How to Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker (5 Steps)


Electric smokers are all the hype these days, and rightfully so.

Although electric smokers cost more than any conventional smokers, the convenience and benefits that they offer are worth the amount spent on them.

These smokers use electricity to provide heat for the smoker to cook food. This leaves the wood chips just one job: to smoke the meat.

Maple Wood Chips

If you are familiar with smoking, you know that the smallest wrong step can smoke the meat the wrong way, ruining the whole taste of your food.

For this reason, you must know exactly what you’re doing with your wood chips and the smoking process. So, to answer how to use wood chips in an electric smoker, we’re here to help you figure out the right way and the right amount of wood chips to use.

Also Read:

How to Use Wood Chips in Electric Smoker: A Step-By-Step Guide

1st step: Checking for Leaks

The most important thing to make sure of in a smoker is that there are no leaks. 

If the door closes loosely, or there is some kind of wear and tear over time that causes leaks in the electric smoker, your smoker will not be able to produce the right amount of smoke for the meat as most of it will be allowed to escape.

Similarly, it’s also mandatory to look for correct ventilation. If there is any form of obstruction that prevents ventilation, the smoke will not be allowed to combust, and hence the right amount will not be produced.

We use the electric smoker by Masterbuilt to avoid this hindrance – their smokers are known to be durable.

2nd step: Load the Wood Chips

After you are done making sure that the smoke will not leak and will be produced the right way in the right amount, you can load your wood chips in.

Some smokers will let you remove the wood chip tray itself so that you can load it as much as you want.

Whereas some will have another additional loading tray that is to be filled with wood chips manually. Unloading this loading tray will fill the wood chip tray of the smoker automatically and evenly.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker (30-inch) includes such a slide-out loading tray.

Usually, it’s safe to load around half a cup or one cup of wood chips in an electric smoker. However, you should check with the loading tray’s capacity prior to putting the wood chips in.

The loading tray is present at the bottom of the racks in most smokers. In the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker (30-inch), it can be accessed from both the bottom of the racks, or as another removable tray present on the right side of the smoker.

We highly recommend this wood chips product:

Grilling Smoker Chips by WESTERN

It is a bundle of Apple, Mesquite, Hickory, and Cherry Flavors.

3rd step: Turn on Your Electric Smoker

When the wood chips are placed inside the smoker, you need to turn it on and set it to any desired temperature.

electric smoker

The meat is not to be loaded at this stage since this is only the preheating step for your electric smoker.

4th step: Check the Internal Temperature

Once the smoker has been preheated, taking about 20 to 30 minutes, its internal temperature is to be monitored.

The internal temperature is affected by external environmental factors, such as the weather. This is why there can be a variance of 20 degrees Fahrenheit at times of extreme climates. 

Otherwise, it’s expected to observe the desired temperature within 20 to 30 minutes.

5th step: Load Your Meat

If you’re done with all the preliminary steps, your smoker is ready to use!

You can then load the meat inside. Just ensure that the racks where the meat will go are well-greased to avoid any cleaning struggles.

Benefits of Wood Chips in Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are designed to provide user convenience. For this reason, it’s not mandatory to add wood chips to them, they can work on the heat provided by electricity alone.

However, most electric smokers are designed in a way that allows you to use wood chips in them. This is because these chips help flavor the meat and further enhance its smoke.

So, unless your electric smoker clearly states otherwise and has no tray to accommodate the wood chips, the answer to whether can you use wood chips in a wood chip smoker is yes.

Wood Chips Vs. Chip Pellets

As far as the comparison between wood chips and pellets is concerned, both of these are made of hardwood. There’s only an additional step that converts the hardwood into pellets instead of chips.

The only difference between the two is that wood chips tend to burn faster than wood pellets, and hence pellets last longer.

Other than that, both chips and pellets come in a variety of flavors and smoke intensities, depending on the wood type. The cost of the two is also almost similar.

You should look into your smoker brand to see whether the brand prefers the use of wood chips or pellets, to decide between the two.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker?

Wood chips are used in electric smokers because they enhance the aroma of the meat being smoked.

They also help take out the natural flavor of the meat, with the help of the flavor of the wood type being used. 

Should the Wood Chips be Soaked?

Not necessarily.

Different recipes require different methods to use wood chips. Some will prefer wet chips, while the other will ask you to make sure they are completely dry.

Usually, wet wood chips are said to produce more smoke.

What are the Best Wood Chips?

The best wood chips for you depend on your preference.

Wood chips come in various wood types, giving different flavors to your meat. Hence the best choice for you depends on what flavor you would prefer.

Wrapping it Up

Although wood chips might not be needed in electric smokers, most electric smoker brands prefer that you use them because of all the benefits they offer.

With this guide, you now know exactly how to use the wood chips in your smoker.

Happy smoking!

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.