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How to use Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill/Smoker?

The appealing ambiance and fragrance of charcoal grill food are quite mesmerizing. More than 75% of U.S. clan owns a grill to enjoy their party time.

Among different variables (such as cooking condition, time, sauces, dry rub recipes, and wood sort), wood chips create a fantastic smoky flavor on your grill. But how to use wood chips on a charcoal grill is may your question.

In this comprehensive guide, we are enlisting our favorite tricks focusing on How to use wood chips on charcoal grill properly to the flame beforehand, to enhance smoky sensation.

Continue our write-up to make your grill experiment better.

Why Charcoal?

Why you prefer to use wood chips with charcoal may make you think? As you have the option to use wood chips for almost all types of grill.

The answer is that the charcoal grills are less costly, easy to pick up, and accessible variables. With very little strives you can add a unique smoky flavor if you use wood chips while charcoal grilling.

In sorts charcoal grills are two types:

The first one is with the smoker box.

The charcoal grills with the smoker box carry the chips inside & smoke the cooking chamber directly.

The second one is without a box.

Here, you’ve to put the wood chips directly on the charcoal, but don’t worry; you will get a similar result.

Moreover, compared with the gas grill, the charcoal grills hit an oppressive heat to offer a stunning sear on the meat. Oppressive heat is the vital factor to have an appetizing smoky taste.

Remind that it is crucial to wipe up your grill ideally after using to have no bad flavors in the next time grilling.

Experiment with the sorts of wood chips:

Presently, wood chips from various sorts of trees are accessible in the market. Perfect kinds of wood chips will make your meat more delicious.

Before picking, you need to match & mix different contrasting to get the best one for your grill.

 Among different sorts of wood chips, few are mild flavor, few are sweet, or few are intense. See the table below what we’ve traced with the most popularity below.

TypeAmbienceBest with
AppleMellowseafood, poultry, cheese
CherryMild, fruitypoultry, pork
MapleSlightly smoky, sweetVegetables, poultry, ham
AlderSweet, mildFish
OakSmokyFish, beef, pork, wild game
Peach or PearSweet, woodsyGame birds, poultry, pork
HickorySavory, bacon-likeBeef, pork, poultry, cheese

Bold, very smokyBeef, lamb
HickorySavory, bacon-likeBeef, pork, poultry, cheese


  • Don’t apply any unknown wood from your backyard dropped branches; may you don’t have any idea if it has any poison ivy or chemicals.
  • Softwoods are not appropriate for smoking like pine as they’ll flicker while burning, quitting a sooty residue behind.
  • Try to pick particular wood chips for cooking. You will get it easily at an affordable price.
  • Plus, exactly you have the option to know what sorts of wood & flavor you’re picking.
  • Also, you may taste various wood combinations of wood like cherry with maple or oak can create lovely stronger flavors; cherry is great all-purpose wood.
  • Avoid mixing robust wood like mesquite or hickory —they’ll make the food taste bitter if you use it in excess.

How to use wood chips on a charcoal grill?

Step-1: Blaze the fire.

  • Before starting, you need to blaze the fire your charcoals first, using a lighter fluid or chimney starter, whatever you like. We don’t suggest match-light briquettes through some griller uses this.
  • The chemical of match-light briquettes may mix with your food while cooking.
  • Take a chimney starter & a few old newspapers rolling it in a ring shape to the blazing fire.
  • Pack the chimney with charcoal with a stick lighter, flame the paper’s bottom, wait until the fire passes over on coals. After lighting up the charcoals, use heat-proof gloves to go into the cooking area.
  • On your cooking chamber, put all your charcoals, pour a little liquid over it with a stick lighter, light it up. Be careful; a high flame may rise in this process.

Step-2: Creating foil packets (optional).

  • This step is not mandatory, but renowned chefs suggest it. Pick your handful of wood chips; with a double layer of aluminum foil, wrap them.
  • With a pointed skewer, create some holes into the pack, & then keep it away with coals.

