If you want to add real flavor to your meats, then selecting the right wood chips for Masterbuilt electric smoker can make all the difference. Wood chips, wood chunks, and pellets have been used for centuries to add smoke flavor to meats. However, with all of the different types and flavors of wood available today, it can be a little confusing at first when trying to make a decision on wood chips for your electric smoker. We hope these tips will make your decision a little easier.
Table of Contents
- Know the Types and Flavors of Wood Chips Available
- Know the Size of Wood Chips for Your Smoker
- Soaking vs. Non-Soaking Wood Chips
- Adding Wood Chips
- Wood Chunks vs. Wood Chips vs. Wood Pellets
Know the Types and Flavors of Wood Chips Available
The good news is that wood chips are readily available about anywhere and they are inexpensive to purchase. You’ll want to buy them from reputable sources, starting with the local store where you purchased your Masterbuilt smoker. If your purchase was made online from somewhere like Amazon, you should be able to find wood chips there.
People commonly ask “How do I know which wood chips to use when smoking meat?” Depending on the type of wood used, you will quickly discover that there are certain distinctive flavors that help to enhance the taste of meats.
- Alder: Mild flavor, great with fish, especially salmon
- Apple: Mild, sweet and fruity flavor, quite versatile, best with pork, ribs, and chicken
- Cherry: Mild, sweet and fruity flavor, best with pork, ribs, and chicken
- Hickory: Strong flavor, probably the most common of all, works best with pork, ribs, and beef
- Maple: Mild, subtly sweet flavor that can be used for many recipes
- Mesquite: Very popular, strong flavor, burns really fast, works best with beef
- Oak: Medium flavor, commonly used with beef
- Orange: Medium flavor, tangy citrus flavor, works with almost any recipe except fish
- Peach: Medium flavor, slightly sweet, works well with pork, ribs, and chicken
- Pecan: Mild, similar but not as strong as hickory, works well pork, ribs, beef, chicken and turkey
- Walnut: Strong flavor, can be bitter at times, best when combined with other lighter types of chips
Generally speaking, fruity woods are best for pork, ribs, and chicken while nut-producing woods are better for beef and turkey. Fruity woods also go well with seafood, while nut-producing woods are also good with lamb and wild game.
Apple, cherry, mesquite, and pecan are our favorite woods to use and if you are in doubt, we believe these are great woods to use for most meat products.
To find the best wood chips for your Masterbuilt electric smoker, we recommend you experiment with different types until you settle on the one that suits your taste. You might even try mixing some of the fruit-producing woods with nut-producing woods. Some examples of wood you might pair together would be apple and alder, cherry and hickory, or a citrus wood and pecan.
We do not recommend the use of any coniferous or evergreen woods. These woods do not help to boost the flavor of the meat. They are considered unhealthy, may even cause sickness and can damage your smoker over time. All that being said, cedar planks can be used as a base for grilling fish.
Know the Size of Wood Chips for Your Smoker
The wood chips you select should be of reasonable size to fit into the wood chip holder of the smoker. Most chips you buy will already be cut to a size that fits.
However, size doesn’t matter as much as the temperature inside the smoker. It is best to get the inside temperature of the smoker up to a higher heat over 250 degrees Fahrenheit for the wood chips to start smoking.
After the chips begin to smoke, you can dial the inside temperature back to the recommended smoker temperature for smoking meat.
Smaller, thinner wood chips will tend to burn up quicker than larger, thicker wood chips or chunks.
Soaking vs. Non-Soaking Wood Chips
Soaking wood chips for a Masterbuilt electric smoker is a matter of personal preference, but it is not necessary. As a matter of fact, we prefer not to soak them. Soaking does not increase the amount of smoke but rather can delay the production of smoke from the chips.
The amount of smoke is more about the intensity of the heat inside the smoker and the type of wood that is used. However, you can actually add some flavor to the meat you smoke by soaking wood chips in liquids like juice, beer, or wine for long periods of time prior to use.
Adding Wood Chips
Wood chips for the Masterbuilt smoker get added through the chip holder that can be removed and inserted through the side of the unit. The wood will be placed in the holder after the smoker has reached the desired temperature. The frequency of adding chips will depend a lot on your taste preference as well as on the recipe you follow.
Some people only want to add wood chips during the first hour of the smoking process and then stop, so they don’t add too much smoke flavor. Some people may want to add chips as needed for several hours, while others prefer to add chips during almost the entire smoking process. Your recipe should have a recommendation for adding wood chips, then you can adjust accordingly.
Wood Chunks vs. Wood Chips vs. Wood Pellets
Wood chunks are larger which means that the wood lasts longer, while wood chips are smaller than the chunks and burn up more quickly. Wood pellets are smaller than wood chips, but they are compressed wood or sawdust so they don’t burn up as quickly as wood chips. This decision is another one of those things that boil down to your own personal liking.
We prefer to use wood chips and wood chunks depending on the length of time we will be smoking meat. For longer smoking times, we prefer to use wood chunks. For shorter smoking times, we like to use wood chips.
If you decide to use wood pellets, make sure you buy food-grade pellets. It is recommended that you don’t buy pellets with fillers or ones that are made to use in home heating stoves. Before you decide to use chunks, chips or pellets, make sure you know which ones are permissible to use in your smoker and in the case of wood chunks, make sure they are not too large to fit in the wood chip holder of your smoker.