Skip to content

Do wood chips go on top of charcoal?

When it comes to grilling and smoking, the use of wood chips and charcoal is a common practice. Both have distinct flavors and contribute to the overall taste of the food being cooked. But the question remains – do wood chips go on top of charcoal? The answer is both yes and no, depending on the grilling technique and desired outcome.

Yes, wood chips go on top of charcoal for smoking

When using a charcoal grill or smoker, placing wood chips on top of the charcoal can enhance the flavor of the food being cooked. This technique is commonly used for smoking meats, fish, and vegetables. The charcoal provides heat and the wood chips add smoky flavor and aroma, creating a delicious combination.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Prepare the charcoal grill or smoker by arranging the charcoal in a mound or using a chimney starter.
  2. Once the charcoal is hot and covered with white ash, spread it evenly in the grill or smoker.
  3. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Drain the wood chips and wrap them in aluminum foil, creating a small packet.
  5. Poke a few holes in the foil packet to allow the smoke to escape.
  6. Place the foil packet of wood chips on top of the hot charcoal.
  7. Allow the smoke to penetrate the food as it cooks, creating a smoky, flavorful result.

This method works well for indirect grilling or smoking, where the food is placed away from the direct heat source. The wood chips slowly release smoke as they heat up, infusing the food with their distinctive flavors.

No, wood chips do not go on top of charcoal for direct grilling

On the other hand, if you are opting for direct grilling, where the food is cooked directly over the heat source, placing wood chips on top of charcoal may not be necessary. This grilling technique is often used for quick and high-heat cooking, such as grilling burgers, steaks, or vegetables.

Direct grilling primarily relies on the heat from the charcoal to cook the food, and adding wood chips on top may result in excessive smoke and overpowering flavors. In this case, it is best to simply use charcoal as the fuel source.

Experimenting with different wood chip placements

While the general rule is to place wood chips on top of the charcoal for smoking and omit them for direct grilling, there’s always room for experimentation and personal preference. Some grill enthusiasts prefer to place soaked wood chips directly on the hot charcoal for an immediate burst of smoky flavor.

It’s important to note that different types of wood chips will yield different flavors. For example, mesquite wood chips impart a strong, bold flavor, while fruitwoods like apple or cherry offer a sweeter, milder taste. You can also combine different wood chip varieties to create your own unique blend of flavors.

Remember, when using wood chips, moderation is key. Too many wood chips can result in an overpowering smoky taste, while too few may not give you the desired flavor intensity. It’s all about finding the right balance to achieve the perfect grilling experience.

Ultimately, whether you decide to place wood chips on top of charcoal or not depends on your grilling goals and the flavors you wish to impart to your food. Experimentation and personal preference play a big role in achieving the desired taste, so don’t be afraid to mix and match until you find your ideal combination.

So, the next time you fire up your grill or smoker, consider whether you are using the indirect smoking method or direct grilling technique to determine if wood chips should go on top of charcoal.

Where do you put wood chips on a BBQ?

Using wood chips on a barbecue is a great way to add smoky flavor to your grilled dishes. However, knowing where to place the wood chips on a BBQ can make a difference in the taste and overall cooking experience. Here are some tips for properly using wood chips on your BBQ:

Direct Heat Method

If you are using a charcoal or gas grill with direct heat, you can place the wood chips directly on the hot coals or on top of the burner covers. This method allows the wood chips to smolder and produce smoke, which infuses the food with a delicious smoky flavor.

Indirect Heat Method

If you are using the indirect heat method on your BBQ, where the food cooks away from the heat source, you can still use wood chips to add flavor. In this case, you will need to create a foil packet or use a smoker box to hold the wood chips. Place the foil packet or smoker box near the heat source but not directly on it. This allows the wood chips to smolder and produce smoke that will circulate around the food.

Soaking Wood Chips

Before using wood chips on your BBQ, it is recommended to soak them in water for about 30 minutes to an hour. This helps to prolong the smoking process by slowing down the wood chip burn rate. Soaking also prevents the wood chips from catching fire and producing too much heat, ensuring a steady release of smoke.

