Written by Terry Smith

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UK’s best smoker wood chips for turkey, beef, pork, chicken, and fish reviewed and tested.

This article was last updated on November 24th, 2021 at 5:22 am

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love a charcoal bbq. And I don’t like that paraffin laden charcoal you get for quick and instant bbq’s either. I like the real deal: lumpwood charcoal (and by the way, I’m loving the new natural eco firelighters). Ideally my charcoal is restaurant grade – nice big chunks that give me a quality temperature for longer periods to slowly cook my meat and impart a beautiful smoky flavour – the type you can only achieve on a charcoal grill.

Then I got adventurous and looked at YouTube – the guys over the other side of the Atlantic channel are doing great things with their bbq’s and it got me looking at bbq smokers. I soon realise a food smoker was important but the absolute main ingredient to make meat shine, (assuming your bbq has a lid and reasonably traps a bit of smoke to impart flavour) is the best smoker wood chips – and ideally they’ll include a good amount of hickory, apple (fruit frees), and oak as that’s your average wood that’ll fit most smoke setups.

Barrel barbecue with smoker for wood chips

However, I will say, what makes the best wood chips for smoking varies on personal taste and what meat or fish you want to smoke – some wood is sweeter than others, so don’t worry, let’s look at the top picks list below for each cut of meat and if you’re still not in the know, please feel free to use the best smoker wood chips buyer’s guide as well. Here’s out list for the best smoker wood chips:

Best smoker wood chips overall: Weber Smoking Wood Chips for Beef
Best smoker wood chips for pork: Jack Daniels Smoking Chips – best of the best for pork: absolute best of the best – old Oak whiskey barrels basically. Jack Daniels nailed it.
Best smoker wood chips for poultry (turkey and chicken mainly): Weber Apple Wood Chips
Best smoker wood chips for beef: Weber Smoking Wood Chips for Beef
Best smoker wood chips for fish: Seafood Smoking Wood Chips
Best smoker wood chips for vegetables: Cherry Smoking/Smoker Wood Chips

Best smoker wood chips buyer’s guide

If you’re new to the smoking this as I was then give this a couple of minutes of your life and you really won’t regret it. I didn’t even bother reading the instructions and just threw the chips on – they burned up and I wondered why nothing happened 😀

Before picking understanding your flavours and what makes sweet and bitter tastes is important – equally so is soaking your chips – (my fatal mistake the first time I used them!)

Understand subtle and strong flavour wood chips

It’s well known that Hickory is your staple for deep rich flavour and goes hand in hand with red meat. Where it get’s a little bit grey and murky though is knowing what else works with beef. Personally I absolutely really enjoy beef in Hickory but find a far better solution to mix Hickory with Jack DanielsTo me this gives a far wider array of flavour. Needless to say Weber Smoking Wood Chips for Beef is my top pick and the best out of the bag – it even works well for poultry and pork and being gentler tasting meat doesn’t need anywhere near as long in the smoker to achieve an imparted woody aroma.

Smoked bbq chicken from the charcoal food smoker – yes I actually cooked this and was DELICIOUS 🙂

Sweet scented wood is my favourite. The best of the best is sweet wood in my mind and this is ideal for both fish and poultry. You definitely want to take a look at my Seafood Smoking Wood Chips review for seafood – it’s the right combination for a gentle fish taste and won’t totally overpower.

On the other hand by far the star of the show for pork is the Jack DanielsBasically, if you’ve had Jack Daniels bbq sauce on your pulled pork and like it, this is a serious best of the best, no question about that. Jack Daniels smashed it using their old whiskey infused barrels as smoker chips.

Saturate your wood chips in water

If you’re going to throw your chips straight on the bbq I highly recommend soaking for longer than the manufacturer recommends. The larger the chips, the longer the soak, that simple, so if you opt for the 40mm Sweet Chestnut then you definitely want to be soaking upwards of an hour. If you’re using a smoker box they simply won’t burn up anywhere near as quickly and so the time you soak for isn’t quite so important but what if I have a little hack for you to save money not buying a wood smoker box:

Wood smoker box or my favourite hack to save money?

Using tin foil I make a nice little boat – now this is by no means as long lasting and effective as a smoker box but for those who rush out and buy smoker chips, then read you must use a smoker box, this will get you out of trouble. Just double the tin foil up a couple of times and it’ll hold together for more than long enough to impart flavour in all meats.

Smoker box – can use a tray or tin foil instead

What are the types of smoker wood chips available?

Each type of wood can bring in a different flavour to the meat cooked. The types include oak, hickory, maple, mesquite, pecan, apple, alder, peach, cherry and ash wood. With these things known, let us explore the top smoker wood chips available in the market to take your barbecuing experience to a heightened level.

How to use smoker wood chips effectively

There are a few important things to remember – firstly we already covered a good soak. The next thing you want to consider is how much you use. A good handful is plenty in most cases for the average bbq setup – some get clever and drip feed the chips too so they get a slow and steady stream of smoky flavour.

