As barbeque season approaches, you may be starting to think about family get-togethers in the backyard, drinking beers with your friends, and (most importantly) cooking that perfect steak. These days, simply whacking a chop on the grill isn’t going to cut it (you can thank fancy TV chefs for that one). Now, don’t get us wrong, herbs, sauces, and rubs go a long way in the cooking department and can add some seriously delicious flavors to your meals. Many people, however, completely ignore the cooking process itself when it comes to flavoring meat, which is where wood chips come in…
Wood chips add a wonderful smokiness to your dishes without having to use sauces or rubs. Many people prefer this as it’s a healthier alternative and a chemical-free way of adding flavor to your meals (plus it’s better on the old waist line!). Not only this, wood chips create a beautiful aroma and really create a ‘wow’ factor when grilling in your backyard, ideal for when you want to impress your friends. Wood chips are also incredibly easy to use and can be cooked by using a variety of cooking appliances such as grills
, stoves, and smokers
When it comes to choosing the best wood chips for you and your friends, it’s going to depend entirely on the type of meat you’ll be cooking. Wood chips come in a huge variety of flavors, to be paired with different meats. Some flavors are strong and really permeate into your meat cutlet, whilst others add just a hint of sweetness for a more subtle palette.
Below is a guide of wood chips and the best flavors for different cuts of meat:
- Cherry Wood Chips- Poultry, pork, lamb, and vegetable dishes.
- Apple Wood Chips- Poultry, fish, beef, lamb, and pork.
- Bourbon/Whiskey Soaked Chips- Ribs and red meat.
- Oak Wood Chips- Red meat and pork.
- Beech Wood Chips- Pork and sausages.
- Hickory Wood Chips- Ribs and meats using BBQ sauces.
- Alder Wood Chips- Beef, pork, fish, and poultry.
When it comes to the cost of wood chips, it depends mostly on the size of the product itself. Larger bags of wood chips tend to be more costly, but can end up saving you money in the long run if you find yourself using them often. Most wood chips tend to cost between $10 and $30, with larger bags falling at the higher end of this scale.
Another thing that may boost the cost of your wood chips is the flavors included in the set. Some wood chips offer a variety of flavors such as apple, cherry, hickory, and alder, and are ideal for when you’re cooking several different types of meat. This can also be a great way of getting to try out different flavors of wood chips without having to go out and purchase a whole bag.
Cheaper wood chips are available (below $10) but be aware that the quality of wood used may be poor, and therefore the flavors released by the wood may not be very strong. Cheaper wood chips also tend to burn quickly and may mean you’ll end up having to use a lot more of the product in one use.
The features included in your new wood chips are most likely going to come down to your own personal preferences and what types of meat you’ll be cooking. There are a few features, however, that we recommend keeping an eye out for to ensure you choose the best possible product for you:
- Slow burning
- Suitable for a variety of meats/wood chip sets
- Suitable for a variety of cooking methods
Construction and Design
Something we recommend looking for in your new wood chips is a product that is slow burning. This will mean that you get more out of the chips themselves and will use less of the product during your cooking time. Keep an eye out for products that state they’re ‘kiln dried’ as these chips tend to burn for longer and ignite easily.
Wood chip sets are another feature that we find particularly useful. It allows you to try out a variety of wood chip flavors without having to go out and buy a whole bag of it yourself (this is particularly useful if you don’t want to risk spending a large amount of money testing out a new flavor). It’ll also encourage you to use different flavors for different meats and allow your inner 5-star chef to make an appearance, too! If you don’t fancy buying a set, however, then you may want to consider purchasing a bag of cherry or alder wood chips as these are suitable for a variety of meats.
Finally, we recommend looking out for wood chips that can be used for a variety of cooking methods. Most wood chips can be used on barbeques, stoves, grills, and smokers, but some require a meat smoker specifically. Buying wood chips that are versatile allows you to be more experimental with your cooking without needing to fork out for brand new cooking equipment!
