Wet Wood Chips Vs Dry for BBQ Smoking

A vertical smoker is a great BBQ cooking tool for anyone that really loves their smoked meats. There are several benefits to using a vertical smoker, including the ability to smoke foods at a higher temperature in the same time it takes with other types of smokers.


When it comes to smoking, the debate is usually between wet wood chips vs. dry. It’s a common question: which is better? Which will deliver the best flavor?


The answer isn’t a straightforward one, and it depends on what you’re going for. There are pros and cons to both methods, and each one results in a totally different experience.


Q:When using a smoker, is it better to use dry or damp wood chips?


A: There is no absolute right or wrong, it is more about the meat and the type of wood you’re using, along with the length of time it needs to smoke.


If you're smoking a quicker-cooking cut of meat like chicken breasts, ribs or pork chops, you'll want to use dry wood chips and start preheating your smoker early so that it can reach its desired temperature before putting the food in. Adding dry wood chips early will allow them to burn down enough that they'll be smoldering by the time the food goes in. That smoldering is what gives off smoke without flames and results in more flavorful meat.


Wet wood chips tend to be harder for beginners to use because they give off steam rather than smoke when cooking. This can result in a less flavorful product. You can also use wet chips with longer-cooking cuts like beef brisket or pork butt, but these cuts need more time for their connective tissue to break down and tenderize so they can withstand the extra moisture from wet chips without becoming soggy and tough. If you decide to go with wet wood chips, wrap them in foil with some holes poked into it.


On the one hand, wet wood chips burn slower than dry wood chips. This means that wet wood chips are better for long smoking sessions because they keep their smoky flavor for longer and give you more time to cook your food.


On the other hand, dry wood chips tend to produce more smoke than wet ones, which is ideal for foods that require less cooking time like steaks and burgers. Let’s look at wet vs dry wood chips, when you should use them and why.


First, you should know that not all wood chips are created equally.

Chips from most fruit trees and citrus trees tend to be very light and airy. This makes them burn more quickly than other woods, particularly if they're used in a smoker.

For example, apple wood chips are best used in smoker recipes that require long cooking times at low temperatures; they should be mixed with denser woods like hickory or oak to keep the fire consistent.


Wet Wood Chips


Soaking your dry wood chips before using them in the smoker accomplishes two things: It keeps them from burning as hot or fast as dry ones and helps them impart a smokier flavor over a longer period of time. Using wet wood chips will increase the humidity in your smoker which can create excess steam during cooking time. However, the drawback here is that more steam means less smoke. So, if your meat doesn’t require a long cook time, the smoke flavor of the meat will be less pronounced. Many beginners like to use wet chips to avoid burning them up in high temperatures.


Dry Wood Chips


Dry wood chips are simply raw wood chips that have been dried naturally in the sun or kiln-dried. They burn hotter and faster than wet wood chips, and they tend to deliver a stronger smoke flavor to your food. They're also easier to light because they quickly release an oil when lit, which acts as a fuel source. This oil is called the "smoke ring," which refers to the distinctive pink color that appears on smoked meats. Dry wood chips burn out more quickly than do wet ones, however, so you need to replenish them more often.


Using dry wood chips for smoking means that you'll have a longer window of time to allow their flavor properties to seep into the meat.


BBQ and Smoking is a Time Honored Tradition


People have been smoking their meats since colonial times and before. BBQ originated in the Caribbean, and then was adopted by the U.S. as a way to flavor and preserve meat. The Caribbean or Dominican word for BBQ is barbacoa.


The best types of smokers to use are vertical smokers like the CUEWAY K-1 Smoker; it has three racks that allow you to smoke multiple cuts of meat long and slow for the best flavor.


Wrap Up


Most pitmasters will tell you that it isn’t necessary to soak your wood chips. Wet wood takes longer to heat up and produces more steam than smoke. Depending on the length of your cook time, you would end up with less flavorful meat.  The truth is, there are times when using wet wood chips is preferred, such as when smoking thick cuts of brisket that require a longer cook time.


Each has their purpose, and it just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you will be smoking something that cooks quickly (like chicken or pork chops) or anything cooking for 20 minutes), dry chips are best.