A wood smoker box isn’t necessary but will maximise the amount of smoke you get from your wood. So it makes sense to get the best value for money possible.

I took ages mulling over which smoker wood chips is actually the best overall and after some serious testing I came to the conclusion I preferred the Weber smoking wood chips for beef.

How did I come to that conclusion? Well it wasn’t easy trust me, I am talking a serious amount of testing – the bottom line is this combo of leaves and fruit trees smoke beef nicely (without being too overpowering like a Hickory can be) and being fruit it made a lovely job of ham and even poultry too. I feel like it’s a good product for vegetables too given the unique blend of Nutwood and Broadwood with a mix of fruit tree wood chips.

You’ve got two choices in terms of application. First off the bat when you’ve soaked the wood chips for half hour but ideally an hour, you can use a bbq smoker box, or just push them through the griddle and let the bbq take over. You want a decent handful and I’d say a smoker box is more effective as you don’t actually burn the wood and so lasts longer, but we are splitting hairs – you’ll get the flavour in both ways.

If for some reason you’re not convinced on the idea of beef flavour, when you follow the link you’ll feel like a kid in a sweet shop – there’s a whole variety of smoker chips setup for individual meat products – I’d just list them off but that would hardly make a fair review if dictated by Weber 😀 but they are definitely good enough to earn best overall wood smoker chips in the UK.

When I tested this I though, nah this will be some Jack Daniels gimmick – just the name to make me envision a lovely whiskey oaky combo – half of taste is the attitude going into it right? How shocked i was to open the packet, take a deep breath, and realise the Oak chips where laden with Jack Daniels aroma – wow. So lovely. Later I found out these chips are made from the old barrels of their whisky. Talk about a genius way of recycling and as a result this is deadly for pork – by far away the best of the best if you want to smoke pork!

Oak wood is identified as medium wood. The Jack Daniels smoking kit contains oak chips. Oak is generally identified as stronger than cherry and apple woods. However, like other oak wood chips, this pack also contains oak wood chips that are lighter than hickory and mesquite but more importantly, what a perfect combination this is for pork – oak and whiskey. It can turn out to be a great blending wood due to its hot burning ability. It will bring a medium smoky flavour to the meat and it works well with any other type of wood if you fancy experimenting – probably a bit of Hickory added if you’re going for beef.

If not for the fact Weber are covering the whole spectrum beautifully this would have been my top pick overall as well – but being great for poultry and pork alone means it would be an unfair decision despite the fact my heart was sold on these the minute I breathed in the beautiful whiskey aroma from the Oak chips.

Pros:

  • Suitable for all types of grills
  • Ideal for poultry but exquisite for pork
  • The pack contains incense from original whiskey barrels
  • Very aromatic oak wood

Cons:

  • Will need a bit of hickory added to give beef some oomph!

3. Weber 17621 Apple Wood Chips

I know I said in the top pick I wasn’t going to let this be a Weber dominated article but I just couldn’t pass up their apple wood option. This is generally known to bring subtly sweet, fruity and mild flavour to the meat. It can accommodate fish, pork, chicken, turkey, vegetables, and some even use it to smoke cheese! It’s the ideal opposite to the Weber Smoking Wood Chips for Beef pick and so deserves a spot on the top list, and to be fair it works great for beef. However, the flavour of apple wood is delicate and so it cannot hold up to the heavy flavours of the red meat.

I’m of the opinion (as well as most experts) that this is a great blending wood to be mixed with stronger woods for cooking meat – you could lace this with Hickory if the aim is red meat.

The product comes in a resealable bag. So, you can seal it after use for the next time barbecuing. You will get a fruity, dense and sweet flavour when you cook with this product. The seller Weber recommends customers to soak the product 30 minutes before use to achieve a perfect flavour but I always go for hours or longer if I can, especially if the plan is to whack them straight on the bbq and not use a smoker box – it’ll stop them burning up so quickly.

Pros:

  • Comes with a resealable bag
  • Gives a fruit, juicy and dense taste to the meat
  • 30-minutes soaking before cooking is recommended for enhanced flavour
  • The perfect choice for cooking vegetables, fish, poultry, pork and cheese.
  • It is a best seller product at Amazon.

Cons:

  • A bit weak for heavier red meat

No top pick for the best smoker chips could be complete without the inclusion of some cherry – sweet and a bit sharp. Now why I really like this product isn’t just the Cherry though, it’s the range. Gwernyfed bag their smoker chips in individual wood so you can pick and choose (do a bit of trial and error testing basically) – it also means you can adjust more general smoker wood chips that are already mixed, like the Jack Daniels and lace it how you feel suits you. You’ve got ash, alder, cherry, birch, beech, apple and oak to pick from.

