If you are looking to elevate your BBQ game, pellet grills are a game-changer. With a steady stream of wood pellets, you can achieve mouth-watering smoky flavors that are impossible to replicate with gas or charcoal grills.
What’s more, pellet grills offer a wide range of temperature settings, making it easy to achieve the perfect juicy and tender texture for different cuts of meat.
In this article, we present the top picks for the best meat for pellet grilling. After much experimentation, we have discovered the meats that work exceptionally well on pellet grills and offer unbeatable flavors and textures.
Whether you are a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, you are sure to find something to suit your taste in our selection.
So if you are ready to take your outdoor cooking to the next level, scroll down to see the best meat for pellet grill, accompanied by helpful tips and tricks.
1. Beef Brisket: Transforming Tough into Tender
Beef brisket is a tough but flavorful cut of beef from the chest that requires the right cooking technique to transform it into melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa or pastrami. The low and slow smoking method is the key to achieving tender and juicy beef brisket.
Start by trimming excess fat from the brisket and seasoning it with a dry rub to infuse the meat with flavor. Let the brisket marinate in the fridge overnight before cooking it on a pellet grill set at a low temperature of around 225°F.
During the long smoking process, the beef absorbs the smoky flavors produced by the pellet grill, creating a rich beef flavor that pairs beautifully with the slow-cooked meat. You can use a blend of pellets, such as oak or pecan, to add a distinctive taste to your brisket.
Once the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 200-205°F, it’s time to take it off the grill and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing it against the grain. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a tender and succulent cut of beef.
“Low and slow smoking can transform a tough cut of beef into melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa or pastrami”
2. Pork Butt/Shoulder: The Star of Pulled Pork
If you’re looking for the perfect cut of pork to wow your friends and family, look no further than pork butt or shoulder on a pellet grill. Not only is this cut fatty and flavorful, but it’s also versatile and the star of pulled pork and juicy pork shoulder roasts.
The secret to this cut’s excellence lies in its ability to absorb smoke, resulting in a rich and smoky flavor. The long cooking process that is often required to cook pork butt or shoulder ensures that the meat stays moist and develops a tender texture.
When grilling pork butt or shoulder, you want to season your meat with a dry rub or marinade to bring out the natural flavors of the meat.
Popular seasonings include garlic, onion, paprika, and a touch of sweetness like brown sugar or honey. This will help form a mouth-watering crust that locks in the juicy deliciousness of the meat.
For an idea of how long to cook your pork butt or shoulder, use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. Typically, a cooking time of about 1.5 hours per pound of meat is recommended. Once the internal temperature reaches around 195°F, your pork is ready to be taken off the grill and allowed to rest before serving.
Pro tip: For even better flavor, consider using a fruitwood pellet when smoking your pork butt or shoulder, like apple or cherry. You’ll be sure to impress with the delightful smoky and sweet taste.
Pork Butt vs. Pork Shoulder Comparison
|Part of the Pig
|Upper shoulder, front leg
|Lower shoulder, near the feet
|More fatty, marbled
|Less fat, firmer
|Longer cooking time (up to 14 hours)
|Shorter cooking time (6-8 hours)
|Rich and fatty, melts in your mouth
|Less fatty, slightly tougher, sweeter taste
When grilling, knowing the difference between pork butt and shoulder can be helpful, so we’ve included a helpful table. Pork butt is more marbled and fatty, making it ideal for longer cooking times and developing a rich and smoky flavor.
On the other hand, pork shoulder is slightly tougher, but has a sweeter taste and can be cooked in a shorter time frame. No matter which you choose, pork butt or shoulder are both excellent options for pellet grilling.
3. Baby Back Ribs: Lean and Tender Delights
If you’re looking for a leaner alternative to spare ribs, baby back ribs are the way to go. These ribs are smaller and contain less fat than spare ribs, resulting in a less greasy and more tender bite compared to their meatier counterparts.
Cooked faster than spares, baby back ribs achieve a tender, bite-t ough texture that pairs well with a variety of glazes or sauces.
