It is always a great idea to know the kind of smoke wood to use when you are smoking meats such as ribs or brisket. Any veteran cooks who have been smoking meats for a period of time knows that the right kind of wood will also give the meat its unique flavor and so if you are on the search for the best kind of smoke woods, then let this article be your guide.
Before smoking your meats, know that there are various types of wood that you can use with a meat smoker to achieve different results. These types of smoke wood include logs, chunks, chips, sawdust, disks and pellets. Each can be used in different kinds of smokers and each has its own advantages.
The type of wood from which the Smoke Wood comes is important to the flavor profile you can achieve with your meat smoking.
In this article, we will narrow the list and talk about the most popular types of smoke wood and the most popular types of wood flavor used when smoking meats.
Logs can be up to 18 inches in length and work best with large smokers, and especially in commercial settings. They are not so suited to home sized smokers. They can be used to create both heat and smoke as they take a long while to burn through. If you want to get flavor from logs, you’ll need to consider the type of wood that logs come from.
Chunks are pieces of wood of up to 4 inches in length. They work well with smaller offset smokers including water smokers, barrel smokers, ceramic and gas smokers or grills. They don’t take up much storage space, unlike logs, and are easy to buy. They are suited to a variety of smokers and don’t require soaking before usage.
Wood Chips are very small and easy to store. They are around 1/4 inch in thickness and about an inch long. They work best with gas and electric smokers, you can also use them on charcoal. They are easily available to purchase. Like chunks, there is no need to soak them before use and they produce smoke very quickly. If you wrap wood chips in foil with holes through it, you will be able to prolong their smoke time.
Sawdust will generate instant smoke. It works best with electric or stovetop smokers, and also smaller handheld smokers. It cannot be used as a heat source, only to create smoke. It should not be soaked before use and you should check that it hasn’t been treated in any way.
Pellets are also compressed sawdust, just in a different format to disks. They can look at bit like livestock feed. They are used specifically with pellet smokers, under grate smoking boxes and smoke generators. Easy to store, use and purchase. They are quick to produce smoke. A variety of woods are available in pellet form.
The Best Smoke Wood Flavors
When smoking meats, you generally need to use wood chips that came from nut-bearing or fruit-bearing trees. This is because when used, they can provide the best flavors for your smoked meats.
By tradition however, most barbecuers make use of the most abundant wood or wooden chips used when smoking food. In Texas for example, the most common type of wood chips used are from oak, pecan, hickory or apple as these provide the best flavors. However, in order to widen your knowledge about the different types of wood chips used, here are the most common types.
Guava is most common in tropical regions, this wonderful fruit-tree provides a sweet smelling aroma when you are cooking your meats with it. It’s recommended for lamb, pork, fish and other types of poultry meat. We love Tropical Spark Guava Wood Pellets for their exotic Costa Rican fruity flavor.
Hickory is one of the most common smoke woods used for grilling or barbecue. This is because it has a strong flavor that adds more taste to meats. It is best to mix hickory with woods like oak to tame its after taste. We love Traeger Grills Hickory 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets for their wood fired flavor.
Maple contains mild flavor when used in grilling. It also comes in wide variety and is known for its sweetness. Best used with pork and poultry meats. We love Western Premium BBQ Products Maple BBQ Smoking Chips for their sweet and mild flavor and use with multiple meats.
Mesquite wood is popular in Texas and is usually used in wood-fired smokers or cookers. It is also widely used for fish, poultry, beef and pork when grilling. We love Fire & Flavor Premium All Natural Smoking Wood Chips for their bold, earthy flavor.
Oak is one of the many favorites among grilling, the oak wood is delightful in barbecuing meats. It also contains a smoky flavor but not as strong as hickory. It works well when mixed with other woods too. We love Cameron’s Coarse Cut Oak Smoking Chips for their fast combustion and delicate flavor.
Pecan is the flavor is best described to be nutty and spicy and is great when mixed with oak. It is most recommended for chicken or ribs when grilling. We love Western Premium BBQ Products Pecan BBQ Smoking Chips for their sweet, strong flavor and versatility with different meats.
Smoke Wood to avoid
When looking for the right kind of woods to use, it’s best to avoid cedar wood, eucalyptus, elm, pine and liquid amber. You must also avoid the redwood, sycamore, spruce and fir as they are not very suitable for smoking. However if you are in doubt of the wood you are using, it’s best to talk to an experienced cook or chef. Ask for the best type of wood to use so you can avoid disaster on your grill and waste a good amount of meat.
Top Tips for using smoke woods
When using smoke woods for grilling, it is best to place them on top of unlit charcoal before lighting the coals. Make sure that they are dry before adding fuel and lighting them. Once they are lit, distribute the coals to ensure that the woods are burned properly. Always remember to add coal when you are using wood to grill your meat as wood chunks can burn longer. I recommend that you add coal and spread them evenly at the bottom of your wood chamber. This can also help you avoid charring your meat in the long run too.