Start by soaking the chips. Dry wood ignites quickly, but wet wood will smolder and create smoke. Place 1 to 2 cups of wood chips and enough water to cover them in a container. Let the chips soak for at least 1 hour before grilling. Soaking the wood chips in apple juice, beer, or wine adds another layer of flavor.
Drain the wood chips after soaking and place them in the center of a double-thick piece of heavy-duty foil. Tightly seal the edges of the foil. Using a fork or a skewer, poke numerous small holes in the top of the packet to allow for ventilation.
Preheat the grill and place the packet, pierced side up, on top of the heat source under the grill rack. With the grill lid closed, turn the heat to high until smoke begins to escape from under the lid (about 10 minutes). Use caution because the foil pack may ignite briefly at first.
If you love smoking food on the grill and do it often, you may want to consider using a stainless-steel smoke box. It is placed on the rack directly over the heat source. The hinged lid opens so you can add soaked drained wood chips, and the perforated top lets out smoke once the wood ignites. If smoking is your favorite way to grill, a reusable smoke box might be easier than creating a new foil packet every time.
Use different woods to find the flavors you like best. Try some of these most common food and wood pairings:
Now that you know all of the ins and outs of smoking food, it's time to try it yourself! Choose one of our smoked recipes to taste-test, or check out some of our other tips for smoking and grilling.