How to Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker

Cooking meat using a traditional smoker gives your food a smoky flavor and aroma that are hard to replicate using an electric smoker. Yet, things are innovating, and electric grills and smokers have improved a lot throughout the years. Thus, you can now find electric smokers that allow you to use wood chips to add that smoky flavor and aroma to the food you cook.

Contemporary electric smokers, of course, make use of modernized and innovative technologies. They may be more expensive than traditional smokers, and they cook cleaner, without those messy charcoal dust afterward. They also cook better than the earlier models of electric smokers.

Besides, they don’t have smoke and flame. Instead, they got a heating element that provides clean heat, without the usual smoke of the traditional smokers. But without the usual smoke, the food you cook on the electric smoker will be devoid of that smoky flavor. So, to get that smoky flavor and aroma, you need to use wood chips in your electric smoker. 

Simple Steps on Using Wood Chips on Electric Smokers

As mentioned above, an electric smoker utilizes electricity to smoke up food. It can cook at high temperatures. Besides, it comes with a wood chip tray at its bottom to make the smoking process more realistic. Yet, if it is your first time using wood chips in an electric smoker, you can follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Pre-soaking of Wood Chips

You can follow the usual rituals that you do when smoking food using offset smokers. You can, for example, pre-soak the wood chips. However, this pre-soaking is only optional. Since electric smokers come with inbuilt temperature controls, the pre-soaking process of wood chips may not be necessary after all. But you can engage in it to help regulate the smoker’s temperature and let the wood chips burn slowly.

Step 2: Pre-smoking Check of the Electric Smoker

Before you turn on your electric smoker, you must check for any leak in the lid or door of the smoker. You should also check for any obstruction to its ventilation. Check for any wear and tear. If there’s a leak in its door seal, chances are, the smoke will come out. Moreover, if there is poor ventilation, you may find it hard to generate smoke. Thus, this preliminary checkup is necessary.

Step 3: Load the Wood Chips

You can load one cup of wood chips onto the tray or loader. The loader is removable; hence, you can remove it and fill it to its full capacity. Then, reinsert the loader or the tray onto the smoker. Afterward, set its handle to the “unload” setting. In this way, the wood chips will neatly fall onto the wood chip tray.

Step 4: Turn on the Electric Smoker

Once you’ve reinserted the loader, you can turn on the electric smoker. Then, set the desired cooking temperature. Preheat the smoker before adding the food. This preheating may take around twenty to thirty minutes, depending on the place’s ambient temperature. Moreover, preheating lets your smoker gain that stable cooking temperature.

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Step 5: Check the Internal Temperature After 20 to 30 Minutes

You can check the internal temperature of the smoker after twenty to thirty minutes. Check if it has achieved the desired cooking temperature. Other factors may affect the temperature of the smoker, like strong winds, ventilation.

Step 6: Add the Meat

If you have achieved the desired internal temperature of the smoker, you can then add the meat. Make sure you grease the racks beforehand to facilitate the clean-up afterward. You can also utilize an outdoor grill mat to facilitate the clean-up.

Other Methods of Using Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker

Aside from being mindful of the steps on how to use wood chips in your electric smoker, you can also check out the following frequently asked questions about the use of wood chips. These questions may be the same questions you have in your mind:

Wrapping Wood Chips in Foil

You can get a strip of foil and set it flat on your countertop. Then, put some wood chips on the foil and fold all four sides to wrap the wood chips entirely. Then, get a sharp object and prick the foil’s upper side. These holes will serve as a ventilation system to let the smoke exit the foil and imbue the meat. 

Set the wrapped foil on the lava rocks. The foil will slow down the burning of wood chips. You can ready some foil packs if needed. Once the foil pack runs out of smoke, you can remove it using tongs and replace it with a new foil pack.

Use a Wood Chip Box

If your electric smoker doesn’t come with a wood chip box, you can purchase one. This wood chip box will let you use wood chips safely on the lava rocks and your electric smoker’s heating elements. You can throw in this box loaded with chips using a pair of tongs. Moreover, online you can buy this separate wood chip box.

Throwing the Wood Chips onto the Lava Rocks

You can also toss the wood chips directly onto the lava rocks to create that smoky flavor. Before tossing the wood chips, you can pre-soak them.

Frequently Asked Questions?

