How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (2023)

When I first got started with smoking on an electric smoker, one of the biggest issues I had was knowing when to add more wood chips.

The short of it: At most, you should be adding 5 wood chips every 45 - 60 minutes.

Contents Show

Don't Be Like Younger Dylan

The first smoker I ever bought was an electric smoker. I saved money from mowing lawns and Birthdays and I had a fascination with Beef Jerky and Beef sticks.

(Video) Masterbuilt Electric Smoker - How to Add More Wood Chips

With that said, the first time I went to smoke beef jerky, I completely ruined it; The jerky consistency itself was fine but it tasted like bitter creosote flavored teriyaki.

I choked it down and learned my lesson.

The lesson being - you don't need to add tons of wood chips and you don't need to add them often.

What Masterbuilt Says About Adding More Wood Chips

Like most folks (especially being a naïve kid), I opted to not read the directions.

Masterbuilt's instruction manual states:

"Additional chips should not be added until any previously added chips have ceased generating smoke."


However, this also doesn't tell you how often to add more wood chips - simply that you should add more when they stop "generating smoke" or cease smoldering.

I can tell you from personal experience that it takes roughly 45 - 60 minutes for wood chips to ash out.

(Video) At What Temperature Do Wood Chips Smoke?

Testing How Long Wood Chips Last

Rather than simply taking my word for it - I figured I'd run tests to prove my theory.

Just to have some independent variables:

  • I'll be using my Masterbuilt 40 inch electric smoker
  • I'll be using 5 hickory wood chips from Weber (all 4 tests were weighed to be 10 grams)
  • My smoker's temperature will be set to 250F
How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (1)

In order to minimize temperature swings I'll be running four tests independently and taking pictures at four different timed intervals.

For example: Test 1 ends at 15 minutes. A photo is taken and observations are written down. Wood chip tray is then dumped and the door is closed. Temperature is allowed to come back up to 250F and 5 more wood chips are added. This process is then repeated at 30, 45, and 60 minute intervals.

Wood Chips at 15 Minutes

Visible smoke via the exhaust damper.

How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (2)

Wood chips have visible embers, have started to carbonize/ash, and are still smoking.

(Video) Wet vs Dry Wood Chips for Smoking

Wood Chips at 30 Minutes

Visible thin blue smoke via the exhaust damper.

How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (3)

Some visible embers on wood chips; Visibly more ashed over than 15 minutes.

Wood Chips at 45 Minutes

Thin blue smoke via exhaust damper.

How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (4)

Less visible embers on wood chips. Visibly more ashed than 30 minutes.

Wood Chips at 60 Minutes

No smoke via the exhaust damper.

How Often Should You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker? - Barbecue FAQ (5)
(Video) (HUMOR) The CORRECT way to soak your wood chips | Electric Smoker

Wood chips entirely ashed over. There is almost no smoke inside the smoke chamber.

Can You Add More Wood Chips for a Longer Run Time?

The above stands to reason - adding more chips must result in a longer run time.

While that could certainly be the case, you could also experience too much white smoke as the wood chips are all added at the same time. Pushing too much white smoke results in acrid/bitter flavors.

The above also results in the build up of a lot of combustion byproducts. This could lead to a "blowback" or backdraft where-in oxygen enters the system and causes a sudden exfiltration of smoke via the exhaust.

Some folks have even reported their doors blowing off and their wood chip loaders blowing out.

This is another reason brands like Masterbuilt advise against wood pellets in their electric smokers.

Final Thoughts

While I already knew the outcome of the above test, it reinforces what I've come to know over the course of 15 years of using an electric smoker.

Remember, your goal isn't to have white clouds of billowing smoke - especially in an electric smoker that creates an ultra-tight seal.

(Video) Do NOT Add Water to Your Wood Chips

The goal is clean, thin blue smoke.


How often should you put wood chips in electric smoker? ›

The short of it: At most, you should be adding 5 wood chips every 45 - 60 minutes.

How often do I add wood to my smoker? ›

Types of Smokers
  1. Electric smoker: The general rule for adding wood to an electric smoker is in intervals of 45 minutes. ...
  2. Gas smoker: When it comes to gas smokers, wood can be added or changed every five to six hours. ...
  3. Pellet smoker: The time for changing wood pellets in a pellet smoker is usually about five to six hours.

Do you put wood chips in electric smoker? ›

Most electric smokers give users the option to insert woodchips into the grill. Woodchips add flavor and fragrance to the meat by blanketing it in savory white smoke that slowly seeps into the meat as it cooks. This way, you don't lose the delicious smokiness of smoked meat even while using an electric smoker.

How do you keep wood chips smoking in an electric smoker? ›

Soaking wood chips before using them in your electric smoker is believed to help maximize the amount of smoke that you can draw out from the wood. Some folks also soak their wood chips in liquids other than water, such as beer or juice.

