You’ve just started grilling and smoking and your food isn’t getting the flavor you want? Don’t fret over it since we are going to review the best wood pellets for smoking so that you get enough information when deciding to buy. With the best wood pellets for grilling you are pretty much assured of getting the good stuff for your smoking or grilling.
All wood pellets you buy should let you get enough heat and high quality smoke so that it fuses with the meat you are grilling or smoking and create a nice aroma. If you don’t get that from your current wood pellets then better looking for another one.
Click to jump straight to each topic:
- The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking & Grilling for 2018
- #1. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets
- #2. CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets
- #3. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Premium Apple Hardwood Pellets
- #4. Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets
- #5. Traeger PEL319 Grills Hickory 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
- #6. RecTec Grills Ultimate Blend Pellets
- #7. BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
- #8. Lumber Jack 100-Percent Maple Wood BBQ Grilling Pellets, 40-Pound Bag
- #9. CookinPellets 40H Hickory Smoking Pellets
- #10. Traeger PEL309 Grills Cherry 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
- What to Look for in a High Quality Pellet?
- Types of Wood Pellets for Smoking and Grilling
- Choosing the Best Product for Your Pellet Grill or Smoker
- Best Smoking or Grilling Pellet Flavors
- Blend (Mixture) Vs. Flavored Food
- Pellet Grills and Smoker Issues
- Heating Pellets Vs. Smoking Pellets
- 16 Best Woods For Smoking Meat Like A Pro (And Which Woods To Avoid)
- What Is The Bst Type Of Wood To Use?
- Woods To Avoid For Smoking Meats
- What Size Wood Should I Use?
- Experiment With Your Smoking
- Final Thoughts
The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking & Grilling for 2018
Below you’ll be reviewing the best wood smoker pellets reviews as well as the wood grill pellets reviews and you better make good use of it.
#1. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets
They pellets are not expensive and you don’t have to be an expert in smoking or grilling to use them. Newbies in smoking can work well with these. These wood are a blend of the best although some people to use one type of wood pellets. However this mixture of wood pellet type from Camp Chef is what give the meat its taste. Camp chefs pellets are usually the most solid line of pellets that you’ll get on the market and you’re pretty much guaranteed of the quality.
Camp Chef is one of the top companies in providing smoking and grilling pellet blend. You won’t have to check each and every detail when you get these pellets since it knows the exact decimal point of the smoke that it need to produce in order to provide optimum results. If you prefer using a blend that someone else has prepared, then your mind can be at ease with the Camp Chef premium wood pellets.
These wood pellets blends are also less dusty and leave behind less ash that other brands as many people have noticed. Since it is undoubtedly a premium product, then you are pretty much guaranteed of getting those advantages too. The 20-pound bag is well received overall and the price is also reasonable. The best thing about those is that they are 100 natural, and they are food grade pellets for pellet grills and smokers as well as being one of the best pellets for smoking. With namely, hickory, maple, cherry, these wood pellets are made from a variety of premium hardwood. This is a good thing for people who can’t really decide what type of wood pellet to use and Camp Chef provides them the chance to try a mixture of 3 of the best together at the same time. It is possible to smoke or grill about anything with those wood pellets and you’re pretty much guaranteed of getting a versatile and well-rounded smoke flavor.
These wood pellets for smokers are of high quality since they are made in America and they also come at a reasonable price with a very good overall quality and taste.
Let’s see what it has to offer in terms of pros and cons.
- All natural blend
- Less dust and ash
- Blend of several woods
#2. CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets
This bag comes at 40 pounds are it is another one of the favorite choices of people since is it one of the best brand of pellets for smoking. Consisting of multiple types of wood, this pack or wood pellets is another blend. Although if you count it per pound, it will be much more expensive that other type of wood pellets or blends, it however is a brand that right from the start get right down to business. These are high quality pellets and they are no gimmicks or frills. If you are really into cooking some perfectly smoked or grilled meat, then you’ll probably choose this package since the package has no distractions to try and trick you and it is not fancy as well since it know it is already one of the best.
