Do You Soak Wood Chips for an Electric Smoker?

Electric smokers are becoming increasingly popular, as they are super simple to use and extremely convenient. They’re a lot easier to use than traditional smokers.

However, wood chips are a vital part of smoking food, as the different types of wood can provide different blends of flavor, and that is what gives food the authentic barbecue feel. Luckily, you can still use wood chips with electric smokers, so you can still ensure that amazing flavoring! 

Soam people like to soak their wood chips before using them in the smoker. With electric smokers being...well, electric, the question arises of whether you can use soaked wood chips or not.

The answer is yes! It is absolutely safe to use soaked wood chips with an electric smoker, as the wood chips won’t come into contact with the electricity directly. 

Whether you do or do not soak wood chips to use with an electric smoker, is completely down to personal preference. There are different factors to consider, and ultimately you should ask yourself what you gain by soaking the wood chips before use.

If those benefits ensure an outcome in the food that you desire, then go ahead, as it is completely safe!

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Should you soak your wood chips?

That we know that you can safely soak wood chips for an electric smoker, another important question arises.

Should you? Ultimately, it is completely down to personal preference. 

While some like to soak their wood chips before smoking, others would rather leave them be, so there isn’t quite a right or wrong when it comes to it. 

Instead, we’ll break down the pros and cons of soaking wood chips, and then you can decide whether you want to or not. It might not only depend on personal preference, but also on occasion and the food you’re smoking!

PROS of Soaking Wood Chips

Soaking wood chips isn’t necessary when using an electric smoker, or any other type of smoker.

The wood chips are there to provide not only the smoke but different blends of flavoring to accompany the natural flavor of the food, and they do so without the need of being soaked beforehand.

So what do you really gain from soaking the wood chips? 

Here are some of the pros you can gain when soaking your wood chips:

  • When you soak the wood chips, they absorb a great amount of water. This means that when they are used to burn in the smoker, the water needs to evaporate before they begin to be consumed and burnt. For some, this added time of usage of the wood chips is beneficial, as it means you will use less of them over the course of smoking your food. 
  • Soaked wood chips will first let off steam, from the water they have absorbed, before they begin to burn and smoke. This addition of steam before the smoke can add to the flavoring of the food, adding an extra layer to it and giving it a juicier result. People that want a juicy finish to smoked use recommend soaking wood chips before use. 
  • If you soak your wood chips in liquids other than water, it might add a more complex flavoring to the food which can be very tasty. This gives you the freedom to add an extra unique touch to the blend of flavor the smoke will add. (However, wood chips already provide a specific blend of flavor depending on the wood they are made of, so you need to make sure the liquid you use compliments that specific flavor blend, or else it will contrast too much and won’t taste as nice!)

CONS of Soaking Wood Chips

Soaking your wood chips can be a good idea for some if the benefits and the desired outcome align.

However, soaking your wood chips is not always recommended, and many actually recommend not soaking them at all.

This is because there are also a few cons that come with soaking your wood chips beforehand, and it’s important you are aware of them before making a decision!

Here are the main cons to consider when deciding whether or not to soak wood chips:

  • Soaking wood chips means they will absorb a lot of liquid. This prevents them from immediately burning when placed in the smoker, as they aren’t dry enough to burn yet. All the liquid slowly turns to steam as the wood chips are in the smoker, and when they are finally dry they start burning and the food begins to be smoked. This means that it takes a lot longer for the food to be done. Not great if you’re starving!
  • The added time from waiting for the wood chips to dry also means the food is exposed to heat for longer. There is the risk that the steam from the soaked wood chips will end up burning the outside of the food before the inside has been properly cooked, ruining the barbecue for you.
  • One of the main reasons people choose to soak wood chips before use is because it can add an extra layer of flavoring to the food, however, this can quickly turn into a con. Wood chips already have a specific blend of flavoring, depending on the woods they are made out of. Adding another layer of flavor from the steam or a certain liquid used to soak the wood chips in, can completely ruin that carefully crafted blend of flavor, and therefore also ruin the final outcome. This is why many prefer to leave the wood chips be, and to not risk the tastiness of their barbecue food. 

Conclusion

Do you soak wood chips for an electric smoker?

The good news is that it is completely safe to soak wood chips for use with an electric smoker, as the smoker works just like a normal one, with the difference being that it is powered with electricity. 

Whether you then do or do not soak your wood chips for the electric smoker, is completely down to personal preference and need. The benefits of soaking wood chips beforehand is an added layer of flavoring from the steam that emerges, as well as a longer-lasting use for the wood chips.

On the other hand, it is highly recommended to take into consideration that less is more when it comes to soaking wood chips.

Soaking them too much could result in the outside of the food burning before the inside is evenly cooked, and it could also ruin the carefully crafted blend of flavoring that the wood chips come with. 

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