To elevate your baby back rib game, experiment with different wood pellets flavors that complement the pork’s natural sweetness, such as hickory, pecan, or a blend of pellets to achieve the perfect balance.
One thing to keep in mind when cooking baby back ribs is their delicate nature. It’s essential to avoid overcooking them, as they can quickly dry out and become tough. To ensure your ribs come out perfectly tender, keep a close eye on the temperature and cook time.
Overall, baby back ribs are a delicious and healthy option for your next pellet grill cookout. With their leaner meat and divine flavor, you can’t go wrong with this rib variation.
4. Spare Ribs: Richness and Meatiness
If you’re looking for a richer and more savory BBQ experience, spare ribs are the perfect choice for pellet grilling. They’re larger and meatier than baby back ribs, but when slow-smoked, they offer a fall-off-the-bone experience that’s unbeatable.
Take your spare ribs to the next level by using different wood pellet flavors, such as oak, mesquite, or a Texas-style blend. These wood pellets can enhance the natural smokiness of your meat and provide an unforgettable taste.
If you want your spare ribs to be both tender and flavorful, the key is in the slow smoking. When cooked low and slow on a pellet grill, spare ribs become irresistible. This is because the slow cooking process allows the fat and collagen to break down and melt away, leaving you with juicy and tender meat.
When it comes to pairing spare ribs with wood pellets, mesquite is a bold option that provides a deep and smoky flavor.
Oak is also a great choice, as it delivers a clean and classic smoke flavor that pairs well with any BBQ rub or sauce. For those who prefer a milder flavor, a Texas-style pellet blend made of mesquite, pecan, and oak can add depth to your spareribs.
“Spare ribs are the perfect choice for a BBQ experience that’s richer, meatier, and full of flavor.”
5. Beef Ribs: A True Barbecue Challenge
You’ve got the basics of pellet grilling down, and now you’re ready for the next challenge. Enter beef ribs, a true test of your BBQ skills.
This cut can be tough to master, but the rewards are well worth it. With patiently cooked beef ribs, you’ll enjoy incredibly juicy and flavorful meat that will have your guests raving.
So, how do you tackle this barbecue challenge? First, select the best beef ribs cuts available, such as short ribs or beef plate ribs.
Keep in mind that a low and slow cooking process is key to achieving the desired tenderness and flavor. Use a rub or marinade to enhance the natural beefy flavor, and allow time for the seasoning to penetrate the meat.
When it comes to wood pellet flavors, consider using low-smoke woods such as oak or pecan. These mellow flavors won’t overpower the beef and will allow its natural taste to shine t ough. Smoking beef ribs with a blend of pellets that includes oak and pecan is a great way to combine their complementary flavors.
Beef Ribs Cuts and Characteristics
|Beef Ribs Cut
|Beef Plate Short Ribs
|Fatty and rich with a strong beef flavor
|Beef Back Ribs
|Less fatty but still flavorful with a meatier texture
|Beef Chuck Ribs
|Well-marbled with a balance of lean and fatty meat
With these tips and some practice, you’ll be able to conquer the beef ribs challenge and impress your guests with incredibly juicy and flavorful meat. Keep experimenting with different rubs, marinades, and wood pellet flavors to find your perfect combination. Happy grilling!
6. Chicken: Versatile and Flavorful
If you’re looking for a protein that is versatile and easy to cook on a pellet grill, chicken is the way to go! No matter what cut you choose, whether it’s whole chickens, breasts, thighs, or wings, pellet grills handle them all with ease and provide delicious results every time.
One of the advantages of cooking chicken on a pellet grill is the ability to infuse it with smoky flavor by using wood pellets.
Fruit woods like apple and cherry are perfect for a touch of sweetness, while mesquite and oak provide a rich and hearty flavor. By infusing chicken with different wood pellet flavors, you can create a unique taste experience every time.
Another way to elevate the flavor of chicken is to marinate it beforehand. Marinades not only tenderize the meat but also add layers of flavor that complement the smokiness of pellet-grilled chicken.
Brines are also great for chicken as they help to keep it moist, preventing it from drying out during the cooking process.