For an even more diverse taste of your cooking, this premium hardwood pellet has 4 blended wood types which makes it one of the top listed mixtures on the market. Never containing any bark, these pellets are made using only the best heartwoods from the center of the tree log. When it’s down to smoking, no oil or filler wood is added, although sometimes known as alder, oak or even sometimes filler, which can be the parts with the lowest quality but of the same tree. This is probably the best stuff. Having a base of hickory, it also has apple, cherry and hard maple wood. No matter what kind of food you are cooking, it is pretty much guaranteed to be a great combination of smoke flavor.
It’s hard to argue when they call it the perfect mix. Some manufactures sometimes claim that using other types of pellet brands can void your warranty, however it is worth mentioning that it is most likely illegal wherever you live since most of them put stickers on their machines so as to mislead people in avoiding other brands of pellets.
Although some low quality pellets may cause some problem (rare), this CookinPellet 40PM is not one which will void your guarantee since they are as good as any wood pellets of the manufacturer’s brand and in some cases even much better.
A quick review of the features are that it is 100% no oak or alder that is no filler wood and it will 100% not void your guarantee even if you use it. For the price that it is offered, it is probably one of the best pellets for grilling that you are going to get onto the market as well as the best wood mixture.
Now let’s see the pros and cons it has to offer.
- High-quality wood
- Features Four premium hardwoods
- The price is pretty much on the high side
#3. Camp Chef Smoker Grill Premium Apple Hardwood Pellets
This Camp Chef wood pellet is not part of a mix or even combination. The pellets are made from apple wood and they are some of the best pellets for grilling as well as being the most ideal wood pellets for grillers making it one of the best brand of pellets for grilling. This is probably your best bet if you prefer a smoky apple taste and these will also work great with any brand of grill. Since there is no mixture and combination of wood, it is 100% apple meaning the apple wood flavor will stand out more compared to other bags combination. It is also possible to combine them with a plethora of other wood pellets if you want some variety but that is entirely up to you.
These wood pellets as mentioned about can work with a lot of grills and not necessarily only Camp Chef grills, from Pit Boss to Traegar and much more. These pellets are also made from 100% high quality burning virgin apple hardwood and as you may have guessed, there are no added oil or flavors and no fillers at all. They are the standard for any home smoker and are made in the United States of America. As well as giving an incredible flavor, they burn extremely well.
If you want to do a combination along with those apple hardwood, then it is possible to check out some different pellet grill recipes that are out there as well as which type of wood will suit you best depending on what you are smoking.
Overall, this is a very good wood pellet with excellent quality wood and the price isn’t so bad either. It is strongly advised to at least try one of these if you are trying out multiple bags since it’s no harm at all. If you are looking to load up some apple wood into your smoker or grill, then usually this is the ‘go-to’ brand.
Now let’s see what the pros are and cons it offers are.
- 100% apple wood
- Perfect for smoky apple taste
- Works will all grills and smokers alike
- The price is on the high side
#4. Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets
In the smoker world, Pit Boss is another big name that produces one of the best wood pellets for grilling and smoking such are these one. It is possible to use them with pretty much any grill that there is on the market and make sure that you do not fall for the old myth that the brand of pellets need to match the brand of the smoker or grill. Depending on which flavor you prefer or what food you are going to be smoking up, Pit Boss’ wood pellets are usually available in any competition blends such as apple or hickory. Since they are so good, usually the best thing to do is to buy multiple bags of different flavors for future use.
Pit Boss’s wood pellets will either come in twenty of forty pound bags most of the time. As mentioned above, these pellets works well with Pit Boss’s grills and smokers as well as any brand of smokers so better put them to good use. The wood that is used to make these great wood pellets is made right in the United States of America. Burning hotter and cleaner than lower-quality options, these pellets do not have any sort of glues, chemicals or even spray-on scents. In order to help them burn so cleanly, there is nothing else added in since they are bonded together from the natural adhesive that the wood have.
This blend has a great flavor profile which is a combination of a lot of savory and sweet tones as well as a very mild tartness. Offering a very versatile option, in case you aren’t really sure what to get, this blend combines maple, hickory and cherry hardwoods from North America which pretty much guarantees its quality. Offering a smoky taste as along with a mild sweetness on top, these wood pellet are also available in the apple flavor which makes it go well with baked good or pork. In this bag or pellets, you won’t find any glues, artificial flavors or even chemicals and not any of these stuffs.
