BBQ Grilling with Wood Chips

Grilling with wood chips is a viable alternative to grilling with only charcoal, and can be a flavorful addition to your food. The Kansas City Barbeque Society requires their barbeque competitors to grill with hardwood only.

Where to Obtain

The easiest method to obtain these may be to simply purchase those that are already commercially prepared for you. Many companies sell regular or flavored which come prepackaged in small bags. These are obtainable in grilling stores, online from many BBQ outlets, or even in your local superstore.

Alternative Method to Obtaining Wood Chips

An alternative buying commercial, would be to make your own. In the barbecue world, oak, maple, or apple wood is widely used when grilling. If you have use of a splitter or mulcher, you may wish to cut your own and let it dry out to use next grilling season. Using an old time method with axe may prove unsuccessful, as usually the ones sold commercially are only a few inches in length, and under a half inch in thickness.

How to Use Them When BBQ Grilling

Perhaps the most common and easiest would be to use them in addition to the charcoal that is in your BBQ grill or smoker. There are three different ways to use them and two different types--plain or flavored. Flavored may be enhanced with added bouquets of flavor from the wood in which it came.

Scatter Method

Many people choose to get the charcoal going, then slowly add a handful of scattered chips on top, for an extended long burn. The wood tends to provide more heat and the fire last longer than simply using charcoal by itself. For instance, if you are grilling pork ribs, you can continue adding wood chips slowly during grilling for added and increased heat. This allows for an added woodsy flavor into your food that you would not normally obtain with just normal charcoal.

This is also essential when using flavored commercial wood chips. Flavored wood chips may be enhanced with natural additives, or come from a special wood (like cherry wood) which will then flavor your food with a special taste. Throwing these on top, then slowly barbecuing your food proves to flavor that meal with a certain smoked taste. Essentially one could experiment grilling their regular foods with many different flavored woods and obtain a different taste each time.

Mixed in Method

The second method is to scatter a few wood chips among the charcoal briquettes, before lighting your grill or smoker. This is ideal for regular quick hotdogs and hamburgers. The only problem with this is that wood tends to burn somewhat faster than the charcoal, so for something that takes a long time to grill (such as a pork roast) one many choose to use the scatter on top method as outlined above.

Wood Chips Only Method

The last method is to grill with only wood chips and not charcoal. For this method, you would scatter a fair amount on the bottom of your grill and light as normal with lighter fluid. Throughout the grilling process, you would simply add more as needed.

Tips for Wood Chip Grilling

According to Big Fat Daddy's, a Lifetime member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society who grills professionally, you can soak non-flavored wood chips in apple juice overnight, for use in the scatter method outlined above. Slowly adding the chips is key, as they may still be damp. They claim this will give an apple smoked flavor to your food, and is ideal when grilling ribs.

This article was written by Ira Mency, with the help of Big Fat Daddy's, whose owner Wayne Schafer is a professional barbecue pitmaster.