Wood chips are often used to smoke meat, seafood, poultry, and vegetables. They impart a smoky flavor to foods without giving them an overpowering taste. You can find the most high-quality wood chips for smokers online and at home improvement stores.
Wood chips are smoking wood chunks. They are made from small pieces of wood that have been ground into smaller pieces (shavings). They’re similar to sawdust in texture and appearance—but unlike sawdust, they’re a cooking wood designed to flavor your barbeque dishes.
Wood chips are often used to smoke meat, seafood, poultry, and vegetables. They impart a smoky flavor to foods without giving them an overpowering taste (like charcoal grill briquettes).
They work best with electric smokers and gas grills, but you can also place them in a smoker box. They’re not ideal for pellet grills that benefit the most from using pellet wood.
Where to Buy the Best Wood Chips for Smoking
When you’re shopping for wood chips, there are several things to keep in mind. You will want to ensure the wood is USDA-certified kiln-dried, as they make a bigger smoke ring and are ethically sourced because the best wood chips are made from fallen trees.
The best quality wood chips are made from whole trees, not sawdust or other waste products. Big-name brands usually produce quality wood chips that are chemical, additive, and preservative free.
Before shopping, consider what flavor you’re looking for. Different types of wood impart different flavors. Mesquite or hickory will give you a bolder, smokier flavor than others such as apple or cherry which are milder and sweeter.
You can find most wood chips at home improvement stores but I recommend you search for them online. Online shopping allows you to select brands with all the quality you want and ship them to your door.
Here are some of the best-selling, well-known, and quality wood chips on the market:
Jack Daniels whisky is excellent, and the brand has a rich history, but I never thought about what happens to whisky barrels after they’re empty. Guess what – they turn them into smoking wood chips!
Their oak chips are laden with Jack Daniels aroma and bring out an incredible flavor in smoked meats.
This variety pack selection of wood chips is the perfect way to experiment with flavor profiles and create a personalized smoke that’s just right for you. Whether you’re looking for something savory, sweet, both, or neutral, this pack has the wood chips to satisfy your craving (and your taste buds).
This pack features hickory, oak, alder, and cherry wood.
Hickory is the most versatile wood and works amazingly well for any meat. Weber is a trusted brand that makes high-quality hickory wood chips that can be counted on to provide rich, savory smoke.
If you can master smoked beef, you can master anything on the grill! If you’re looking for a wood chip that will give your beef a nice, smoky flavor without being overpowering like hickory can be, this is the one! It’s excellent for ham and poultry too. It’s made with a unique blend of Nutwood and Broadwood with a mix of fruit tree wood chips.
What Are The Best Wood Chips to Smoke With?
It has the most potent flavors and aromas of all the common woods used for smoking meats. It’s also one of the most versatile. Hickory smoke adds a rich, robust flavor that makes meats taste “smoky.”
Mesquite wood is known for its robust flavor and aroma that infuses the meat with a bacon-like flavor. It also makes an aromatic smoke that can be used when cooking other foods besides meat. However, it can be overpowering if not used sparingly.
Applewood has a mild flavor that works well with poultry and BBQ pork. It’s also excellent for smoking vegetables such as onions or carrots because it gives them a sweet taste without being too overpowering. It’s the perfect smokehouse flavor.
Pecan wood is another mild-flavored option that pairs well with almost anything without being too heavy, making it an ideal choice for nearly any type of meat (even game meat)! It resembles a lighter hickory.
Alder wood is a softwood that burns slowly and produces a mild, aromatic smoke that is sweet and fruity. It’s often used in smoking salmon and other types of fish.
Oak wood is also known as red oak or white oak, depending on the type of tree it comes from. It’s tough and dense, so it holds heat well—which means you can smoke for more extended periods with this type of wood than with most others. It gives off a rich, smoky flavor that’s perfect for tri-tip and other slow-cooked meat options.
Cherry wood chips produce a sweet smell that’s perfect for chicken or ribs. They’ll give your food that sweet woodsy note and a beautiful red-to-brown tint.
Why is Wood for Smoking Important?
When it comes to smoking, there are a lot of things that you can do wrong and still wind up with a delicious final product. But there’s one thing you have to get right: the wood chips. Wood is essential to the smoking process because it provides the smoky flavor crucial in barbecue and smoked meat. If you don’t use wood chips, your food will taste bland.
So choosing the right type of wood for smoking will determine whether or not the flavor will be sweet, spicy, fruity, or earthy.
Your choice of wood chips also impacts how much smoke is produced: some woods burn more slowly than others (alder wood), producing less smoke than other types of wood.
Choosing a suitable wood for smoking can make all the difference in how your meats and veggies taste, so knowing which types are best for different foods is essential.
What Kind of Chips Do You Use in a Smoker?
A good rule of thumb is to avoid softwoods altogether (pine, spruce, cedar, and fir), as they can give your food a bitter taste. Also, avoid trees with a lot of sap inside.
Instead, go for hardwood (from deciduous trees) only. The woods most commonly used for smoking include hickory, pecan, apple, cherry, and oak. There are four categories of trees that work exceptionally well: fruit trees, nut trees, conifers, and deciduous trees.
Fruit trees produce amazing smoking chips because they have more sugar content than most other types of wood—and sugar means sweetness on your meat!
Deciduous nut trees like hickory and pecan are known for adding both sweet and smoky flavors. They also burn longer than most other varieties of wood, so you won’t have to keep refilling your smoker with chips as often during long smokes.
Wood Chips vs Wood Chunks for Smoking
Smoke is created when you apply heat to the wood. The more surface area exposed to heat, the more smoke you’ll have. Chips are tiny pieces of wood that are great for quick bursts of smoke because they burn and make smoke very fast. This is ideal if you want a burst of smoke flavor for a short time and don’t plan on smoking for long times.
If you need a more extended period of smoke or want more intense flavor throughout your cooking process, then go with chunks instead! Chunks are large pieces of hardwood (usually less than 2 inches) that will give you longer-lasting smoke.
Should You Soak Wood Chips in Water Before Putting Them in A Smoker?
The answer is no. You don’t need to do it; if you do, it will only postpone the smoking process. That’s because the actual smoking process will only begin once the moisture has evaporated from the wood.
Soaking doesn’t do anything for flavor development because it doesn’t change what’s inside the chip itself; it just prolongs the burning process. Soaking doesn’t add any moisture to the meat. And finally, soaking them won’t make them last significantly longer.
If you want your wood to burn slower, get some wood chunks instead.
What are the Benefits of Soaking Wood Chips Before Smoking?
Soaking your wood chips doesn’t lower your cooking time, as the water inside has to reach a boiling temperature and evaporate. Depending on the liquid you’re soaking them in, it can add a unique new flavor to your meat and veggies.
When Should Wood Chips Be Replaced in a Smoker?
The simple answer is when they stop producing smoke! As an estimate, a batch of wood chips usually lasts 30-45 minutes before they stop making smoke but you can leave them for up to an hour and change them on an hour-to-hour basis. Changing your wood chips will ensure your meat has a high amount of smoke.
For large portions of food, this makes sense. But small dishes don’t benefit from a lot of smoke. Additionally, some food might not be an excellent fit for powerful smoky flavors – think chicken, fish, or veggies (heavy smoking will ruin them).