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How Often Do You Add Chips To An Electric Smoker?

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Adding wood chips will deliver more smoke that enhances the southern BBQ taste to your dish. But how often do you add chips to an electric smoker?

As a rule, you can replace old ash with new chips every 45 minutes. However, this time will vary according to the type of chips and the size of the smoker that you use.

Is there any other trick to extend or shorten this duration? Keep scrolling down to get more tips.


What Kind Of Chips Can You Add To An Electric Smoker?

Chefs can use diverse types of wood to produce different colors and flavors of smoke. As a general rule, you may begin to cook like a chef by following the comparison table below to find the best flavor for your dish.

Comparison Table Of Wood Chips

Wood Type Flavor Description Best For
Plum smoky, sweet, mild fish, meats


Hickory robust, bold pork and ribs
Oak sweet, salty, bold lamb, beef, brisket, sausage.
Mesquite earthy, bold beef
Cherry fruity, mild salmon, pork, beef
Apple sweet, dense, strong poultry, beef, fish
Maple mild, sweet steak, pork, cheese, vegetables
Pecan earthy, nutty, mild meats
Walnut smoky, heavy, nutty red meat, wild game
Alder light, sweet poultry, fish

Besides, there are some types of wood to keep away from using as far as possible. They are spruce, redwood, fir, cedar, and cypress. These woods are structured by a high content of terpenes and sap that may be poisonous for your health.

No matter what type of wood chip you use, keep in mind to use only dry and new chips for your smoker. You don’t want your bacon to taste steamed and musty.

Using chips soaked in water for 30 minutes is said to enhance the smoke’s ability to penetrate the flesh cells. But, no one is forcing you to do that. It is a personal choice.

You should only consider this method for the electric smoker when it is guaranteed electrical safety. It’s recommended to stay away from long-time wet chips, they need to be really dry right before being soaked.

Via Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips

How Often Do You Add Chips To An Electric Smoker?

How often you should add wood to your smoker depends on the following factors and rules.

Add Wood Chips To A Electric Smoker

Determine The Interval Between Chip Additions

To determine the period between different times of adding chips to a smoker, you need to consider several factors, including the type of wood, smoker capacity, and recipe requirements.

The size of the smoker tells you about how much and how often chips should be added. A small capacity is only enough to hold 1-2 cups of chips, while a large smoker helps you prolong the interval between adding chips.

A Large Tray Holding 4 Cups Of Wood Chips

Different types of firewood also require different burning times. Hardwoods like Oak and Mesquite maintain temperatures longer with less smoke, while fruit-tree wood such as Apple and Cherry burn faster and leave more coal dust.

Besides, every recipe requires a different time for the food to reach the doneness. For example, you need to set your smoker for about 3 hours by burning applewood chips at the temperature of 200°F to make the pork bacon.

Meanwhile, it takes only 1 hour for salted salmon to be smoked until the temperature hits 145°F. Different completion times allow you to adjust the number of adding chips depending on each recipe.

General Principles

In general, a cup of chips can smoke for 15-30 minutes at a temperature of 104– 145°F. So if you want to smoke pork for 5 hours, you’ll need about 12 cups of chips for the entire process.

In the case that your smoker features a bigger tray for chips, you can add more chips each time. Then the duration can be prolonged.

Whatever your recipe is, the total smoking time should not exceed 6 hours. The duration of 4-6 hours is the superior period for most recipes.

Once the temperature rises over 145°F, the smoke tends not to cling to the food anymore. Therefore, smoking that passes over that period does not deliver a smoky flavored food, and it also wastes your chips and electricity.

Each recipe will call for different smoky flavors of different chips. Thus,  you need to practice several times before you can decide the right frequency to add chips. It is good to write down your notebook the appropriate number of times for each recipe.

Additional Factors To Pay Attention To

It is not recommended to fill the tray with wood chips, as the tray needs enough room for the smoke to spread around. Instead, the advice is to add enough chips every 45 minutes.

There’s a trick you can try that is soaking the chips in water for 30-60 minutes before wrapping them in a hole-in food foil. The smoke emitting through those tiny holes can spread further.

Wrap Soaked Chips In Food Foil

Punch Tiny Holes Through The Silver Package


There are some things that you need to remember when adding chips to the smoker while it is working:

  • Make sure that all of the chips in the smoker are burned out before adding new cups. Also, this replacement process should be done as quickly as possible. Leaving the door open for a long time will lower the heat in the smoker, which means it takes you longer than normal to finish your cooking.
  • Clean the chip tray before starting a new cooking cycle. The old ash of the last smoking session takes up a lot of space in the chamber. It is not only challenging to store more chips but also hinders the smoke generation process.
  • If you see smoke coming out of the chimney as large and dense rolls, that means the temperature is too high, and the chip is burning too fast.
  • Temperatures exceeding 225°F not only overly burn your food but also waste wood chips. It is advisable to keep your smoking session slow and low for the perfect smoky dish.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the sharings above have given you the answer you are seeking for the question: How often do you add chips to an electric smoker?

It is simple to remember that two cups of chips will burn out in 45 minutes. Depending on the type of chip and the recipe, you may personalize the times of chip replenishment.

Now, take out your notebook and jot down your recipe. Before you leave, like and share this post if you find it helpful.

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