6 Best Wood Chips For Smoking: Taste Profile, Pros, Cons & More
Smoking meat takes time, practice, and experience. The knowledge accrued by generations of pit masters through the centuries is now, miraculously, at our fingertips.
But with so much information available to us, it can be easy to get confused or lost whilst surfing the internet.
When it comes to choosing the right size of wood for your smoking venture, it depends entirely on the size of the cut of meat, and the length of time you plan to smoke it for, as well as the equipment you’re working with.
Generally speaking, the larger the cut of meat, the larger the pieces of wood you want to use – either chunks or whole logs.
But if, on the other hand, you’re working with meat which cooks quickly (most fish, poultry, and small cuts of meat like steak and ribs) then you’ll most likely want to work with wood chips.
So, today, I’m going to be listing my favorite wood chips to work with.
I find wood chips offer fantastic versatility in smoking, as they can be used on gas, electric, and charcoal barbecues just as well as they can be used in dedicated smokers.
Even amateur smokers with no proper equipment can utilize wood chips to their advantage, by creating a DIY smoker box from aluminum foil.
- 1 Which Brand Of Smoking Wood Chips Is Best?
- 2 The Best Wood Chips For Smoking
- 2.1 Western® Premium BBQ Products – Cherry Woodchips
- 2.2 Mr. Bar-B-Q – Old Barrel Red Wine Barbecue Smoking Chips
- 2.3 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey® with Western® Premium BBQ Products – Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips
- 2.4 Weber – Apple Wood Chips
- 2.5 Exstream BBQ – Beech Wood Chips
- 2.6 Napoleon – Mesquite Wood Chips
- 2.7 Oklahoma Joe’s – Hickory Wood Smoking Chips
Which Brand Of Smoking Wood Chips Is Best?
Equally as confusing as deciding between chips, chunks, and pellets, is the quest for the best wood chip brand!
After all, it’s likely that you don’t have access yourself to a wood chipper and all of the various types of wood you’d like to use in smoking your meat; thus, you’re going to have to trust in a brand to deliver the goods.
Some brands, unfortunately, treat their wood with additives and chemicals, don’t season (dry) the wood for long enough, or have inconsistent and unreliable water content in their woods.
When you’re unfamiliar with the different brands available to you, or are new to smoking meat, it’s easy to be led astray by untrustworthy advertising.
Thankfully, I’ve been scouring the internet’s smoking forums, chat rooms, subreddits, and customer review sections for years, and have come up with a comprehensive list of the best, most reputable, trustworthy, and affordable wood chip brands on the market.
The Best Wood Chips For Smoking
I’ll be showcasing just one ‘flavor’ (wood species) from each brand, but bear in mind that each of these brands has a wide selection of woods available in their product range.
Thus, if you like the sound of one brand, but prefer the sound of a different brand’s ‘flavor’, you’ll likely find said ‘flavor’ available through your preferred supplier.
Western® Premium BBQ Products – Cherry Woodchips
Woods available: Alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, peach, pecan, post oak.
Sample customer review: “The Western brand of smoke woods is a reliable brand. I find it available locally almost all the time.”
Cherry taste profile: Mild, classic smoke with a subtle sweetness.
Western® Premium BBQ Products are probably the most recognisable brand on this list, and for good reason.
This is a company which takes great pride in the consistency and quality of its wood, and has over a quarter century of experience in the business.
Western® don’t use any chemicals in any part of their wood manufacturing process, and this pure nature ensures that their burning results in only 2% residual ash, compared to the 18-28% left by charcoal briquets.
The cherry wood chips they produce are phenomenally popular, second only to applewood, and give your meat a fantastic rich red color (perfect for brisket, ribs, even chicken and fish such as salmon).
The flavor profile is classically smoky, whilst being subtle and fruity enough to compliment smaller, more delicate cuts and types of meat.
- Reliable American brand.
- Thousands of satisfied customers.
- Affordable to cheap.
- Wide range of woods available.
- Few, if any.
Mr. Bar-B-Q – Old Barrel Red Wine Barbecue Smoking Chips
Woods available: Red wine barrel, whisky barrel, white wine barrel.
Sample customer review: “Has the subtleties I wanted. Not overpowering and adds a nice note of smokiness.”
Red wine taste profile: Deep, rich, mild smokiness and fruity notes.
Mr. Bar-B-Q is an interesting all-round barbecue brand, with a unique take on traditional chips. Here we have chips made from an old, repurposed red wine barrel.
Since red wine can sit for many years fermenting in its barrel, the wood ends up taking on many of the red wine’s signature taste properties whilst, as is the nature of wood, retaining its signature smokiness.
Highly praised by customers, the one downside is that these speciality bags of wood chips are on the expensive side, made even more expensive by the fact that they’re available only in 0.75lb bags.
Still, I wanted to include these chips here because Mr. Bar-B-Q is a reputable brand, and the only brand I’ve found trying to do something inventive and different with its smoking chips.
Red wine chips, as you can imagine, go great with red meat (you’ll just have to stick to smaller cuts like ribs, steaks, and sausages with bags this small!)
- Unique, interesting flavor.
- Reputable brand.
- Expensive chips.
- Bags only available in small sizes, limits what you can cook with the chips.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey® with Western® Premium BBQ Products – Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips
Woods available: Whiskey barrel.
Sample customer review: “We always use the Jack Daniel’s chips when we smoke our meats. The flavor is always perfect and you get a beautiful smoke ring in your meat.”
Whiskey taste profile: Smooth, smoky, and licorice sweet.
Here’s another set of wood chips from Western® Premium, although we’ve decided to still include it in our list since technically it’s a Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey® product.
Like the red wine barrel chips above, this bag of chips comes from old whiskey barrels, previously used to age JD’s famous liquor.