This product is offered at Amazon by Gwernyfed Wood. Buyers have the option to choose either cherry, oak, birch, ash, apple or alder wood chips. All are priced at the same price. Premium wood smoking chips ensure better smoke. The large 4.5-litre resealable pack ensures that the you can use the chips for looking for longer hours without any hassle. The range is ideal for use in different types of BBQ grills – charcoal, gas, and electric but comes into its own with a Kamodo Joe or Weber vertical smoker. The flavours of this brand are tried and tested for quality and the Cherry chips are slightly sweet and tart – definitely a gentle flavour and so ideal for white meat and vegetables (this is really nice). The key features of this product from Gwernyfed Wood are listed below:

Pros:

  • Versatile wood chips ideal for use in electric/gas grill, kettle style BBQ or Kamado and in a smoker.
  • The large 4.5-litre bag will give enough smoke for hours of use
  • Harvested natural wood chips are untreated
  • Available in different flavours in six choices being cherry, birch, beech, ash, alder, apple and oak.

Cons:

  • Chips have come to me on the very small side

5. 5 Litre Smoking Wood Chips for BBQ and Smokers 100% Natural from Polish Forests (Maple)

This product from Forest Legend is a pack of wood chips that were collected from the forests of Poland. Forest Legend offers this pack in different wood flavours but I’ve chose Maple to bring balance to this review. But, customers have the option to choose, whichever wood chip, they feel to be the ideal choice for them. With this product, you can add a delicious smoky flavour to grilled meat and being Maple is one of the sweeter, more gentle smoker chips.

Without any additions, this pack contains natural wood gathered from Polish forests. The large 5-litre pack gives decent value for money. The average size of wood chips in this pack varies from around 5 to 10 mm and being that size you want to soak them really well in advance if planning to go straight on the fire – they’ll burn away too quickly otherwise – you can also drip feed them to ensure a longer, more even smoking period. Forest Legend give you a really nice 100% money back guarantee if you don’t like what they offer – definitely great on that. The key features include:

Pros:

  • Choice of different types of woods available
  • Ideal for use on Kettle BBQ, Kamado Style, smoker and grill BBQ.
  • Can be used either on a smoking box or even directly on the coals.
  • 100% money back guarantee.

Cons:

  • Some complain chips are too small

6. 3 Litre BBQ Smoking British Wood Chips (Sweet Chestnut)

As this box contains sweet chestnut woods, the meat cooked using these wood chips will have a sweet and mild smoky flavour. The seller Grilling Wood also offers this product in other choices which include Hazelwood, Beech and Alder wood chips. All are equally priced and vary from 10-40mm in size – you won’t buy two lots at different times and get the same size that I can tell from the numerous purchases I’ve made so be aware of it and it’s not a problem. If you have the larger size then you’ll want to soak upwards of an hour – the smaller chips you can get away with less.

Litre BBQ Smoking British Wood Chips (Sweet Chestnut)A nice touch is the old postcode thing – the bucket from will have a clearly state the postal code from which part of the UK the woods were felled and collected. The sweet chestnut wood chips, making it the ideal choice for cooking pork and poultry due to the slightly subtle and sweet nature of the wood. The product comes in a large 3-litre tub that is reusable. This product contains natural untreated wood chips.

Pros:

  • Post-coded wood chips
  • Beautiful wood to lace and mix with other stronger flavours
  • Sweet chestnut wood smoke and other options as per the preference of buyers
  • Ideal for use on Kettle, Kamado style, smoker and grill cooking
  • Great value for money with large 3-litre reusable tub
  • Untreated and natural wood

Cons:

  • Ok for red meat but on the weaker side

It goes without saying I promised not to make this a Weber show and that seems to have gone a bit wrong – but it hardly seems fair to penalise them for making the widest array of best smoker chips for each food type. The Weber seafood smoking wood chips are no exception. They are beautiful for fish and impart a sweet nutty flavour. Their base choice of sweet fruit trees naturally gives this aroma and it really works.

Like the other Webers these want a minimum of 30 minute soak – I personally like to give them longer but that’s a personal thing and certainly not necessary if you use a smoker box – I tend to make a bit of a boat out of tin foil to save the smoker box cost though 🙂

All in all a great choice for any fish or seafood.

Final thought:

Once upon a time, our ancestors cooked whatever they ate over a fire. The smoke from the wood assisted them getting a flavour in the meat, thereby giving smoky and sweet characteristics. But, now, we do cook meat. But, we cook the food in natural gas stoves or even using electricity. However, we have not forgotten the humble beginning of our ancestors. This is why barbecue is always the most favourite form of cooking as this method of cooking adds a smoky flavour to the meat. Most people agree that there is nothing quite like making a good cut of meat even better by permeating in with a smoky and delicious flavour. You can complement your barbecue meat by carefully selecting the right wood. The right kind of wood without any doubt will take your barbecue gaming to the next level. But, here comes a question? What is the best wood to smoke each kind of meat? Most people ask whether chips or chunks can flavour the meat well. Before we get into the top smoker wood chips available in the market, let us consider the types available first.


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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