Do you soak wood chips in water for electric smoker? ›

Because electric smokers often have inbuilt temperature controls, soaking wood chips isn't really necessary. However, soaking wood chips can do much more than help regulate the temperature in your smoker. Let's take a look at why you might not want to prepare your chips for electric smoking.

Is it better to wet wood chips before smoking? ›

In truth, soaking your wood chips and chunks isn't necessary and here's why. Wood chips and chunks that have been soaked have to get rid of any moisture before they can produce smoke. The water on the wood will have to heat to 212°F (the boiling point of water) and will stall there until the water has been evaporated.

How do I know when to add more wood chips to my smoker? ›

While there is no set rule for how often to change the chips in your smoker, a good rule is to change the chips every five to six hours. Some people add one or two cups of chips on top of previously used chips each time. The most important thing is to look at the quality of smoke you're getting each time you smoke.

How long to add wood chips to smoker? ›

For long smokes, add a packet of chips every 30 minutes to keep the smoky flavor going. About 2 to 3 handfuls of chips placed on direct heat will smoke for about an hour.

Do I need to clean my smoker after every use? ›

Because grease can also trap water against the metal, large deposits need to be scraped away gently. Though many users neglect this duty, a smoker should be cleaned free of ashes and grease deposits after every use. The long life of your smoker depends on it, not to mention the taste of your smoked foods.

What are the best wood chips for electric smoker? ›

Here are some of the most popular types of wood chips that are used for electric smokers:
  • Hickory and oak produce strong woodsy flavors that stand up well with meats such as pork, beef, and ribs.
  • Mesquite has a very distinctive flavor that should be experimented with before you begin to use it for guests.
Dec 11, 2022

How long does it take for wood chips to start smoking in electric smoker? ›

Wood Chip Tray Method

Turn on your smoker using the electric start ignition. Set the temperature to around 250 degrees (121 C). Let the temperature heat up for about 30 to 45 minutes. It would be best if you used a thermometer probe to help you measure and regulate the internal temperature of your smoker.

How do you use wood chips on an electric grill? ›

The steps of how to use wood chips on an electric grill are fairly simple. Preheat your grill and place the wood chips in a smoker box. When the grill reaches high heat, put the box on the grill at the rear and allow the chips to start smoking before you start grilling.

Do you leave water in wood chips when smoking? ›

Should I add water to my wood chips or wood chunks before using them in the smoker? The answer is NO. You want to get smoke from the wood, not burn off water because you'll be steaming your foods, not smoking them.

Why aren't my wood chips smoking on my electric smoker? ›

Lack of air flow is one of the predominant reasons why wood chips won't smoke properly. Quality equipment is always designed with insulation to keep heat from escaping but all equipment has at least some level of venting built in.

How much wood chips do you put in Masterbuilt electric smoker? ›

Set smoker temperature to 275°F and allow the unit to run for three hours. During the last 45 minutes, add ½ cup of wood chips in the wood chip loader to complete the pre-seasoning process. Power off the smoker and allow it to cool completely. (Note: Never add more than ½ cup of wood chips at a time.

How long do you soak wood chips for an electric smoker? ›

Wood chips do not require to be soaked when used in an electric smoker, but they should be soaked for two to three hours in cold water or overnight in the refrigerator. You should ensure that the wood chips used in your food are of the highest quality so that they can taste and smoke their way through your food.

Do you preheat a smoker with wood chips? ›

Ensures clean smoke: Wood or wood chips need to reach complete combustion level to emit clean smoke. It takes some time for the wood chips to be heated to that degree. This is why the barbeque should be preheated for a few minutes to avoid having foul smoke anywhere near the food.

What do you put down before wood chips? ›

Pull up or hoe weeds in the areas where you plan to spread wood chips. If there are many persistent, perennial weeds or if turf grass is present in the site, spray the unwanted vegetation with a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate.

Can you use too much wood chips? ›

I always say excess is fine if done in moderation. For one thing, roots need to breathe while digging into the soil for minerals. Several inches of woody mulch added all at once would have a smothering effect.

What temperature do wood chips start smoking? ›

Reduce Oxygen to Make Wood Chips Smoke Instead of Burn

Wood smokes when it reaches temperatures between 570 and 750 °F (299 and 399 °C) depending on the type of wood. Smoke is a complex mixture of compounds that create the aroma and flavors we love so much.

How do you clean an electric smoker after every use? ›

Using warm, soapy water, gently scrub the interior surfaces of the smoker with a sponge or a plastic bristle brush. Do not use metal. Wipe it dry. If using a bristle brush, make sure no loose bristles remain on any of the cooking surfaces prior to cooking.

