10 Different Types Of Wood For Smoking Meat Including Flavor Profile

Every product is independently reviewed and selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Who does not love smoked foods? Delicious meaty steaks are mouthwatering in demand for everyone. We all know that burnt wood creates smoke. Many of you will be astonished to know that different woods are used to create smoke.

You may think that any of the woods will be okay to make smoke for any food. But different types of woods create different kinds of flavors and give different elegant tastes. 

This is why everyone should know about different types of wood for smoking and which one is suitable for which kinds of food.

10 Types Of Wood For Smoking Meat And Other Foods

Different types of woods are used for smoking other foods. Some are suitable for vegetables, and some are suitable for meat. Let’s know about some different kinds of woods and their criteria in work.

Oak Wood For Smoking

The smoking density of oak smoking wood is medium, not so strong nor so light. It is considered as the most popular wood in peoples’ choice. This wood is earthy. Though it is light in density, it provides a robust smoky taste to the food.

This wood goes with any food, and you can even control the smoke however you want. But especially the wood enhances the flavors of beef or any poultry product. 

As it gives a strong flavor, it does not go well with any vegetables or nuts. But it surely gets blended in any meat. It is one of the best woods for smoking chicken and poultry.

Pecan Wood For Smoking 

Pecan is a moderate wood for smoking with a unique taste. Its smoky flavor is a bit strong and sweet. Though its lifespan is short, that is why it is suitable for short-time smoked cooking.

It is good for beef and poultry items. The uniqueness of it is it adds a nutty flavor to the food. So, roasted and smoky flavors will be welcomed by you. 

Though it enhances the smoky flavor in poultry food, it also helps to get the smokiness in any other meat. This pecan wood of Mexican origin is easy to use and just perfect for a short time of smoking and grilling. 

Apple Wood For Smoking

The name of the wood defines itself and denotes its taste and criteria to us. Apple is a fruit, and this wood also gives a sweet and fruity flavor to the food. This is why this is the best flavored wood for tri-tip and any other meat to get the mild sweet smoky flavor. 

Smoking Apple wood provides a mild fruity flavor. Though it gets mixed with any food, it goes well with poultry and fish for its mildness.

The applewood is mainly found in Southeast Asia and especially in India. As fish needs mild flavors to get smoked and cooked, this wood is suitable for this purpose. Seafood and vegetables can be smoked with this wood too. It is considered a mild wood and best for smoking seafood.

Hickory Wood For Smoking

Hickory is one of the most well-known moderate woods. It is enriched with super strong flavors. Beef and poultry can be smoked by using this wood. The flavors of it are so strong that it provides an intensely spicy taste to the food. The smoky effect on the food lasts longer.

Do not get hesitated by knowing about its strong flavor. It won’t rust the flavor. Instead, it will still give you a sweet taste. This wood is used to smoke ribs pieces to provide intense flavors that a meat or rib needs. 

Maple Wood For Smoking

Maple is a kind of wood that gives a mild flavor. Not only just with poultry but also it goes well with vegetables and cheeses too. This subtle taste mixes with a smoky flavor and ends with a sweet, mild flavor just how you want.

Maple wood is one of the most durable woods you can ever see. This wood is mainly found in Asia, but a few of its genres are found in Europe and North America. 

It is a wood of cream color. In cooking poultry and vegetables and in heavy terms usage, maple wood is a good choice.

Mesquite Wood For Smoking

Mesquite wood is a specialty of South America. This wood is also earthy, the same as oak wood. It gives a slightly sweet taste to the food. 

If you are a bold smoky flavor lover, you should try this wood for its intensity to the food you want to smoke. It creates an amazing, tremendous amount of smoke that is highly dense.

As it has boldness, large chunks of beef or any red meat can be smoked with this wood easily. It is called the strongest of all woods. 

It is one of those woods which last long and stay hotter for a long time. Only beef and red meat can be smoked perfectly through this kind of wood. 

Alder Wood For Smoking

Alder wood gives a mild and sweet flavor to the food. It is somehow environmentally friendly as it creates less smoke than any other wood. 

It provides the food with a delicate taste. This wood is best for smoking fish, but sometimes it goes pretty well with lamb or white meat like poultry.

Alder wood is mainly found in the European continent. This wood is famous for smoking salmon or any fish and smoking white meat etc. 

The mild and delicate flavor enhances the smoked cooking process faster. The longevity of this wood is not so much, but the effects of it are amazing.

Cherry Wood For Smoking

This is another wood that gives a fruity flavor to the food. This is a wood of mild and sweet flavor. Its flavor is unique to taste. 

The surprising fact is this smoky, fruity flavor goes pretty well with all the white meats. Sounds amazing!

Cherry woods belong to America. This wood compliments the taste of any meat well. This wood is scarce to find. You may find it seasonally. Salmon or any poultry food will highly get enhanced by flavor through this wood. 

