While there is extensive debate about which brand produces the best pellet grills/smokers, that debate carries over to which brand produces the best pellets? Traeger, as the market leader, sells their pellets in the largest number of outlets. Hence they are the most widely available pellets. But what about the flavor that Traeger pellets produce? What about their heat output and durability/density? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss in this article.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Traeger Pellets Review – Traeger Wins Blind Taste Test!?
If I was to produce an article stating I personally like/dislike the flavor that a particular brand of pellets produces, I think that actually provides very little value to the reader.
After all, taste/flavor preference is personal/subjective. Just because I like/dislike something, it has little relevance in terms of providing actionable feedback to someone else.
However, what if a blind taste test was conducted with fifteen people of beef brisket cooked with six different brands of pellets (Traeger included)? That feedback has more value.
Well, below is a video of just such a blind taste test conducted by Jeremy of Mad Scientist BBQ with the assistance of Eric from BBQ HQ, and the results were quite surprising (Traeger won!?).
Now, as you can see from Jeremy’s reaction in the video above, he was very surprised with the result of the blind taste test (to be honest, so was I), and I’ll provide more context to that reaction below.
However, the test results were clear. On smoke flavor, the group scored the Traeger pellets as the best of the six brands tested.
That doesn’t mean that you personally would like the flavor of Traeger pellets the best if you did the same test. However, the video above is the closest we currently have to a scientific test of pellet flavor preferences.
The Controversy Around Traeger Pellets
As I’ve stated above and you can clearly see and hear in the video above, Jeremy from Mad Scientist BBQ was very confused by the results of the group’s blind taste test.
The reason is Jeremy is not a fan of the taste of Traeger pellets, and he produced the video below where is posed the question, ‘Are Traeger Pellets A Scam?’
His video centers around the topic of the patent which Traeger owns on a pellet production process where additional wood oil is added to flavor Oak/Alder to produce flavors of other woods.
My background, before I got into writing about pellet grills/smokers full-time, was in pellet manufacturing. Specifically, designing/marketing small-scale pellet manufacturing equipment.
Hence, I know quite a lot about the pellet manufacturing process. Therefore, I can provide some additional context to this debate around Traeger pellets and their ‘quality’.
The Traeger Patent, Lawsuit & Their Pellet Production Process
So first off, let’s address the Traeger patent that Jeremy refers to in his video above. It does indeed exist, and you can read the full details of the patent here.
This is a patent that dates back to 2004 and references a process of adding additional wood oil into the process to provide additional wood flavor to Oak/Alder to offer other pellet flavors.
-  A flavored wood pellet that contained less or completely lacked solid flavor wood and a process for producing such pellets would reduce or eliminate the aforementioned disadvantages to the benefit of both manufactures and consumers.
There was a lawsuit submitted against Traeger for falsely describing their pellet production process. However, it was dismissed in court (see here) as the defendants ‘failed to establish the court has jurisdiction‘.
Now, as Jeremy states in his video, he doesn’t know (and I don’t either) if Traeger is actually using the process as described in their patent (additional wood oil) to produce their pellets.
I’ve previously produced an article on how Traeger pellets are made, which is based on the video below they produced of their production process.
While Traeger does indeed have a patent on using additional wood oil to add flavor, we don’t know if this actually the process they are using. Their video states that they are actually using Applewood etc.
Traeger pellets are indeed blended pellets. Hence, a bag of Apple pellets is not pure Applewood which is the case with some other brands, its a mix of Applewood & Oak/Alder.
Traeger does state in the video above they are adding soybean oil into their pellet production process, which I’ve seen some people online claim that means they are using an additional binder.
However, anyone who knows the pellets production process, like myself knows that oil is not a binder, it actually performs the opposite function, and it reduces the compression in the die (we’ll discuss this more below).
Adding Vegetable Oil/Soybean Oil Is Not Ideal
So as the Traeger video discusses, Soybean Oil is added to the Traeger pellet production process to ‘help move the material through the mold‘, but in doing so, it reduces compression.
To form a really nice high-quality pellet with a good surface shine and good density, sufficient heat is needed to melt the lignin within the wood, and its the wood’s own natural lignin, which is the binder.
If sufficient compression is not generated, sufficient heat will not be generated to form a properly durable pellet. And this can cause a couple of problems.
Pellets with a lower density take on moisture from the air more easily. For instance, if you leave pellets in the hopper outside in a humid environment, they can absorb moisture from the air.
Pellets that have absorbed moisture burn less efficiently and produce a lower heat output. Hence, the pellet grill/smoker can struggle to get to temp or just take longer to get to temp.
The other problem with lower-density pellets is their reduced durability causing issues during handling/transportation, as lower-density pellets will more easily break apart into fines/dust.
This is why, no matter what brand of pellets you buy, I encourage all pellet grill/smoker owners to sieve their pellets before loading them into the hopper.
Are Traeger Pellets The Best Value Pellets?
So as the blind test video above shows, the flavor/taste/preference of any pellets is completely subjective.
While someone like Jeremy, who spends a lot of time cooking BBQ, doesn’t prefer Traeger pellets, overall, the test group did. Let’s bring the conversation to something else we can measure, value.
In other words, when purchasing pellets on a price per-lb basis, how do Traeger pellets stack up? This is a topic I’ve put a lot of work into finding out with my main best value pellets article.
I essentially spent many, many hours (it literally took me a week) researching the typical price points of all the brands/flavors of pellets I know of to work out which are offering the best value.
From that research, I can tell that Traeger pellets (for blended pellets) are typically on the higher cost end of the scale, typically with a price point of $1 per lb of pellets.
Custom BBQ Pellet Blends
Reclaimed Bourbon Barrels etc
Pork, Poultry, Veggies, Seafood
Pork, Poultry, Lamb, Seafood
Pork, Poultry, Lamb, Beef, Veggies
Pork, Poultry, Beef, Seafood
Pork, Poultry, Veggies
Pork, Beef, Lamb, Seafood, Veggies
Strong Smoke, Grilling
Pork, Beef, Poultry
Traeger Pellets Review – My Final Thoughts…
Well, the results of the blind taste test above, I think, were a big win for Traeger, and they were not the results I personally expected. That group did indeed prefer the flavor of Traeger pellets.
As to the whole Traeger patent/wood oil topic, we simply don’t know the reality around it and if its currently part of the process used.
We do know that Traeger pellets are blended pellets, and oil is used in the production process, which can reduce pellet density/durability.
We also know that on a price per lb scale compared to other brands, Traeger pellets do cost more on average than other pellet brands selling blended pellets.
That’s it! I hope the above has been interesting/useful. Please check out my Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide and my Cooking Guide for more of my articles.
Alternatively, you may wish to check out my articles on how to choose the best pellets for your pellet grill/smoker and how to choose the best pellets for certain meats. 🙂