It is also finally available in hickory which has such a rich flavor that it will almost remind you of bacon. Although hard to pick one over the other, they are pretty much great for any sort of meat, however if you are into turkeys and chickens or any other type of bird, then the hickory taste is recommended. Although the 40 pound bag will last you very long, it is better to grab a couple of them at once. It is then possible to use one week one type of wood pellet and another week another kind, keeping the small variation going on.
However it is better to take what you like the best since ultimately it will come down to your own preferences and also depending on what you are cooking. Once you get used to them, you’ll know what are the different temperatures and the perfect wood for different types of food.
Let’s now see what the different advantages and disadvantages it offers.
- Great price
- 100% natural hardwoods
- Works well with all grills and smokers
- Blend of several woods (not to everyone’s liking)
#5. Traeger PEL319 Grills Hickory 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
This twenty-pound bag is another great choice since it is made by Traeger. When using this, the hardest part is usually waiting for the food to be ready since the Hickory BBQ flavor that comes out in the smoke will make you salivate. A very good feature of it is that these pellets as many people have said, are known to produce much less ash than some of wood pellets out there. Less ash also mean that there is less to clean afterwards. Made from 100% hardwood, these pellets have no fillers or even additives at all. Simply adding a beautiful smoky flavor profile, those pellets don’t harm the environment as well as your food. They works well with most kind of food such as pork, poultry, beef, vegetables as well as others.
Although Traeger has a variety of pellets to choose from, the hickory one will always be one of its best pellets. If you are a newbie to pellet smokers and you can’t really make a decision on which type of pellet to use, then it is better to go a simply the hickory ones from Traegar.
Let’s see the pros and cons it has to offer.
- It is affordable
- It also produces less ash than other options
As a matter of fact, we couldn’t find any inconveniences that could be considered as a con for this brand of wood pellets.
#6. RecTec Grills Ultimate Blend Pellets
These RecTec wood pellets are very good and deserves it rating since their blend are suitable for all types of smoking and grilling. It burns much better than your regular pellet and the flavor is very strong although not overpowering which is a good thing. You are going to notice the difference instantly if you have used of kind of wood pellets before. If you take a closer look at those pellets, you will find that they are of uniform size and very compact. Lasting for a lot of hours, it is possible to use them to smoke and grill any assortment of food. These RecTec pellets can also be used will all kinds of grills and it will not harm them in any way since it is of high quality.
You will also find that grilling and smoking is very straightforward when using those pellets. Since it is just a matter of picking the food you like and either smoking or grilling them, their usage isn’t different from the others. The end results is great for different types of fish and meat with their genuine smoky flavor even those in look, the pellets do not differ much from the others. You’ll also find that the blend of oak and hickory is more effective that you would have first thought. Many people will frown upon discovering that it is a blend of oak and hickory and some may even look it down as a filler, however RecTec blended them in such a way that they are more potent when used together.
Since only fresh wood is used to make them, makes it the Ultimate Blend that stand out from the others. Although most brands will claim that they use the freshest wood, however once you use them, you will quickly notice that it is not the case. With RecTec, you only need to open the bag and you’ll quickly smell the difference. Since wood pellets smell fresh like they’ve just been cut, if you have used wood pellets before, you will quickly notice the difference.
Used to flavor a wide array of foods, these pellets are pretty much versatile.You’ll pretty sure taste and smell the difference whether it is steak, BBQ, briskets or even fish. These wood pellets are comparable to the best out there when it comes to quality and end results. It is possible to taste the differences when it comes to flavor if you spend a lot of time grilling and the smoky flavor will be evident. With adequate heat generation, the ash output is minimal compared to other brands. It’s pretty much a potent combo if you combine the burn rate, smoky flavor and ash production.
Let’s see what it has to offer in terms of pros and cons.
- Compatible with various grills
- Doesn’t produce a lot of ash
- Dependable quality
- Fine blends
- It doesn’t specify the oak and hickory blend specs
#7. BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
If you are scouting about for a flavoring pellet with the common fuel ones then BBQrs Delight Wood smoking pellets are known as the best selection. There are about 6 famous flavoring pellets that are included in one pound bags, those flavors are as follows – cherry, pecan, mesquite, hickory, apple and Jack Daniel’s. The great thing about them is that each and every of them is suitable for any kind of smokers or grill you have, whether it be charcoal, gas or electric.
