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Can You Use Charcoal in a Pellet Grill? (Solved)

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A lot of people are wondering if they can use charcoal in a pellet grill. The answer is yes, you can definitely use charcoal in a pellet grill! In this post, we will discuss the safest ways to do so and how it can benefit your grilling experience.

We also cover the pros and cons of using charcoal in a pellet grill. Plus, we will cover how you can get the most out of both methods. 

So, read on for all you need to know about using charcoal in a pellet grill!

Can You Use Charcoal in a Pellet Grill?

The short answer is technically, yes. But you shouldn’t. Pellet grills are designed to use pellets, not charcoal.

Filling the grill with charcoal can cause a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide, potentially damage your grill, and ruin your food.

Pellets provide a consistent heat source, while charcoal can be inconsistent and difficult to control, which is the whole reason for pellet grills in the first place.

They make it easy to control the temperature, so why would you want to make your life harder? 

However, if you’re looking for that smoky flavor that only comes from charcoal, you don’t have to give up your pellet grill entirely.

You don’t have to try to use traditional grilling charcoal inside your grill, potentially ruining it for good.

You can buy hardwood pellets that are infused with the taste of charcoal, giving you the best of both worlds (more on that later). 


How To Safely Use Charcoal in a Pellet Grill

That said, there are ways you can use charcoal in your pellet grill if you must.

One way is to fill a metal container with charcoal and place it inside the drum of your pellet grill. You won’t be using any of the electronics, so leave them off.

The metal container will protect the grill itself from the direct heat of the charcoal. You can also use a chimney starter to get your coals going before placing them in the grill. 

The only problem is that once you have your coals going inside the grill, you will have to continue to replace extinguished coals for the duration of your cooking session, whether it’s for an hour – or four. 

When To NOT Use Charcoal in a Pellet Grill

You should not use charcoal as your sole fuel source in a pellet grill.

The temperatures inside a pellet grill are much lower than those you would find in a traditional charcoal grill, and using nothing but charcoal could lead to an overcooked meal or even a fire.

Pellets typically burn less than 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while coal can reach temperatures upwards of 800 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Pellet grills are designed to cook low and slow. If you’re looking for that intense high-heat grilling experience, then using charcoal in your pellet grill is probably not the way to go.

Pellet Grills Require Pellets for Fuel

When we say that pellet grills require pellets for fuel, we mean it. You cannot fill your pellet grill hopper with charcoal. The hopper and auger are designed to hold and move small pellets – not chunks of grilling charcoal.

Attempting to use charcoal in your pellet grill’s pellet feeding system will almost certainly result in clogging. By even trying it, you risk serious damage to your pellet grill. 

Can You Put Charcoal in the Drum of the Pellet Grill?

Using charcoal in your pellet grill is not the most efficient use of your time and energy, but if you’re dead-set on using charcoal, make sure you do so carefully.

Pellet grills are designed to work with pellets, and when you introduce charcoal into the mix, you run the risk of ruining your grill. Make sure to avoid these mistakes when using charcoal in your pellet grill. 

If you don’t use enough fuel, your pellet grill won’t have a consistent heat source, so if you don’t use enough charcoal, your grill will quickly go cold.

Overfilling the grill with charcoal can choke off much-needed airflow and cause the fire to smolder (or even put it out completely). Placing coals too close to the food may result in uneven cooking, or even burned food. 

However, pellet grills are designed to work with pellets, not charcoal.

If you fill the drum of your pellet grill with charcoal, not only will you have a giant ashy mess afterward, but the pellet grill drum isn’t designed to withstand the direct heat of hot coals resting on the bottom.

This could be bad for your pellet grill and could lead to damage if used repeatedly with charcoal. 

Pellet Grill Heating Pros and Cons

Needless to say, pellet grills are versatile and easy to use, BUT they’re designed to cook low and slow, making cook times extra long. 

Also, pellet grills are known for their ease of use, and the fact that they’re low maintenance. They also have a large cooking surface area, which makes them great for entertaining guests or hosting parties in your backyard.

Pellets provide an even heat distribution throughout the entire grill so you don’t need to worry about hot spots burning food unevenly like other types of cooking devices might do.

Charcoal Grill Pros and Cons

Charcoal is a popular choice for smokers and grillers. It’s easy to use, it burns hot enough that you don’t need chimneys or fire starters, and it produces tasty food with an unmistakable smoky flavor.

Pellet grills are great too – they can be set up quickly without having to buy charcoal or wait for your smoker box to heat up before cooking starts!

But what about those who love the taste of charcoal but don’t have time (or space) for all those extra steps? 

Enter pellets: pellets provide everything from start-to-finish convenience when used in pellet grills because they’re ready to go as soon as they’re dropped into place – all you have to do is ignite the burn pot and set the temperature!

Pellets also come in a variety of flavors, such as hickory and oak, so you can enjoy the smoky taste of charcoal without all the hassle.

Charcoal Flavored Pellets

Pellet grills have the advantage of being able to use a variety of different fuels, including various hardwoods, so if you want to mix it up and try something new, then using charcoal in your pellet grill is definitely an option – as long as you find some pellet grill charcoal. 

If you want to go the traditional route, you can use charcoal in a pellet grill by placing it in a firebox or a smoker box.

This will allow you to get that smoky charcoal flavor without risking damage to your pellet grill. 

Charcoal-flavored hardwood pellets are also available, so if you’re looking for that authentic charcoal taste without the hassle of adding a firebox, then using charcoal pellets is the way to go. 


It may be tempting to use charcoal in a pellet grill, but it can seriously damage the grilling surface. You’ll get better results with flavor-infused pellets that mimic the charcoal flavors.

Plus, they won’t clog up your air vents and make lighting them more difficult. 


Lover of the outdoors and great food. If I'm not in my backyard cooking up a feast, I'm deep in the backcountry camping....and cooking up a feast! Follow along and let's create something great.