How To Use Wood Chips In An Electric Smoker (2024 Guide)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Have you ever used your electric smoker and felt like something was missing from your smoked beef or pork?

I recall using my electric smoker for the first time, and that smoked flavor seemed to be missing. The Carnivore Style team and I have the solution to help you.

When using an electric smoker, some people don’t realize that you can use wood pellets to create that intense smokiness even if your electric smoker doesn’t have a designated place for them.

We decided to give you a guide on how to use wood pellets in an electric smoker. It applies whether it's a regular electric smoker, a Masterbuilt electric smoker, or a Pit Boss electric smoker.

Quick Summary

  • There are three methods to use wood chips in an electric smoker: the wood chip tray method, the foil pouch method, and the smoker box method.
  • Using wood chips in an electric smoker enhances the smoky flavor of the BBQ.
  • Each method requires careful temperature control and periodic checking to ensure optimal smoke production.

What Is An Electric Smoker?

electric smoker

An electric smoker is a smoker that uses electricity to provide a means to smoke different kinds of BBQ meat.

Electric smokers usually come with a water tray, heating element, smoking chamber, and sometimes a wood chips tray.

They use a standard power outlet. The heating rod in electric smokers produces heat to smolder wood chips that are in the tray.

Electric smokers get just as hot as other smokers, but they are much easier to use than other types, such as propane smokers.

What Are Some Benefits Of Using Wood Chips In An Electric Smoker?

The most important benefit of adding wood pellets in an electric smoker brand is that it will add a smoke flavor to your meat, which most people want.

The wood chips provide the necessary smoky flavor profile ideal for smoking great food by creating a thick white smoke inside the chamber.

It prevents the slightly bitter-smoke flavor most people don't like.

Smoking is a great way to get that Southern BBQ taste with wood chips.

Another benefit of using wood pellets in an electric smoker is that you can change the taste of almost anything you cook by using different pellet smoker wood.

There are many kinds of smoker wood chips, such as mesquite, applewood, hickory, and alder.

Wood pellets also produce more smoke than if you use the water tray and heating element. They are essential for getting as much smoke as possible in the internal grilling chamber.


  • Adds a unique taste to food
  • Use a variety of wood pellet flavors
  • Produces more smoke

3 Methods To Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker

wood chips in an electric smoker

Wood Chip Tray Method

Step 1

This method is best suited for most electric smokers with a wood chip tray, such as a Masterbuilt electric smoker. The first step is to prepare by learning how to clean the smoker and ensuring it's clean and ready to go.

Turn on your smoker using the electric start ignition. Set the temperature to around 250 degrees (121 C).

Let the temperature heat up for about 30 to 45 minutes. It would be best if you used a thermometer probe to help you measure and regulate the internal temperature of your smoker.

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Step 2

Fill up the water tray in your smoker to keep the food moist. You might also want to add herbs and other spices to the water to increase the moisture and taste of the smoking chamber environment.

“You can start to think about giving your food a more intense smoky flavor while grilling. For that, using wood chips is the most effective method.

- Jake Levin, Writer, Epicurious [1]

Step 3

It’s time to add the wood pellets for smoking. Remove the wood chip tray from the smoker and put some dry wood chips in the bottom.

When using wood chips, the amount will vary depending on preference and how many hours you’ll cook.

You may want to add enough for the duration of the cooking process. If so, then we recommend filling up the wood chip tray with dry wood until it’s complete.

Step 4

Place your food on the cooking racks once it starts smoking. You need to monitor the smoke output by opening and closing the vents every time you check on the wood pellets. Periodically check the tray and add chips as needed.

Foil Pouch Method

wood chips in foil

Step 1

This method is best suited for most electric smokers that don’t have a designated wood chip tray.

First, you need to prepare your grill by plugging it in and turning it up. Don’t forget to fill the water pan to allow moisture into the chamber.

Step 2

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil and lay it flat on the counter. You may need to trim the foil down to size.

Place a handful, like 1 cup or so, of wood pellets into the center of the aluminum foil.

Step 3

Fold the foil around the wood pellets and crimp the edges. It will allow the wood pellets to stay inside the foil pouch while smoking.

Turn over the pouch and poke holes in the top to allow an even amount of smoke to come out. You might want to make as many extra pouches as possible, depending on how long you will smoke.

Step 4

Place the pouch directly above the electric heating element on your char broil electric smoker.

The element should heat the pouch, and smoke will slowly start to come out. We recommend checking the pouch every couple of hours.

Smoker Box Method

smoker box

Step 1

You might want to buy a smoker box to get the best results with this method, but you can also make one yourself.

A smoker box is like small cast iron or stainless steel box that holds wood pellets. You may also use a tin can.

The first step is to fire up your electric smoker and make sure it reaches the desired temperature control.

Step 2

We will explain how to make a smoker box that is sure to last. To make a stainless steel one, you can get almost any type of stainless steel pan or box and poke holes in it.

You may want to use the do-it-yourself route, in which case you will need an old tin can without the lid.

Step 3

Take your tin can and punch a few holes using a hammer and nail into the bottom of the can to let oxygen into the wood chip area.

You should use a hacksaw or other cutting tool to connect every hole and create a square. This tip will allow you to use wood chips while cooking the meat.

Step 4

Once your electric smoker is hot, place some wood pellets into the tin can. Depending on how long you plan to smoke, you can put as many as possible. You need to periodically check the tin can to see if you need to add more.

Step 5

Place the DIY smoker box over the heating element. The dry wood will smolder as the electric smoker heating rod heats it.

Keep the door to your electric smoker closed most of the time to ensure the smoke stays inside.


Is thick white smoke a good sign?

Yes, using wood chips correctly should produce thick white smoke. If the electric smoker is getting too hot, then it might be a sign that there’s too much smoke. Simply open the vents and allow dissipation.

Should I soak the wood chips with water first?

No. We do not recommend soaking wood chips in water. The dry wood chunks will last longer and get hotter if you don’t soak them. They should reach about 250 degrees (121 C) to get enough hot air produced for smoking.

What type of wood pellets are best for smoking?

If you smoke meat for many hours, we recommend using high-quality wood pellets in electric smokers. With these pellet smokers, wood pellets that come in various rich smoky flavor options are better. For example, applewood or hickory is best for pork. Mesquite and pecan wood chunks are best for red meat.

How often should you add wood pellets to your electric smoker?

It depends on how many hours you plan to cook your meat in an electric smoker. If the wood pellets are starting to burn out, it is time to add more. We recommend checking every couple of hours at least.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy is a professional chef and the main man behind Carnivore Style. He’s an advocate of the carnivore diet, an athlete, and a pure health enthusiast. Timothy believes that a good steak is a great conversation starter, and his love for food eventually brought him to start Carnivore Style, a website designed for meat lovers and all things meat-related.
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