Wood adds a delicate but deep and enriched flavor to all types of meat by the smoking process. Best wood for smoking meat is dried and hardened in tailor-made, world-class kilns. It is natural and organic with no artificial additives, chemicals, pesticides, binding agents or fillers, thus the smoke it releases after burning, allowing it to absorb into your food, is completely environment-friendly, healthy and safe.
There are very few things other than smoking a perfect slice of meat that you can do to enjoy your life. Smoking meat is an ancient method being used for centuries to enhance the flavor of meat and for its preservation. Most of the beginner smokers of meat and seafood are bewildered about how best wood for smoking is used.
BBQ enthusiasts think of smoking meat as both an art and science. Grilling and smoking meat involves cooking manner, selection of meat and accurate combination of wood chunks. It is a skill that requires effort, experience and time.
Suggested smoking woods:
If the idea of smoking your meat is still confusing you, below I have given a guide to smoked meat dishes you would like to try, including smoking wood suggestions for preparing them. Keep in mind that it is only a guide that you can adjust according to your personal requirements.
The factors that determine the final taste of your meat after it is smoked, are the preparation of the meat, the duration of cooking, the species that are added to it and the manner in which you handle the meat after smoking. Keep in mind that the most complex way is not always the proper way to get the best results.
Though it might seem very simple as to which type of smoking wood goes with a specific type of seafood or meat and how it is categorized. But sometimes even experts opinions have a lot of contrast, that the beginner finds it almost a challenge to select the best wood, but don’t be anxious. I have simplified the process of decision-making for you, it will enable you to smoke the meat on your own.
What are the main kinds of wood for smoking meat?
The basic principle is to match the wood density with the food that you are planning to smoke. The classification of wood for smoking is based on how overpowering or overwhelming its smoke is. Basically, it is divided into three main kinds: mild, moderate and strong.
Fruitwoods like applewood, alder wood, almond wood, apricot wood, ash wood, birch wood, cherry wood, maple wood, peach wood and pear wood are part of a mild wood category, that gives a mild flavor to your meat or seafood. These fruitwoods add a gentle and somewhat sweet flavor of smoke making it perfect for your gentle and fragile dishes like chicken, game birds, seafood, poultry and pork.
Hickory wood, Pasania wood, Oakwood and Pecan wood are all categorized as moderate woods. The flavor that this kind of wood adds to your food is strong but not overpowering. Moderate smoking wood is ideal for use with briskets, beef, game meat, pork and sausages.
Acacia wood, Black walnut wood, chokecherry wood, Grape Vinewood and Mesquite wood are categorized as the strongest smoking woods. Some specific recipes of strong meats recommend using it. Only a few specific and selective dishes of beef, lamb and red meat are smoked using mesquite wood.
Some BBQ experts prefer to use a combination of Mesquite wood with moderate woods to add a punch to their food without making it very powerful.
What is the best wood for smoking turkey?
Turkey dishes are really enjoyable and simply wonderful when cooked, smoked and served in the right manner and skill. If you are a beginner smoker, the huge size of this poultry may literally look threatening to you. The main issue with smoking a turkey is that it is most likely to get overcooked and dry because of unevenly distributed heat.
There are two kinds of smoking woods, cherry wood and pecan wood, that are ideal for turkey and are the perfect match to its natural taste. Cherry wood will add mild sweet smoke flavor to your turkey and give it an admirable, attractive color. Never smoke it using overpowering woods or it will turn bitter as it is a smoke sponge.
Some BBQ experts have a deviated opinion about smoking the turkey using Hickory wood or Mesquite wood, if you are a beginner, avoid this practice. But if you do end up using these strong woods, make sure you have combined them with milder flavoring ones.
If you have a feeling that there exists a risk of uneven cooking of your huge turkey, get a butterfly cut. Butterfly cut allows faster cooking and an even smoking of the turkey. This cut will make the skin crunchier and leave it glittering with mouth-watering color.
Grill pitmasters recommend an average duration of brining period for six pounds turkey is between one and three days. Its ideal duration for smoking ranges between two and a half hour to three and a half-hour.
Another reliable technique that guarantees well-balanced cooking and even smoking of your turkey is spatchcocking. This technique allows your turkey to remain intact but you can easily spread it out by stretching it on top of your smoker. It gets ready much faster than a whole turkey by using applewood chunks.
