Smoking wood for barbeque is a must if you are cooking low and slow. The only question is “what kind of BBQ wood do you use?”
The answer is a matter of taste and what’s available. In the South East the mainstay is Hickory. In Texas it’s all about Mesquite. Some swear by Oak or the sweet smell of Apple wood. To make it even more complicated others will mix a combination of woods or use aged oak whiskey barrels!
Here’s a quick guide on where to start when you’re picking wood.
Cooking Wood Chart Acacia Mesquite Family – Strong Most meats, beef, vegetables Alder Delicate with a hint of sweeness Fish, pork, poultry, light meat game birds, great with Salmon Almond Nutty & sweet smoke flavor, light Ash Good with all meats Apple Slightly sweet, but dense, fruity smoke flavor Beef, poultry, game birds, pork and ham Apricot Milder flavor and sweeter than Hickory Good on most meats Ash Fast burning, light but distinctive flavor Good with fish and red meats Birch Medium hard wood with a flavor like Maple Good with pork and poultry Cherry Slightly sweet, fruity smoke flavor Good with all meats Cottonwood Very subtle in flavor Good on most meats Grape Vines Aromatic, similar to fruit woods Good with all meats Grapefruit Medium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitiness Excellent with beef, pork and poultry Hickory Pungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor, the most common wood used Good for all smoking, especially pork and ribs – Most popular in the South Lemon Medium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitiness Excellent with beef, pork and poultry Lilac Very light, subtle with a hint of floral Good with seafood and lamb Maple Mild smoky, somewhat sweet flavor Good with pork, poultry, cheese, vegetables and small game birds Mequite Strong, earthy flavor Most meats, especially beef, most vegetables – Most popular in Texas Mulberry Sweet smell and reminds one of apple Beef, poultry, game birds, pork and ham Nectarine The flavor is milder and sweeter than Hickory Good on most meats Oak The second most popular wood, heavy smoke flavor, red oak is considered the best by many Pitmasters Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game Orange Medium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitiness Excellent with beef, pork and poultry Peach Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor Good on most meats Pear Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor Poultry, game birds and pork Pecan More like Oak than Hickory, but not as strong Good on most meats Plum Milder and sweeter than Hickory Good on most meats Walnut Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter wood, like Pecan or Apple. Can be bitter if used alone or not aged Good with red meats and game NOTES: New Variation: Whiskey Barrell – Aged Oak from Jack Daniels barrells