How long to soak wood chips for gas grill | Family Cuisine

The process of smoking a piece of meat on a barbecue grill is an art form that can take hours to perfect. The first step in this process is to soak the wood chips in water for about half an hour before placing them over the hot

Pitmasters have lengthy debated the topic of soaking wooden chips in water earlier than placing them on the grill. In case you’ve determined to go forward and soak, you could be questioning if there’s a proper and mistaken approach to go about it. Learn on to seek out out all you’ll want to learn about this system, together with how lengthy to soak wooden chips for smoking.

Benefits of Grilling With Wood Chips

Including actual wooden to the grill will increase the authenticity of your barbecue. It doesn’t matter what you’re cooking, will probably be imbued with that honest-to-goodness smoke taste that’s unattainable to duplicate.

Utilizing wooden chips additionally lets you experiment with totally different taste mixtures. As a result of many sorts of wooden are used of their manufacturing (see Sorts of Wooden Chips, under), you’ll be able to select one that can pair finest together with your chosen elements.

Style and flexibility apart, there’s one thing deeply satisfying about utilizing actual wooden for cooking. In a world that has sacrificed custom for the sake of comfort, grilling over an open flame supplies us with a chance to get again to our roots as a species.

Chips vs. Chunks

Earlier than we get into the main points about how lengthy to soak wooden chips earlier than grilling, let’s check out our choices.

Wooden chunks are entire items of hardwood that may be tossed immediately on the coals to taste your grilled meats and greens. Due to their measurement, they take some time to burn down, which is handy for low-and-slow cooking functions like smoking. On the same notice, they’re additionally nice for bigger elements, equivalent to entire rib racks and beer can hen.

Wooden chips, in the meantime, are product of smaller items. The chips which can be used for grilling are normally scraps that had been left behind when the bushes or bigger items of wooden had been processed. They burn extra rapidly than wooden chunks, making them a greater choice while you solely plan on grilling for a brief time frame. In case you’re cooking up a batch of burgers or scorching canine, wooden chips are wager.

One factor to concentrate on: Many gasoline and electrical people who smoke are incompatible with wooden chunks, leaving wooden chips as the one choice. When you have one among these models, you’ll want to learn the instruction guide earlier than trying to make use of wooden when grilling.

A Word About Plank Grilling

Wooden planks are an alternative choice, and one which’s favored by {many professional} cooks. For this methodology, a easy wood board is positioned over oblique warmth, with the meals set proper on prime. The direct contact imbues the meals with a wealthy, smoky style.

Cedar is the popular wooden for plank grilling, however alder, hickory, and maple planks can be found as nicely. Irrespective of which sort of plank you utilize, be sure that the wooden is untreated, as handled wooden can include harmful toxins.

When utilizing this system, it’s crucial to soak the wooden beforehand so it doesn’t ignite and char the meals earlier than it’s had an opportunity to prepare dinner by means of. Simply place the planks in water or your required soaking liquid (see Alternate options to Water, under) for 8 to 12 hours. To witness plank grilling in motion, check out this video demonstration.

Why Should You Soak Wood Chips?

As a result of wooden doesn’t burn as rapidly when it’s moist, soaking the chips earlier than including them to the grill will make them last more. The damp wooden will smolder because it ignites, supplying you with a sluggish, regular stream of smoke.

In case you decide to not soak the chips, they’ll in all probability catch hearth straight away. Which means they might fritter away earlier than they will impart any actual smoke taste. Though you’ll be able to at all times maintain including extra chips, soaking them might prevent quite a lot of money and time in the long term.

When you’ve added the chips to the grill, look intently on the smoke that’s being produced. If it’s white, it signifies that there’s loads of water vapor within the wooden. Dry wooden will produce smoke that has a bluish tint to it. Whenever you see that white cloud, it’s an indication that the wooden chips have been soaking for the suitable period of time.

Is It Possible To Soak The Wood Chips For Too Long?

It’s doable—however in fact, you must go away the chips within the soaking liquid for as much as 24 hours earlier than including them to the grill. Right here’s why.

Whereas some grillers declare that they solely must be positioned within the liquid for half-hour or so, this doesn’t give the wooden an opportunity to soak up the moisture. That just about defeats the aim of soaking them to start with.

At any time when doable, soak the chips a day forward. Good planning will prevent a ton of problem and give you satisfying outcomes. If the wooden chips are significantly small—say, smaller than 1 / 4—they need to be prepared for the grill in 8 to 12 hours.

Bigger items can keep within the soaking liquid for as much as 24 hours. In case you go away them in any longer, extra minerals will leach out of the wooden, which may have a damaging impact on the flavour you’re working so arduous to attain. It could additionally give the liquid a scummy look.

