Using wood chips for smoking on a charcoal BBQ is just as easy as using chunks of wood, the only difference is you can use them inside a wood chip smoker parcel or you can place them directly over charcoal. Either way, depending on whether you soak them or not depends on how much smoke and flavor they will generate.
Why use wood chips instead of wood chunks
There are several reasons to use wood chips on a charcoal BBQ instead of wood chunks. If you only have a small piece of meat, a few burgers, or just something you want to inject a bit of extra flavor into, then wood chips work as a better solution.
Wood chips burn away a lot quicker than wood chunks so if you only intend on a quick smoke session making something like jalapeño poppers around an hour cook time, then you would potentially choose wood chips again.
Wood chunks are suited better to smoking larger chunks of meat with longer cook times.
The best way to use wood chips for smoking
To use wood chips for smoking you should if using the snake method on a kettle BBQ place a handful just below the head of the snake, this is the perfect place to get a good amount of flavor and generate a good amount of smoke into food.
If you are using the minion method or an offset smoker then place them at the top of the charcoal pile to gain the most benefit from using wood chips.
Another method is to make a tinfoil parcel full of wood chips with holes picked into it and then placed onto the grill above the lit charcoal.
What type of wood chips for smoking
Most woods available for smoking are also available as wood chips. Oak, cherry, mesquite for example are readily available in packets from nearly all BBQ brands.
Should you soak wood chips for smoking
Wet wood smolders for longer and gives off more smoke so I always recommend soaking wood chips. More smoke equals more flavor injected into your food. Dry wood chips catch light and burn away quickly, resulting in less flavor from the wood.
Dry wood chips will also cause a spike in the temperatures in your BBQ as they light and burn away.
How long to soak wood chips for smoking
It is normally advised that you soak wood chips in a bowl for 24 hours before smoking. However, I always like using whiskey barrel wood chips and usually only soak for an hour before soaking as I do not want to destroy the whiskey notes when smoking.
However, if you have pure wood with no added notes like cherry wood chips then I soak for 24 hours in a bowl full of water.
You do not need them to fully dry off before using I normally tip them into a sieve to drain and then use almost straight away.
How many wood chips for smoking
A good handful will be more than enough placed in the early part of the smoking process is more than enough. Remember that after an hour or so of initial smoking, meats will not take on any more flavor from the smoke. Another thing to note is you should only intend on using wood chips for
This means it is not necessary to use a whole pack of wood chips every time.
Best wood chips for smoking
As I’ve already mentioned I like oak whiskey barrel wood chips I find they work well on pretty much all meats and vegetables. Weber does a good range of wood chips for smoking as do pretty much all BBQ and charcoal brands.