Best Wood Chips for Smoking

Smoking is a time-consuming (if not particularly labor-intensive) method of imbuing your meat with flavor, and you can achieve delicious results that are otherwise hard to master.

Smoking is a time-consuming (if not particularly labor-intensive) method of imbuing your meat with flavor, and you can achieve delicious results that are otherwise hard to master.

In fact, smoked meat will be the star of the show at any BBQ or summer gathering. Getting the taste and the level of smokiness juuuust right is an absolute must if you hope to impress.

In order to avoid disappointment after spending the day slaving away over your smoker, you will need to use the best wood chips available to you for beautifully smoked, flavorful meat.

To help you with this, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best types of wood chips for smoking meat so you can focus instead on being the king or queen of the grill. As well as including a frequently asked questions section, we’ve also put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide that explains what factors you should look out for when choosing wood chips for smoking.

So, without further ado, here are our reviews of the 5 best wood chips for smoking!

The 5 Best Wood Chips for Smoking 

Top Pick 

Western Premium Peach BBQ Smoking Chips

In order to avoid disappointment after spending the day slaving away over your smoker, you will need to use the best wood chips available to you for beautifully smoked, flavorful meat.

To help you with this, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best types of wood chips for smoking meat so you can focus instead on being the king or queen of the grill. As well as including a frequently asked questions section, we’ve also put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide that explains what factors you should look out for when choosing wood chips for smoking.

So, without further ado, here are our reviews of the 5 best wood chips for smoking!

The 5 Best Wood Chips for Smoking 

Top Pick 

Western Premium Peach BBQ Smoking Chips

Our personal favorite when it comes to wood chips for smoking is these Western Premium peach smoking chips, although they also offer a wide range of different types of wood chips.

The chips have been heat treated to remove any risk of pest infestation, mold, or rot, which means they will make a perfectly safe (and delicious) addition to any BBQ, grill, or cookout.

Pop some of these on your charcoal, gas, or electric grill and you’ll enjoy its mild aroma wafting up from between the grates as well as a uniquely sweet-tasting flavor in every bite. You’ll become a cookout hero and your BBQs will be the envy of all your friends and family.

For the best results, simply place these wood chips in a foil packet or a smoke box and place them over the heat, waiting for the smoke to start shooting up before putting your food on the grill and moving the chips to the side. It’s hard to go wrong with this option!

Pros

  • Versatile: These can be used on any type of grill and can work well with a number of different types of food, including lighter meats like poultry and vegetables.
  • Easy to use: If you’re still at the start of your smoking journey, these peach BBQ smoking chips are a great choice for beginners.
  • Heat treated wood: The smoking chips are safe to use around your food as they have been heat treated to eliminate health risks.
  • Fit for all your favorites: Whatever you’re cooking, whether it be hamburgers, chicken wings, ribs, or brisket, you can always add some Western peach wood chips.

Cons

  • Burn time: You won’t be able to smoke a whole hog with just one of these bags of smoking chips, but they should produce plenty of smoke for smaller cuts of meat.

Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips Variety Pack: Apple, Mesquite, Hickory, Cherry 

If you can’t make your mind up about which flavor notes you’d like to bring through your meat during smoking, why not try this variety pack of Western BBQ Smoking wood chips?

You’ll get four 180-cubic-inch bags of wood chips in the hugely popular apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry all included with your purchase. This gives you the option to sample each of the different types of wood chips or to mix and match to create your own unique flavors.

Compared to buying one of the Western BBQ smoking wood chip bags individually, you’ll save money if you buy in bulk, so opting for a variety pack like this can work out cheaper. However, the small size of the chips means they can also burn through quite quickly.

There’ll be no need to painfully plan your cooking times or work out when you’ll add the wood chips, as the speed with which they begin to smoke means there will be a minimal wait time before you can start smoking your food.

Pros 

  • Good value for money: The cost of wood chips when you buy in bulk is cheaper than if you were to buy individual bags.
  • Made in the USA: None of the wood within these bags has been imported, as Western wood chips are all made in the USA.
  • Short wait time: The chips are quick to start smoking so you can put your meat on soon after placing the wood chips on your grill.
  • Stocked up: By opting for a variety or multi-pack like this, you’ll increase the length of time between needing to stock up on more wood chips.

