Can you use wood chips in offset smoker

Last Updated on: 8th November 2023, 08:10 pm

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

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

yes, you can use wood chips in an offset smoker. without wood chips, smoking cannot provide a mouth-watering flavor.

although it’s your personal choice whether you want to use wood chips or chunks in your smoker

One of the most common confusions that most beginners face is whether 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 an 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, it will not have the best flavor.

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

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

wood chips scattered

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

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

However, 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.

Related:5 Best Offset Smoker Grills of the Year

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

Why do we want to use wood in offset smokers? 

Offset Smokers are advanced smokers who can be used for cooking meat with different techniques with a single design.

They can be used for smoking at low temperatures to grilling at higher temperatures 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 temperatures but smoking requires indirect heating which can’t be achieved by using just charcoal.

wood chips for offset smoker

Wood is used along with charcoal to produce smoke for smoking meat.

This smoke gives a 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 is 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 rings 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 a few hours to avoid being physically present with a smoker all the time.

To cope with this situation wood chips are added to keep smoking for a longer time.

How to use wood in your offset smoker

Although wood chips are used in offset smokers, 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 the smoker and the taste of meat.

burning wood chips
image : /instagram

Before putting the wood into the smoker you may need to cut it into smaller pieces.

The commonly used wood chips are 4-6 inches in length and 2-4 inches in diameter.

Again it can also vary depending on how long you want to smoke.

Related:Food choking statistics 

Moreover, you may also need to decide whether you are using it as a primary source of heat or a secondary source just for providing flavor.

It can affect the amount of wood you have to add to the smoker and the time when you have to start adding wood.

In addition to that you will have to decide whether you want to soak the woods or use them dry.

There 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 wood.

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 wood will produce steam instead of smoke which can contain different chemicals due to which the taste of meat can be affected.

But if you decide to soak them for any desired purpose then simply place them in your selected liquid for some time.

After a few hours, remove these chips from the liquid and pat them dry to avoid affecting the smoke quality with water drops.

If some of the soaked wood is left unused at the end of smoking then let it dry before storing them for later use.

After going through all these minutiae, it’s time to add wood chips to the smoker.

There are two methods by which pit masters add wood chips to the smoker.

The first method is to heat the smoker with charcoal and once it reaches the required temperature, add wood chips to produce smoke.

The second method is to 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 fuel on the top is burnt then the coal under it gets lit and this process continues gradually throughout 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 it up from the ground with the help of some sort of support to avoid 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 this, your meat will get affected.
  • While choosing wood for use in an offset smoker, you should be conscious about the size of wood chips.

    If you want to smoke for a 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 the smoking process then it can affect the meat taste and smother the flames.
  • To allow ventilation and avoid damaging the build of the smoker you may consider cleaning 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 the smoking process.

Jarrah is an Australian wood that can be 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 the same flavor if they are grown in the same place.

Frequently asked questions

here are some of the similar questions that you might want answered.

Is it better to smoke with wood chips or chunks?

There is no black and white answer to this question.

it depends on your personal choice. wood chips are usually used for smoking for a shorter time while wood chunks are used for smoking for a 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 smokers?

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 at all.

Soaking them might sound beneficial to avoid 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 you are expecting.

if you are smoking meat with and mild smoking flavor, then you can smoke with soft wood like apple.

while if you are smoking tough meat like brisket, 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 depends on several 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 chips will be burnt quicker.

in addition, it also depends on whether you have soaked your 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 wood of your choice.

if you like intense smoky flavor then you should use hardwood while if you like light flavor then it’s better to use softwood.

you can use hardwood like oak or hickory if you are smoking for a 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.

However, 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