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soaking wood chips for electric smokers

Do You Soak Wood Chips for Electric Smokers?

  • Last Updated August 28, 2019

  • / Best Smokers
  • / By Nathan
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Cooking your food in a smoker gives it a smokey, savory taste. There are a few types of smokers available, but electric smokers are the most convenient. They allow you to set a timer and walk away. The smoker will do the rest for you. If you don’t have the time to pay close attention to your smoker, electric smokers are the best.

What Is the Purpose Of Wood Chips?

Wood chips are a source of fuel for propane and charcoal smokers, but they also give the food a smoky flavor. Electric smokers don’t need the chips for fuel, but they do have a compartment designed for wood chips so that you can give your food that extra kick of flavor that you are looking for.

Best Wood/Meat Combinations

Whether you plan to soak your wood chips or not, you should know which types of wood chips will work best with the meat that you are smoking. While you can use any wood with any meat, certain types of wood chips bring out the flavor better in certain meats.

  1. Apple: Apple chips provide a sweet, fruity flavor. They are great for all types of meat, particularly ham. Apple chips also work well certain types of seafood.
  2. Hickory: Hickory chips work great with protein-based meats, such as bacon and ham. They give these meats a robust and sweet flavor.
  3. Maple: Maple chips are not as sweet as you might think. These chips are great for small game birds, ham, and cheese.
  4. Pecan: Pecan chips add a nutty flavor to the meat, and is excellent for fish or poultry.
  5. Orange: When cooking fish and other types of seafood, you should go with orange wood chips. They will give your fish and seafood a tangy, citrus flavor.
  6. Mesquite: Of all the wood chips available, mesquite burns the hottest. The strong earthy flavor produced by these chips makes them an excellent option for red meat.
  7. Cherry: Cherry wood chips provide a sweet and fruity flavor, but it is milder than applewood chips. If you are cooking lighter colored red meats, it will leave a subtle rose tint on the meat.

Soaking Wood Chips

Before smoking meat, particularly in a propane or charcoal smoker, people soak their wood chips for up to an hour before putting them in the smoker. This is done to lessen the high burning temperature of the wood. When the wood chips are soaked, they won’t burn as quickly, allowing them to smoke longer. They are essential in regulating the temperature inside the smoker. Electric smokers have temperature controls built-in; therefore, you don’t need to soak the chips to regulate the temperature. There are; however, other benefits of soaking your wood chips before putting them in an electric smoker.

Why Should You Soak Your Wood Chips?

Even though you don’t need to soak your wood chips with an electric smoker, you might want to to add more flavor. If you soak them in liquids such as apple juice, beer, or wine, it can add to the flavor.

If you are going to soak your wood chips in any of these liquids to add more flavor, you should understand that it is a balancing act. You want to make sure that the liquid that you choose doesn’t overpower the wood because it can drown out the smoky flavor. You want to make sure that the liquid that you choose compliments the wood.

If you are going to soak your wood chips, whether you have a propane smoker, a charcoal smoker, or an electric smoker,

If you are going to soak your wood chips, you should understand that you are going to need to replace your wood chips every few hours; therefore, you are going to need soaked wood chips on hand. After putting your first batch of soaked wood chips in the smoker, start soaking your second batch. You should only need about three batches of soaked chips.

What To Consider If You Are Going To Soak Your Wood Chips

If you are thinking about soaking your wood chips before putting them in your electric smoker, there are a few things that you should know.

First, your electric smoker can produce different types of smoke, and they are not all good for smoking meat. White smoke is basically steam. This is fine when you are cooking steamed vegetables in the house, but it won’t do much for your meat. Steam isn’t strong enough to give you meat that smoky flavor you desire. Gray or black smoke is dirty and harmful because it is rich in carcinogens. Soaking your wood chips can cause either of these types of smoke. The optimal kind of smoke for safely adding flavor to your meat is a pale blue, thin smoke. The best way to create this type of smoke is with dry wood and plenty of oxygen. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to achieve this with soaked wood.

Another thing to consider is that soaking your wood chips produces a great deal of smoke. When it comes to smoking meat, less is more. If your smoker generates too much smoke, it will overwhelm the meat and it will taste too smoky and will be inedible. If you put a rub or a brine on your meat, the flavor will be lost entirely if there is too much smoke.

What To Do If Your Smoker Doesn’t Contain a Wood Chip Receptacle?

Because electric smokers don’t generally require wood chips, some don’t come with a receptacle to hold the wood chips. If yours doesn’t, you can still use wood chips. Simply put them in a tin pan, or a metal can, and place them in the bottom chamber of your smoker. You can also purchase a smoker box that is designed for smokers without a receptacle. These smoker boxes are durable so that you can leave it in the bottom of your smoker permanently. They also provide excellent smoke ventilation.

What Is Right For You?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Whether or not you choose to soak your wood chips before putting them in your smoker depends on the flavor you are aiming for. If you are thinking about soaking your wood chips in water, don’t bother. Electric smokers regulate the temperature automatically; therefore, water won’t do anything. If you are looking to enhance the flavor of your chips with flavored liquids, you should do some research first. You want to make sure that you are using the best liquid for the wood chips that you are using. Overall, the choice is yours. Soaking the chips isn’t necessary, but it can bring out some fantastic flavors in your meat. If you would like a full guide of how to use an electric smoker click here.

Happy smoking!

About the Author

Hi! My name is Nathan and I’m a passionate meat-lover and certified grill connoisseur. I fell in love with grilling food back when I was a little kid when my grandfather used to cook tasty burgers in our backyard every Saturdays.

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