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Gettin' Chippy: Our Guide to Cooking with Wood Chips

Posted by Man Crates on

Smoke is magic. Think about it. It literally comes from fire, flies by in a thick, glorious stream, and then disappears into the atmosphere like some sort of environmental ninja. And that’s not all. Its main super power is the ability to imbue meat with an unmistakable, perfect flavor while on its journey.

That sweet wood smoke is what makes brisket brisket. Without smoke, Texas would literally just be an extremely overcrowded cattle party. At Man Crates, we’re known for slinging grilling gifts for men, but right now, we’re giving away the gift of free advice: Cook with wood chips.

Step 1: Choose chips, chunks or logs

Wood Chips

If your cookout is a spur-of-the-moment idea, go with wood chips. They’re readily available, but they burn pretty fast. PRO TIP: Soaking them in water slows the process.

Wood Chunks

This is the weapon of choice for aficionados. Yeah, you might have to go a bit out of your way to get them, but they’re worth the extra effort. The chunks give off smoke for about an hour in a grill, or many hours in a smoker.


This is the smoking source of choice for lumberjacks and cabin builders with a surplus. Logs aren’t particularly practical, as they take hours to heat up and give off far more smoke than needed, but they make the griller feel very cool while grilling.

Step 2: Select your wood

So you’ve got your wood shape, now pick your species. They all give off different amounts of smoke and different flavors, but the gist is this:

  • Fruit woods, like cherrywood and applewood, and birch are lighter smoking, making them good for fish, chicken or anything that needs some sweetness.
  • Oak, pecan, maple and hickory produce a medium smokiness, making them good for any pork or beef. These are classic barbeque woods.
  • Mesquite is the heaviest, and it’s sometimes used with brisket in Texas bbq. “Use mesquite like you’d use chile peppers,” chef Jamie Purviance told Bon Appetit. “It’s to be used in combination with other flavors, and for limited amounts of time.”

Step 3: Light a fire! Cook!

If you have wood chunks, place them on top of some hot coals, wait until they stop flaming and start smoking, then add meat. If you have wood chips, soak them for a couple hours first, then smoke your meat to perfection. Bonus points if you get the coveted pink smoke ring, pictured above.

A couple of tips to help you get the grill-loving guy in your life started:

Our Grill Master Crate includes a smoker box, which you will need for a gas grill, as well as other important accoutrements, like thermometers and a brass-knuckle shaped meat tenderizer.

According to America’s favorite rapper Gucci Mane, you never want to get “lost in the sauce.” We respectfully disagree. Gift our Regional Barbecue Sauce Crate and let your BBQ enthusiast test the theory with sauces from Tennessee, Kansas City and BOTH Carolinas. That’s right, two Carolinas for the price of one.