Each pack can be used for at least 10 times since you just only about 1/3 cup of pellets for each cooking session. Onto any meat you wish to cook, you are free to mix any of the 6 packs together so as to experience or even create your own flavor. BBQrs Delight Wood pellets made of 100% apple wood and making a sweet and fruity smoke is ideal for grilling fish, pork, beef, poultry or any wild game. Since they are made of 100% hickory wood, the hickory pellets are quite common and popular for barbequing.
The other wood pellets of also made of 100% of whatever their name is on the packaging. A word of advice is that, if you would like to enjoy a particular stronger smoky flavor then it is better to choose the mesquite pellets. If you prefer a rosy color to the meat as well as a gentle sweet smoke then it is better to choose the cherry pellets. Since it will ultimately come down to your own taste and preference, you just have to check which of the flavor you want and just pick one.
Now let’s check what the can offer in terms of pros and cons.
- Can be used with any grill
- Contain lots of flavors
- It is not really of high quality wood
#8. Lumber Jack 100-Percent Maple Wood BBQ Grilling Pellets, 40-Pound Bag
This bag of pellets from Lumber Jack is 100 cherry. It has no fillers, additive or even oil and is made from 100% virgin wood. In order to provide you with the highest quality pellets on the markets, the logs are specially selected from the Northwood of Wisconsin and thus LumberJack stands alone at the top in that category. They are able to select the right amount of bark to include in the pellet to impart the unique flavor of the species since they start with the whole tree. Prior to creating those pellets, the blended products are blended with specialty wood and Wisconsin seven ring oak making it one of the high quality pellet.
Each and every pellet is consistent with flavor since the wood is blended first. Although is insures that every pellet is consistent with its ability to impart the unique flavor of the wood, the process is more time consuming and expensive, however this enable it to burn hot and long enough so as to give much better results. The product is insured food grade using independent testing laboratories and it also impart their flavor through burning and smoke output.
Let’s see the pros and cons it has to offer.
- These pellets can be used with any grills or smokers
- They are affordable
- They are also of high quality
As a matter of fact, we couldn’t find any huge inconveniences to be considered as a con.
Let’s get you some tips and what to look for when buying pellets below.
#9. CookinPellets 40H Hickory Smoking Pellets
The product is little different but the manufacturer is same here, so you can expect the same quality from the 40H as the 40M perfect mix wood pellet. The difference of 40H with 40M is it’s not a mixture of various types of hardwood, rather it’s made from 100% hickory wood as raw material.
You’ll see many people prefer hickory for barbecue and cooking because of its strong release of unique flavors. Many people especially like the flavor it adds. The 40H, being a 100% hickory, does the job of flavoring your food perfectly.
Now, there are a lot of other hickory pellets available in the market, so why the 40H from CookinPellets.com? Well, to get your expected flavor from the food, you need a pellet that is 100% of the wood named. You’ll see a lot of pellets in the market that has a mixture of woods in the pellets, but the ratio is not mentioned there. So you don’t know what percentage of the wood named you’re getting from the pellets, and that’s why you often lack the flavor you expect.
So you need a pellet that lets you know exactly what material it’s made from. That’s where CookinPellets.com has maintained their quality till date. They say exactly what’s there in the pellets. If they say it’s 100% hickory, it’s 100% hickory then.
- A unique aroma that you’d expect from a hickory pellet.
- 100% selected & fully pressed hickory material
- Provides consistent burns and High BTU.
- High-quality manufacturing process and raw material selection
- The trusted manufacturer with insurance of quality.
- Produces denser as just like another hardwood pellet.
#10. Traeger PEL309 Grills Cherry 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
This is another good product from the trusted name in the industry – Traeger. This is a cherry barbecue pellet that is made from 100 percent natural hardwood which contains no fillers or additives. This cherry barbecue pellets produce very little ash, unlike other hardwood pellets. Yet it provides clean burning and good heating.
You’ll get a good & rich cherry flavor from these pellets, unmatched by regular charcoal. And as I mentioned, it is specially designed to produce very little ash to make cleaning job easy for you. These pellets burn cleanly and they are safe for the environment.
- Good heating & Safe for the environment.
- 100 percent hardwood.
