Old smoker grill in use with adjacent woodpile
Food - Drink
Why It's A Bad Idea To Soak Wood Chips For Your Grill
There are many chefs who advocate soaking wood chips before placing them on the grill. However, scientifically speaking, soaking wood chips in water before grilling impacts temperature, moisture level, steam, and smoke — all of which have varying effects on your food.
Per the experts at Napoleon — a manufacturer of grills, smokers, and outdoor kitchens — there is no need to soak wood chips, primarily because it takes at least 24 hours for moisture to properly penetrate the wood, and soaked chips end up producing more steam than actual smoke.
Bearded Butchers points out that in the 30 minutes it takes for the water in the chips to evaporate, your food will have cooked too much for the smoky flavor to be infused. Wet wood chips can also cause lower or inconsistent grill temperatures, which leads to uneven cooking and undesirable textures.
McCormick, however, advocates only soaking your wood chips or chunks for long-term smoking sessions. It's also important to soak quick-grilling wood planks, such as ones made of cedar or maple, says Napoleon, as it will keep the wood from igniting on the grill, and the steam will help cook the food and saturate it with flavor.