Smoking Success: Timing Tips for Adding Wood Chips to Your Charcoal Smoker

We all know that a lot of people enjoy eating meats with intense smoky flavor inside them, which is possible if you cook your food on a charcoal smoker.

But if charcoal only isn’t offering you the desired results, you’d look for an effective solution. This is where the wood chips play their role. They are a good way of adding an extra layer of smoke to your meal.

So, without any further ado, let’s initiate this article in which I have highlighted how and when to add chips to your charcoal smoker while cooking. Also, you will find the most suitable wood chips options for smoking a variety of meats and foods.

Optimal Timing To Add Wood Chips In Charcoal Smoker

When you are smoking on a charcoal smoker and wish to increase the amount of smoke flavor, adding wood chips during the smoking session is an outstanding approach that can help you achieve the desired results.

However, the primary concern is when to add wood chips to a charcoal smoker.

Well, the optimal time for adding chips is either when you’ve preheated your smoker to the required temperature and are about to set food items or when you notice that the burning charcoal pieces have become white.

There are a few important considerations to follow when adding chips to the smoker. For example, the timing when you introduce them to the smoker, their quality, and most importantly, their quantity.

If you add less or more low-quality chips at the incorrect time, you may end your cooking session with unsatisfactory results and flavors that don’t meet your expectations.

What Are The Best Wood Chips For Smoking?

There are numerous wood chips options available that you can use while grilling, smoking, and roasting. However, choosing the best one for smoking purposes requires careful considerations, such as food type, cooking duration, temperature, etc.

A typical smoking session in which you smoke thick meats like brisket or ribs requires plenty of time, 12 hours or even more. For example, a 10-pound brisket can take around 20 hours if you smoke it at a suitable temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. For further reference you can read the guide on FaveGrills to enhance your smoking barbecue experience.

So, you will need to find wood chips with a slower burn rate that can infuse your meat with a unique smoky flavor. Below, I have enlisted some of the best wood chip flavors you can confidently use for smoking.


Firstly, we have oak, which is a popular wood chip flavor and is capable of offering extraordinary results when it comes to adding a smoky flavor to your meat.

If I talk about its flavor and burn rate, oak chips provide a well-balanced and medium-intense smoky flavor that works wonderfully with a wide range of meats, including brisket, sausages, and lamb.

Moreover, its moderate burn rate ensures a steady smoke release throughout cooking, making it suitable for longer smoking sessions.


You can choose this flavor if you prefer a versatile wood chip option. Hickory offers a strong and distinct yet sweet, smoky taste that works exceptionally well with beef and poultry, making it a go-to choice for many barbecue enthusiasts.

Most importantly, as it infuses a strong flavor into your meat, make sure you don’t use this chip flavor excessively, as it can overpower the smoky taste and impact the natural taste of more delicate meats.


It can be suitable for those BBQ lovers who often hold shorter smoking sessions, as mesquite wood chips tend to burn slightly faster compared to other wood types, allowing for quick and effective smokiness infusion.

Furthermore, it adds an intense smoke with an earthy food taste, differentiating it from oak and hickory and making it a stand-out option for your food items.


It is another suitable chip flavor for longer smoking sessions because this wood requires extra time to thoroughly infuse the meat with its mild and sweet smoke flavors.

However, this patient approach results in a delightful smoky taste that enhances a variety of meats and foods, such as chicken, turkey, fish, etc.

How To Add Wood Chips In A Charcoal Smoker

Adding your favorite wood chips to your charcoal smoker is pretty straightforward. However, you will need an additional tool (smoker box) or a piece of aluminum foil.

Let’s move forward and see how you accomplish this task correctly.

Ignite Your Charcoal

The first step is, as usual, in which you will be igniting your charcoal, either using lighter fluid or a chimney starter. I recommend using a chimney starter to ignite the coals. Here’s why I suggest it.

Firstly, it is a safer method that allows you to ignite the charcoal more quickly, thanks to the coals being positioned closely together. It’s as simple as filling the chimney with charcoal, placing a newspaper beneath it, and lighting the newspaper.

On the other hand, lighter fluid can also assist in this scenario, but it often leaves a chemical smell behind that can affect the taste of your food. Additionally, using lighter fluid can cause flare-ups, compromising the safety.

Gear Up Your Smoker Box Or Aluminum Foil Packet

The next step is to find a way that will help you use wood chips with the charcoal. In this condition, a foil packet and smoker box are two of the most effective options.

A smoker box typically has a square shape with several holes, and you can fill your desired wood chips flavor into it. It is constructed with heat-resistant material so that it does not get affected when you put it inside the grill or smoker.

Here’s how it works.

Simply place the chips of your desired flavor in the smoker box and place them on the cooking grates of your smoker or grill. As soon as the box interacts with the heat, the chips inside it will produce smoke that will infuse into your meat.

In contrast, the foil packet is a technique in which you create a pouch using aluminum foil, fill it with chips, put holes in the packet using a needle, and place it near your food item while smoking.

To conclude, either invest in a good-quality smoker box or create an aluminum foil packet, whatever suits you more, and you are ready to use wood chips in the smoker.

Set the Smoker Box Or Foil Packet In The Smoker

Once you’ve decided which method you prefer, set your smoker box or foil packet in the smoker. But wait, there is one important thing to consider.

Make sure to do this when the charcoal becomes white, or there is a gray ash coating on the coals. Most importantly, if you don’t want to choose any of the options mentioned above, you can also put your wood chips directly on the charcoal.

Start Smoking

Finally, you are ready to begin your smoking session on your charcoal smoker using wood chips for smoky flavor and charcoal for heat source.

So, place the meat you want to smoke on the grates, and you are good to go.


Using wood inside a smoker with charcoal is an outstanding idea that can enhance the smoky taste of your different kinds of items.

You should send chips to the smoker when you are placing food or when the burning charcoal becomes white. Additionally, I recommend creating an aluminum foil packet or buying a good-quality smoker box for using chips.

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