The Best Types of Wood Chips to Use in Your Electric Smoker

Are you in the pursuit of perfect BBQ smoke-filled flavors? Then, you should know that your choice of wood chips matters for a great cooking experience. Here’s a complete guide to help you choose the right type of wood chips for your electric smoker. You’ll discover the different types and how they influence flavor. Ready to find out more? Let’s get started!


Welcome to our complete guide on the best types of wood chips for electric smokers. Smoking food is one of the oldest forms of preserving and adding flavor to food, and electric smokers are a modern alternative to traditional charcoal or wood smoking techniques. An electric smoker with wood chips can produce delicious smoked dishes with rich, smoky flavors.

Wood chips are a crucial component for every electric smoker, as they create the flavor that goes into your dishes. Determining which types of wood chips to use can be difficult, as there are many factors to consider such as cost and available flavors. This guide seeks to address all of these considerations and provide you with a comprehensive overview of the best types of wood chips for electric smoking.

Explanation of the importance of wood chips in smoking meat

The secret to any succulent, smoked meat is the right balance of smoke, heat, and proper cooking time. Wood chips are an essential part of the smoking process as they provide a combination of flavor and smoke to your meal. Different types of wood chips provide different flavors, so it’s important to select the right chips in order to create the perfect meat dish.

Additionally, wood chips are not only used for flavoring meat. Many smokers use them for smoking vegetables like potatoes or carrots too! Wood chips also help keep food moist during a long cook and can even serve as a brief kindling when starting a grill or smoker.

The type of wood you choose for smoking plays an important role in determining how smoky your finished product will be. Different woods impart different flavors – from fruity to tart or even slightly nutty – depending on the type of wood you choose to use. Hickory is great for pork and ribs, while cherry is perfect for beef brisket. Alderwood is ideal when paired with fish while mesquite imbues beef with its unique flavor profile. Each type of wood has its own unique characteristics that you should consider when deciding what works best for your recipe.

Purpose of the article

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the different types of wood chips to use in electric smokers. It seeks to explain why certain woods lend themselves better than others when smoking food and which woods produce the best flavors and aromas.

The article also looks at differences in smoke times, smoke production, heating needs, and other important things that every aspiring smoker should consider before using wood chips in their electric smoker.

Overview of the different types of wood chips

If you’re looking for the best type of wood chips to use in your electric smoker, there are many options available. Each type of chip has its own unique flavor and characteristics. In this section, we will cover the various types of wood chips that you can use to get the desired flavor and smokiness out of your dish.

Hardwoods – Hardwoods such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, apple wood and mesquite are some of the most popular types of wood chips used in electric smokers. They provide a strong smoke flavor with a long-lasting taste for your food. This type of wood produces thick smoke and is typically used for beef or pork recipes.

Softwoods – Generally lower in tannin content than hardwoods, softwood chips are produced from pine, fir and spruce trees. These types of woods provide a milder smoke with a subtle sweet flavor that is perfect for chicken or fish recipes. Softwoods don’t provide as much smoke as hardwoods but should still be used sparingly to avoid overwhelming flavors.

Fruit Woods – Fruit woods (such as applewood or peachwood) burn slowly while producing light amounts of sweet aroma that adds an interesting element to your smoked food; Use fruit woods in combination with other types of hardwood chips when smoking foods like ribs or brisket to achieve a unique flavor profile that stands out from others.

Alder – Alder is one of the mildest smoking woods that can be used when smoking food; it provides a faint hint of sweetness with minimal smokiness which makes it best suited to poultry or fish dishes since it won’t overpower their delicate flavors. Alder can also help prevent excessive drying out of proteins due to its low tannin content which makes it great for slow-cooked meats too!

Types of Wood Chips

When selecting wood chips to use in your electric smoker, you have a wide variety of options. There are five main types of wood chips that are commonly used for smoking and each one imparts a unique flavor that can enhance the overall taste of food. Each type also provides a different degree of smoky aroma and will last for varying lengths of time before needing to be replenished.

