Can you use wood chips in offset smoker

Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 08:48 am

Offset smokers are the the best choice for getting the feel of traditional smoking and also provide better flavor then other set it and forget it type of smokers .

But these are more complex then other smokers due to which beginners often get confused while using it.

yes, you can definitely use wood chips in an offset smoker. without wood chips, the smoking cannot provide the mouth watering flavor. although its your personal choice that whether you and to use wood chips or chunks in your smoker

the flavor of the smoked mets comes from the gases present inside the smoke. if smoke is not produced due to not using wood chips then it doesn’t matter whether you cook food in offset smoker or oven, the flavor will be same.

One of the most common confusion that most beginners face is can you use wood chips in an offset smoker?

At the end of this article , you will be able to get rid of this confusion while smoking. 

Can you use wood chips in offset smoker?

The correct answer for this question will be yes , on all three counts. Smoking with offset smoker without using wood chips will be incomplete.

Although you can manage to grill with an offset smoker without using wood chips, but it will not have the best flavor .

Wood is used in smoker for various purposes , due to which it’s importance can’t be declined . But wood is used as fuel in Smokers In two ways .

In some smokers it is used as the primary heat source due to which its required in large quantity while in other smokers it’s used as secondary heat source to just provide the smoky flavor.

wood chips scattered

In offset smoker , wood is just used for enhancing the flavor but the main heat source is charcoal.

So its required in less quantity but still it’s necessary to use for getting the most of your smoker.

Although you can decide to use any form of wood that you like depending on the time required for cooking.

There are various forms of wood available for smoking with an offset smoker.

The most commonly used are wood chips and wood chunks. Wood chips are smaller in size and are thinner than wood chunks. These are usually used for short term smoking .

Wood Chips can be used for cold smoking that can even take days to complete but then you will have to add them time to time to get a uniform smoke.

For cold smoking wood chunks and wood logs are usually used .they are thicker than wood chips and can burn slowly for longer time.

Why we want to  use wood in offset smoker? 

Offset Smoker are the advanced smokers which can be used for cooking the meat with different techniques with the single design. They can be used for smoking at low temperature to grilling at higher temperature efficiently.

This huge range of temperature is achieved by using charcoal as the main source. But charcoal doesn’t produce much smoke, it can be excellent to use for grilling at higher temperature but smoking requires indirect heating which can’t be achieved by using just charcoal.

wood chips for offset smoker

Wood is used along with the charcoal to produce smoke for smoking meat. This smoke gives Smoky flavor to the meat being smoked inside the smoker.

The smoke produced by the wood contains different gases which perform different functions while they come in contact with meat. but you should consider using a water pan , which will maintain the temperature and avoid sudden burning.

The most important of these are syringol which used to give smoky aroma to the meat, guaiacol which is used to give smoky flavor to meat and most importantly nitric oxide which is used to produce smoky ring on meat.

Related:Best smoker for beginners

The charcoal being used inside the smoker provides more heat but it’s burnt quickly. For smoking you want your fuel to keep burning for few hours to avoid being physically present with smoker all the time. To cope with this situation wood chips added to keep smoking for longer time.

How to use wood in your offset smoker

Although wood chips are used in offset smoker, but you need to be careful about how you use them .if you just through a whole bag of wood chips in a single go into the smoker firebox then you may create a bonfire inside the smoker box which can affect both the build of smoker and taste of meat.

Before putting the wood into the smoker you may need to cut it into smaller pieces. The commonly used wood chips are of 4-6 inches in length and 2-4 inches in diameter. Again it can also vary depending on how long you want to smoke.

Moreover you may also need to decide whether you are using it as a primary source of heat or secondary source just for providing flavor. It can affect the amount of wood you have to add in the smoker and the time when you have to start adding woods.

In addition to that you will have to decide whether you want to soak the woods or use them dry. Their are various theories for this . Some pit masters suggest that by soaking wood you can potentially increase the time that it will last and get more smoke out of less woods.

wood chips with a knife

Our take on this is to simply avoid soaking them unless you are soaking them with different fruit juices for flavor instead of water. When you soak the wood chips in water , they absorb water which means they will gain some weight.

but the thing to consider is that the soaked woods will produce steam instead of smoke which can contain different chemicals due to which the taste of meat can get affected.

But if you decide to soak them for any desired purpose then simply place them in your selected liquid for some time . After few hours ,remove these chips from liquiand pat them dry to avoid affecting the smoke quality with water drops.

If some of the soaked woods are are left unused at the end of smoking then let them dry before storing them for later use. After going through all these minutiae , it’s time to add wood chips into the smoker.

