How to Use Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill? (4 Methods)

Are you having a hard time starting a fire using old methods? Well, here’s an alternative that would totally alter your old ways. Each wood chip might seem micro and just an inch small and you might be wondering how it could be utilized, but they are way better than the others.

4 Methods on How to Use Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill

Medium and small bits of wood such as twigs, trees, trunks and even debris from forestry operations are turned into tiny chips by cutting or chopping bigger pieces of wood. Wood chips are a raw material for making wood pulp, can be used as a biomass solid fuel and can basically give fire to a charcoal grill. Listed below are the methods or ways on how to use wood chips on a charcoal grill:

Method 1: Using Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill without a Smoker Box.

Method 1: Using Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill without a Smoker Box.

If your grill doesn’t have a smoker box, you can still use wood chips on it. With this one that has no smoker box, you may just put the wood chips right on the charcoal.

  1. Handfuls of wood chips are wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil.
    – They have to be sealed tightly and the foil is pierced.
  2. Add the packets to the fire once the coals have ashened over.
    – The charcoal appears gray when it’s fiery and is ready to use
  3. Start cooking your chosen recipe
    – Wood chips are just micro and are easily burned. Remember to add wood chips from time to time or when chips are about to disappear.
smoker box

Method 2: Using Wood Chips on a Charcoal Grill with A Smoker Box.

      There are two different kinds of charcoal grills: one with a smoker box and the other one does not have a smoker box. The smoker box on a grill directs the smoke to the cooking chamber while holding the chips.  If your grill already has a smoker box in place for these uses, or if you’re prepared to purchase one rather than using a “Do – it – yourself” method, this is a good strategy to employ.

  1. Put the smoker box on top of the hot coals
    – After filling it with wood chips, wait about 10 minutes or until smoke begins to emerge from the holes.
    – When the coals have achieved the desired temperature, you can now add the meat to the grill right away.
Method Using Foil Packets

Method 3: Method Using Foil Packets

Believe it or not, wood chips can be placed directly over the charcoal. It is not advisable but since we are talking about various methods, then it is listed here. The entire aim of the exercise will be defeated because the wood would burn away before it can actually flavor the food with smoke.

  1. Place a few handfuls of wood chips in the aluminum foil
    – Lay a couple handfuls of wood chips in the center. Fold the borders to completely encapsulate the wood, then punch holes in the foil to allow the smoke to escape.
  2. Set the packets
    – Before you begin to cook, gently place the package on top of the pile after the coals are ready.  Right after you do this, wait until you can now grill your favorite food.
A Method Using a Foil Pan

Method 4: A Method Using a Foil Pan

For larger barbecues, this approach is recommended. If you like grilling a lot, disposable aluminum pans are not too pricey, easy to fine and indispensable.

  1. Start the grill
    – Let it burn until a thin layer of white- gray ash has been evenly spread across the coals.
    – You can use lighter fluid, a chimney starter, a small pile of crumpled newspaper placed beneath the coals or any combination of these to start the fire.
  2. Choose your favorite wood chips and pour them into the pan at least halfway
    – Before placing the pan over the hot coals, cover it with aluminum foil and puncture it numerous times
    – Replace the grilling grates, brush a light layer of neutral on them, and grill your most loved food as usual.

One advantage of adding wood chips to a charcoal grill is that the meal will taste more smokey and have a strong smoky fragrance. A charcoal barbecue is more practical for using wood chips than a gas grill. There are lots of options and grills to select from if you don’t already own a barbecue or if you can’t afford to buy a new one. You may either place them separately in a smoker box or just place them directly toward the burning charcoal.



To better understand your options or what you can use if you want to learn the minorities of grilling.  Information about the foods that go well with each variety is also provided.


Apple is a great all-purpose smoking wood because of its light flavor, which goes particularly well with pork and poultry. Although it doesn’t hold up as well to red meat, you may still use it on steak and lamb chops if you prefer to emphasize the flavors over the smoke itself.


This is a different modest choice with a light sweetness. Alder is a wood that many pitmasters swear by when smoking salmon and other foods.


You’ll have a basic understanding of the flavors that this wood provides if you’ve ever consumed maple syrup. Test it out with some salmon, chicken, or vegetables. Be aware that the food will become a darker tone due to the maple smoke.


This fruitwood has a rich ruby color and a light smoke flavor. Pig and cow can eat it, but chickens could find the color too unappealing.


Pecans have a sweet, fruity flavor that goes well with pork chops and roasts. Additionally, it goes well with seafood and poultry. Keep in mind that pecan wood chips burn at a slightly lower temperature than the others.


Oak is the best wood for steaks and pork chops because it is a little bit stronger than the other possibilities. To add even more taste, you can blend it with apple or cherry.


Hickory is a popular choice for classic barbecue because of its rich, sweet flavor, which if you don’t use it carefully, can turn bitter. Beef brisket pairs particularly nicely with this wood.


The strongest of them all, mesquite is best used in conjunction with gentler woods to add its bold taste without overpowering the meat. Only substantial slices of red meat should be cooked over mesquite, according to us.

Is It Possible to Have Too Much Smoke?

It’s important to taste the wood flavor, but it’s not required to produce a huge cloud of smoke. Your foil packet or smoker box should regularly release a thin stream of light blue-gray smoke from the openings. If the smoke is white and dense or black and sooty, the fire is either not hot enough or is choking from a lack of oxygen.

Also, make sure your air vents are at least partially open to let some of the smoke out. Avoid packing the grill with too much smoke, since this will impart an unpleasant, harsh flavor to your food. On the other hand, resist the urge to open the lid too frequently because doing so will prevent the smoke from reaching the meat.


Wood Chunks

The size is the only distinction between wood chunks and wood chips. Chunks are better for cooking large portions of meat like whole chickens, beef brisket, or pork shoulder since they are bigger and burn less quickly.

Wood Pellets

These clever creations are tiny compressed hardwood sawdust cylinders. They are a great option for both grilling and smoking since they can burn slowly while maintaining a high temperature. We advise purchasing a pellet grill if you’re interested in cooking with wood pellets.

Liquid Smoke

Even when they are not cooking outside, several chefs rely on this condiment to give their meal a smoke flavor. It has been produced since the 19th century, and the method has mostly not changed.

Manufacturers burn hardwood sawdust and let the smoke condense until it is liquid before using it. The remaining ash and other contaminants are subsequently removed from the liquid. Usually, additional substances are included to enhance flavor and serve as preservatives. Salt, molasses, sugar, and vinegar are a few typical ingredients.

We advise against using liquid smoke when grilling meals if you must. No matter how much thought went into making it, it’s still not a good enough replacement for the genuine thing.

How Many Wood Chips Do You Need?

Use roughly two to three handfuls of chips per package when using the foil method. Depending on what you’re cooking, each packet should smoke for around an hour, which might be sufficient. For extended cooking sessions, add an extra packet roughly every half-hour to maintain a consistent flow of smoke.


Is it possible to grill directly over wood chips? Depending on what you mean by “directly,” using a barrier like a foil package or another material will help the wood burn more slowly and produce smoke more evenly. This is the method we would suggest because you are interested in flavor rather than flame.

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