Cons 

  • Smaller chip size: The wood chips could potentially burn quicker than you would expect due to their small size, so you may need to use more than you typically would.

Weber Apple Wood Chunks

Next up on our list of the top 5 best wood chips for smoking is this offering from Weber. Their apple wood chunks imbue an unreal flavor into whatever you’re cooking, yet they are subtle enough to avoid over-smoking and thus overpowering the more nuanced notes of your food.

Chicken and other light poultry or meat pair particularly well with these wood chips, which can be broken down into smaller size chips if you need them to fit in your smoke box. Previous customers have even left rave reviews about the fragrant taste the chips bring to your food.

You also get more for your money with these Weber apple wood chunks as they come in a bag that contains 350 cubic inches of wood for smoking, which means it will last for longer.

Pros

  • Good value for money: You get a larger quantity of wood chips for less than some of the other options we’ve included, which is great if you need to stock up.
  • Easy to use: These wood chips are easy to use and work equally as well whether you’re using a proper smoke box or a self-constructed tin foil packet.
  • Not chemically treated: No harmful chemicals or toxins have been used to treat the wood chunks.

Cons

  • Large chunks: Due to their larger size, you might have difficulty stuffing these wood chunks into a smaller smoke box, so splitting them up beforehand may be necessary.

Jack Daniel’s BBQ Smoking Chips

One brand we’re sure the majority of people will recognize is Jack Daniels, which is now selling its own smoking chips to suit all your BBQ needs. Made from 100% Jack Daniel’s whiskey oak barrels, the JD reputation is more than upheld by these high-quality wood chips.

Enjoy this distinct Jack Daniel’s flavor with hints of the Tennessee whiskey permeating your food while it cooks. The impressive amount of smoke produced by these wood chips is also enough to effectively flavor your food without needing to use a high quantity of the chips.

Whether it’s the result of the brand name that’s printed across the front or because you get more in a bag than you do for some of the other options we’ve included in this article, this option is slightly more expensive, but in our opinion, it’s worth it.

Pros

  • Versatile: These can be used on either an electric or gas grill and with a wide variety of different foods.
  • Reputable brand: The wood chips definitely live up to the brand name thanks to the high quality of the wood and the resulting flavor that hints at this Tennessee whiskey.
  • Made from 100% quality wood: The chips come from 100% aged whiskey barrels.

Cons

  • More expensive option: This is one of the more expensive options we’ve looked at.

Oklahoma Joe’s Hickory Wood Smoker Chips

Last but not least, we also decided to include these Oklahoma Joe’s Hickory wood smoker chips. Unlike the last option we reviewed, these are the cheapest chips on this list, although they are also the smallest as the 179-cubic-inches bag contains just 2 lbs of wood.

The all-natural wood chips are free from harmful chemicals or toxins and produce great results when you add them to your smoker with meat, poultry, fish, or even vegetables.

Just opening the bag alone will expose you to the subtle scent of hickory, so imagine what this would be like to taste as you take the first bite of your food!

They also burn really well and can withstand flare-ups without causing fire safety hazards, and you can use these chips in either an electric, gas, or charcoal smoker.

Pros

  • Affordable: As the cheapest option we’ve included, this is a great option if you’re looking to try out smoking rather than stock up on wood chips.
  • Great flavor: There’s a reason why hickory wood chips are among the most popular types for smoking, but this option from Oklahoma Joe’s takes taste to the next level.
  • Burn well: The wood chips don’t burn too quickly yet it won’t be long before they start smoking, either.

Cons

  • Smallest quantity: This might not be the best option if you’re planning on hosting a few BBQs over the course of the summer, as you only get 2 lbs of chips in each bag.

Buyer’s Guide 

Adding wood chips when smoking meat is a great way to experiment with exciting new flavors and different notes depending on which chips you use, but this doesn’t make it any easier to find the perfect type of wood for smoking. If anything, it actually makes it harder!

