The Best Wood Chips For Smoking Meat That You Can Buy

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Last Updated on October 6, 2021

Smoking is a wonderful hobby, and it can be performed in many ways. There are a few major types of grills, the wood fire variant being only one of the major styles. While you can use large hunks of wood or lump charcoal for those, in gas or electric smokers and grills, the way to get that smoky flavor is with these wood chips or smaller chunks.

Wood chips all both alike, and all different, which I’ll explain below. Suffice to say that picking wood chips is a bit different than picking other products largely because the idea of quality is sort of nebulous since most half-decent brands have the same level of overall quality control. What’s going to be your major selling point is something far more subjective.

Jim Bob
A long-time contributor to GrillBabyGrill. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
delicious smoked ribs

What Kind of Smoking Chips Should I Look For?

To answer that overall question, you need to ask another: what kind of flavor do you want to put in your food?

Smoking chips are (unless you buy extremely bottom of the barrel stuff, which you almost have to go out of your way to do) pretty much all the same quality. 100% all natural hardwood chunks.

The main selling point here is what flavor the wood is; what trees it comes from, in other words.

Types of Wood

There are two main types of smoker chip woods: sweet and savory types.

All woods are going to have a certain amount of savoriness to them, but fruit woods especially have a fruity sweet kick to them that other woods lack. Let’s go over the most common types of woods, starting with the savory options.

Savory Woods

Hickory is your bread and butter wood here. It is in large part the backbone of most smoking traditions I’m familiar with, and so is one of the most commonly used woods. It has a distinctly smoky flavor to it. That’s the best way to describe it, honestly, as vague as that sounds. Most smoked meats are described as “smoky” BECAUSE they taste like hickory along with the char. It is probably the most distinctive pure barbeque flavor out there.

Mesquite is another backbone wood, though largely of the southwestern barbeque traditions. It is a very strong flavor that can drown out weaker tastes if you’re not careful; as a result it’s mostly used on beef.

Oak is a common “filler” wood for lack of a better term. It makes smoke well but has an extremely light flavor overall, and is best mixed with other woods in my opinion.

Alder wood is the final common savory wood. It has a light flavor that really complements softer tasting dishes very well, like fish. Alder is sort of the hickory of those kinds of flavors; if you’ve ever had professionally smoked hamkielbasa, fish or lamb, it was probably alder.

Sweet Woods

Cherry, apple, and maple are the common kinds here. They all taste exactly like the fruit that comes from them, pretty much.

Apple is the real standout here, being so common especially in the north. It’s light and pairs well with just about any type of meat, and has a strong but subtle flavor that doesn’t overpower much, but really shine through even when paired with flavors that are overall more up front than it. It is also important to point out that there are considerations on what wood chips to use and how much you need to use based on the type of smoker you have if you have an electric smoker or a traditional one. 

The most popular 4 flavors are apple, hickory, oak, and cherry for a reason; they all work well together. All are perfect to use in all occasions and annual celebrations.

Read More: Learn Soaking The Wood Chips And The Great Use For Smoker Box.

Our Top Choice

  • Easy to handle.
  • 100% natural and made in USA.
  • Pairs well with poultry, seafood, lamb, pork, beef and cheeses.
  • Great chips for small infusion smokers!
The Process

Image

Product

Price

Camerons Wood Smoker Chip Value Pack

Camerons Wood Smoker Chip Value Pack

BEST CHOICE

  • Great variety of flavor.
  • Good quality wood.
  • Right amount for what you pay.
Check on Amazon

Zorestar Wood Chips Variety Pack

Zorestar Wood Chips Variety Pack

RUNNER UP

  • Nice variety of wood chips.
  • Quality uniform size chips.
  • Great price & value.
Check on Amazon

Western4 Pack Smoking Chips

Western4 Pack Smoking Chips

VALUE CHOICE

  • Great variety box for the price.
  • Peach addition is great since it’s hard to find.
  • Big bags.
Check Price on Aamzon

Top 7 Best Smoking Wood Chips of 2021

1. Camerons Products Wood Smoker Chip Value Pack

Why you’ll love this:

This is a top notch selection of high quality wood chips.

You get a pack of 4 resealable containers, perfect for any kind of smoking endeavor. Each type of wood brings something interesting to the table in terms of flavor profile, and all complement each other well if you want to experiment with blending wood flavors together.