As the wood sits soaking in that golden nectar, it imbues some of the smooth, smoky whiskey flavor of Jack Daniel’s, which in turn goes really well with almost any meat (bar, perhaps, fish).
Certainly, I think these JD chips make a fantastic smoker for turkey, chicken, and pork, though would go equally well with bigger cuts too. Plus, who can resist a lovely whiskey bit of flavor on your meat?
- Unique taste and guaranteed quality from makers of the USA’s finest whiskey.
- Versatile enough to be used with almost any white meat, and most darker meats.
- Leave your smoked meat with an attractive smoke ring round the outside.
- Fantastic customer reviews all round.
- Similar to the red wine barrel chips, these chips from Jack Daniel’s are expensive.
Weber – Apple Wood Chips
Woods available: Apple, beech, hickory, whiskey, seafood blend, beef blend, pork blend, poultry blend.
Sample customer review: “Great quality product as always.”
Apple taste profile: Super fruity, sweet, classically smoky.
Weber have been in the business of barbecues since 1952, and have to their name the accolade of having invented the kettle barbecue from an old marine buoy, among many other such innovative advancements in the industry.
Trusted the world over (with offices in over 40 countries) Weber is one of those brand’s you can genuinely depend on to deliver high-quality, trustworthy and affordable products time and time again.
These applewood chips from Weber offer a gorgeously fruity smoke (apple is the fruitiest smoke around), with a nice sweetness grounded by a classic smokiness synonymous with barbecuing.
Perfect with pork, though adaptable for seafood and red meat, too.
- One of (if not the) most trustworthy brands around.
- Nearly 70 years of experience in manufacturing BBQs and wood chips.
- Great range of products (I’m especially interested in their pre-made blends).
- Satisfied customers.
- Average market price.
- Few, if any (one of my very favorite brands on this list!).
Exstream BBQ – Beech Wood Chips
Woods available: Apple, beech, oak, cherry.
Sample customer review: “Have used this on a few pork shoulders, plus some chicken and ribs. Like the flavor and gives a great smoke ring.”
Beech taste profile: Nutty, light, clean and cool.
Exstream is not a particularly well-known brand.
Still, I wanted to include a brand which delivers the goods for as little money as possible, and for that I had to turn to Exstream.
Whilst they don’t have as wide a range of woods available as some competing brands, what woods they do have they provide in bulk for a fraction of the price other brands sell for.
Customers seem happy with the end result, though I think this brand is perhaps best for beginners, since the quality is inarguably lower than more expensive brands.
(This means that you don’t have to worry about wasting money whilst you practice smoking meat, and can graduate onto a better brand once you’re more confident.)
Beech wood is ideal for fish, chicken, and even pork, as it has a really light, refreshing profile which suits white meat perfectly.
- Super cheap and inexpensive.
- Bags come in bulk, allowing you to cook more before restocking.
- Amateur smoker customers are happy with the product.
- Poorer quality chips than those from more reputable brands (like Weber and Western).
- Small range of woods available.
Napoleon – Mesquite Wood Chips
Woods available: Maple, cherry, mesquite, brandy barrel, whisky barrel.
Sample customer review: “Big fan of Napoleon and these wood chips haven’t disappointed. While I didn’t notice as much of a mesquite smell as I expected during the process, the flavor was all there in the finished product.”
Mesquite taste profile: Strong, earthy, pungent, intense, smoky, a little spicy.
Napoleon is one of Canada’s most trustworthy BBQ manufacturers and suppliers, and according to their website the brand “is dedicated to providing quality, home comfort products for over 40 years and counting.”
Here, Napoleon offers a 2lb bag of mesquite wood chips for a reasonable price, which customers are outspokenly happy about.
One of the biggest bags of chips on this list, a Napoleon bag will set you up for several meals ahead, rather than just the one or two you can usually extract from a 0.75lb bag of chips.
Mesquite is the true classic flavor of Texan barbecue, and whilst overly strong for some, can be dealt out carefully with small portions of wood chips, to give your red meat, pork, and poultry a traditionally smoky kick.
- Trustworthy Canadian brand with over four decades of experience.
- Big 2lb bags at reasonable prices make Napoleon a truly cost-effective brand.
- A nice spread of woods available, including the unique ‘brandy barrel’ flavor.
- Seemingly not as widely available as other competing brands.
Oklahoma Joe’s – Hickory Wood Smoking Chips
Woods available: Apple, hickory, mesquite, cherry.
Sample customer review: “Awesome wood chips! They give great smoke and flavor. The best part is they are more affordable than [other brands]!”
Hickory taste profile: Rich, hearty, sweet and savory (a little like bacon); a mild nutiness, like pecan.
Oklahoma Joe’s – a smoker manufacturer and restaurant – is world famous. Joe, the owner, started from nothing in 1987, and built himself up an empire in the barbecue world.
Winning national, state, and international BBQ championships along the way (including the Jack Daniel’s World Championship and American Royal World Championship), Joe has made an inscrutable name for himself as an aficionado of barbecuing.
As such, he knows his woods, and Oklahoma Joe’s small range of wood chips are not only 100% natural, top quality products, they are cheaper than any other wood chips on this list, at around just $2 per pound.
These hickory chips bring the All-American barbecue flavor to your home. Hickory has a really lovely flavor profile, somewhere in between sweet and savory, and tasting a little like bacon.
A midway point between the smoky strength of mesquite and oak, and the fruity sweetness of fruitwoods, it’s a fantastic place to start if you’re just getting into smoking.
- Best priced chips on this list.
- Reliable, award-winning, and trustworthy American brand.
- Oklahoma Joe’s has over 35 years of experience in the business.
- Range of woods available is a little slim.