- Less ash it produces unlike other hardwood pellets
- The cherry flavor is not that strong, it could be better.
What to Look for in a High Quality Pellet?
Low Ash Content: This is pretty much the amount of ash that is left in proportion to how much wood pellets was burned. You smoker or grill will run less efficiently if there is lots of ash left or even produced when burning. So it is better to look for pellets that says low ash content.
No bark or additives: These are pretty much pellets without cardboard, bark, glue or even materials that have been recycled to burn much hotter.
Low Moisture Content: This will indicate you how much it will take to light up your pellet smoker or grill. It won’t take long if you use low moisture pellets. The best pellets you will find on the market have a moisture content of 6.5% and below.
Heat output: The unit to measure the heat output is in BTUs and thus you will want to look for pellets that have much higher BTU ratings. Usually 8000-8,500 is the best BTU range for pellets. Sometimes you might even see ‘moisture free’ onto the label. This most likely indicate the rating of the BTU once all the water have been removed from the pellets. Since you don’t store your pellets in a vacuum, those ratings can be unrealistic.
Types of Wood Pellets for Smoking and Grilling
For years, wood pellets have been used in the heating industries as well as people for smoking, grilling, BBQ among others. Different types of wood pellets will allow for different level of heating.
For wood pellets, there are three main types and those are:
- Standard Wood pellets – Containing organic ash content at rates higher than 0.5%, this type of wood pellet is most often manufactured from forestry industry waste.
- Food-grade wood pellets – As long as no additives or binding agents are used in the manufacturing process, premium or standard wood pellets can be labeled as food-grade.
- Premium wood pellets – Generally not containing bark, these wood pellets contain less than 0.5 percent organic ash content. Costing more than the lower grade pellets, they are often made from oak or maple wood species.
Choosing the Best Product for Your Pellet Grill or Smoker
With higher quality wood pellets, your wood pellet grill or smoker will operate at optimum levels. It is generally accepted that it is better to buy pellets with less than 1 percent organic ash content. Making them a better choice on average, oak pellets naturally have a lower ash content than maple pellets.
For your grill or smoker performance, moisture content of the wood pellets also makes a big difference. Creating more heat in the same amount of time are dry pellets and you should remember that. To obtain peak levels of efficiency and the most comfortable levels of heat, it is better to opt for lower moisture levels.
Containing less than 5 percent moisture are high quality wood pellets as well as some standard grade and most premium grade pellets. It is better to choose a pellet pack that have 8% or more moisture level even if it means paying more. Saving you significant amounts of money over the long term, your wood pellet grill or smoker will crank out more heat from each pellet.
Coming at a higher price are the best quality wood pellets that have low levels of organic ash content and moisture. Allowing you to maintain a comfortable home all season long are good quality maple and oak wood pellets produce respectable levels of performance from your wood pellet smoker.
Best Smoking or Grilling Pellet Flavors
When people usually speak about pellet flavors, they are mostly referring to the type of wood that is used in order to make the pellets. From the usual BBQ suspects like mesquite, hickory, apple, and cherry to less celebrated woods like peach, pecan, , and sugar maple, smoker pellets come in an array of wood flavors. Each has its own unique taste and flavor and you’ll usually get from a mild sweetness that is produced by cherry to the nutty hints that is imparted by pecan and which can also be paired with specific foods of your preferences so as to highlight and complement their natural flavors. By mixing and matching different woods, it is possible to create complex layers of flavors.
Don’t stock up on mesquite until you’ve tried it even though it is often thought of as the quintessential BBQ wood. It has a strong assertive flavor than can overpower food and you should remember that since many people who are new to pellet smokers and BBQ immediately choose mesquite pellets. It is wise to choose flavors that are versatile enough to be used on many different foods when buying pellets for the first time.
Hickory and apple are by far the two most popular pellet flavors. Between the two you can cook just about anything since they are both classic BBQ woods. Although not so strong to overpower pork or poultry, hickory produces a moderate smoke that’s strong enough to stand up to the bold flavor of beef. Having enough backbone to be used with poultry and pork, apple on the other hand produces a sweet and mild smoke that complements lighter foods like seafood and vegetables. It is possible to pair other combinations of mild and moderate woods so as to cover most of the BBQ flavors even though hickory and apple are the most popular flavors.
