There is always a debate around adding food chips or chunks to a smoker. One side is the argument that a smoker should only be used for smoking meat, and owners should not add anything else to it. The other side argues that from time to time you want to add some wood chips, and it has nothing to do with the main goal of your smoker. In this article I will explain which side is correct and why. I also explain when one would want to add pellets or wood chips so they understand what the outcome will be when they use these things in their smokers.
What Are Food Chips?
Food chips are basically wood sawdust mixed with flavoring agents. That means various various preservative agents, coloring agents, etc. There are even some flavors that are more natural than others – but that is more of a coincidence than the norm. So the fact that they are not natural does not mean they can’t be useful in your smoker for giving it a nice flavoring. But there are also wood chips meant for this purpose – usually hickory or mesquite wood chips will do the job just fine. To me, using food chips in your smoker is just a way to add some flavor to something that was never made for it. The only problem with this is that we think we can get away with it since we added it to the smoker and not because of anything natural.
Reasons Why People Add Food Chips Into the Smoker
There are a variety of reasons why one would want to add these types of chips or chunks, but since I am not telling you what they are or what they do, I will just list them:
- They get the smoke nice and strong so it does not get lost between the wood chips and other things in your smoker.
- One wants to add some real smoky flavor to the end result.
- They want more smoke even if they already have enough of it.
- They are afraid that they will run out of wood chips before their meat is done, so they are preparing for the worst case scenario by adding food chips in there as well – just in case they need something extra to get them through it. It is kind of like having a couple shots of alcohol on hand during a long night of drinking so you have something else to get you through it without being too sober when you finish your night with your friends at the bar.
People add food chips into smokers because they think it will enhance the flavor of their meat. You see, food chips are not actually designed to fit inside of a smoker. They are too big for that. But you can fit more of them if you put them on top of one another. And if you do so, you will get a bigger smoke flavor than if you would only use the smaller wood chips that are designed for the smoker. That’s why people add food chips into smokers; they believe it will produce better results.
But here is the thing: if you are smoking meat that has a really delicate flavor, you might end up ruining it. You see, food chips are designed for grilling or smoking meat that already has the desired flavor. They do not add flavor to it, but rather enhance the flavor of the meat. So, if your meat does not have enough Smokey flavor – by adding more wood chips you will only make it worse. So if you are smoking duck, for example, you may want to think twice about adding food chips.
Adding Food Chips Repeatedly
You may occasionally be willing to add food chips into your smoker. But here is something to keep in mind: If you add them on a regular basis, unless you just want to smoke some meat for your friends and family, it may affect your meat negatively.
If you add food chips into the smoker on a regular basis, the smoke and wood chunks that get into the smoke can no longer be used effectively and become wasted. This means that it is not going to taste as good as when they were allowed to do their job properly. What you will end up with is a strong smoke flavor in there which will quickly get overpowered by other things in there – like the food chips – creating a bad mix in your smoker.
You should add wood chips into your smoker when you want to add a flavor that goes along with the meat that you put into your smoker. The type of wood chips that you use will depend on what type of flavor the meat has and the type of flavor that you expect from it. It really depends on what type of food do you plan to cook and how much smoke flavor do you expect from it. Some people prefer only a small amount of smoke, while others would like their meat to be heavily smoked.
Adding Wood Chunks to a Smoker
So when one adds food chips into the smoker, they do not only add more smoke flavor, but they also add more wood chunks in there. This is why you should always remove the food chips once your meat is done. It may take a little longer than you expected it to since it will be very hot and you might get burned from the heat. In that case, you do not need to worry about BBQ sauce anymore because that will help get rid of the burning from your hands.
But one must also keep in mind that once you stop smoking meat for a while, it can get very cold in your smoker – especially if it is a larger one with a large firebox. So, before you ruin any meat with this, you may want to plug the firebox with some wood or food chips. This will prevent it from cooling down too quickly, but since the meat will be ready, it will not be smoked anymore once you fill up the firebox with these things.
Now that we know that we should add wood chips into our smokers and we should remove them once we do not need them anymore, let’s see how many of them we need. I think that I did a pretty good job explaining how to use them and why they can be useful in your smoker.