The five main types of wood chips used in electric smokers include hickory, mesquite, oak, pecan and fruit woods (such as apple and cherry). Each type has its own distinct flavor profile and subtle nuances that can enhance the overall taste of your food dishes. Depending on the type of meat you are preparing, certain woods may be better suited than others – understanding these subtle nuances can help you get the best out of your smoker.

Hickory: Hickory is a hardwood with a heavy smoke life that lends an intense smoky flavor to meat. It almost has a bacon-like smell to it which makes it perfect for preparing pork dishes like bacon or ribs. Additionally, it pairs well with poultry such as chicken or turkey as well as beef dishes like brisket or burgers.

Mesquite: Mesquite is another hardwood with an intense smoke flavor but without the heavy smokiness associated with hickory. Its bright notes provide an earthy/grassy scent which makes it excellent for fish meals but also works well with red meats like beef or lamb. You could even use it to smoke vegetables if you so desired.

Oak: Oak produces light smoke aromas which allow other flavors to shine through – this makes it perfect for sausage-style dishes or fish meals that require more delicate flavors. It brings an unmistakable balance between sweetness and smokey fragrance which makes it ideal for nearly any kind meal you’re looking to smoke.

Pecan: Pecan produces medium density smoke flavor with moderate aroma levels – this means its perfect when paired with both milder meats like fish or poultry as well as bold flavors like sausages, pork shoulder/belly, ribs, etc. Its subtle sweetness helps liven up any meal!

Fruit Woods (Apple & Cherry): Fruit woods are ideal when looking for a sweeter smokiness without overpowering other flavors in the dish – they produce medium dense smokes adding hints of sugary sweetness along with some spiciness to your meals. They work really well when preparing lighter meats such as fish, poultry, etc but can also be used nicely in combination with heavier flavored red meats like beef or lamb.


Mesquite is a wild, native American hardwood from the desert southwest and Mexico. It is technically considered a softwood, but its dense nature creates a lot of heat. Mesquite has an intense flavor that works especially well for gamey meats, chicken and fish.

Due to its high intensity, this wood should be used in moderation for longer smoke times. Generally speaking, no more than 20-30% of your total quantity of chips should be mesquite if using a combination of woods. Care needs to be taken when adding mesquite as it will discolor silver skin proteins on lighter meats quicker than other woods.


Hickory is the go-to choice for many because it imparts a distinctly natural smoky flavor. Hickory is an excellent choice for smoking pork, chicken, and other hardwoods like mesquite and maple. Its flavor pairs well with a variety of meats, so it’s great to use when you want to get creative with your food.

Hickory creates a bit of heat, so care should be taken to ensure you don’t oversmoke your food. Hickory chips are hard and burn hot and slow, making them ideal for long smokes up to 12 hours or more!

Hickory should not be used in combination with delicate fish or vegetables as the powerful flavors can overwhelm them.


Applewood is perhaps the most popular wood chip used in electric smokers due to its subtle sweet aromas and ability to provide a light smoky flavor. Applewood creates smoke that permeates food with mild flavor and fragrant scent, adding depth and tenderness with each use.

Applewood chips are best suited for smoked poultry, game birds, pork and ham; they can also be used with lamb, beef, and fish. However, the mellow applewood flavor will impart a more subtle addition to heavily-seasoned meat items such as steaks or brisket.

It’s important to note that the bark of cedar can cause additional bitter notes if not removed; therefore it is best to soak applewood chips prior to using them in your electric smoker.


  1. Cherrywood is one of the most popular types of wood chips used in smoking and produces a mild flavor with hints of sweetness, making it one of the most versatile options for your smoker.

The smoke produced by cherry wood chips is slower to reach full flavor than other woods, making it a great choice for slow-cooking larger cuts such as pork shoulder or beef brisket. To get the full benefits, allow your cherrywood chips to sit in water for a minimum of 30 minutes before adding them to your smoker.

Cherrywood gives food a subtle sweetness, making it perfect for pairing with sweet and savory dishes alike.