Blend (Mixture) Vs. Flavored Food
Usually BBQ pellets are made up of hundred percent natural hardwood, however that doesn’t mean that the pellets are 100% of the type of wood that is listed onto the packaging. If you decide to buy cherry wood chips or chunks, then you are getting 100% cherry wood. However, they’re usually a blend of cherry and another wood, such as oak or alder if you are burning cherry wood pellets. There are good reasons for this practice even though it may sound deceptive.
Starting with price, mixing flavored woods with oak offers a couple of advantages. As well as producing different amounts of heat and smoke, different types of wood have different densities and burn at different rates. 100% flavored wood pellet are more expensive than those that use a base of oak or alder and wood such as cherry and hickory aren’t nearly as plentiful as oak and therefore costing more. Since oak is fairly neutral the cherry wood smoke flavor still shines through, by using a blend of oak and cherry, pellet makers can keep prices down.
Using an oak base also creates consistency in addition to providing savings. For example, using 100% cherry you’d go through more pellets than if using 100% hickory since cherry burns faster than hickory providing consistency from cook to cook, the addition of oak allows every flavor to burn at a similar rate and with a similar heat output. However all blends and combinations are not equal. Most of them will use a higher percentage of wood than others. A 70/30 ratio is pretty common with 30% being flavored wood and 70% being oak. Some big brands however can use even 2/3 ratios.
Pellet Grills and Smoker Issues
Abnormal temperature fluctuations is one of the most common problems people encounter with pellet grills and smokers since sometimes grill can drop to 200°F then suddenly climb up to 325°F. Most of the time people will think that is a mechanical issue and that either the RTD or the controller needs to be replaced. However most of the time, the problem is simple and also have a simple solution.
Most of the time when a pellet grill owner complain about temperature swings, it is mostly due to using low-quality and cheap brands that often will produce excessive ashes, the latter which can interfere with the sensors that help in regulating cooking temperatures. The solution is simple in that case since you only have to use higher quality pellets that burn clean and also you need to clean any ash from the grill regularly.
Heating Pellets Vs. Smoking Pellets
There are normally two types of wood pellets, smoker pellets and heating pellet. They are not the same even though they both look alike and are both made of compressed wood.
Made only from 100% hardwood, BBQ pellets are food-grade pellets. With the possible exception of vegetable oil that is sometimes used during the extrusion process, they contain no fillers, binders, or additives. Including softwoods like pine, healing pellets meanwhile can consist of a variety of woods which sometimes contains resin that infuses food with a bitter unappetizing taste.
Since sometimes they include bark, it can leave other impurities will without a doubt affect the flavor of your food and even posing health risk if they are ingested since it doesn’t matter what is in heating pellets, as long as they burn.
Heating pellets are less expensive than BBQ pellets which makes them appealing to budget conscious shoppers and since they are cheap there is less care that goes into the manufacturing of heating pellets and thus they are not really guaranteed to be 100% pure hardwood. It’s better to resist the temptation of using heating pellets in a pellet smoker since it might ruin your smoker.
Now that we’ve reached the end of this review, it is possible for you to make your choice with all those info. There are a few things that you have to keep in mind before buying a wood pellet package for either smoker or grill. First is that you should check if they work on all brands. Second you should verify how much ashes they leave after burning up. Make sure to see their moisture levels so that you can get the maximum BTU for the price you are paying. After that it is pretty common sense since you would have your own preference on the flavor of the wood.
Ultimately it will come down to your own tastes and preferences, however that doesn’t mean you should just buy whatever you can get without analyzing all the specifications. You need to take your time, get to know the products, read this review again if needed, then make your choice.
Grilling your food gives it an exquisite taste that you just don’t get when cooking indoors.
We love nothing more than learning how to add extra flavors.
16 Best Woods For Smoking Meat Like A Pro (And Which Woods To Avoid)
There is no greater feeling than making our grilling expertise even better, and that’s where wood comes in.
Wood not only fuels the fire, it adds flavor to your grilled food, much like adding spices does.
Knowing about the best woods for home smoking will equip you with the knowledge needed to take your grills up a notch.
It’s not as simple as just tossing in any old wood to get the flavor you want.
To get the best smoked taste you need to know the correct woods to use for which meats, and even what cuts of meat to use.
