BBQ Smoking Wood – Guide | Barbecue Tricks

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BBQ Smoking Wood – Guide

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
AcaciaMesquite Family – StrongMost meats, beef, vegetables
AlderDelicate with a hint of sweenessFish, pork, poultry, light meat game birds, great with Salmon
AlmondNutty & sweet smoke flavor, light AshGood with all meats
AppleSlightly sweet, but dense, fruity smoke flavorBeef, poultry, game birds, pork and ham
ApricotMilder flavor and sweeter than HickoryGood on most meats
AshFast burning, light but distinctive flavorGood with fish and red meats
BirchMedium hard wood with a flavor like MapleGood with pork and poultry
CherrySlightly sweet, fruity smoke flavorGood with all meats
CottonwoodVery subtle in flavorGood on most meats
Grape VinesAromatic, similar to fruit woodsGood with all meats
GrapefruitMedium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitinessExcellent with beef, pork and poultry
HickoryPungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor, the most common wood usedGood for all smoking, especially pork and ribs – Most popular in the South
LemonMedium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitinessExcellent with beef, pork and poultry
LilacVery light, subtle with a hint of floralGood with seafood and lamb
MapleMild smoky, somewhat sweet flavorGood with pork, poultry, cheese, vegetables and small game birds
MequiteStrong, earthy flavorMost meats, especially beef, most vegetables – Most popular in Texas
MulberrySweet smell and reminds one of appleBeef, poultry, game birds, pork and ham
NectarineThe flavor is milder and sweeter than HickoryGood on most meats
OakThe second most popular wood, heavy smoke flavor, red oak is considered the best by many PitmastersGood with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game
OrangeMedium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitinessExcellent with beef, pork and poultry
PeachSlightly sweet, woodsy flavorGood on most meats
PearSlightly sweet, woodsy flavorPoultry, game birds and pork
PecanMore like Oak than Hickory, but not as strongGood on most meats
PlumMilder and sweeter than HickoryGood on most meats
WalnutVery heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter wood, like Pecan or Apple. Can be bitter if used alone or not agedGood with red meats and game
NOTES:New Variation: Whiskey Barrell – Aged Oak from Jack Daniels barrells
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About Bill West

Bill West a BBQ enthusiast, Author, and Country Music aficionado in Charleston, SC. Get his BBQ Blueprint Book on Amazon: Follow him:

5 Responses to “BBQ Smoking Wood – Guide”


    1. […] mixed hardwood lump and Kingsford Hickory 70/30) and used water soaked Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel Oak Chips for smoke. (However Mesquite is a brisket favorite and a better […]

    2. […] the more frequently used BBQ woods you will find apple, cherry and maple barbecue smoking chips. I like to have a few varieties […]

    3. […] I’m on the subject, here’s a good chart and a slightly more in depth comparison of wood chips. I used to be all about the hickory and […]

    4. […] stream of your favorite airborne hardwood.  The gadget uses surprisingly little wood dust and the BBQ Smoking wood flavors are fairly […]

    5. […] of indirect heat on the grill.  This is when you’re going to get all the smoke flavor so use wood smoke via chips or chunks of wood (we like hickory or pecan) during this […]

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