What is the Best Wood for Smoking Meat? - Smoked Meats 102
Jonathon Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User Kansas Dry Cured Sausage
What is the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?
Does The Type Of Wood Impart A Specific Flavor?
Few things cause more confusion for people who are new to smoking than the different types of wood available. They hear Apple Smoked Bacon and expect the bacon to have an apple flavor. This is not how using different woods works, the type of wood you use is not going to impart a different flavor of smoke. The difference between the woods is the strength of the smoke they put out. Fruitwoods like Apple and Cherry put out a milder smoke and are great choices for lighter flavored meats like chicken and fish, and I also smoke any vegetables I am doing over fruit woods. So, what is the best wood for smoking meat? That, of course, depends on the meat and your personal preferences, and below is a list to help you figure it out!
When to Use Apple Wood
Apple has mild, subtle smoke. It works great with poultry, fish, pork, and vegetables. It can be and often is used for Hams, Pork Shoulder, and Turkey.
When to Use Cherry Wood
Cherry is also a milder subtle smoke. It works great with large cuts of meat like Ham, Pork Shoulder, Fish (especially Salmon), and all types of Poultry. This is also a good wood to use with Chimineas.
When to Use Hickory Wood
Hickory has a very strong smoke to it. It works well with all types of beef and pork as long as you like smoke flavor. Hickory is the most popular wood to use when smoking and grilling.
When to Use Mesquite Wood
Mesquite has a very strong smoke to it. Similar to Hickory, it works well with any red meat, especially wild game. Mesquite is often the culprit when something has too smokey of a flavor to it.
When to use Pecan Wood
Pecan is similar to Hickory with a lighter smoke; it imparts a subtle mild flavor of smoke. Pecan is good on every type of meat, especially poultry, but it also works very well when doing vegetables or other non-meat items. Pecan is what I use almost exclusively when either smoking or grilling with my pellet grill.
When to Use Osage Orange (Hedge) Wood
This is a very hard wood, and it burns extremely hot. When used as a blend with oak, it is suitable for smoking, but by itself, it is best used as a heat source.
Wood Pellets Vs. Chunk Wood
Pellet grills are becoming more and more popular in the United States, with numerous manufacturers entering the market. The main advantage of pellet grills over charcoal and wood is the convenience; you can simply push a button and be smoking or grilling in a few minutes. People have wildly varying opinions on how effective these “combo smokers” are; I will tell you from experience that Pellet Grills impart somewhere between 50-75% of the smoke flavor that using a wood and charcoal smoker will.
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s.a.m Regular Contributors
I’d use a sweet wood.
Tex_77 Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills Canning Sous Vide Community Moderator Kansas
For pork butt about anything will work. Pecan would be a good choice or oak.
John Gehringer Team Blue
Well how about our Northwest favorite Alder. We use it here quite a bit to flavor most everything, works with fish well. Most pellets coming from the NW have alder mixed with them to simmer their flavors.
craigrice Power User Canning Team Orange Regular Contributors Veteran Masterbuilt
I like to use hickory on poultry and beef for pork I use apple