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How to use wood chips in a gas BBQ

This guide will give you a basic rundown of how to use wood chips in a gas BBQ. As well as discussing which chips are good to use.

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Using Wood chips in a BBQ

Most barbeque (BBQ) fanatics have their specific methods for a great cookout. They also create a lot of hearsay surrounding what the “correct” approach to BBQ is.

You may have heard that the great smoky flavour you expect from good BBQ food is only available on a charcoal grill. However, it’s entirely possible to achieve delicious flavour using BBQ wood chips on a gas grill.

This guide will give you a basic rundown of how to use wood chips in a gas BBQ. As well as discussing which chips are good to use, and how long to soak BBQ wood chips for. From there it’s your job to have a play around and find what works for you!

Selecting Your BBQ Wood Chips

There are many different options available for BBQ wood chips, including;

  • Apple wood chips,
  • Hickory smoked chips,
  • Cherry wood chips,
  • Mesquite chips,
  • Alder wood chips,
  • Oak smoking chips.

These different BBQ wood chips are said to impart better flavour on different types of meat. Some also benefit from being used in moderation or blended with other types of chips. So do your research and bear in mind what foods you plan on smoking.

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Apple wood chips

For example, apple wood chips add a sweetness as well as that classic smoky flavour. So despite being a good all-round chip, it’s more forgiving with a flavourful joint like gammon than opposed to over-sweetening a chicken breast.

On the other hand, alderwood has a much more delicate flavour than apple wood chips. This subtler taste makes them perfectly suited to smoking a piece of fish. However, much like wine pairings these are only guidelines, and at the end of the day the only true judge is your taste buds!

How Long to Soak BBQ Wood Chips for?

Once you’ve selected your BBQ wood chips then you can start prepping for grill time. There is some debate on how long to soak BBQ wood chips for, but most folks agree that they need at least 30 minutes.

It is possible to over-soak BBQ wood chips so it’s best not to exceed 24 hours in the soaking liquid. If in doubt, a good overnight soak is a decent catch-all for BBQ wood chips.

how long to soak bbq wood chip
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What to soak BBQ wood chips in?

You can also soak your wood chips in something other than water for added flavour. Depending on what you’re cooking (and the type of wood chips you’re pairing them with) some good options are;

  • Ale
  • Vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Apple juice
  • Whiskey
  • Wines

Just remember to let the initial soak evaporate off while the grill preheats. Opening the grill and getting smoke in your eyes is one thing, but vinegar gas stings a bit extra!

How to Use Wood Chips in a Gas BBQ?

Now that you know how long to soak BBQ wood chips, it’s time to grill:

  1. Remove the cooking grate from one side of your grill and place an aluminum tray directly on top of the burner. If you don’t have one of these trays then you can make a pouch out of tin foil and poke some small holes in it. Fill the tray/ pouch with ½ a cup of already-soaked wood chips.
  2. Allow the grill to preheat. During this time, the liquid your BBQ wood chips took in during smoking should start to turn into steam, and then smoke as they dry. Once the smoke starts circulating around a preheated grill you should start to see it pour out the sides. This step takes around 20 minutes, depending on your grill, and means you’re ready to start grilling!
  3. The most important part of cooking with a gas BBQ is placement: correctly utilising direct and indirect heat. Place your meats, veggies, etc on the opposite side of the grill, as grilling them directly over the chips can cause them to taste bitter.
  4. While performing these steps try to be as quick as is safe, and keep the lid shut otherwise to trap in the smoke and heat.

This heat and smoke should circulate around your grill, which helps infuse in more of that smoky flavour. If you want your meats to develop a good crust then it’s best to cook low and slow first. Then whack the heat up before serving to give your food a quick sear.

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