Ok, so you’ve tried your hand at smoking some delicious pork butt for the first time and the results were underwhelming. What went wrong? Could it be your electric smoker, the brand of wood chips, or your technique?
A quality electric smoker can certainly improve the quality of your cooking experience, but even the best smoker can’t do it for you. Producing that natural wood-fired, smoky flavor professional chefs have mastered takes practice but there are some helpful hacks to shorten your learning curve.
The next time you try out your favorite smoked meat recipe, follow these tips to get a broiling rich smoke going from your wood chips.
5 Tips To Get More Smoke From Your Wood Chips
1. Have you verified your smoker temperature is accurate?
Your internal cooking temperature is the most important factor when it comes to smoking meat. The ideal internal temperature for creating a savory smoke from your wood chips is somewhere between 200 – 250 degrees fahrenheit. At 220 degrees, your wood chips should produce a flavorful smoke.
If you’re relying on the internal thermometer or temperature gauge that came with your electric smoker, you may not be getting an accurate reading. Your actually cooking temperature could be several degrees lower than you think.
It’s best to get yourself an oven-friendly calibrating thermometer that can withstand high temperatures.
Want a quality electric smoker with accurate temperature gauge? Check out these electric smoker reviews for the top brands.
2. Are you using the right kind of wood chips or pellets?
Alder, mesquite, pecan, apple, hickory – there are many different types of wood chips suitable for use in an electric smoker. Burnt dry, they produce a flavorful smoke that isn’t overpowering and thick.
Wood pellets are more commonly used in pellet smoker grills and are not ideal for use in an electric smoker. This is because wood pellets are specifically designed to burn at a certain rate, releasing moisture and smoke as they burn.
Adding a few wood pellets to your wood chips can give your smoker an extra burst to get started but be careful of adding too many. 4 – 6 pellets for every cup of wood chips should be enough to help get the smoke going.
Find out more about how to choose the right wood chips for your electric smoker.
3. What kind of container are you placing the wood chips in?
Depending on the type of electric smoker, the wood chip tray is usually either high-grade sheet metal or a porcelain-coated ceramic tray. If the tray is too deep, the densely packed wood will take longer to burn. A pan tray allows the wood chips to spread out, exposing them more evenly to the heat source.
An aluminum tray can also be used to hold your wood chips, provided it can fit without touching the heating element.
4. How close is the wood chip tray to the heat source?
Generally speaking, you’ll find the wood chip tray positioned directly under the heat source in an electric smoker. Exposed to extreme heat, the wood chips in the tray smoulder and burn, producing smoke which rises up and flavors the meat on the racks above.
If the wood chip tray is too far from the element, your wood chips simply won’t get hot enough to burn.
5. Are you soaking the chips before putting them in the smoker?
It’s a common belief that you should soak your wood chips before putting them in the smoker.
WRONG! Soaking wood chips is not necessary to get a proper smoke.
Think about it. Would you wet logs before putting them in the fireplace and expect them to burn? Of course not!
Soaking your wood chips will only create more evaporation inside the cooking chamber. In other words, you’ll get more steam than you do smoke. And, your wood chips will take much longer to burn if they’re soaking wet.