Step-3: Smoker box charcoal grill.

  • If you want to do faster, make a charcoal grill with a smoker box. Although a smoker box is used with a gas grill to give a smoky flavor, you can use a smoker box with a charcoal grill to get the same result.
  • It’s quite simple: keep some wood chips in the box, set on the burning coals, and hold on until smoke pours out; yup, now you are ready to start cooking.

Step-4: Without smoker box charcoal grill.

  • It needs a few different methods. Directly you can set the wood chips on your coal. Here probably you have to change them more often.
  • Or you can use foil packet here follow our step 2 to make foil packet, its works as a barrier between coal & wood. This aluminum foil protects the oxygen that changes the wood into charcoal, spraying out full smoke.

Step-5: Happy grilling.

  • Now you can go put your meat on the lid. You should keep it close as possible to grant the smoke to come into the cooking chamber; don’t light a charcoal grill inside.
  • Take safety defense as smoke may harm you.

Pellets vs Wood chips vs Wood chunks:

Usually, pellets are a form of heated and dried hardwood compression and then assemble into small cylinders. Although having a steady burn rate, it is a great choice for smoking with high temperatures.

Another side, simply a wood chip is a little piece of hardwood seasoned to minimize the wet level. They offer a high range of smoke than the pellets but burn too quickly.

You may hear the name of wood chunks that are bigger versions of pellets. If you are grilling a brisket or pork butt, or any big cut of meat, wood chunks will be the best choice to offer prolonged tenure in the smoker.

What to do with wood chips soak or not?

With plenty of debate on this topic, it stops in personal preference. However, we do not get any sort of advantage from doing so.

As wood chips fire out so quickly, people thought naturally soaking is a process of slowing down the chips. Usually, water boils at 212°F (100°C), & the wood can burn up at around 356°F (180°C).

According to Meathead sources, it needs almost 24 hour period to enter water barely into the smoking chips. But how peculiar is it that most people suggest soaking your wood chips only for half an hour to 2 hours?

Commonly it is thought that soaked wood chips will prevent easy firing on them and combusting. If you create a foil packet that we have enlisted above, soaking isn’t essential for you as foil works as a barrier and saves the wood chips from catching fire.

Hence, we suggest you trail yourself and find out which process suits you best. If you find out how to turn your meat smoky and delicious, then continue the process for your next time doing.

But it will be wise not to soak your wood chips; it is totally worthless.

How much wood cheap is enough for you?

While using a slow & low cooking utensil, you need to put on a fresh packet or handful of chips in the half-hour after to get the best flavor.

Or if you’re grilling just a few sausages or chicken wings, then some handfuls of wood chip, you’ll need to maintain the smoke flavor for over an hour.

Way of having maximum flavor:

Though the charcoal grill typically gives an outstanding flavor, wood chips can make it even better.

Yup, of course, without any doubt, wood chips add a smoky flavor; what is the way to maximize it?

Add some wine, beer, or any juice to it; while the liquid evaporates, the wood chips will begin to expose additional smoke flavor.

Some crucial minor points:

  • Let’s have some crucial minor points to make the best taste.
  • Apply minimum charcoal, wait until it turns white, and set your wood chips. While the wood chips create smoke, place your meat then.
  • Remind to apply a handful of wood chips to balance the level of smoke on your food. Proper airflow is also too important; please try to ensure it; or, the will burn out the wood too fast, having the bitter taste of your meat.
  • Consider thick white smoke as one of the signals for it.

Final thought:

If you practice more, you can get the result better; as a grill lover, if you want to experiment with charcoal grill with wood chips, follow our guide & start small.

Enjoy delicious grill food with cherry wood chips for your first time grilling. Be concentrated to the smoke output and the flavor effects.

You can enjoy more testy and complex cooking techniques when you’ve learned the basics.

Happy Grilling!

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