to get your grill on? Shop grill pellets and grill accessories here.

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