Best Wood Chips for Smoking

wood chips for elecric smoker

Cooking methods alone is not enough to give you the best flavor when you are cooking in one of your electric smokers. Best wood chips for smoking are required too. It’s obvious that a wide range of woodchips produce a different smoky taste for different types of meat you are smoking.

If you don’t use the right woodchip, your meal won’t have the signature genuine smoky taste you are used to in BBQ restaurants.

So it’s important to have the right woodchip when preparing your favorite smoked meal.

What actually are the wood chips that are used in electric smokers?

 

Woodchips are the small chunks of wood obtained from different trees having flavor in them. These are used to add aroma and flavor when you are using an electric smoker to cook food but need to have the same woody smoke aroma and taste in your smoked food recipe.

 

These help you prepare the food with the perfect smoked BBQ touch as you get in traditional BBQ food while using the latest electric smokers or other kinds of best smokers available today.

You can choose any flavors like apple woodchips, cedar woodchips or flavors you like because there are plenty of them available on the market.

Are wood chips really necessary?

You may argue that electric smokers have their own heating method and do not really need wood chips to work. While this may be true to some extent, if you want to have the pure barbecue flavor in your meat, woodchips must be needed in your electric smoker.

These woodchips are not necessarily there to increase the heating temperature of the smoker (because the thermostat in the smoker can be used to control that).

The main reason for the use of wood chips in an electrical smoker is purely for the smoky flavor.

Seasoned BBQ makers will agree that a BBQ meal will not be complete if it lacks the natural smoky flavor it gets only from burning wood. That’s when it is rightly called a BAR-BE-CUE.

And to enjoy this rich flavor, there are several different types of woods you can use separately or combine to get a unique flavor. That’s why most high-quality BBQ restaurants prepare their BBQ meals the natural way, with wood chips added to the electrical smoker for more flavor.

What are the available Flavors for wood chips?

Different woods have unique burning points and compositions. Some burn faster and produce more smoky flavors than others. Asides the burning points, they have different flavors as well. The main reason why a lot of smoked food lovers make use of electric smokers is to add more flavor to their smoked meat.

It’s important to understand the different flavors from the various wood chips in order to know which wood is perfect for a particular meal. Obviously, your woodchip selection will depend on the type of meat you want to smoke.

Although meat is the most common type of food that people love to smoke, there are other seafood and plant options too. Vegetables, cheeses, and nuts all have great taste when they are smoked. The following is a list of the most common wood chips and the unique flavor they add to foods.

Maple: they have a subtle sweet smoky flavor that’s not too strong. They are perfect for vegetables, cheeses, and poultry.

Hickory: has a strong but sweet bacon flavor. It’s more common with ribs, briskets, and pork.

Grapevine: has a sharp, fruity flavor used mostly for sausage, pork, lamb, and poultry. However, excessive use of the wood chip may overwhelm the real flavor of the meat. So you have to add them slightly or mix with other woodchips.

Cherry: these can be used for most types of meats because of their slightly sweet, fruity flavor.

Apple: apples have a fruity flavor. They are subtly sweet and are ideal for salmon, lamb, beef, and poultry.

Alder: has moderate sweet flavor, and it’s perfect for seafood, lamb, pork, beef, and poultry.

Olive: this has a slightly strong flavor, although it’s lighter than mesquite. It’s best used on poultry.

Oak: if you want a woodchip with moderate smoky flavor, Oak will be a great choice. Its flavor is lighter than mesquite and hickory, but stronger than cherry and apple. You can blend it with hickory, cherry, or apple woods, although it can be used alone too. Because of its medium flavor, Oak goes with almost all types of meal.

Mulberry: Just like apply, Mulberry has subtle sweet flavor and ideal for smoking pork, fish, and poultry.

Mesquite: has earthy and strong flavor perfect for almost all types of dark and red meats. If you are looking for a hot burning wood, this will definitely fit into your plans.

Walnut: Walnut’s flavor is a little bitter, which explains why the wood is often combined with other woods to minimize the excessiveness of the bitter flavor.

Pecan: the flavor of pecan is light but a bit thicker than other fruit woods. It’s perfect when smoking poultry, but it can also work well for any other meat.

Pear: Pear has subtle sweet, fruity flavor just like peach woodchips. Game birds, poultry, and pork will be nice with this wood.

 Types of Woodchips for electric smokers 

To make sure your food gets its desired good taste, we have compiled a list of the best woodchips used for smoking in an electric smoker and the smoky taste they have. Read on to find out which wood chips will make the best smoky flavor for your type of meat.