Here, we’ll take a look at mild, moderate, and strongly favored woods you can use for smoking meats.
What Is The Bst Type Of Wood To Use?
There are many varieties of wood to choose from, but not all woods are ideal for smoking.
Some woods will infuse a strong flavor into the meat while others introduce a more subtle taste.
We’ll take a look at the most common woods used and ones you can find readily available. Learn how they will influence flavor and which to use for different kinds of meat, fish, and poultry.
Mild Smoking Woods
Mild woods are great to use when cooking more delicate meats, such as chicken or seafood.
Mild woods are also good if you don’t enjoy the strong, smokier taste of BBQ foods.
Using a mild wood will produce a subtle, smoky flavor with what is described as a sweet/fruity undertone.
A mild wood that is very popular and often the go-to choice for many. It gives an understated, sweet and fruity flavor.
This wood is ideal for use with almost anything, from meat, seafood, and poultry to vegetables and fruits.
Almond wood is suitable for use with any meat. Use it with seafood and poultry and see it add that little extra pizazz and an exquisite taste.
You get a light, delicate flavor with a slight nuttiness to it.
This gives you a sweet woody flavor and is commonly used with fish and, in particular, salmon.
But alder is not just for fish, you should also try it with pork and poultry as it gives such great flavor to them too.
Another very commonly used fruit wood and for good reason. Cherry gives a sweet, fruity smoke that tinges the meat with a delicate rosy hue.
Great for all types of meat but even better when used with chicken and fish.
These are a step up from the mild woods, providing a slightly stronger flavor with a sweet undertone.
Suitable when cooking fish, pork, and poultry—but you will need to ease up on the spices. You don’t want to mask the smoked taste by overpowering it with too many different flavors.
This is a wood with a high sugar content, meaning you’ll get a great sweet-smoked flavor.
Try it with pork and poultry for an amazing result.
When using this wood you need to lighten up on the other seasonings to get the best end flavor.
Chips from a mature grapevine will give you a moderate fruity taste that is more tart than other fruit tree woods.
Great for use with poultry and pork, as well as some fish.
This is particularly appealing when used on poultry dishes, especially those with a Mediterranean style to them.
Plus, if you like the flavor of mesquite wood but find that it is too intense, olive is a great one to try. It has a similar, yet much milder, taste.
Provides a similar flavor to the most popularly used smoking wood, hickory.
A really good alternative that is suitable for all types of meat.
Be careful not to use it in excessive amounts, as it could create a bitter and pungent taste by doing so.
Strong Smoking Woods
These woods can smoke anything and are often the go-to choice for many.
They are great when it comes to cooking large cuts of meat that withstand the smoke well. These woods give strong, recognizable flavor but not so strong as to overpower the meats.
An extremely versatile wood that is the go-to choice for many. Oak is a good, dense wood which burns well and for a long time.
This makes it an ideal choice when cooking a larger piece of meat. It does have a strong flavor but not so strong that you can’t use it with fish or poultry. It’s great to mix with other woods for a cocktail of mixed smoky flavors.
This is a heavier wood than oak and provides a nutty flavor.
A very popular choice and you can find it widely available all over the world.
It’s great when cooking pork and beef or for when you want a stronger flavor with your poultry. Another good wood to use in a mix to give a subtle mixed smoky flavor.
This belongs to the same family of mesquite trees so you can expect a similar kind of flavor. However, Acacia is less intense or bitter and can be used to smoke most meats.
You will also discover some great flavor when you use it with beef or vegetables.
Beech wood has a flavor similar to that of oak.
Beech burns slow and evenly and is ideal for longer grilling sessions. A really good one to choose for a stronger flavor to add to seafood; it is also ideal for use with any meat.
Aggressive Smoking Woods
These types of wood are really only ideal when cooking large cuts of meat that can handle a hefty amount of flavor.
Commonly associated with Texas-style grills, these woods are more likely to produce an overpowering and bitter smoky taste if you use too much.
You will find this wood widely available. Take care, however, Mesquite should ideally be used in small amounts. A good tip is to combine it in a cocktail of woods.
Using it this way will prevent you from ending up with an overbearing pungent and bitter taste. It is great for cooking beef, lamb, game and duck. You will be rewarded with a distinct earthy flavor that is unmissable.
