Best Wood Chips for Smoking Ribs

Just as there are many recipes for cooking ribs, there are also various options for wood chips. You can use either particular wood chips or use a combination based on your desired flavor. However, if you’ve no prior experience with wood chips, you must have a hard time choosing the best ones. The reason is that there are different types of wood chips available these days. But the good thing is we are here to help. 

In this write-up, we will list some of the best wood chips for smoking ribs. Additionally, we will answer some of the confusion you might have concerning wood chips. Continue reading and choose the one that you like the most.

Best Wood Chips for Smoking Ribs

Seven Best Wood Chips for Smoking Ribs

When it comes to smoky flavor, it is a matter of personal preference. Some people use wood chips that produce more robust smoke, while others look for lighter smoke. Others use a combination of wood chips for a bolder taste. Here are some of the best wood chips that you can use for smoking ribs:

  • Hickory Wood Chips:

Whether you are smoking ribs or steak, you can’t go wrong with this wood chip. It provides a more robust smoky flavor that perfectly works well for ribs. One good thing about hickory wood chips is that they tend to burn for a more extended period in the cooker. Additionally, hickory wood chips are compatible with smokers, charcoal, gas, or electric grills.

However, one downside of this wood chip is that it tends to generate a lot of smoke. Hence, it would help if you were careful when using hickory wood chips. Remember, ribs don’t have much meat, unlike smoked brisket. So it doesn’t need much smoke; otherwise, it will overpower the ribs’ natural flavor.

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  • Oak Wood Chips:

Another best wood chip for smoking ribs comes from an oak tree. The flavor of oak wood chips is relatively lighter than the previous wood chip, but it is more potent than fruit woods, such as cherry wood chips. It has a medium smoky flavor, which works only for ribs and all meats.

If you want to smoke ribs for a more extended period, this wood chip will be ideal. You can also use oak wood (link goes to Amazon) chips either alone or blended depending on your desired flavor.

  • Mesquite Wood Chips:

If you are looking for a wood chip that provides earthy and robust flavor, then the mesquite wood chip is what you need. The good thing about this wood chip is that it works well for all types of meat. Nevertheless, it has its drawbacks. One of the disadvantages of mesquite wood chips is that it tends to burn faster due to its natural oil content. 

Additionally, using this wood chip in larger quantities can overpower the flavor of the ribs. You can find them on Amazon if you prefer this wood chip.

It is one of the lightest smoking wood chips that provide a subtle smoky and sweet flavor to your ribs. For this reason, applewood chips can take a while to infuse the desired flavor. It will further slow down the cooking time for your ribs. We have a post on cooking meat with applewood.

Cherry wood chip also has a sweet and mild flavor, and you can use it for all types of meat. When mixed with other hardwood chips, the cherry wood chip provides an incomparable flavor to your ribs. Moreover, it can help to color your meat. If you want some mahogany layers when smoking ribs, then you should consider this wood chip.

  • Pecan Wood Chips:

When it comes to the flavor, this wood chip is similar to the applewood chip. But the difference between them is that this wood chip has a richer flavor. You can also blend it with other hardwood chips for an enhanced balance between sweet flavor and earthy smoke. We have included a link if you want to check this wood chip out.

Another best wood chip for smoking ribs is the maple wood chip, which creates a lovely sweet and lightly smoked flavor. You can also blend it with other wood chips when smoking ribs. 

Difference between smoking chips, smoking chunks, and wood logs

It can be confusing between these terms, especially if you are a beginner. Wood chips are the smallest compared to the other two, but they tend to burn out pretty fast. The best thing about wood chips is that they ignite quickly and are readily available.

When it comes to wood chunks, they are relatively more significant than wood chips. Additionally, they burn longer than wood chips. On the other hand, wood logs come in different wood varieties, which you can use for building a campfire. The advantage of wood logs is that they burn the longest compared to wood chips and chunks. Nevertheless, they produce less smoke. So if you are going to smoke ribs using wood logs, we recommend adding either wood chips or smoking chunks.

Do you need to soak your wood chips before smoking ribs?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. Some people recommend soaking the wood chips to increase the burning time. Additionally, they say that the water will help the chips to release the flavor better when smoking ribs.

On the other hand, others do not recommend soaking the wood chips. The reason is that your wood chips need to get rid of the moisture before producing smoke. In this way, it will extend the cooking process. 


To sum up, smoked ribs are one of the most favored recipes for any outdoor cooking activities. Nevertheless, you need to choose the right type of wood chips to enhance the flavor. The above-listed points are some of the best wood chips for smoking ribs. Each of them varies when it comes to the taste and the amount of smoke generated. As such, you should choose based on your preferences.

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