Weber Pecan Wood Chips

Weber Pecan Wood Chips

Our Rating: (4.3/5)

Seasoned BBQ makers agree that Weber Pecan is certainly the best brand of wood chips for smoking. Their flavor lies between fruit woods and hickory.

They are meant to give a sweet smoky flavor to your food and can be used for a wide range of smoking tasks.

However, Pecan works perfectly when smoking ham or poultry as the flavor blends well with the unique taste of these type of meat.

They are usually sold in 3 Lbs packs, making them plenty enough to smoke your favorite meal.

Mesquite

Mesquite

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

If you want to smoke fish such as bluefish or mackerel, there is a no better option to go with than a mesquite.

It has a strong flavor intensity that makes it even more suitable for other meats like beef, pork, and buffalo.

Because of its strong and heavy flavor, new cooks should use mesquites on an occasional basis and mix with other types of woodchips to reduce the strength of its flavor. You can mix this with some soft light woodchips like apple or cherry to reduce the strong flavor. The wood produces thicker smoke and they burn very fast. So, it will be advisable to take blend it with other types of wood for a better result.

Hickory

Hickory

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

If it’s not true, we will not be far from the truth to say Hickory is the most versatile woodchip for smoking meats and other food items in an electric smoker.

And if you are cooking beef, sausages, pork, ham, or poultry, the first choice is usually hickory woodchips.

They provide a very thick bacon flavor on the meat, giving it a rich smoky taste. However, you need to be careful not to add too much of this wood to the fire, because the excessive hickory flavor can leave your meat with a bitter taste.

Maple Wood chips

Maple Wood chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

This is a hardwood which means it burns slow at a hot temperature. And the good thing about it is the light flavor it has. It produces a light flavor with a moderately sweet taste. They have the similar smoke intensity and flavor like pecan woods. There are different types of maples, but the sweetest is sugar maple. Because of its lighter flavor, some people combine it with other woods with heavier flavor like hickory and mesquite.

Poultry and pork are the most favored meats to smoke with maple woods.

Oak Wood chips

Oak Wood chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

Oka wood chips provide slightly heavier smoky flavor. It provides moderation between light and heavy flavor taste. It usually produces hot smoke and burns slowly. But remember that the Oak wood comes in two different types: white oak and red oak wood. The latter produces sweeter smoky flavor than the former.

Oak wood chips are most suitable for smoking lamb, beef, briskets, as well as sausages.

Fruit woods for BBQ electric smoker

This may not be a very popular option like your normal pecan or hickory, but they have their own unique taste and are suitable for some types of meats. They include pear, apple, cherry, and other woods that house some of your favorite fruits.

Some people have turned their attention to fruit woods because of their delicate and mild smoke which doesn’t overthrow the taste of the meat. This is why they are good for beginners who are still learning how to use the required wood chips quantity when smoking.

They are ideal for poultry and other types of fish foods such as sea bass, tuna, and salmon. Most people do not use fruit woods alone.

To get a rich blend of flavor, they are usually combined with other types of woods with a stronger flavor. Let’s see some differences in taste when using different types of fruit woods.

Cherry Wood Chips

Cherry Wood Chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

These wood chips have a sweet and delicate flavor and have the lightest flavor of all types of fruit woods. It doesn’t burn as fast as mesquite but has a slow burning process. This makes it suitable for foods that require a slow burning process.

You can mix this type of wood with a stronger and heavier wood to give you the right blend of flavor. Mesquite and hickory are two favorite options that go with this type of wood. Chicken, turkey, fish, and ham are great food options you can smoke with cherry wood.

Peach Wood chips

Peach Wood chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

Peach Wood chips have a mild and sweet flavor and burns as delicate as cherry. It also needs hot temperature and burns slowly too. If you are going to make use of peach woodchips, remember to select the fresh woods as they are better than processed peach woodchips in terms of flavor. You can smoke fish, poultry, or pork with peach wood chips.

Grilling Smoker Chips:Apple Wood chips

Apple Wood chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

These are the sweetest types of fruit wood chips for smoking different types of meats. It provides a sweet fruity flavor. It’s also a heavy wood, which means it requires high temperature and burns slow.

This may not be the right woodchip for you if you are in a hurry to smoke your favorite meat because it takes a longer time for the smoky flavor to actually penetrate the food. Apple Wood chips are more suitable for chicken, quail, pork, and poultry.