What is the best wood for smoking brisket?
Some pitmasters prefer to use only pure Oakwood while others like to combine it with Hickory wood when it comes to smoking a brisket slowly. The exact duration and accurate wood ratio are really necessary. It is very likely that folks end up over-smoking the brisket.
Basically, you must never smoke it for longer than half of its cooking duration. About two or three hours are enough for smoke exposure if you have combined Hickory wood with Oakwood. But if you are using only post Oakwood for smoking the brisket slowly, the recommended duration is between eight and twelve hours.
The whole method of meat smoking must be completed carefully to get the best results. Keep in mind always, not to slice your meat straight off your smoker. Cover your meat using an aluminum foil for about five or ten minutes. Meanwhile, the fluids within your smoked meat will redistribute giving mild, gentle and soft meat.
Beginners face yet another anxiety called the “stall”. This is a stage of moisture evaporation, you will see that your meat is sweating while its temperature stays constant. The solution is really simple, just cover the meat in aluminum foil and sprinkle some apple juice or beer on it.
This simple solution will create lots of steam and speed up the process of heating. Aluminum foil will stop any evaporation. As a result, you will get juicy meat instead of an over-cooked and dry one.
What is the best wood for smoking chicken?
BBQ experts recommend using mild flavor fruit wood for smoking chicken. Chicken has great adaptability to even moderate woods. It gets cooked and smoked really quickly as well.
When you plan to smoke chicken breasts, maple wood is the perfect match. Spread some honey maple barbeque sauce on top of the chicken breasts for an even more tempting, sizzling and overwhelming meal. The chunks of maple wood cook the chicken breasts evenly and equally giving it an attractive and eye-catching color.
When you plan to smoke your chicken with spices and herbs, Pecan wood will give you perfect taste. Another perfect replacement is applewood. The duration of smoking depends on the weight and size of your chicken and on whether you have sliced it or would like to cook it as a whole, which is on average one and a half-hour to three hours.
Expert grill masters and professional restaurant chefs recommend brining the chicken for at least twenty-four hours before you intend to smoke it. Cherry is also a perfect alternative to get a great post-smoking taste. The skin of the chicken turns crispy and crunchy after smoking for the right duration.
What is the best wood for smoking beef ribs?
Beef ribs need proper preparation and careful handling during and after smoking. You must learn the proper method of smoking prime ribs to bring joy to your friends and family. For smoking the prime ribs you can use cherry wood.
I strongly recommend using the fruitwoods because overpowering woods like Oakwood or Hickory wood are not a perfect match with the flavor of prime ribs. First of all, consider the size of your smoker before choosing the rib roast. Oversized ones remain unevenly cooked.
If you like short ribs, then cut them into three inches of bone. Use any of the fruitwoods or Oakwood to smoke them. The ideal duration of smoking will be about five hours, just remember to spray or sprinkle on top of them every half hour after the first hour of smoking.
What is the best wood for smoking pork?
Consider the color and surface of the chunk of pork while buying it. Pick the one with lots of fat, no visible signs of lumps, pink color and enough marbling tissues. Fatty tissues found on pork are full of proteins and amino acids which are both good for your health.
Another benefit of fatty tissues and marbling is their moisture-holding feature. Even if you want to smoke the pork slowly over a long period of time, yet you will get it tender, delicate and delicious at the end. Make sure the fat cap on top of the pork is neither too thick nor too thin for even and equal redistribution, and balanced maintenance of moisture throughout the whole chunk of your pork.
According to the expert opinion of pitmasters, you should use apple wood or cherry wood for smoking your pork and later on switch to charcoal with Oakwood, by the end of the smoking process.
What is the best wood for smoking pork ribs?
Pork ribs are smoked in two ways, drowning in sauce or dry. What makes them really enjoyable is when the meat is cooked just right. You don’t have to make it too delicate to fall off the bone. Best wood for smoking pork ribs is Hickory wood and Oakwood. Both have a strong flavor but will not overpower the natural flavor of your pork ribs.
Smoke from burning wood includes combustion gases, water vapour and syringol, which is a naturally occurring aromatic organic compound. When you burn wood trace amounts syringol add smoke aroma or fragrance to your meat. The trace amounts of guiacol, which is a colorless fluid produced by the dry distillation of resins found in organic wood, adds taste and flavor of smoke to your meat or seafood.