There are two methods by which pit masters add wood chips into the smoker. First method is to first heat up the smoker with charcoal and once it reaches the required temperature, add wood chips to produce smoke.

The second method is add wood chips along with the prelit charcoal at the start of smoking. You can bury woof chips randomly inside the Charcoal or arrange them in layers with charcoal.

In this method minions technique is used for smoking which means once the the fuel on the top is burnt then the coal under it gets lit and this process continues gradually through out the smoking.

Tips for using wood chips in an offset smoker

  • While using wood chips in an offset smoker, you need to keep in mind that you are using them for producing smoke not heat . Moreover you should focus on smoking the meat with smoke produced by wood for better flavor than that of charcoal.
  • If you want to store wood chips for later use then it’s better to store them outside while keeping in mind the weather conditions. This will allow them to dry and produce better smoke with less effort.
  • While storing wood for later use , you should consider elevating them up from ground with the help of some sort of support to avoid the building molds on the wood.
  • Avoid using woods on which mold has built up. These molds contain various dangerous substances which can release toxins when exposed to heat. Due to which your meat will get affected.
  • While choosing wood for use in offset smoker, you should be really conscious about the size of wood chips. If you want to smoke for longer time then use wood chips or wood chunks. while if you are using them for grilling, then you may consider using wood pellets or wood chips.
  • While placing wood in the offset smoker, you should make sure to allow ventilation. If airflow is obstructed during smoking process then it can affect the meat taste and smother the flames.
  • To allow ventilation and avoid damaging the build of smoker you may consider to clean the ash frequently.
  • If you go wrong with anything then keep your head high, you can only master it by practicing it again and again. 

can you use jarrah in an offset smoker?

Yes jarrah can be used for Smoking in an offset smoker but you should monitor temperature throughout the process to avoid overshooting of temperature. It is hardwood but can burn quickly if not monitored carefully during smoking process.

Jarrah is an Australian wood that can found around your house or is available commercially. Its way cheaper than hickory and other types of woods used for smoking.

The taste of meat depends mainly on the nutrients available in soil where wood has grown and not on the wood type. In other words, a hickory tree and jarrah can give same flavor if they are grown at the same place.

Is it better to smoke with wood chips or chunks?

There is no black and white answer to this question. it basically depends on your personal choice. wood chips are usually used for smoking for shorter time while wood chunks are used for smoking for longer time .

in addition wood chips are extremely flammable and can burn quickly. while wood chunks can last longer. in short, if you are smoking tough meat like brisket then go for wood chunks while if you are smoking burgers or lean meat like chicken then go for wood chips.

Do you soak wood chips for offset smoker?

As per general rule, you don’t need to soak wood chips for smoking. but it is more of a personal choice. some people like to soak wood chips to avoid them from burning quickly

but according to my experience, you don’t need to soak wood chips a all . Soaking them might sound like beneficial to avoiding but in reality it isn’t. if you soak wood chips, then will not smoke at all until the moisture is evaporated.

What kind of wood do you use in an offset smoker?

As per general rule , you can use oak, hickory and apple wood for most of the smoking process. but it usually depends on your personal choice, depending on what kind of flavor your are expecting.
if you are smoking meat and what mild smoking flavor , then you can smoke with soft wood like apple. while if you are smoking tough meat like briket, then you need to opt for hardwood like oak and hickory.

how often do you have to add wood to offset smoker

There is no black and white answer to his question. it actually depends on a number of factors . but ideally , you should add wood chips into your smoker after each 30 to 40 minutes.
the frequency of adding wood chips depends on the temperature at which you are smoking. if you are smoking at a higher temperature, then you will have to add wood chips more frequently , because the wood chis will be burnt quicker.
in addition, it also depends on whether you have soaked you wood chips or not. if you are using soaked wood chips, then they will last longer and you will have to add wood chips less often.

what wood do you use in an offset smoker

it depends on your personal choice and which to use any wood of your choice. if you like intense smoky flavor then you should use hardwood while if you like light flavor then its better to use soft wood.

you can use hardwood like oak or hickory , if you are smoking for longer time and don’t want to replace them too frequently. while apple and cherry are often used for short term smoking processes
you can read our guide on what wood do you use in an offset smoker? for more information.


Wood Chips can be used in offset smoker for enhancing the flavor of meat. Although the size and amount of wood should be selected carefully.if you are beginner then don’t stress yourself in these type of questions.just go out and start Smoking. If you are interested in reading more , then check out our guide on Best offset Smokers under 1000

Jakob miller