Can I use wood chips in a pellet smoker?

Are you thinking of using regular wood chips in a pellet smoker? It’s important to know that wood chips cannot be put into the hopper of a pellet smoker because they will block the auger and prevent this equipment from functioning properly.

For smoking, wood comes in many sizes and shapes: wood chips, wood pellets, and logs. Almost any type of hardwood can be used to make chips and wood pellets. Both of these materials have a smoky flavor to them. However, it’s important to note that the chips do not affect the cooking or heating process.

So, can you use chips in your pellet smoker?

Can I Use Chips in a Pit Boss or Traeger Pellet Smoker?

You should not use wood chips in a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet smoker. Why? You may ask. 

These devices are not designed to replace wood chips in the smoking process.

Although wood chips can be used to fill your smoker, you won’t be able to obtain enough heat to smoke a wide range of meats. Meat should be smoked at a temperature of 200°F to 220°F.

Furthermore, maintaining a uniform temperature throughout the smoking process would be practically impossible.

We hope this answers your question, “Can I use wood chips in a pellet smoker?”

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Wood Chips in a Pellet Smoker

It is not recommended to use wood chips in a pellet smoker for the following reasons:

  • In pellet grills or smokers, wood chips are used as the sole source of smoke or as a second source of fuel.
  • It is not a great idea to utilize just wood chips in pellet grills or smokers because they will not deliver enough heat for the task.
  • The irregular shape and size of the wood chips will not fit into the grill’s auger and may cause it to break.
  • The wood chips burn and generate smoke for only a short amount of time. That’s why they cannot be utilized in a pellet grill.

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Can I Use These Wood Chips in a Pellet Tube?

The good news is that you can use chips in a pellet tube. A pellet tube aids in the generation of extra smoke in your grill. It’s a metal container with perforations for holding smoking chips or pellets.

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It’s worth knowing that wood chips are not intended for use in smokers. If you have a pellet smoker, pellet tubes will come in handy as wood chips cannot be put directly in the hopper. They can clog the auger. Therefore, the pellet tube can be used in the grill’s main portion to create some flavorful smoke.

Wood Chips vs. Wood Pellets in a Smoker

Should you use wood pellets or wood chips in your smoker? There is a lot to consider when determining which one is ideal for your requirements, from how chips and pellets are prepared to what their uses are.

The most important thing to know is that there are significant differences between wood chips and wood pellets.

Let’s take a look.

  • Wood pellets are created by grinding wood fibers into tiny pieces and compressing them into pellets. On the other hand, wood chips are small wood pieces formed by chipping bigger pieces of wood. They are irregular in size and shape.
  • Unlike wood pellets, which produce a uniform smoking flavor, wood chips produce bursts of their natural smoke flavors. The type of wood used will determine the flavor of the smoke. 
  • Wood pellets are better than wood chips for smoking meats because they can burn more slowly and hotter. This slow burn will make regulating the temperature of your grill or smoker considerably easier. And the temperature of the pellet grill or smoker determines how quickly the meat will cook. What’s more, you can save money over time if you use less fuel to maintain a specific temperature.
  • Wood pellets generate little ash and provide consistent smoke. This lets you smoke your meat uniformly without worrying about ash buildup. Ash accumulation can get on the meat and decrease the efficiency of the burn. Wood chips do not give a continuous smoke, though.
  • Pellets are more suitable for smoking meats, but you can use them in smokers or grills. Furthermore, you can use them for both cold and hot smoking when it comes to smoking meats. 

How to Use Wood Chips in Pellet Grill?

In this section, we’ll show you how to use wood chips in a pellet grill. Let’s get started. 

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Using wood chips in a pellet grill is easy, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

If you have a smoker box, using chips for smoking is a great option. However, if you don’t have a smoker box, you can make one out of aluminum foil. To make a bag, you can wrap the chips in aluminum foil.

Now put the aluminum foil bag on a pan and use a fork to poke holes in the foil to release smoke. Put the bag on the grill grates to start smoking when you’re all set to cook.

Here is how you can use chips in a pellet grill.

Step 1: Before your grilling session, soak the chips in water for about half an hour.

Step 2: Drain your wood chips. And remember not to rinse them.

Step 3: Now wrap the drained wood chips in aluminum foil or put them in a smoker box.

Step 4: Keep the aluminum foil pouch or smoker box over the burner.

Step 5: Fire the grill and preheat it for some time.

Step 6: Place the meat on the grill once the pellet grill or smoker starts to produce smoke.

Step 7: Close the grill cover and check the temperature regularly to avoid flare-ups.

We hope now you know how to use wood in a pellet smoker or grill.

Why Should I Soak Wood Chips in Water for Smoking?

You should soak wood chips in water for smoking because wet wood doesn’t burn easily.

The burning rate of wood chips is very high, which can overcook the meat. Consequently, controlling the smoke from burning wood chips to ensure optimum penetration in a cooking chamber is difficult. A study found that wood chips containing higher moisture content had a lower heating value. 

Soak your wood chips for half an hour before using them in your pellet grill or smoker. The idea is to encourage the wood chips to generate smoke and prevent them from burning too fast.

You can also soak the wood chips in wine, juice, or beer. When water or any other liquid evaporates, the wood chips char and burn, imparting a smoky aroma to your meat while leaving no burnt aftertaste.

How Often Should You Add Chips to the Pellet Smoker?

Every 2 to 4 hours, you can add wood chips to the pellet grill and smoker.

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Increasing the number of wood chips increases the amount of time the meat is exposed to wood chip smoke.

Newbies may find it difficult to determine the right time to add more wood chips. However, the easiest way to find out if they need changing is to check the smoke and taste. It’s time to change them if they’re not up to standard.

How frequently you should add wood chips to the pellet smoker also depends on what you are cooking.

If you’re smoking tiny pieces of chicken or fish, you will just need a few wood chips to get started. And you won’t need to add any more chips to the pellet smoker because the meat cuts don’t need as much smoke and are so small that they cook rapidly.

Is Cedar a Recommended Smoking Wood?

Cedar is not recommended for smoking meat as it is very resinous and will destroy your pellet grill and your food. But some wood and meat pairings are suggested when smoking meat. A lighter hardwood is great for smoking delicate meats like fish and chicken. And hardwood is perfect for smoking heavier meats, such as pork and beef.


Can I substitute pellets for chips?

It is not recommended to use wood pellets in place of wood chips because they will burn differently. You can use wood pellets to add extra smoke to the inside of a smoker tube. But you cannot use wood pellets in a smoker box made for chips.

Are wood pellets and wood chips the same?

No, wood pellets and wood chips are not the same. Wood pellets are composed of compressed wood fibers, while wood chips are made of tiny pieces of irregularly shaped wood. You can use wood pellets to cook more types of meat. They burn more slowly than wood chips and impart a deeper smoke flavor. 

However, wood pellets provide a continuous and consistent smoke that wood chips don’t. On the other hand, wood chips ignite and burn fast, producing bursts of smoky flavor. You can use wood chips for smoking poultry, fish, and meat.

Paul Goral

Paul Goral

I am the founder of Brooklyn Grill and I have a master’s degree in Engineering Acoustics. I love cooking, grilling, and trying new recipes. I also love camping and high-quality knives. I wanted to start this blog and share my passion with others.