Fruitwoods like apple, cherry wood, grape wood or pearwood and even a combination of all of these, are highly recommended for smoking pork ribs.
What is the best wood for smoking fish?
Fish and all other types of seafood are the healthiest meats. The healthiest of fish types is Tuna which has the lowest fats among all meats and maximum proteins and vitamins, which is ideal for our cardiac health and well-being. Lighter category of fruit woods like applewood or nut woods like almond wood or alder wood with mild, pleasant flavor is both the perfect match for smoking fish and all other types of seafood.
All types of fish like Flounder, grouper, Red Snapper, Sea Bass, Tilapia, Tuna, Trout and Walleye, take no longer than half an hour to get fully smoked and ready to serve.
What is the best wood for smoking Salmon?
Salmon is a fatty fish so it acts like a sponge when it comes to absorbing the smoke and its flavor from burning wood. Salmon is a fragile thing, so if you opt for skinless one it might break when you turn over the slices on your smoker, leave the skin on as it keeps the slices intact and maintain their enticing appearance and shape. Smoked salmon goes perfectly with the salad and makes an even healthier meal for you.
Alder wood is the best wood for smoking your salmon on your smoker, while milder ones like applewood, cherry wood, maple wood or Oakwood are all a perfect match as well.
Smoking the Salmon at your home is far cheaper and cost-effective than ordering it at commercial eating places, like seaside resorts or urban restaurants. Best wood for smoking meat are all available at affordable rates online and from your local stores. So you don’t have to worry about your monthly budget when you have a plan to smoke your favorite meat or seafood, just go ahead and invite all your friends at weekends.
One of the most frequently asked questions that is debated over and over again among beginner smokers, backyard grillers or even professionals is whether to use wood chips, wood chunks, wood pellets or wooden briquettes for smoking different types of meat or seafood. I have gathered some expert opinions from specialists in the relevant field to weigh up the differences between all of these four types of fuel for smoking your food. Let’s discuss in detail.
Wood chips are the tiny splinters that are completely natural and organic. They come from forests not artificially cultivated and harvested trees in nurseries or Greenhouses. Their ideal size is one hundred and eighty cubic inches.
Wood chips burn out faster and hotter, thus they are the easiest to use. You can easily turn them over, remove them or add more to your smoker using a tong. They have a wide application and work perfectly with electric smokers, gas grills and charcoal grills.
Let us now listen to what the experts advise us about the best wood for smoking food:
Meathead Goldwyn says: “There is no sufficient evidence that the additives in briquettes cause much impact on the food that one is cooking.”
Kingsford, the largest producer located in the U.S., rarely talk about what their briquettes include.
Executive Director of the National Barbeque Association, Mr Jeff Allen remarked: “I have seen a lot of experts who prefer the lump over briquettes, simply because charcoal can have a regional, cultural aspect.” Jeff Allen continues by saying: “…you can use wood with a higher density like hickory or oak if you want a slower cook.”
Matt Duckor, another expert says: “I went out and bought a bag of lump hardwood, brought it home, and loaded up my chimney starter with the irregularly shaped shards of petrified-looking wood. Things get especially tricky if you are aiming to use lump hardwood for the kind of grilling session that can stretch over a span of several hours.”
A champion pitmaster, Sterling Ball, describes the art and skill of making savoury smoke as similar to tuning a guitar, he advises us: ” You must control your instruments, your pit, its fuel, oxygen, fire and heat. And you must do practice”.
The factors that will determine the final taste of your meat are cooking temperature, fire control, the temperature and the quality of the meat being smoked.
Best wood for smoking meat never bursts into a flame, instead, it will smolder slowly because smoldering wood produces lots of smoke and much enjoyable flavor than burning wood. Wood also plays a major role in the color change and crust formation (bark) of your meat or seafood dish. Late in the smoking process, the bark gets very dry, so the smoke starts bouncing off the dry surface of the meat, but the meat is not saturated with smoke.
Click to jump straight to each topic:
- Suggested smoking woods:
- What are the main kinds of wood for smoking meat?
- What is the best wood for smoking turkey?
- What is the best wood for smoking brisket?
- What is the best wood for smoking beef ribs?
- What is the best wood for smoking pork?
- What is the best wood for smoking pork ribs?
- What is the best wood for smoking fish?
- What is the best wood for smoking Salmon?
- Expert Opinion: