BBQ Wood Chips: What They Are and How to Use Them

Smokey, savory, and mouth-watering. These are the words that describe a properly barbecued meal. Wood chips or pellets provide a smoky flavor that is hard to duplicate with anything else. MWood chips or pellets provide a smoky flavor that is hard to duplicate with anything else. many factors make a barbecue great, but without the proper wood chips, it might not be as good. 

What exactly are BBQ wood chips?

The first question many people ask regarding wood chips is, “What are they made of?” The answer can be a little confusing. Here are the most common varieties and what each one is made from:

  • The most useful for barbecuing, charcoal grills, or smokers are dump wood chips. These chips usually come from cut logs that have been split down into small pieces to make them easier to handle. This chip is generally relatively inexpensive but still adds a great smoke flavor to your meal. 
  • Next up are hardwood pellets or sawdust. These pellets can come from almost any tree or shrub with softwood in its trunk and branches. These pellets are usually relatively small, but they can burn hotter than lump wood chips. 
  • Poultry processing by-products are another standard barbecue wood chip. In this case, the byproducts are a combination of small birds and offal and feathers. These chips use starches and oils to give them their flavor, but they do not provide rich smoke flavor like lump wood or sawdust chips. 
  • The final type of wood chip is made from recycled lumber,, or tree trimmings called greenwood or green pellets. Greenwood is just what it sounds like: the leftover pieces of lumber after removing the main log from an old-growth tree. These chips are usually about the size of a pencil and give off a mild flavor that can also be useful. 

How to use these wood chips

The next question is, how do you use wood chips? The most common method is to soak them in water overnight,, so they don’t burn as quickly, and then put them into a smoker box or foil packet on top of your charcoal briquettes. Using foil packets will help keep ashes away from the food being smoked. Some people soak their greenwood chips in wine or beer instead of water to add more flavor. 

Another method that many use is a modified Weber grill that uses lump wood charcoal as its primary fuel source. This method only allows the wood chips to be ignited at the last minute, so they must be soaked and loaded quickly. 

So, in conclusion, if you are interested in learning more about the use and benefits of BBQ wood chips, read on to learn more. 

The best way to use them is in combination with correct cooking methods. For instance, you may place your meat directly onto the grill when it has reached the proper internal temperature in a kettle grill. Alternatively, you may set your meat into a smoker box filled with soaked wood chips before putting it on your grill. This will give your food a nice smoky flavor while maintaining a low temperature for longer cooking times. 

If you have a smoker, you will probably have more options available to you than those who only have a charcoal grill. In this case, you could use the wood chips in various ways. You could put them directly over the coals or on top of an upside-down foil packet filled with water and soaked wood chips. This will add flavor to your meat and help keep it moist and tender.  As with anything barbecued, it’s always best to experiment with different approaches until you find the best one for you.


BBQ wood chips add a smoky flavor to a meal that is hard to duplicate with other methods. Many people ask about BBQ wood chips and how to use them, but once you try different combinations and cooking methods, you will quickly learn which one you like best.

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