If you want to enjoy robust flavors when smoking, wood is your best bet! Stay away from electric and charcoal smokers! Instead, go for wood!
For the uninitiated, however, making the right choice is not easy. There are tons of options available, and you will most probably end up being overwhelmed. If you are looking for the best wood for smoking, keep on reading. We’ll take a quick look at the most popular options available to help you decide.
The Most Popular Woods for Smoking
Now, let’s get straight to the point with our list of the best wood for smoking. Here are some of the choices and the things that you can expect from each of them.
- Oak: This is the most popular option when it comes to woods used for smoking. If you are a newbie, this is also a good start. It has a medium smoky flavor that is suitable for all types of meats, including lamb and beef.
- Hickory: An excellent choice in terms of versatility, hickory has a sweet and savory flavor, which will be reminiscent of bacon. Avoid using this in chicken as the smoky flavor can end up being too heavy.
- Mesquite: Those who are looking for an intense earthy flavor will be happy with what mesquite can deliver. However, it is best to reserve the use of this wood for grilling instead of for smoking.
- Maple: If you want a subtle flavor in the food you are smoking, this is a great option. It has a light and sweet taste, perfect for those who hate intense smoky flavor. This is a great choice for smoking poultry and pork.
- Pecan: This type of wood will have a sweet and nutty flavor. Some people might find it to be too sweet, so the best solution is to use it with another wood. This will help to effectively balance the flavor.
- Apple: This will have a mild and sweet flavor. However, take note that it might take a while for the flavors to seep into the meat, so you might need to smoke a couple of hours to achieve the desired flavor.
- Cherry: It has a fruity and sweet flavor, which will work well when you use it with poultry. It is best to combine it with a good hardwood, such as hickory.
- Alder: For a naturally sweet but light flavor, you won’t go wrong with alder. Because of its light flavor, it will be good for smoking fish and poultry. If you are smoking salmon, this is the best wood of choice.
- Walnut: Be careful when you are smoking using walnut. It is strong and heavy, which can be overpowering for some. It is best used in red meats.
- Pecan: This is a sweet wood that will do well when combined with hardwood, such as hickory. It has a sweet and nutty flavor.
Tips When Using Wood for Smoking
Now that you know the top options for the best wood for smoking, below are some tips and tricks that will help you do things like a pro.
One of the most important is to consider the form of the wood that will be used. You can source and use the wood fresh. Make sure that the wood is hard and does not contain resin. A good rule of thumb to follow is that as long as the tree makes fruits or nuts that you love eating, it will most probably make a good choice for smoking. The most convenient way to use wood, however, is through pellets. They are commercially available and will be compatible with a wide array of pellet smoker brands and models.
When choosing the best wood for smoking, consider where it will be used. Will it be used for beef, poultry, fish, or any other food? Do you want the smoky flavor to be mild or pronounced? What aroma are you expecting? All of these things will help you decide the right wood to choose for your smoking needs.
It is also important that you consider the amount of wood to use. Using too much will result in an overwhelming flavor. On the other hand, using too little can result in weak flavor. As a rule of thumb, use two to four ounces when smoking vegetables. If you are smoking turkey or chicken, four to six ounces of wood will be enough. Meanwhile, use eight ounces for ribs and ten ounces for pork shoulder and brisket.
You should also consider the smoking technique to yield the best results. You don’t need to create a bonfire-like smoke. In most cases, you will do good with a small pit that has steady-burning wood. Smoking is a low process under low heat. If you have a lot of wood and a big fire, you might end up burning whatever it is that you are smoking.
Pay attention to the color of the smoke. If the smoke is white, then it is good. However, once the smoke starts turning black, then this is a bad sign. This can be a result of lack of ventilation. So, find way to improve air circulation in the smoker. Otherwise, this will have a negative impact on the flavor of the food, which can give it a burnt taste.
It is tempting to peek when you are smoking, but this is one thing that you have to avoid doing. Regardless of how excited you are, wait until it is done before you open the lid. Otherwise, this can cause heat and smoke to escape. There will be fluctuations in temperature.
Choosing the best wood for smoking is not as easy as picking whatever is available or cheapest. You have to consider what will be suitable for whatever you will be smoking. You also need to think about the flavor that you wish to achieve. Stop wondering what wood is best to use! Take note of our recommendations above and you can never go wrong!