Performance and Ease of Use
When it comes to caring for your wood chips, there really isn’t too much to it. You will, however, want to make sure that you store the chips in a dry area as the chips become less effective when they’re wet. Sweeter smelling woods such as apple or cherry can also be a real treat for insects, so make sure you seal up your bag properly as well. Some wood chip products come in re-sealable tubs which are a great way of keeping the wood fresh, dry, and free from any little pests!
Like we mentioned previously, wood chips are incredibly easy to use and can simply be scattered over charcoal a few minutes before cooking, if you’re using a charcoal grill. If you’re using a smoker, then you just keep adding chips to the meat smoker until you’re satisfied with your meat’s flavor.
Hopefully, after reading through our handy little buying guide, you now have a better understanding about what wood chips are suitable for different meats and the different cooking methods suitable for them. This will make it a whole lot easier when it comes to narrowing down your options and helping you select the perfect wood chips for your next cooking event. So let’s get looking at our top 5 picks, shall we?
Founded in 1968, Smokehouse offers its customers a range of smoker accessories that include different flavored wood chips, wood chunks, sausage making kits, mixes, seasonings, dry rubs, and much, much more! Smokehouse is constantly looking for ways to improve its customers’ experiences through innovative research and feedback to ensure you get the most out of its products. If you’re after a brand for all your meat-loving needs then Smokehouse could be just what you’re looking for.
We wanted to feature Smokehouse’s Wood Chips due to the brand’s overall popularity and the product’s variety of flavor options. These woodchips come in a pack of four that includes 2 hickory flavors, 1 apple, and 1 alder. This means that this pack is suitable for a variety of cooking options, such as meat and fish, due to the mix of both mild and strong flavors. All of Smokehouse’s wood chips are carefully dried and have all bitter tree bark removed to ensure 100% all-natural smoking. They’re also precision ground for a consistent burn. The package dimensions are 9 x 13 x 9 inches.
Weber was created over 60 years ago by George Stephen in an attempt to find a better way to barbeque steak for his family and friends. Today, Weber sells a range of barbequing products which include grills, wood chips, and accessories. If you’re passionate about barbequing, grilling, and great tasting food then look no further than Weber.
We’re big fans of Weber’s Hickory Wood Chips due to the product’s range of impressive features and great reviews on Amazon. Hickory is one of the most popular cooking woods due to its traditional flavor that’s ideal for beef, ribs, chops, and salmon. Hickory wood adds a wonderfully strong, smoky flavor to your meat cuts and also requires a small amount of smoking time! This package of hickory wood chips come with dimensions of 7 x 3.5 x 12 inches and weighs 3 pounds, giving you plenty to experiment with!
Texas-based brand Western is one of the leaders in home BBQ products and accessories. It supplies products to a range of customers, from 5-star chefs and competition pit masters, to backyard grillers. Started in 1986, Western supplies its worldwide customers with a range of effective, tasty wood flavors.
We loved Western’s Apple Woodchips due to their high-end design and large pack size (4.4 x 7.5 x 10.3 inches and 2.4 pounds). These 100% natural chips are kiln dried, made in the USA, and are ideal for gas grills, electric smokers, and barbeques. Their subtle apple flavor works well with light meat game birds, poultry, fish, and pork, and adds a hint of sweetness to your meal that’s unmatched anywhere else.
Jack Daniels is a brand of Tennessee whiskey and one of the top bestselling whiskies of all time. Today, Jack Daniel’s sells a variety of products with its classic Tennessee whiskey taste including sauces, chocolate, coffee, and more! With over 100 years of history, research, and innovation behind the brand, there is a reason its customers keep coming back for more.
We simply adored Jack Daniel’s BBQ Wood Chips due to the product’s classic Jack Daniel’s taste and impressive Amazon ratings! These wood chips are made from Jack Daniel’s white oak aging barrels for a subtle whiskey taste and are suitable for gas, charcoal, and electric grills or smokers. The product’s dimensions and weight are 4 x 9 x 12 inches and 2 pounds – just enough to keep you wanting more!
We’re hoping that by now you’ve browsed through our top 5 picks and have selected the best possible wood chips for you and your next family barbeque. If, however, this isn’t the case - don’t lose hope! We have purposefully selected brands that have a large selection of wood chips to choose from. Simply browse through their other products to find the best wood chips for you!