How to Make Wood Chips for Smoking


Wood chips are the perfect fuel for your barbecue smoker. But can you make your own? Learn how to make wood chips for smoking with our easy step-by-step guide.

how to make wood chips for smoking

Are you thinking about how to make wood chips for smoking? Wood chips help you get a unique smokey flavor. There are not many methods that can deliver the same sort of result. Let’s take a look at how to make your own, shall we?

Why make your own chips?

Making your wood chips has several advantages. The most obvious one being that it is cheaper. You can use whatever wood pieces you have, making it more economical. As long as you are certain the wood will give you the flavor you need to be smoked into your food. It will also save you time. 

Best types of wood

Different types of wood can be used for smoking. However, it is important to be intentional about the type that you choose. This is because they each have a particular flavor that they impart, so choose wisely. Here are a few options that you can choose from:


This wood has a sweet, smoky flavor and is often used for wood chips to smoke food. It has a strong flavor, so you need to be wary about how much of it you choose to add to the smoker. It burns for long periods and is great when you intend to have the smoker going for hours. 

Because hickory has such a strong flavor, it is often mixed with milder wood types, this way it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the food. This is especially true with food such as white meat or seafood. Hickory works well for smoking cheese and most meats. 


Wood from apple trees has a light sweet flavor making it a good pick for white meat such as fish and chicken. It is also a common choice for ham, cheese, cold meats, and bacon. It is favored for its slight and mild smokiness. 


Cherry wood imparts a slightly mild flavor with s level of tartness that goes well with pork, duck, poultry in general, and venison. However, don’t be fooled by this selection. Cherry wood goes well with just about any type of meat, food, and vegetables. The mild flavor makes it easy to use cherry wood chips. 


Pecan wood is very close to hickory wood although it is not as strong as hickory. If you know the flavor of pecan nuts, then think about that same flavor being infused in your food. The nutty flavor goes well with beef, lamb, and even poultry. Think about the food types that go well with a nutty flavor, and you won’t go wrong with this wood. 


Oakwood isn’t as light as the fruit tree woods, meaning the flavor isn’t as sweet. Whilst it’s a strong wood, it’s still lighter than hickory. It has a neutral flavor and burns for long periods. 


Peachwood – one of my utmost favorite flavors. Its sweet scent is an amazing addition to several things, including food. When you use peach wood for smoking food, you infuse it with the same delicate and sweet notes that you find in the fruit. Peachwood goes well with white and pink meats. 

What tools do you need?

If you want to make your wood chips at home, you will need a couple of tools. Wood Chips can be made from just about any wood. The point is to end up with small pieces that you can put in your smoker. The tools you will need include an axe or a saw as long as it can chop up a piece of wood into small pieces. This is if you are making the chips by hand.

The other option that you have is to put the wood through a chipper or a wood shredder. 


Now let’s take a look at how you can make your wood chips. To use a wood chipper, you may need to rent it, since it may not be a machine that you have in your workshop. The more portable shredders will usually take on branches that are around 2 to 3 inches in diameter. 

If you have a piece of wood larger than this, you may need to go for an industrial-grade wood chipper. When using an axe, chop up the wood into small pieces. This is the harder method to use, but it is often the one that can be done easier because you probably already have the necessary tools. 

A small axe will work well in chipping the wood away from the trunk. Remember that you are not trying to chop the log in half but to get small pieces. As such, chop in a slanted manner, chipping small bits off at a time. The disadvantage of using an axe is that you probably will not cut small pieces as much as you would with a wood chipper. 

When using a wood chipper, this is one of the easier methods to use. The disadvantage is that you may have to rent a machine. To use a chipper, make sure the machine is on level ground, and there is no tilt. Then make sure that you set the direction and speed of the machine safely. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety tips. 

If the chipper has wheels, make sure they are locked. Once it is set up, make sure that you connect it properly, and then you can feed the chips into the machine. Make sure to follow the instructions as to what size wood you can feed into the chipper. As you feed the wood into the chipper, mix dry and wet leaves to help the chipper. 

How to store DIY smoking wood chips

You can store your wood chips in boxes with holes in them. Make sure the chips are in a cold and dry place. A box with holes keeps the chips dry. You can also store the chips in a plastic container with holes for free air circulation.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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