How Long Do Pellets Last for Grilling and Smoking?

Written by Mike Futia | Updated October 27, 2023

Quick Answer

  • On average, pellets last for 3 pounds per hour. This can vary based on the brand and temperature setting.
  • To make pellets last longer, store them in an air-tight container indoors.
  • A 20-pound bag of pellets typically lasts 6-7 hours at high temperatures and 10-12 hours at low temperatures.
  • For best results, use 100% hardwood pellets.

How Long Do Pellets Last?

On average, pellets last for 3 pounds per hour. This can vary based on the brand of your grill or smoker and temperature setting.

Below, we have made a chart of some of the more common grill brands and their average pellet consumption per hour when on either a low or a high-temperature setting.

Pellet Grill Model

Low Temperature (Below 225°F)

High Temperatures (450°F-600°F)

Traeger Ironwood

1 lbs per hour

3 lbs per hour

Camp Chef Woodwind

0.75 lbs per hour

2 lbs per hour

PitBoss 440 Series

1 lbs per hour

2-3 lbs per hour

Memphis Grills Beale Street

0.5 lbs per hour

2 lbs per hour

ZGrills 7002

0.75 lbs per hour

2.2 lbs per hour

Louisiana Grills Black Label

1.6lbs per hour

4.5 lbs per hour

Weber Smoke Fire

1.25 lbs per hour

4 lbs per hour 

As you can see, the number of pellets burned varies widely from grill to grill, which is why it is so important to estimate using the burn rate from your grill. This is because some grills have better heat insulation than others, and some are larger and require more pellets to keep the cooking area hot. 

>>> Related: Check out our roundup of the best pellet grills

Besides grill type, there are some other variables that affect the burn rate of pellets. If you just discovered your grill type has a high pellet burn rate, adjusting some of these variables can help your pellets to last longer.

Factors Which Affect How Long Pellets Last


Grill Settings

As you saw in the chart above, the temperature you have your grill set to makes a huge difference when considering how many pellets you will need. Searing several steaks at 500°F, for example, may take up to 3 lbs of pellets, while smoking ribs at 225°F on your Traeger for two hours might only take half of that. 

For this reason, you always want to make sure you are setting your grill based on the recipe, not just turning it up hotter because you are in a hurry. Not only will this ruin your recipe, but this could also use more pellets than you planned to burn. 

Opening and Closing the Grill Frequently

We know it is tempting to pop open the grill to check on smoked lamb chops frequently, but every time you open the lid, you let out heat, which the grill must rush to regenerate. This can lead to extra pellet burn. 

For best results, set a timer and only check on your meat when it gets close to the end of its cook time, and you expect it to be almost done. 

Quality of Pellets

Not all pellets are created equal. Some of the cheaper brands contain fillers or additives, which can cause the pellets to burn much quicker than those that are 100% hardwood. 

We recommend always spending the extra buck to grab the 100% hardwood pellets, as these are often more worth your money. 

How You Store Your Pellets

Besides just buying quality pellets, how you store them also makes a difference in how long they last. If you store your pellets in your pellet grill or outside where they can get wet, know that this can cause them to become soft, and they won’t burn as long or as hot. 

We recommend always storing pellets indoors, in air-tight containers to ensure they last as long as possible and burn to their full potential. 

The Weather

Even if you do all of the above, using your pellet grill in cold temperatures will use far more pellets than using it in hot temperatures. This is because, when it is cold, your grill must work harder to maintain temperature. There isn’t really a way to avoid this one, so just plan to add some extra pellets if you are smoking turkey in a snowdrift. 

How Long Does a 20 lb Bag of Pellets Last?

traeger pro with pellets

On average, a 20 lb. bag of pellets should last 6 hours of high-temperature smoking. The length of time a 20lb bag of pellets lasts you will depend widely on your grill type and the temperature you plan to cook at. 

Of course, if you are smoking at a low temperature, a 20lb bag of pellets will probably last you longer. Something around 10-12 hours total is a good estimate. 

How Many Pellets Do You Need to Smoke for 10 Hours?


If you are smoking something that requires 10 hours in the smoker—like a brisket—then you should plan to buy at least a 20 lb bag of pellets. If you want to grill at high temperatures for 10 hours, you will want to purchase at least 30 lbs of pellets. 

Do Pellets Go Bad?

traeger pellets in hopper

Pellets don’t go bad in the traditional sense of the word. Your pellets will not have an expiration date (in most cases), nor will they mold. The only exception to this is if you don’t store your pellets properly.

If you are storing your pellets in your grill or outdoors, they can fall apart or mold if they become too wet (and contain certain additives). This is why we always recommend that you store your pellets indoors. 

If pellets are stored properly, they do not go bad and will stay good for a very long time–years in most cases. 

Pellet Storage Tips

Worried about your pellets getting ruined? Check out our pellet storage tips. 

1. Store Your Pellets Indoors

We can’t say this enough, but storing your pellets outdoors is asking for trouble. Find a safe spot for your pellets inside, whether this is in your garage or a closet in your home.

2. Store in a Waterproof Container

Pellets get ruined when they are exposed to moisture. You’ll want to spend some money to ensure you purchase a good waterproof container for your pellets. You can buy a pellet-specific container or just a plastic tub with a lid.

3. Store Off the Ground

If you are storing your pellets in the garage, keep them off the floor. This will ensure they stay dry and that animals or pests won’t make their home in your pellets.

4. Use Old Pellets Before Adding New

When you use your pellets, ensure you use an entire bag before adding a new one to your pellet container. The last thing you want to do is add new pellets on top of old ones continually–always failing to use the old ones, which may eventually go bad. 

What Are Pellets Made of?

If you are new to pellet grills, you may not know what pellets are made of. In general, pellets are made of compressed wood from a specific type of tree, such as birch or maple. 

That being said, there are also many specialty pellets that can be made of other ingredients. For example, charcoal pellets are often made of a wood and charcoal blend, meaning they aren’t 100% hardwood. 

What Are the Best Brands of Pellets?

mesquite pellets

There are many good brand names of pellets, and while it can be fun to buy the brand names, know that you don’t have to in order to get quality pellets. 

In our eyes, any pellet that is 100% hardwood, with no additives, is a good brand of pellets. Some of our favorites include Traeger, PitBoss, and BBQ'R's Delight. Just make sure you read the ingredients on any brand before you buy—any reputable pellet will only contain wood and nothing else.

Overall, we hope you now understand how long to expect your pellets to last when you are grilling and smoking. When in doubt, always buy extra, as it would be a catastrophe to run out in the middle of your smoking session. 

Looking for a new recipe to make with your pellet grill? Check out our smoked pork belly burnt ends or our smoked filet mignon for some delicious dinner ideas.

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


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