Should I clean my electric smoker after each use? ›

Electric Smoker Maintenance

After each use, and preferably while it's still warm, scrub each shelf with a wire brush to remove any food and grease as well as burning off any drippings with a quick blast. Both of these steps will help to keep the smoker much cleaner and prevent any mold from developing in between uses.

How often does a smoker need to be cleaned? ›

Every three to five grill sessions, you will want to cleanse the burn pot and grease drip tray. By cleaning your pellet grill's smokestack about every few weeks, you can ensure better grill airflow.

What is the best flavor wood chips for smoking? ›

What is the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?
  • Oak. Oak is the quintessential go-to for smoking meat. ...
  • Hickory. The most versatile choice as it can be used to smoke wood in many ways. ...
  • Maple. One of the most subtle smoking wood, it will impart a more subtle smoke flavor. ...
  • Mesquite. ...
  • Pecan. ...
  • Apple. ...
  • Alder. ...
  • Cherry.

How long do electric smokers last? ›

If you have purchased a new electric smoker, you have made a smart investment. Today, electronic appliances last about five to ten years.

Should you use water in an electric smoker? ›

Water can be used to help in smoker temperature control. If it's cold outside, you can add hot or boiling water to the pan, and that will help the smoker come up to temperature quicker.

Do you leave the vent open on an electric smoker? ›

Control your vent position

As a rule of thumb, it is best to leave the vent fully open while you are applying smoke to your meat. By leaving the vent completely open, you avoid the risk of creosote building up on your meat.

How do I get the smoke flavor on my electric grill? ›

Wrap Wood Chips in a Thick Aluminum Foil

Then wrap the wood chips on the foil. Use a toothpick to make vents on the top side of the foil where the smoke will come out. The wrapping on the grill and heat it on high heat for about 10 minutes.

How long do you soak wood chips before grilling? ›

If you soak chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the fire (no need to soak wood chunks), you will prolong their burn significantly and they will smolder more than flame. Just be sure to drain the wood of water first so you don't extinguish the fire.

Can I use my electric grill as a smoker? ›

Electric grills allow you to grill any time of the year without connecting your grill to a gas tank or purchasing charcoal. This convenience comes at the cost of a lack of smoky flavor from most electric grills, but you can smoke food with your electric grill by using the included smoker box or making your own.

Should I put a bowl of water in my smoker? ›

Adding water to your smoker might seem counter intuitive, but using a water pan is one of the best ways to help control your smoker's temperature while also helping to prevent your food from drying out.

How do you smoke in an electric smoker? ›

7 Tips for Smoking Meat With an Electric Smoker
  1. Season your grill. ...
  2. Use your own temperature probe. ...
  3. Cook at the proper temperature. ...
  4. Experiment with hardwoods. ...
  5. Make sure you have plenty of time. ...
  6. Give yourself enough cooking space. ...
  7. Keep your smoker clean.
Jun 7, 2021

Do wet wood chips smoke more? ›

Water interferes with smoldering

Only once the moisture has completely evaporated will the wood chunk heat up to the point where it can produce smoke and impart flavor to your food. What is this? This kills off the theory that wet wood gives you a longer smoke. If the wood is steaming, it isn't smoking.

How many times can you use wood chips in a smoker? ›

If it produces 2 hours of smoke, but you want to smoke your food for 4 hours, then you simply fill it up again halfway through. Or, if you want to smoke something for 6 hours, but it only generates 1 hours' worth, you need to add more wood chips every hour for 6 hours.

Do I keep adding wood to my smoker? ›

Usually, adding more chips to the fire only every 60-90 minutes will keep the smoke flowing well. However, if you see the smoke dying down, you may need to add wood more frequently to your gas grill.

How do I get more smoke out of my Masterbuilt electric smoker? ›

If you want more smoke, open the vent; this will keep the element on longer; the smoker will not smoke unless the element is full on (takes at least 600degF). Hopes this helps. Smoke it up. I have used my Masterbuilt electric smoker several times.

What breaks down wood chips? ›

Fungi and bacteria are the microbes that will naturally find their way into your composting wood chip pile. You may notice mold in your compost pile and this is a wonderful sign that tells you the microbes are working at breaking down the organic matter! You can inoculate your compost pile with fungi.

Why are my wood chips burning so fast? ›

You'll need to keep the dampers at least partially open, but you shouldn't pull them completely open. By closing the dampers partially, your smoking chunks will smolder at a lower temperature. The hotter the fire, the quicker the burn!

How long does a cup of wood chips last in an electric smoker? ›

Generally, 1 cup of wood chips will last 4 -5 hours. Continue to monitor your smoke levels without opening the smoker door. Add a handful of wood chips every 4 hours or so until the cooking time is completed.


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