Aside from learning the steps on how to use wood chips in your electric smoker, you can also check out the following frequently asked questions about the use of wood chips. These questions may be the same questions you have in your mind:

Should You Use Dry or Wet Wood Chips?

One crucial question of most beginners about using electric smokers is whether they will use wet or dry wood chips. Of course, you can use either of the two. Wet and dry wood chips come with their benefits and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on how you wish to cook your food. 

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If you like plank cooking, then you should consider soaking the wood chips before using them to allow more smoke to come out. Moreover, it will help you avoid burning the plank. The smoke that usually comes out of wet chips is in steam form. Thus, this steamy smoke will help moisturize the meat and lower the cooking area’s temperature.

On the other hand, you can use dry wood chips for any other type of cooking. You are better off using dry wood chips unless, of course, you want more smoke. Experts, however, would say that your wood chips should be dry when you utilize them.

How Much Wood Chips Should You Use in Your Electric Smoker?

As a beginner in using an electric smoker, you may be wondering how many wood chips you need to use in your electric smoker. Such a question, of course, is understandable. Yet, the amount of wood chips you can use all depends on what you want. 

It will be good to note that four cups of wood chips will net you three to five hours of burning. Hence, if you want to smoke food for longer hours, like six hours, for example, you can prepare six to eight cups of wood chips. 

The amount will also depend on the design of your smoker. Is your smoker designed for wood chips? If your electric smoker comes with wood chip trays at the bottom, you can use wood chips, depending on your preference. 

However, if it doesn’t come with a tray, you need other options in using wood chips. You can be creative, for example, and use a tin can for holding the wood chips. You can also buy a wood chip box.

Are There Other Reasons to Refrain from Soaking Wood Chips?

The smoke from the wood chips can make your food delicious and aromatic or bitter and disgusting. So, it will help to consider the flavor profiles you want to achieve when choosing and preparing wood chips. 

Smoke types vary. Some smoke, for example, isn’t good for your meat, and some are good. White smoke, for instance, is steam. It doesn’t add much flavor to your food. Gray and black smoke, however, are rich in carcinogens and dirty. So, you should avoid those smoke types. 

You should aim for pale blue smoke. You can achieve such a smoke quality by supplying your wood chips with oxygen and using dry wood. You won’t achieve this type of smoke using soaked wood. 

One best way to achieve that smoky flavor and aroma for your food is by hitting a balance when smoking. Don’t overwhelm your meat with smoke, but don’t leave it without smoke likewise. The meat will lose its rub flavors and the flavor of the wood chips if you smoke it profusely.

Is It Okay to Use Wood Chunks or Pellets for Electric Smoker?

I would discourage you from using wood chunks or smoker pellets on your electric smoker. Chunks may be suitable for a campfire. But for smoking meat using an electric smoker, chunks are not advisable for use. 

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On the other hand, you better use pellets in pellet smokers. Besides, it will help to refrain from using pellets in your electric smoker.

How Long Would Wood Chips Last in the Electric Smokers?

Many users of smokers don’t know precisely how wood chips should be used in an electric smoker. Four cups of wood chips would last for three to five hours. Nevertheless, some brands of wood chips would not last longer than that. So, it depends on the type of wood chips you will use. Some wood chips would not even heat up at all. Hence, you should choose a quality brand when shopping around for wood chips. 

If you allow too much air in the pan, the excess air can be a problem because the wood chips will burn quickly with enough oxygen. When they burn, they produce less smoke but more heat. So, you need to ensure that you seal the wood chip pan completely. 

On the other hand, wood chips that are soaked will emit more smoke. If you are desirous of more smoke, then it will be fine with you to use soaked wood chips. But to avoid too much smoke, it will be best to use dry wood chips. Moreover, you need to be very careful when using wood chips to ensure that you will have an excellent cooking result.


If you’re a lover of smoked food, you will indeed appreciate having an electric smoker that you can use anywhere and anytime. Electric smokers are set-and-forget appliances. You don’t need to monitor it constantly. You only need to set its temperature and time and let it do its thing. You can buy digital electric smokers that come with control panels that are easy to navigate and control. 

Most electric smokers come with a design for accommodating wood chips, though some may not accept wood chips. So, you need to be innovative if your electric smoker doesn’t have a tray or loader. 

Don’t use scrap wood or any other treated wood in your electric smoker. Such types of wood can produce harmful smoke that can compromise the safety of your food. It will be best to use only wood chips manufactured for use in smokers or electric smokers. 

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