When cooking chicken on a pellet grill, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, ensure that the chicken is cooked to the right temperature to avoid any health risks.
- Second, pay attention to the cook time, as chicken cooks faster on a pellet grill than other meats.
- And lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different cuts, wood pellet flavors, and cooking techniques to find your perfect recipe.
“Chicken is a great protein choice for your pellet grill. The ability to add smoky flavor and experiment with different cuts and marinades means there’s never a shortage of delicious recipes to try.”
7. Turkey: Moist and Flavorful Feasts
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a juicy, flavor-packed turkey? Pellet grills can handle even the largest turkeys, making them a versatile option for your holiday feast.
To ensure a moist and flavorful bird, consider experimenting with different brines and rubs. Brining involves soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution with various seasonings for several hours before cooking.
Rubs involve coating the turkey in a mixture of herbs and spices before cooking. Both methods can add depth and dimension to the turkey’s flavor.
When it comes to cooking techniques, try starting the turkey at a high temperature to achieve a crispy skin, then lowering the heat for a slow and steady cook. You can also use a fruit wood pellet, such as apple or cherry, to add a hint of sweetness to the turkey’s natural flavors.
Don’t forget to let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. And if you have leftovers, consider making turkey sandwiches or turkey soup for a tasty post-Thanksgiving treat.
“There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked turkey to bring loved ones together during the holidays.” – Chef John Smith
8. Salmon: Mastering the Pellet Grill
Salmon is not only tasty but it’s packed with nutrients. One of the best ways to prepare it is on a pellet grill. Pellet grills allow you to cook salmon in various ways, such as using planks, cedar wraps, or direct grilling, so you can experiment and choose your favorite method.
When it comes to the best wood flavor for salmon, alder, cedar, and fruitwoods like cherry or apple are the top choices for adding a hint of sweetness. These flavors not only enhance the smoky taste, but they also complement the natural flavor of the salmon.
If you’re looking for a unique way to smoke salmon, try using a cedar plank. The plank infuses the fish with smoky, woodsy flavors while keeping it moist. Simply soak the plank in water for a few hours before use, place the salmon on it, and then put it on the grill.
You can also try cedar wraps, which work similarly to planks, but wrap the salmon in a bundle to be grilled. Another option is direct grilling, which gives a crispy texture to the skin of salmon.
If you’re looking for a no-fail recipe and some more tips on grilling salmon on a pellet grill, check out this recipe by the Food Network.
Salmon Grilling Tips
- Make sure the grill is well-oiled before placing the salmon on it
- Brush the salmon with olive oil to prevent sticking
- Season the salmon with a blend of salt, pepper, and your preferred herbs or spices
- Grill the salmon with the skin-side down first to get crispy skin
- Cook the salmon until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fa enheit
With these tips and tricks, you can master the art of grilling salmon on a pellet grill. Whether you’re a fan of a cedar plank, cedar wrap, or direct grilling, different wood pellet flavors like alder, cedar, or fruitwoods such as cherry or apple can enhance the smoky and sweet profile of your salmon. Enjoy a healthy, delicious meal right off the grill!
9. Duck and Lamb: Unique Flavors
Take your pellet grill game to the next level with unique flavors like duck and lamb. These meats are not as common but offer a distinctive experience that will impress your guests.
Duck has a rich flavor and fatty skin that is perfect for pellet grilling. Try using mesquite or pecan pellets to enhance the smokiness of the meat. For an added touch of flavor, consider pairing duck with rosemary, thyme, garlic, or fruit woods like apple or cherry to add a hint of sweetness.
Lamb can have a gamy flavor that some people find overpowering. However, cooking it on a pellet grill can tame the strong taste and create a tender and delicious meal.
Experiment with different wood pellet flavors such as mesquite, pecan, or fruitwoods like apple or cherry to find your perfect match. And don’t forget to try pairing lamb with rosemary or thyme for an added burst of flavor.
Expand your pellet grill horizons with duck and lamb, and explore all the flavorful possibilities that come with these unique meats.