This variety pack trends towards the more savory side, with the hickory and oak woods’ more standout flavors, while the more neutral alder wood lends itself well for both savory and sweeter cooking. The cherry then comes in to give you a sweeter finish if you want it, but is overall a more subtle sweetness than you get from many other fruit woods, so it is likewise good in a more savory blend as well. This is great for smoking cheese, poultry, seafood, lamb, pork and beef.

The packs are easy to open and reseal, and you get a solid amount of each: 1 pint of each wood (good for roughly 30 batches of smoked food) so for the price it’s an excellent deal.

It’s pretty hard to do better than this in terms of both variety and cost efficiency, but one other package gives Camerons a run for their money.

What We Liked

  • Excellent variety.
  • Good amount.
  • Great versatility with the woods chosen.
  • Resealable containers keep out moisture and lock in freshness and flavor.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not suited for all barbeque styles, particularly ones that prefer an overall sweeter profile.

2.  Zorestar 6 Piece Wood Chips Variety Pack

Why you’ll love this:

This variety pack is something with a bit more of a balanced profile, with some of the same options as our winner, but replacing the more savory, powerful tasting hickory wood with apple wood, which is perfect for cooking fish and other foods that require a “borderline” flavor profile.

The amount you get here is good as well, with a lot of cherry and apple, and a relatively smaller amount of alder and oak, each bag filled to the brim with nice small chips that are easy to burn.

The wood is natural, ecologically sourced, and comes with recyclable bags and boxes, which are nice for having a more sustainable wood harvest.

All in all a great option if you don’t like how overpowering hickory is and prefer to have apple instead.

What We Liked

  • Excellent variety.
  • Great amount of wood in each package.
  • Good price.
  • Sustainably harvested all natural wood; high quality and eco friendly.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Would be better as an 8 pack with equal amounts of each wood.

3. Western Premium BBQ Products 4 Pack Smoking Chips

 Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E

Why you’ll love this:

These are some hefty chunks, much larger and thicker than most of the smoking chips on this list.

This is also the variety pack that lives very much on the sweet side of the flavor spectrum, with a collection of three fruit woods (apple, cherry, and peach) plus maple wood.

This is great mix of wood chips for smoking meats you want to slather with Kansas city style sauces (to up the sweetness), or as an offset to more savory spices, rubs, and sauces down the line.

The peach wood is the real anomaly here. You don’t see that one very often, even in and around Georgia; peach cooking is usually done incorporating actual peaches into the cooking (like as a sauce base) rather than a smoking wood in my experience.

This makes this a fairly unique variety pack. Finding peach wood at all is fairly difficult, and it’s certainly not usually found as part of any kind of assortment.

So in addition to the sets other strengths (high quality wood, large chunks, design for use with gas and electric grills) it’s well worth picking up if you’re just very curious as to what peach wood will bring to your cooking.

What We Liked

  • Large chunks burn longer, though take longer to catch.
  • Great variety of sweet woods.
  • Large bags.
  • Good price.
  • Peach wood is a unique and hard to find addition.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Extremely sweet overall flavor profile with none of the “staple” wood bases like hickory or alder usually used to cut the sweetness.

4. Smokehouse Products 12 Pack Assorted Flavors

Why you’ll love this:

Another good assortment from Smokehouse Products, this time focus on quantity a bit more than others.

These are nice small chips (closer to sawdust in consistency), which catch quickly; perfect for low and slow smoking. The wood is high quality (all natural hardwood) and the variety is great.

You get a lot of hickory with this one; a great base for both using on its own or as the majority option with some kind of blend. The others included are popular and versatile flavors as well: apple, cherry, and alder, all staples of most barbeque “schools” that go well with any meat in different combinations, and work well with a variety of vegetables too.

This one is a bit pricier than the others, but not overly so, especially when you take into account that you get a whole lot more in this package than anything else on this list.

A great deal for what you get, with the only “drawback” being that it has a whole lot of hickory in it if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like hickory smoked meats very much.

What We Liked

  • Great variety.
  • Huge amount of wood for a good price.
  • Multiple separate bags for easy storage.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Way more hickory than anything else; only a con if you don’t like hickory.