An exotic wood from New Zealand that will reveal an intense flavor, which includes a hint of sweetness.
A dense wood, Manuka will give you a longer burning time and is ideal for adding a distinct flavor to your food. Ideal for any type of meat or seafood.
This will give a strong, deeply-smoky flavor.
Its ideal use is for large cuts of beef or game. Walnut wood can be overpowering; but you can avoid this by either using it sparingly or mixing it with lightly flavored woods.
An exotic wood that leaves you with a zesty spiced flavor, similar to the pimento berry taste. Also known as Jamaican pepper, allspice and newspice, it is used in the traditional jerk-style BBQ recipes.
This is great for use with fish or poultry, for a strong yet interesting flavor.
Woods To Avoid For Smoking Meats
Not all woods are ideal to use when grilling and as a grill enthusiast this is something you need to be aware of.
You should never try grilling with a wood that hasn’t been confirmed as safe to use. There are some woods and wood types that you should NEVER use when it comes to smoking and cooking. These are:
High Sap Content
Wood with a high sap content will leave the meat with an unpleasant flavor and will make you ill.
For these reasons you need to avoid cedar, pine and other coniferous trees.
Elm, eucalyptus and sycamore are also bad choices.
By this we mean freshly cut trees that haven’t been dried completely. These woods will burn unevenly and give an unpleasant flavor to the meat.
This is because they still hold too much sap and moisture.
Don’t attempt to use wood which has been stained or chemically treated in any way, when grilling.
You will probably end up becoming very ill by doing so. This includes any scrap timber or plywood you may have lying around. If you are not sure, don’t use it.
What Size Wood Should I Use?
If you have a charcoal or wood smoker then you’ll find that any size wood can be used. If you have a gas or an electric BBQ, then you will probably find that you are limited to using chips or pellets.
Logs are only generally used in large commercial grills. They’re often used to cook huge cuts of meat for retail purposes.
When shopping for your wood you’ll see that most are offered in different sizes. The type you need is dictated by what you are cooking and how much time it needs to cook. Plus, of course, which type of grill you have, as mentioned above.
Wood can usually be found as chunks, chips or pellets. The wood chunks will give you a slow, steady release of smoke, whereas wood chips and pellets will smoke food quicker.
Generally, if you’re cooking for less than two hours, chips are ideal to use. If cooking for more than two hours, then the larger-style chunks you can buy are better.
As you cook, just replenish the supply as required, using a few small pieces at a time. You want to keep that steady flow of smoke going throughout the entire cooking time.
Don’t become overly obsessed about the right wood to use, just experiment and find the best one for you. You will soon find your go-to wood that you will use time and time again.
Once you know what you like, you can keep a big bag of it in the garage ready for any impromptu grilling sessions.
Experiment With Your Smoking
Who is better equipped to tell you which woods give the best flavors than your diners?
Gather people around and start experimenting with your flavors.
Make cocktails of different kinds of woods by mixing a couple or more types together. Find the ideal level of smoky flavor you want and discover what undertone of taste your guests prefer.
The best way to start out is to discover what the smoked flavor gives on its own before adding spices. Start with just salt and pepper at first to test what the wood smoke has to offer alone.
Then, step up the experiment by adding spices that you feel will complement the flavor. Try out different spice rubs on your meat, fish or poultry. Discover what perfectly complements the beautiful smoky flavors yet doesn’t overpower them.
Get your guests to sample your culinary delights. Gather their thoughts and feedback on the flavors to see what they think works best.
You’ll be the talk of your neighborhood with your grilling skills and techniques in no time.
Step up your expertise by creating smoky flavors that are out of this world.
Discovering the best woods to use for home smoking will give you an even bigger wow factor at your next party.
Learning which woods are best for different types and cuts of meat will allow you to experiment with your flavors.
You don’t just have to follow recipes, you can create your own succulent dishes to die for. Discover the wood you like best then start to add your own twist on it with a grand spice mix.
Fire up the grill, gather everyone around, and start your experiments today.
There’s nothing better than standing around the grill with a beer in hand and sharing your new-found grilling expertise with your buddies.
What better excuse do you need for a gathering than to try out a new technique? Start sharing your newly found knowledge of the best woods for home smoking today.