Alder Wood Chips

Alder Wood Chips

Our Rating: (4.6/5)

If you want to smoke fish, alder is certainly one of the most common woodchips to use. Smoked Salmon, in particular, is great when using alder wood chips. But some cooks also use it for smoking poultry and pork because of its sweet flavor taste. The wood uses medium temperature and burns slowly.

Ash Wood chips

Ash woods provide a slightly unique taste to your smoked meat. It has moderately sweet flavor and burns fast. You will love using ash wood for fish and poultry.

But some may make use of Ashwood in a different way. They add them in the middle of their smoking task to add smoky flavor to the meat. This is because they burn quickly and produce flavor quite rapidly.

Other special woods

There are other types of woodchips apart from the above used by some seasoned cooks to smoke their favorite meals. But if you’re just starting out, you can stick to the ones above since they are very common and have been proven to be great in their different meat options.

As you get an idea of their different tastes, you will know which ones to combine and which is best for certain meat options.

Are there any woodchip options that should not be used?

Although burning wood to smoke your favorite meals does not have any health risk, there are certain woods you need to stay clear of. Never smoke woods from the conifer family, such as cedar, spruce, fir, or pine. They are quite common but usually have sticky resin when they burn. These resins give out black and bitter compounds that are toxic and dangerous to your health. Just stick to the familiar woodchips above and you’ll do just fine with your meat smoking task.

How to use woodchips in an electric smoker for the best results and flavor

Although electric smokers basically use heat from the electronically ignited fire, you can still enjoy the smoky flavor by adding wood chips to the firebox. This may be a confusing process for the first time user or those who are not experienced enough. Don’t worry, that’s why we are here. Follow these steps to add wood to your electric smoker the right way.

For about 3 to 5 hours normal burning rate, you may need about 5 cups of wood chips to keep the flavor at the right level.

First, decide the type of wood chips you want to use. Basically, softer meats like chicken and seafood are smoked using woods with mild smoky flavor. These woods include fruit woods like apple, cherry, and apple. But for stronger meat that requires more heat and enough smoky flavors, Hickory, Pecan, or mesquite will work fine.

For best results, use mild woods such as cherry, almond, and apple for delicate meats like fish and chicken. On the other hand, strong woods can go with many things, but they are basically used to add more flavors to meat such as beef, deer, and pork. They burn faster, thicker, and add more flavor in a very short time.

Bringing out the best flavors out of your woodchips

To bring out the best flavor of woodchips you are using in your electric smoker, you may need to soak them for around 30 minutes in water so that when they are placed inside the smoker the smoke comes out as soon as it starts getting the heat.

In some cases, to add more flavor and a tint in the recipe, people may also use wine, vinegar and different juices that comply with the woodchip flavor and the recipe as well.

Soaking woodchips in juices and wine or vinegar assure to offer an extra twist in the smoked meal.

Best wood chips for smoked chicken

Chicken is a delicate type of meat that doesn’t require the excessive or high temperature to smoke. And Electric smokers make the task of smoking a chicken very easy. To top it up with great taste, some types of woodchips are necessary. Since chicken is delicate, it’s best to use mild woodchips like fruit woods (cherry, apple,).

But if you want to have a strong smoky flavor, there are other good options for you too. The chicken will also do well with hickory when it’s used on a moderate scale.

When smoking chicken, select the right wood chip that will provide the desired taste you need. There are loads of woodchip options for chicken and they are not scarce to find in grocery shops.

Best wood chips for smoked brisket

Obviously, brisket is the most common type of meat to smoke in an electric smoker. They are easy to spice up and taste great. But its good taste as far as barbecue goes is largely due to the type of woodchip used for its flavor. When smoking briskets, you have a lot of options for wood chips. Briskets are very tough meat cuts and require enough cooking time before they are completely ready.  That’s why woods such as mesquite, hickory, and oak are very good options.

Mesquite, in particular, has a strong flavor but easily dissipates. This makes it ideal for smaller cuts of briskets but not larger cuts. The bacony flavor hickory gives your brisket makes it a great choice. It’s also widely available and comes with a strong flavor.

 Oak is a great choice for newbies because it’s one of the best and easiest woodchips to use and work with almost all kinds of recipes. If you don’t have any of these around, you can still try out pecan, maple, and olive. Although these do not provide the type of strong flavor you get from hickory or mesquite, they are perfect when smoking smaller cut briskets.