III. Matching Wood Chips to Meat

The type of wood you use in your electric smoker will influence the flavor of the food. Hardwoods work best for long-term smoking; softwoods tend to burn fast and can add a slight “burnt” taste to your meats. Here’s a list of some commonly used wood chips and which meats pair well with them:

-Oak: This is one of the most popular woods for smoking. It’s great for pork, beef, and game meats like deer or venison. It has a heavy, bold flavor that stands up well to longer smoking times so it’s ideal for larger cuts like briskets and ribs.

-Cherry: A sweet yet mild wood that works well with poultry and other lighter meats, as well as fish.

-Maple: Another popular pick among smokers! This is a mild yet flavorful smoke with light sweetness perfect for poultry, ham, hamburgers and fish.

-Hickory: A good all-around smoke with strong flavor notes great for beef, pork and game meat like wild boar or rabbit.

-Mesquite: Best known in the barbecue world so it’s no surprise why this smoke is ideal for grilling steaks, ribs or burgers! It’s definitely on the stronger side so be sure to not oversmoke your food.


Beef is one of the most popular meats to prepare in an electric smoker. Whether you’re working with steak, roasts, or brisket, the following woods are best for smoking beef:

Oak – Oak wood chips are a classic choice for smoking beef. The wood imparts a subtle flavor and aroma, making it perfect for soaking up other spices like garlic or black pepper. It also has a hearty flavor that complements beefy and fatty cuts alike.

Hickory – Hickory has a rich, sweet aroma that gives a smoky depth of flavor to beef while still letting the natural taste shine through. It’s best used on large cuts like briskets to infuse deep flavor into the meat.

Mesquite – Mesquite is an evergreen shrub with intensely aromatic smoke that adds an earthy and nutty taste to any smoked meat. Its heavy smoke also pairs well with strongly-flavored spices such as cumin and garlic, making it ideal for dishes with bold flavors such as carne asada or fajitas.

Applewood – Applewood channels the sweetness and tartness of apples into your food by adding subtle notes of freshness to your smoked dishes without overwhelming them with overwhelming smokiness. In particular, applewood goes well with pork steaks, chops, ribs and ham – giving them unique sweet undertones to their larger-than-life smoky flavors.


Pork is one of the many popular meats cooked in electric smokers. Pork can have an array of different flavors, depending on what type of wood you use. Here are some of the best woods to use with pork in an electric smoker:

Applewood: Applewood gives the pork a mild, sweet taste, and is one of the most commonly used woods for smoking pork. It has a subtle fruity flavor that compliments pork particularly well.

Hickory: Hickory is a strong-smelling wood that produces smoke with a strong, bacon-like aroma and gives the meat a delicious smoky taste as well. It’s perfect for cooking ribs or other cuts of pork.

Maple: Maple enhances the delicate flavor of pork while providing slight sweetness too. The subtle and mellow flavor can be just right when making pulled pork or other favorite recipes.

Oak: Oak provides a mild and subtle smoky taste that pairs perfectly with many other wood types when smoking pork-based dishes and recipes. Oak is great for cold-smoking, as it burns at lower temperatures than other woods due to its denser structure.

Cherry: Cherry wood imparts a smooth yet tart taste to smoked foods like ribs or ham, creating a nicely balanced flavor profile with its slightly sweet aftertaste.


As you can see, there are many types of wood chips that you can use in your electric smoker. In general, it is best to use hardwood chips rather than softwoods, as they will burn more slowly and evenly and provide a tastier smoke flavor. Hickory is the most popular type of wood used in electric smokers, as it gives a bold smoky flavor with a touch of sweetness. However, other popular options such as cherry, mesquite and apple can give your food an incredibly unique flavor profile when used correctly. Experimenting with different types of woods is one of the most fun and enjoyable aspects of smoking food.

Finally, investing in a good quality digital thermometer will help you ensure that you are always smoking at the correct temperature for your desired results. This not only ensures that your recipe turns out great time and time again but also helps to prevent foodborne illnesses from developing due to insufficient cooking temperatures.

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