Tip: Experiment with different types of wood chips, such as hickory, mesquite, apple, or cherry, to find the flavor that complements your dishes best.

Here’s an example of how you can arrange your BBQ for using wood chips:

Grill Type Wood Chip Placement
Charcoal Grill Direct Heat: Place the wood chips directly on the hot coals.
Indirect Heat: Use a foil packet or smoker box near the heat source.
Gas Grill Direct Heat: Place the wood chips on top of the burner covers.
Indirect Heat: Use a foil packet or smoker box near the heat source.

Remember to monitor the smoke levels as you grill and adjust the amount of wood chips accordingly. Too much smoke can overpower the flavor, while too little smoke may not provide enough smokiness. Enjoy experimenting with wood chips to enhance the taste of your BBQ dishes!

Can you grill over wood chips?

Grilling is a beloved tradition in the UK, especially during the summer months when the weather allows for outdoor cooking. While there are various methods to enhance the flavor of grilled food, one popular technique is using wood chips. But can you really grill over wood chips?

What are wood chips?

Wood chips are small pieces of wood that are commonly used in grilling and smoking to impart a distinct smoky flavor to the food. They come in different types, such as hickory, mesquite, applewood, and cherry, each offering a unique taste profile.

Using wood chips for grilling

Yes, you can grill over wood chips! The process involves soaking the chips in water for about 30 minutes to prevent them from burning too quickly. Once soaked, the wood chips are usually placed in a foil packet or a smoker box and positioned directly on the heat source of your grill.

Pro tip: If you’re using a gas grill, you can place the soaked wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in aluminum foil and poke some holes to allow the smoke to escape.

Benefits of grilling with wood chips

The use of wood chips adds a smoky, aromatic flavor to your grilled food, enhancing its taste and creating a unique dining experience. It allows you to experiment with different wood types, giving you the opportunity to customize flavors based on your preference.

“Grilling with wood chips can take your barbecue to the next level, providing a depth of flavor that cannot be replicated with other methods.”

Furthermore, grilling with wood chips can also help retain moisture in the food, resulting in juicy and tender meats, poultry, and vegetables. It adds an extra layer of complexity to your dishes that can impress family and friends during your outdoor gatherings.

Should I put wood chips in foil?

When it comes to smoking food, using wood chips is a popular way to infuse delicious smoky flavors into your dishes. One common question that often arises is whether or not to put the wood chips in foil. Let’s explore the pros and cons of using foil when using wood chips for smoking.

The Pros

Using foil when adding wood chips to your smoker can offer several benefits. Firstly, it helps to contain the wood chips and prevent them from falling through the grates, which can be a common issue. Secondly, the foil creates a barrier that allows the wood chips to smolder and produce smoke more efficiently, resulting in a better flavor infusion. Lastly, using foil makes cleanup much easier as you can simply discard the used foil along with the ash, saving time and effort.

The Cons

While there are advantages to using foil, some argue that it can hinder the airflow and affect the overall smoking process. The foil may restrict the oxygen supply, leading to incomplete combustion of the wood chips and potentially impacting the flavor. Additionally, some grill enthusiasts believe that allowing direct contact between the wood chips and the heat source produces a more authentic smoky flavor.

Expert Tip: If you decide to use foil, make sure to poke a few small holes in it to allow for proper airflow.

Ultimately, whether or not to use foil when adding wood chips to your smoker is a matter of personal preference. If you prefer easy cleanup and want to prevent the wood chips from falling through the grates, using foil can be a practical choice. However, if you value the authenticity of the smoky flavor and want to promote better airflow during the smoking process, you may choose to skip the foil.


In conclusion, grilling over wood chips is not only possible but highly recommended for those seeking to elevate their grilling experience. With the right technique and wood chip selection, you can achieve mouthwatering flavors that will make your barbecues truly memorable.