Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: May 6, 2021

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. Well, the Carnivore Style team and I have the solution to help you.

When electric smoking, some people don’t realize that you can use wood chips to create that intense smokiness even if your smoker doesn’t have a designated place for them. We decided to give you a guide on how to use wood chips in an electric smoker.

What Is An Electric Smoker?

electric smoker

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

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

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

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

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

The most important benefit of adding wood chips to an electric smoker is that it will add a smoke flavor to your meat, which most people want. The wood chips provide the necessary flavor profile that is ideal for smoking great food by creating a thick white smoke inside the chamber.

With wood chips, smoking becomes a great way to get that Southern BBQ taste.

Another benefit is that you can change the taste of almost anything you cook by using different smoker wood. There are many different types of smoker wood chips, such as mesquite, applewood, hickory, and alder.

Wood chips also produce a lot more smoke than if you just 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 chip 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 an electric smoker that comes with a wood chip tray. The first step is to prepare your smoker by making sure that 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. You should use 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 chips 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 be cooking.

You may want to add enough for the duration of the cooking process. If so, then we recommend filling up the tray with dry wood until it’s full. Always make sure you keep the tray stocked enough hours have passed for your food to be done.

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 chunks. Periodically check the tray and add chips as needed.

Foil Pouch Method

wood chips in foil

Step 1

This method is best suited for smokers that don’t have a designated tray. First, you need to prepare your grill by plugging it in and turning the heat 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 chunks into the center of the foil.

Step 3

Fold the foil around the wood chips and crimp the edges. This way will allow the wood chunks 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 you would like depending on how long you will smoke.

Step 4

Place the pouch directly above the heating element on your electric smoker. The element should heat up 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 chunks. 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.

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 chips into the tin can. You can place as many as you want, depending on how long you plan to smoke. 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 up. Keep the door to your electric smoker closed most of the time to ensure 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 the 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) in order for them to get hot enough to smolder.

What type of wood chips are best for smoking?

If you will be smoking meat for many hours, then we recommend using high-quality wood chips in electric smokers. With these smokers, wood chips that come in a variety of flavors are way much 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 chips to your electric smoker?

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


Once I found out how simple it was to add any type of wood chip to my electric smoker, I never looked back. No matter what I’m smoking or for how long, I’ll always add wood chunks to enhance the flavors and tenderness of my BBQ.

Everyone on the Carnivore Style team agreed, so that’s why we wanted to give you a guide for how to use wood chips in your electric smoker.


  1. https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/a-comprehensive-guide-to-charcoal-and-wood-chips-for-grilling-article

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