How to Use Wood Chips for Smoking

If you are looking to BBQ with a delicious smoky flavor, you can actually make any ordinary grill into a smoker if you use wood chips. Here are some things that you should know about using wood chips for smoking.

Types of Wood Chips for Smoking

When using wood chips for smoking, there are a wide variety of flavors from which you can choose, and the different flavors of wood chips that go with certain types of meat.

  • Alder chips –  poultry, seafood, pork
  • Apple chips & cherry chips – poultry, seafood, lamb
  • Cherry wood chips – pork, beef
  • Hickory wood chips – pork, beef, cheese
  • Maple chips – poultry, veggies
  • Mesquite chips – pork, beef, cheese
  • Mulberry chips – poultry, seafood, pork,
  • Oak chips – poultry, seafood, pork, lamb, beef
  • Peach chips and pear chips – poultry, pork
  • Olive chips – poultry
  • Pecan chips and walnut chips – pork, beef
  • Pecan chips – poultry

The multiple types of wood flavors will each create their own unique smoky flavors. This is why it is good to choose flavors that will complement the specific foods that you are grilling. Generally speaking, pork and beef go well with woods that are stronger flavors, while poultry goes well with fruity woods.

Sizes of Wood Chips for Smoking

There are a variety of sizes options for using wood chips for smoking. You can choose logs, chunks, or chips, although chips are recommended when you are grilling because they are easy to deal with and smoke very quickly.  If you choose chips, the method that you use for grilling will actually depend on the type of grill that you are using. If you are using a Tru-Infrared grill, you will put the chips directly onto the grate. With a gas or electric grill, you will put the wood chips into a smoker box or packet and put this container over direct heat. Once the chips are smoking, you will put them onto the cooler side of the grill and add the food in. With a charcoal grill, if you want a longer smoking, set up a fuse burn with the charcoal and your wood chips (for a quick smoking, you would just use the charcoal without any wood chips).

How to Prepare Wood Chips for Smoking

You also have to soak the chips before using them in the grill. Without a little bit of added moisture, the chips will just ignite and extinguish before they can actually smoke the food. In order to do this, what you should do is put all of the chips you will be using for any particular grilling project into a bowl, and make sure that they are completely immersed in water. Let them soak for about 30 minutes before you put them over the coals. Now, your wood chips are ready!

How to Grill with Wood Chips

When you are actually starting the grilling process of using wood chips for smoking, you should remember that the wood chips need to be ignited and burning properly before you actually put the food on the grill. In order to accomplish this, just put the wood chips on top of hot coals and allow them to burn until they are not in flames anymore and are now producing smoke. This will actually happen almost immediately with wood chips. If you do not want to use coals, you can actually use wood exclusively, but many would say that using wood over charcoal will give you more control over smokiness and heat that will allow the food to come out as well as you can expect. If you are smoking for a long time, add another packet of chips every half an hour or so in order to keep the smoky flavor persisting. Also, lift the grill lid as few times as possible, so that the smoke can stay sealed in the grill and help flavor your food as intensely as possible.

As you can see, there is quite a bit that you should keep in mind when it comes to using wood chips for smoking. However, it is good to know about the differences between types of wood chips and how to prepare them optimally, because this will help you prepare food that is the highest quality it can possibly be.


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