Do you soak wood chips for electric smoker?

Last Updated on: 23rd April 2023, 02:06 am

Although the main fuel for electric smokers is electricity, you can also use wood chips to enhance the flavor of your food.

But there are various misconceptions about using wood chips in a smoker and whether to soak wood chips or not .

I am also asked this question frequently.

I personally recommend not soaking wood chips for an electric smoker or in water at least.

I also discussed it with fellow pitmasters and came to the conclusion that it has its pros and cons, so it’s a personal choice.

Electric smokers are highly user-friendly smokers that can help us get the best flavor possible with the least effort.

The most tedious task in smoking is the temperature control. it is even more complex than cleaning the electric smoker

Electric smokers don’t require much effort for temperature control because you just have to set your desired temperature and the smoker will adjust itself to reach the temperature .

Although electricity has made it more comfortable, it can’t enhance the flavor of meat, so we have to add wood chips for that.

Soaking wood chips is a controversial topic, having its pros and cons.

So we recommend comparing its advantages and disadvantages and making a decision accordingly.

Why do I recommend not soaking wood chips for electric smoker?

I usually don’t get triggered by seeing someone using soaked wood chips, but I personally don’t prefer soaking wood chips for electric smokers.

For different reasons that can complicate the process, I personally don’t soak wood chips.

  • First of all, we know that wood chunks only burn when water is evaporated from them, so soaked wood chips won’t smoke until water is evaporated from them.
    Soaking wood chips just delays the smoking process but does not effective in slow smoking.
  • Another reason why I avoid using soaked wood chips in electric smokers is that we are dealing with electricity and it can result in different accidents.
    These can range from fire from sparks to electric shock.
  • Furthermore, as discussed above , the soaked wood chips delay the cooking process.
    It can lead to the overcooking of wood chips.
    Because the wood starts smoking late, food can also become dry due to longer exposure to heat.
  • In addition, it is important to keep in mind that the flavor of the meat comes from the gases present within the smoke.
    While soaking wood chips can result in a change in the composition of smoke, which can affect flavor.
  • Lastly, soaking of wood chips can result in the production of thick white smoke from the wood chips.
    White smoke is harmful for the smoking of meat and can result in a bitter taste.

These are the reasons due to which I personally don’t like to get involved in smoking to avoid facing any complications and keep myself at a safe end.

Why some pitmasters like to use soaked wood chips in electric smoker?

There are several pitmasters around the globe that prefer using soaked wood chips in electric smokers.

They also do this based on the multiple benefits of soaked wood that can not be denied.

Some of them are discussed below.

  • The primary benefit of using soaked wood chips is that they burn for a longer time.
    Because smoking is a low and slow process, and electric smokers have low temperature ranges, it is better to keep wood smoking for a longer time.
  • In addition, you are also not limited to soaking your wood chips in just water.
    You can use different fruit juices and other liquids to enhance the flavor of the meat.
    These juices will slowly burn the wood while imparting a fruity flavor to the meat.
  • Furthermore, the soaked wood chips result in evaporation of water, which can result in an increase in the humidity of the smoker.
    Humidity should be maintained inside the smoker to keep the food from drying out.
  • Lastly, soaked wood chips help in avoiding sudden overshooting of temperatures.
    In addition to humidity for maintaining temperature , they don’t burn suddenly, which can result in an increase in temperature.
    Soaked wood chips burn slowly while gradually increasing the temperature.

So which one is better?

It depends on personal taste and choice. I like to soak them based on my personal choice.

You can either select one that fits perfectly into your criteria or you can test both approaches to decide which one is better.

What should I soak my wood chips in?

If you’ve decided to soak wood chips, the next question is what you should soak wood chips in.

Although some pitmasters like to soak wood chips in water , I recommend soaking them in fruit juices or other flavor additives.

You should preferably soak your wood chips in juice so that you can get something out of the effort you are putting in.

Soaking in water is just a delay of the process.

The most commonly used liquids for soaking wood are fruit juices like apple juice, wine water, and vinegar.

You can use any fruit juice or other liquid that suits your taste buds, but make sure that it doesn’t become toxic when exposed to fire.

In addition, the wood should be preferably soaked when smoking veggies.

You can also use a mixture of different juices to get a combined flavor of two fruits.

While selecting the juices or soaking in juices, you should be careful to not affect the normal composition of smoke.

You should dry the wood chips before placing them in the electric smoker.

How long do you soak wood chips for electric smoker?

Soaking time for wood chips depends on the type of wood you are using.

However, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours to properly soak the wood.

Some woods may require more time for soaking compared to others due to their texture.

You can also decrease or increase the soaking time depending on your personal preference.

If you are running short of time, then you can soak them for less time, while if you have enough time for soaking, then it’s better to soak for at least 2 hours.

After soaking, you should not place them directly into the smoker because it affects the composition of the smoke.

You should preferably dry them for at least 8–10 hours in an open environment to remove the moisture completely.

How do you prepare wood chips for electric smoker?

Wood chips for electric smokers are similar to those used for other types of smokers.

They don’t require any special treatment.

But to get the best flavor possible, you should make sure that your wood chips have the following properties:

  • First of all , as required for any type of smoker, you should make sure to select the right type of wood.
    If you select the wrong wood, then you will end up affecting the flavor of the meat.
  • In addition, the wood chips should be of good quality. These should not be decayed or old.
    Decayed wood chips can affect the flavor of the meat.
  • Furthermore, if possible, make sure that the wood chips are dried for at least 6 months before using them for smoking.
    These should be stored outside, but make sure to protect them from rain.
  • If you are using soaked wood chips, then make sure to dry them completely before placing them inside the smoker.
    Using wet wood chips can result in thick white smoke, which can affect the flavor of meat.


Soaking wood chips has its own pros and cons.

You should give both approaches a try to get to know them properly.

We personally don’t recommend soaking because it can result in a bad flavor due to a little flaw in soaking, which can be bad quality liquid or using them without proper drying.

If you have enjoyed this article ,then make sure to check our article on How to season electric smoker

Jakob miller