Wood Chips: All You Need to Know

Wood Chips: All You Need to Know

Wood Chips: All You Need to Know

What are Wood Chips?

Wood chips can add a robust, smoky flavor to your barbecue and are a barbecue staple. Pit masters use chips, pellets, or chunks, depending on the cut and size of your meat selection.  Chips and pellets burn a lot quicker than chunks do, so they are ideal for shorter barbecuing cook times.  Chunks are best for your low and slow cook times.  However, there is no right answer; only preferences.  

Why Use Wood Chips?

Wood chips are extremely important and, quite frankly, critical in achieving a smokey flavor.  Without chips, youll lack that oh-so tasty smokiness.  Yes, its an extra step, but its one that will surely be missed!  Dont believe us?  Do your own taste test and youll know for sure.

When To Use Wood Chips?
If you are looking to get that smokey flavor, youll definitely want to pick up some wood chips.  If youre not quite a pit master yet and dont own a smoker but want to expand your skills, pick up a wood chip smoker box (or make one out of a punctured foil pouch) to get your feet wet and use with your gas grill or your charcoal grill.

How To Use Wood Chips?

There are many things to remember when using wood chips.  But on the top of that list: Dont over do it with the chips.  Adding too much wood can make your food taste bitter.  Also, your smoke should be white and should flow evenly and gently, not like that of a steam engine.
Another thing to remember is to keep the air moving.  Open vents allow the smoke to swirl over the meat giving it just just enough time to give off that smokey flavor.  Remember to not peek too often because every time you open it, you lose smoke and heat.  Two incredibly important things!
One more thing to remember when using wood chips is to make sure your wood chip type tastes good with your marinades, spices and other flavors.  Choose flavors that balance and support each other.  You dont want to distract your taste buds from the main star!

Choosing the “Right” Wood

Different types of wood create different flavors.   It’s important that your marinades and other spices are complementary to your choice of wood!  Make sure your flavors support each other, not distract.     When cooking poultry or pork, often times pit masters will use fruit woods, such as cherry or apple, or maple or pecan.  Pecan also pairs nicely with beef.  Mesquite, extremely popular and very strong in flavor, is best used on red meats.  And, one you can rarely go wrong with is Hickory.  Hickory is the classic smoking wood and pairs well with just about everything!  Just make sure you choose a wood that is hard and doesn’t contain resin and sap.  Woods to avoid include elm, pine, fir, spruce, sycamore, cedar, eucalyptus, and cypress.  A fun tip: You can even use wood chips made from whiskey or wine barrels that give off a very unique, tasteful flavor.


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