How Long Do Pellets Last in a Pellet Grill

How Long Do Pellets Last in a Pellet Grill

By: Brisk It Culinary Team

For many barbecue chefs and smoking enthusiasts, the flavorful smoke produced from wood pellets is unmatched when it comes to preparing delicious smoked meat. But for those who haven't used wood pellets before, the process can be a bit confusing to adapt to if you’re used to grilling with charcoal. One of the chief concerns of grilling novices is how long do wood pellets last. 

Brisk It Grills is here to provide our grill masters, barbecue enthusiasts, and smoking rookies alike with everything they need to know about pellets and how long they will last in your grill.

What Are Wood Pellets And Why Use Them?

Wood pellets are a commonly used fuel for barbecues, smokers, and pellet grills – and it's easy to see why. A typical pellet is about a ½ inch to an inch long and roughly an eighth to a ¼ inch in diameter. They're made of compressed wood shavings and sawdust, creating an ultra-dense, clean-burning fuel that provides a rich, smokey flavor. 

Pellet materials can include wood like hickory, cherry, oak, apple, and mesquite. When it comes to smoking meat, many grillers wonder, “How many wood pellets for smoking?” or, “How many lbs of pellets to smoke a brisket?” Because smoking meat takes so many hours, your smoker will require about ½ lb of pellets every hour to sustain proper cooking temperatures. 

Due to the number of pellets that can be used during a typical smoking session, they're generally sold in large bags of 20 lbs or more.

Benefits of Wood Pellets

Wood pellets offer many advantages over charcoal, propane, and traditional wood smoking. Pellets ignite and reach temperature far quicker than charcoal grills and provide much more flavor than propane. They also burn more regularly and uniformly over time, making it easier to control the temperature within your smoker or grill.

Drawbacks of Pellets

Pellets can cost a bit more than other smoking and grilling fuels, plus you'll need to buy and store the large bags somewhere covered in between uses. Pellets can go bad if they are left too long without use. While this can lead to wastefulness, the solution is to only buy as much as you’ll need. Save, seal, and reserve any leftovers in a dry place to minimize the risk of spoiling. Some smokers find they prefer the intense smokiness produced by charcoal compared to the milder smokey flavor of pellets. However, this is a matter of personal preference. 

Be Careful – Avoid "Heating Pellets"

Keep an eye out for pellets labeled "heating pellets" when shopping for your next backyard barbecue. Unlike cooking pellets, heating pellets often contain a mixture of less desirable woods and other fillers. They're strictly designed for heat, not culinary use. In the best-case scenario, cooking with heating pellets will result in unpleasant flavors, while at worst, it could sicken those who ingest food prepared with these pellets.

How Long Do Pellets Last?

So, how long does a 20 lb bag of pellets last in storage, and how long do wood pellets burn in a grill? It's not as easy as one straightforward answer. A few key factors come into play that will affect the life of your pellets. 


The temperature at which you set your pellet grill to is perhaps the biggest factor in determining how long your pellets will last. Grilling at higher temperatures, such as 500 degrees Farenheit, for example, will consume pellets alot faster than if you were grilling at lower temperatures like 180 degrees Farenheit. 

At a temperature like 500 degrees Farenheit, expect to consume an entire 20 lb bag of pellets within just a few hours. However, its unlikely you’ll actually have to run the grill at such a high temperature for that long. At lower temperatures (for smoking meat slow and low) under 275 degrees Farenheit, your pellets will last much longer. You can expect a 20 lb bag, in this case, to last for 16-24+ hours of run-time. 

Our Brisk It pellet grill’s temperature control algorithm is specially designed to maximize smoke and temperature stability. This feature also ensures pellets are consumed at a much more economical rate, so you won’t burn through your supply at an unsustainable rate. Low and slow smoking recipes often require you to run your grill overight. As long as the pellet hopper is at least half full, there should little to no risk of running out of pellets and returning to a flamed out grill in the morning. 

Pellet Material

How many pellets does a pellet grill use? Well, it shouldn't be a surprise that what your pellets are made of matters. Some types of wood burn faster than others, while others burn hotter.

The quality of the pellet is also important. Cheaper pellets tend to be less dense and include more flavored oils, both of which contribute to faster burn times. Denser, higher-quality pellets have more wood material, allowing them to burn slowly and provide natural flavor. Colder pellets will also take longer to heat up and longer to burn, while warmer pellets will burn more quickly.

Type of Grill

Of course, the type of grill you are using has an impact on pellet lifetime, as well. Maintaining the proper temperature is key to well-smoked meat, and different grills have different levels of insulation and the ability to retain heat. So, how fast does a pellet grill heat up? This, of course, depends on the design and manufacturer of the grill, but usually between 10 and 15 minutes. 

Pellets grills with an automatic feeder will also vary in the number of pellets dispensed by different mechanisms. 


The conditions where you'll be smoking make a difference in determining how long your pellets will last. First, colder temperatures mean your grill or smoker will need more pellets to get up to the right temperature and more to keep it there over time. Warm environments require less energy from the pellets to reach proper grilling temperatures, therefore, fewer pellets will be used throughout the cooking process. 

Humidity matters, as well. Humid climates degrade pellets over time and rob them of one of their advantages – their intense dryness that provides regularity in burning. To ensure your pellets do not spoil in storage, keep them in a place that is free of humidity.

Pellets Make the Most of Smoking – And Brisk It Grill Makes the Most of Your Pellets

When it comes to smoking, there's no better and easier way to produce top-tier meat with delicious smoky flavor than pellets. While there are many different smokers and grill manufacturers to choose from, none match the quality and features of the Brisk It Smart Grill. The Brisk It Smart Wood Pellet Grill is a Wifi-capable device that can smoke, grill, barbecue, bake, roast, sear, and braise all in one. For an unforgettable backyard barbecue, put your Brisk It Grill to use with our easy pellet grill recipes.