5. Western Perfect BBQ Smoking Wood Chips Variety Pack

green mountain davy

Why you’ll love it:

This is a collection of Western’s three most popular flavors: apple, hickory, and mesquite.

A lot of these variety packs and assortments don’t include mesquite, so it’s nice to see it represented for once, given how prominent it is in a few of my own preferred barbeque styles. The taste can be a bit strong, but the apple is a good way of cutting it a bit.

All of the wood chips are high quality hardwood, and the individual pieces are a good size. Somewhere between a chip and a chunk, but definitely not the nearly sawdust quality that some others provide. This is either a good or a bad thing depending on how you prefer to smoke your meat. These are made for more medium or high heat quick smoking than slow smoking, but they can be used for the latter so long as you remember to trade out trays regularly.

The price is good, though a BIT expensive for the amount you get. Enough to be worth remarking on, but not enough to really change my recommendation: this is a great assortment of wood chips with a solid variety and excellent utility.

What we liked

  • Great variety.
  • Addition of mesquite wood is welcome, as its absence from most other assortments is a bit strange.
  • Good amount per bag.
  • Clear and easy to follow instructions on the bag are great for first time smokers.

What we didn’t like

  • A little bit overpriced for what’s on offer.

6. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips

PRO SERIES 22

Why you’ll love it:

Moving from assortments to single variety chips for these last two, we have Jack Daniel’s signature wood smoking chips.

Jack Daniel’s barbeque is an interesting beast, what I’d call a “gimmick sauce” that nevertheless produces pretty good results all things considered. It’s not my favorite flavor in the world, largely because of how intense and almost sickeningly sweet it is, but it’s passable enough.

This provides an intriguing way to get a hint of that flavor onto whatever it is you’re cooking without drowning the meat in an overpowering sauce. These are chips from actual aging casks, made of oak, that Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 has been kept in awaiting bottling. The chips combine the advantages of oak as an overall reliable smoking wood and alcohol as a well used tool in the arsenal of cooks around the world.

I quite like these smoking chips, though they may not be for everybody. At the price on offer though, you don’t lose too much by giving it a shot and seeing if it’s something you want to work into your repertoire.

What we liked

  • Good quality oak wood provides consistent smoke.
  • Nice whiskey tones underneath other flavors.
  • Good price per bag.
  • Solid quantity.

What we didn’t like

  • Whiskey barbeque may not be to everybody’s tastes.

7. Weber Wood Apple Chips, 192 Cu. In.

Cookshak

Why you’ll love it:

Apple wood has long been one of the most preferred smoking woods, and for good reason. It’s sweet, while not too sweet, and imparts a distinctive and immediately recognizable flavor to any smoked meat.

These chips are pretty good at getting that across. It comes in a decent 2 lb bag, and the chips are small and manageable for chucking into any grill, catching easily but burning slowly unlike some of the shavings you might otherwise find floating around.

These are not the highest quality wood chips on the market, but Weber knows how to keep a high base standard of quality while keeping the price low, making this bag a very inexpensive purchase for your smoking hobby.

Obviously this comes with a few caveats; these are only good if you like apple, and you only want apple wood at the moment, but that’s not really a huge flaw to hold against it.

What we liked

  • Delicious apple wood flavor.
  • Good quality wood.
  • Very cheap price.

What we didn’t like

  • Small bag.
  • No other wood varieties.

FINAL VERDICT

This is a tough one. All of the variety packs at the top of the list have their own merits. While I think Camerons Products has the best blends of wood for what I like to use regularly, the others are just as good in terms of raw quality, the only difference is they provide different flavor options. TO that end, this list is pretty much a 5 way tie for the top spot, since it’s difficult to say any of those are “better” than the others, just different.

The last two are on there as sort of representatives of different things. The Jack Daniel’s wood chips are there as the bets, in my opinion, of the “gimmick wood” that might be artificially flavored or are unusual in some other manner. The Weber chips, meanwhile, represent the best of what I’d consider the “value wood”; it’s decent quality, cheap, and perhaps most importantly: readily available.

All bring something unique to the table, and should be equally considered.

Wood Chips are not your only option we also made a review about the best lump charcoals.

Cooking tipsBefore smoking a mackerel, learn how to fillet it.