Luckily for you, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to walk you through some of the most important factors to think about when you’re trying to decide which wood chips to buy.

Wood Chip Strength and Smokiness 

When shopping for wood chips to use for smoking purposes, it’s important to consider just how much of a smoky flavor the chips are able to imbue the meat with.

There are varying smoke strengths for wood chips that range from mild to strong in flavor. If you’re new to smoking meat or just new to adding wood chips into the mix, here is a brief guide to some of the different types of wood chips and their smoking strengths.

If you prefer a mild flavor, look for fruity wood chips like apple, cherry, peach, and pear. These will transfer a subtly sweet taste to your meat or fish without overpowering its flavor. When smoking fish with a stronger flavor on its own, you can also get away with using birch.

For a stronger taste, try using mesquite wood chips – just remember that these are best used in moderation, and it’s a good idea to balance them with other additional flavors.

If you’re looking for something that sits in the middle of this smoke strength spectrum, you can also check out hickory, maple, oak, and pecan wood chips.

And if you’re really not sure what strength of wood chips you prefer, why not try one of the variety pack options we’ve included? This gives you the option to sample a number of different smoky flavors and to experiment with their different effects.

What Type of Food Are You Smoking? 

Finding the right wood chips to use also depends on what type of fish, poultry, or meat you’re smoking, as different types of wood interact differently with each of these foods.

Pairing your food with wood chips that bring out the best flavor can greatly enhance your eating experience. Consider using some of the following combinations for successful results:

  • Hickory: Red meat, poultry, pork shoulders, or ribs.
  • Oak: Poultry, pork, or game like foul.
  • Cherry: Ham or poultry like chicken or turkey.
  • Mesquite: Chicken, duck, lamb, or red meat.
  • Maple: Poultry, pork, or game like foul.
  • Pecan: Briskets, ribs, or roasts.
  • Alder: Fish.
  • Apple: Chicken, wild foul, or pork.

The Cost of Wood Chips 

Buying in bulk will often get you the most wood chips for your money, but seeing as certain types will create a better flavor than others, this isn’t necessarily always the best option.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to order a smaller bag of chips to start with so you can determine the quality of flavor they produce, how well they smoke, and whether it’s worth buying more of the same or if you’re better off sticking to your usual bulk order.

When trying to work out how much value for money you’re getting, it’s important to consider the burn time and how many wood chips you need to use to achieve the desired results.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Should you soak wood chips before smoking? 

The answer to this question has been the topic of much debate amongst meat-smoking enthusiasts. Purists argue that you should soak your chips about an hour before you use them, whereas many are of the opinion that soaking wood chips is an unnecessary step.

There are some benefits to it, such as the ability to delay the smoking time until after the meat has reached the desired temperature, but they can also produce steam instead of smoke which won’t have the same tasty effect on the flavor of your food.

What wood should you not smoke with?

Just like there are some types of wood that are great for smoking, there are equally as many that should be avoided for this purpose. This includes any type of wood from conifers like pine, fir, redwood, spruce, cedar, or cypress due to their high sap and terpenes content.

Not only does using these types of wood affect the way your food tastes in an unpleasant way, but it also has the potential to make people sick, which would be a real party killer.

When smoking, what is the correct quantity of wood chips to use?  

This will depend on your personal preference, the type of wood chips you’re using, and the size of or the type of food you’re smoking, in addition to how long you’ll need to smoke it for.

To provide you with a rough estimate, 4 cups of wood chips will burn for around 3 to 5 hours, so make sure you pack enough to last for the duration of the food’s required cooking time.

Final Thoughts 

Adding wood chips to your smoker or grill can completely transform your typical BBQ into a smoky taste sensation for you and your guests, and now that you have a better idea of which chips you should be using, you’ll be able to wow them all with your new meat smoking skills.

Using high-quality wood chips makes even more of a difference. With a slower burn and a subtle yet impactful influence on the meat’s final flavor, opt for a better brand and you’ll reap the rewards when you take that first bite (and every bite thereafter).

Any one of the options we’ve provided in this article would make an excellent choice, but we hoped we’ve helped point you in the right direction of the wood chips you will most enjoy.

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