One necessary notice: For shorter cooking functions, there’s no have to soak the chips for the utmost advisable interval. For instance, if you happen to’re cooking a batch of bratwurst and also you simply desire a burst of smoke taste, it’s advantageous if you happen to’ve solely soaked the chips for an hour or so. The sausages are precooked, so that they gained’t be spending that a lot time on the grill anyway. Conversely, if you happen to’re smoking a complete packer brisket, you must positively soak the chips for not less than 12 hours.

Types of Wood Chips

As we talked about, you must at all times select wooden with a taste profile that can complement your chosen elements.

Gentle woods, equivalent to alder, cherry, and apple, will impart a fragile smoke taste and a touch of sweetness. They work finest for hen breasts or firm-fleshed fish.

If you’ll find pear or peach wooden, be at liberty to offer them a strive when grilling hen or greens. These have a recent, virtually floral style that goes nicely with lighter elements.

Maple and pecan signify a step up on the depth scale. Each has a singular taste that may be overshadowed by extra strong meats. We wish to pair these with pork, hen thighs, or salmon.

Kick issues up one other notch with medium-intensity woods like oak or hickory. Daring and intensely aromatic, they’ll give smoked ribs and pork butt a well-rounded smoke taste.

For the final word smokehouse expertise, give mesquite a strive. This wooden will give your meals the strongest taste by far, however watch out. Mesquite is intense sufficient to go away behind a bitter aftertaste when it’s overused. That is why many pitmasters favor to mix small quantities of mesquite with a milder wooden.

Talking of which, it’s a advantageous thought to mix any of the woods we’ve talked about. Doing so will permit you to customise your recipes to mirror your preferences.

Alternatives to Water

Now that you understand how lengthy to soak wooden chips for smoking, let’s discuss concerning the soaking liquid itself.

Whereas it’s completely advantageous to soak the chips in water, that’s not your solely choice. Utilizing apple juice, beer, and even whiskey will take your taste mixtures to a complete new degree.

For finest outcomes, be sure that the soaking liquid enhances the elements you’ve chosen. For instance, we’d suggest utilizing apple juice for pork chops, whiskey for steak, or chardonnay for fish. Soaking your wooden chips offers you nice flexibility by way of taste, so be at liberty to get artistic.

It doesn’t matter what you utilize for liquid, attempt to soak the chips in a big glass bowl. Whenever you’re prepared to begin cooking, drain the chips nicely, however don’t rinse them.

Where to Buy Wood Chips

You should buy wooden chips at many big-box {hardware} shops, equivalent to Lowe’s. They could even be accessible at bigger grocery store chains. Search for them close to the charcoal and different grilling provides.

On-line procuring is one other various, and one that may offer you a broader vary of choices. Walmart and Amazon are two good locations to begin. As a result of wooden chips have a reasonably lengthy shelf life so long as they’re saved correctly (see under), don’t be afraid to buy a beneficiant provide.


Be certain to retailer wooden chips in a sealed container to maintain out mice and different rodents. If you need to maintain them in a storage or woodshed, maintain the container away from areas which can be susceptible to dampness, as this could encourage mould progress. Additionally, while you purchase a brand new batch, don’t be tempted to pour them on prime of the outdated ones. You’ll wish to rotate your provide to make sure that you utilize up the oldest ones first.

mesquite smoking chips and charcoal in barbecue grill on backyard

The Cooking Process

Gas Grills

When you have a gasoline grill, a smoker field is your finest wager. Some fashions are already geared up with these compartments, that are basically steel containers peppered with holes. If you need to buy one individually, they’re cheap and customarily simple to seek out.

Whenever you’re able to prepare dinner, fill the chamber with drained wooden chips earlier than lighting the burners. Most smoker containers will maintain about 2-3 cups of chips, so that you gained’t have to replenish them except you’re planning an extended smoking session.

For Charcoal Grills

adding soaked wood chips to the burning charcoal

Smoker containers are additionally accessible for charcoal grills, however while you’re coping with an actual charcoal hearth, it’s simply as simple to make use of the foil pouch methodology. Take a sq. of aluminum foil, place 2-3 handfuls of chips within the middle, and seal up the sides to create a pouch. Use a fork to pierce holes within the prime of the pouch to permit the smoke to flee, and set the pouch immediately on the new coals.

You too can use the foil pouch approach on a gasoline grill, inserting the packet on the burner you propose to make use of. Simply keep in mind that you’ll have to exchange the pouches each hour or so.

One final notice: When cooking with wooden chips, maintain the lid of the grill closed as a lot as doable to seal within the smoke taste. If you’ll want to alter the temperature, use the vents situated on the underside of the grill.

Final Ideas

In case you’ve ever puzzled how lengthy to soak wooden chips earlier than grilling, now you could have your reply. Whereas the soaking course of isn’t strictly vital, it does permit you to discover daring new taste mixtures that may not have occurred to you in any other case. As a result of that sense of journey is what led us to the grill within the first place, we’d advise you to experiment and see the place the highway takes you.

Better of luck, and completely satisfied grilling!

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