How to Use Wood Chips for Smoking

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 24, 2021

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We all love that tempting smell of barbecue smoke coming out of a grill. But using a smoker is not the only way to infuse great flavor to your barbecue.

You can achieve similar great flavor by smoking wood chips on your charcoal grill with the help of a smoker box.

Whether you plan on cooking hot dogs, burgers, or steaks, learning the basic techniques of how to use wood chips for smoking will surely enhance your smoking experience.


How to Use Wood Chips for Smoking

Step-by-Step Process So here are the steps on how to use wood chips on a charcoal grill.

  1. Look for those perfect wood chips. It is best to use hardwood charcoal for your grill. Choose small chunks of wood that were burnt and dried since they burn hot and are capable of infusing an authentic wood smoke flavor into your barbecue.choose-wood-chips
  2. Next, light your coal with a chimney starter. This refers to that cylinder shape container that comes with an empty compartment and has holes at the bottom. Place some crumpled paper on the empty compartment. Place the chimney at the bottom part of the cooking grates. Fill with charcoal and light the paper through the holes at the compartment.light-up-your-coal
  3. Wait for about 30-45 minutes or until the coal is ready. You’ll know that it’s ready for grilling when you notice that it’s already covered with a light gray colored ash.charcoal-ready-to-grill
  4. You can use a smoker box for the wood chips or come up with a pouch for the wooden chips. To do this, layer the aluminum foil sheets and spread the chips in a layer at the center. Gather the edges of the foil together in order to seal. Create holes at the top of the pouch in order for the smoke to escape.wood-chunks-in-smoke-boxpouch-of-the-wood-chips
  5. Place the charcoal directly on the grill. Put it below the area where the food will be placed when you’re grilling meat that needs to be seared, such as pork chops, burgers, and steaks. Arrange the coal in one corner of the grill if you are cooking meat that requires slow
  6. Place the cooking grate in the grill. Position the pouch you have created for the chips on top of the charcoal. When the chips start producing smoke, add the meat that you plan on
  7. Finally, cover the charcoal grill in order to enclose the smoke. But when doing so, make sure that the air can still get through. Open the lid about an inch or two and grill the food until it’s thoroughly cooked.cook-meat-in-the-charcoal-grill

How to Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

  1. Choose wood chips that fit your taste and food
  2. Place the wood chips in smoker box if you don’t have one make a pouch of wood chip
  3. Light up the gas grill and place smoker box or pouch of wood chips under the grate( not waste your cooking area) or above the grate if your gas grill doesn’t have the place to fit it.
  4. Wait until wood chips produce the smoke if you soaked wood chips make sure that it does not smoke from streaming wood chipswait-until-wood-chips-start-smoke
  5. Put the meat in the gas grill and close the lidplace-the-meat-in-gas-grill
  6. Cooking the meat until it has donecook-meat-until-it-has-done

Tips to Keep in Mind

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when using wood chips for smoking:

  • Avoid turning the seared meats until they are cooked on one side. Try to flip the meat, and if it’s sticking to the grill, then that means it’s not done yet.
  • When grilling long cooking meats such as pork shoulder or pork butt and grilled ribs, try to use less charcoal. Also, keep the heat at 200 °F. You may need to occasionally add more wood chips or charcoal to your grill. If you want, you can place a bowl of water at the cooking grate in order to produce steam and in order for the meat to be moist.
  • It’s important that you have a spray bottle filled with water ready by your side, which you can use to extinguish a fire in the event of flare-ups.

Smoking Wood Chart

An amulet for you when you feel not confident in smoking. Trust me it helps you a lot and yes, it totally free!!


Can you put wood chips directly on charcoal?

Yes, you can put it directly on the coals for your charcoal grill or place it in smoker box for your gas grill. If you don’t have a smoker box, you can use an aluminum foil pouch for the wood chips and create a hole on the top to let smoke sneak out.

Do you need to wet wood chips when smoking?

No, it not crucial to soaked wood chips before smoking except you need to prevent a catchy fire or extend your smoking time. If you want to soak wood chunks before smoking for about 30 minutes for the chunkier ones, soak them for up to an hour or two.

How Long Do You Soak Wood Chips for Grilling?

You should soak them for 30 minutes and then heat the wood chips for 10 minutes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.