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
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
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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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