Should I Use Wood Chips or Wood Chunks?

Grilling with flavored wood is a great way to mix up your menu, especially if you’re tired of the same-ole chicken or steak.

Smoking wood is very common with larger smokers, like offset smokers and vertical smokers, but more and more people are starting to add wood to their grill.

If you have an electric or gas grill, you can use a smoker box or place the wood directly on the grates. But, if you have a charcoal grill, you can put the wood on or around the charcoal once the charcoal has started to turn grey.

If you’re thinking about trying smoking wood on your grill, consider what you’re grilling and what type of grill your have when making the decision to buy wood chips or wood chunks.

Wood Chips

Smoking wood chips are small pieces or slivers of wood. There is generally little to no bark included with wood chips.

Use wood chips when you plan on smoking for a short period just to give your food a quick flavor infusion or to add a little smoke to your fire. Wood chips ignite quickly and burn out fast, which is why they’re better used with smaller pieces of meat, like sausages, chicken parts (legs, breast, thighs) and steak.

Wood chips are most commonly used with electric and gas grills. But, many grillers who prefer using charcoal grills will add a small handful of chips to their charcoal to add a little extra flavor to their meat.

Wood Chunks

Smoking wood chunks are fist-sized blocks.

Use wood chunks if you’re going to be smoking for a longer period of time. Wood chunks take longer to ignite, so they do not burn out as quickly – lasting an hour in a grill or hours in a smoker before burning out. They’re best used with larger pieces of meat that need to cook long and slow, such as ribs, whole chickens or Boston butts.

Wood chunks are most commonly used with charcoal grills. You can use wood chunks with a gas grill, but the longer you have to cook your food, the more fuel you will use, so make sure that your tank is full before getting started.

Tips Grilling with Wood Chips or Chunks

  • To produce moist, flavorful smoke, soak the wood in water for at least 30 minutes.
  • When grilling with chips, you can add them to hot coals for immediate smoke, or you can place the wood chips in a smoker box or an aluminum foil pocket next to the coal for gradual smoke.
  • You can use wood chunks along with charcoal or by themselves.
  • When grilling with an infrared grill, do not soak wood chips, place them on the grill dry, and avoid using wood chunks.