The best wood to smoke chicken wings

As a delicate meat, chicken wings are usually smoked with lighter hardwood like apple. You can combine apple with a stronger wood like hickory in order to provide a balance between sweet apple wood and the bitter hickory wood.

However, there are other options you can try, but chicken wings can be smoked with any type of light or medium light wood. If you want sweet flavor, you can smoke the meat only with a fruitwood.

But if you want to balance everything out, mixing it up with a stronger wood like hickory will be great. Just keep trying out what works best for you and you will get the right balance you love.

Best wood for smoking beef

When smoking beef, there are several wood chip options you can use. It will now depend on the type of flavor you want and what is available around you. You can use mesquite, hickory, maple, apple, or cherry. The most important thing is to know their flavor and understand which one will be best for you.

If you want sweet flavor on a lighter scale, fruit woods like apple and cherry will be great choices. However, to minimize the sweet taste and add stronger flavor, you can go for mesquite or hickory. But remember that mesquite can be a little bit bitter when added too much, so moderation is the key.

Best wood for smoking trout

Trout is a special kind of seafood from the salmon family. It has a unique taste that even improves when it is smoked. As seafood, it is delicate and doesn’t require wood chips with strong flavors or woods that burn too hot.  Fruit woods are perfect for trout because they have a sweet mild flavor which compliments the fish.

Although you can use available woods like oak or mesquite when you don’t have fruit woods around, the best flavor usually comes out when smoked with apple, alder, or cherry. People may even combine one or two woodchips to provide an ideal flavor for them.

Best wood for smoked salmon

Just like trout, salmon is delicate and requires mild wood for smoking. The type of wood needed here is those with subtle smoky flavor which are usually referred to as sweet. They include cherry, almond, alder, and apple. Apple and Alder, in particular, are very popular options for a lot of  people when smoking salmon.

They provide a mild smoky flavor and blend well with the taste of the salmon. Cherry is also common and can be substituted for either apple or alder when these two are not available or within reach.  Some have even smoked salmon with mesquite before. This should be a last resort when the other woodchip options are not available. Otherwise, there’s no point using mesquite when you when there’s alder that can best compliment the taste of the salmon.

Best wood for smoking  other kinds of  smoked fish

Fish and other seafood do not need too much flavor because they are oily and already have enough flavors.  But some woodchips can actually blend well with the fish flavor and improve the rich taste of the fish. Just like salmon, fish are smoked mostly with mild woodchips like apple, alder, and cherry. The sweet fruity flavors they provide easily compliment the taste of the fish.  These types of wood burn slowly and provide a mild flavor that does not overshadow the real flavor of the fish.

How much wood chips to put in the smoker?

Masterbuilt smoker wood chips or other electric smoker wood chips are usually cut in small logs. The consumption of woods does not really depend on fire intensity since that is controlled by the electric smoker.

The main variable is how long the smoker is going to stay on until your meat is properly smoked. There is a side woodchip loader in the electric smoker. What you have to do is fill up the loader with your favorite woodchip and the smoker will complete the remaining task.

But, there is no definite answer regarding the number of wood chips required to cook a smoked meal. It all depends on the type of meat and the meat cut you are smoking.

Remember that woods come in three basic sizes: logs and sticks, chunks, and chips. Obviously, chips are the best wood sizes to use in your electric smoker, because they are more portable and can easily be chocked into the loader.

With constant smoking activities, you will understand how often you need to add wood pellets to the loader and how much wood chips are needed to smoke your favorite meal.

Generally, for 5 to 6 hours cooking time, one fill of the loader is enough to smoke the food.

Conclusion

The importance of woodchips for smoking meals in an electrical smoker cannot be emphasized enough. They provide the real smoked flavor that gives meals the rich BBQ aroma so many people love.

There are a wide variety of woodchips available for different types of meats and meals. Whether you are smoking tender pork with lots of sausages or just want to add a little flavor to your salmon, there are different woodchips that will provide that rich flavor you crave for. The content above has provided enough information on the best woodchips to use for a particular smoking task.

If you are still learning the ropes of smoking and not a professional yet, you can begin with the most popular and the best woodchips for smoking in electric smokers available on the market. As you gain more experience and have different tastes, you can adjust things a little bit. On the whole, knowing the best woodchips to use for the right meals is important for the overall taste and quality of your smoked meal.

Written By
More from BBQ Forge

How long to smoke pork loin

The tenderness of the pork loin makes it the most desirable option...
Read More