Once you use it, you will want to use it again. So, you may store some when you find them, as these are rare. 

Peach Wood For Smoking

Peachwood is everyone’s favorite. It provides a sweet and mild flavor. The food gets covered with smoked fruity flavor through this wood. 

It assures a multi-fruity flavor in the food, not a single one. Its origin is in China, and some of the parts can be found in Europe too.

Poultry items immensely get smoked through this wood. This wood is best for poultry. This wood is also a rare one as cherry wood. So, grab as much as you can when you find it. 

This wood quickly gets mixed with other woods and creates an excellent mild smoke too. You may find the wood pricy if it is not its season.

Pear Wood For Smoking

Pear and peach wood are pretty similar. Pearwood creates the slightest amount of smoke and gives minimal flavor. This wood is available in the African continent, and some of it is found in North Europe.

Pearwood is very light in flavor and pairs best with fish items and sometimes teams with poultry too. This wood is best for fish and poultry. This wood’s longevity is high and suitable for slow cooking. This wood is famous for its quiet cooking quality.

What About Mild, Moderate, and Strong Woods According to Flavor Profile

There are three genres of wood that contain lots of subsections. Burnt woods are used to smoke foods, and this smoky flavor varies from different woods. Some are strong, and some are mild. Let’s know more about them.

  • Soft/Mild Woods

Some of the mild woods are apple, cherry, pear, and peach wood. These are mild in flavor, create less smoke, stay less time, and provide a fruity. Softwoods are suitable for slow cooking. These go well with fish and white meat like poultry. These are awesome with seasoning flavors.

  • Moderate Woods

Moderate woods are familiar to all and environment friendly. They provide mild flavor but not fruity one. White meats, poultry, lamb, and beef are best to be smoked through moderate woods. Hickory, maple, and pecan are moderate woods that give non-fruity mild and sweet flavors to the meat. 

  • Strong Woods

Oak and mesquite are the strongest woods you may ever find. Their longevity is too high. These give the most potent flavors in the food and create a considerable amount of smoke. Generally, rib meats are smoked through this food. Though it takes time for the wood to be burnt, the flavors they give are too intense. 

Type Of Wood By Their Size

According to the size, there are different types of woods. Along with the flavors, the size of the wood should be considered too. They are used for various purposes.

Some of them are described here-

  • Logs

Logs differ from the most diminutive tiny size to around 18inches long. They are generally used while cooking on a burner. These create too high a temperature. As it establishes high temperature, there are only used in large burners or a pizza oven. 

These are famous for commercial using. It takes a lot of time to cool down but is very useful if used with safety.

  • Chips

Chips are 3/4th of inches thicker and 1 inch long. These are used in charcoal and gas grills. They are easy to use and creates smoke faster. You can use them easily by wrapping them in foil. These are rough in size. The advantage of using these is that very few pieces make a lot of smoke.

  • Chunks

Chunks also create huge smoke but do the work a bit slower than others. These come in rough sizes. These are around 4inches in length and go well in gas grills. These are reasonable in price and easy to use. 

  • Sawdust

Sawdust is fine grounded wood dust. These are primarily used in electric smokers. It produces light smoke but works fast. 

Type Of Smoking Woods By Their Uses

You cannot burn any item to add smoke to your food. You should know what and how to smoke your food.

  • Smoke Flavor

The smoky flavor comes when you burn wood in gas, charcoal, or an electric grill. Sawdust, chunks, or chips are used in this case. They get burnt and give a smoky flavor to the food.

  • Fuel Source

The accumulation of burnt wood creates smoke. This smoke’s quantity depends on your usage and the wood. Logs create enormous temperatures and thus become a source of fuel. Pellet smokers are another example of this.

What Are The Best Wood to Smoke With – What Goes with What

Sometimes not just your choice but also the wood’s nature becomes the reason for good smoked cooking. 

Let’s know which kind of wood is best to smoke with what item.

  • Oakwood is best to smoke. It acts both moderate and vigorous. It gives a mixed flavor to the food.
  • Hickory wood is famous for its less strong flavor in food.
  • Fruit-flavored woods such as apple, pear, cherry, etc., are best for smoking vegetables and fish.
  • Mesquite wood is the strongest of all and creates a tremendous amount of smoke. It is best for smoking ribs on any surface. 

These woods are worldwide famous for their better services and premium qualities. Try these woods according to which food you are going to smoke. You will be thankful for sure. Try once at least!

Which Woods Shouldn’t Use For Smoking Meat

There are some woods you should not use to smoke your food. Let’s know about them.

  • You should not use the painted wood to smoke.
  • Old wood pallets should not be used.
  • Using fungal wood may spread the smoky fungus to your food. So stay out of it.
  • Do not use softwoods as they are too hard to use and give the food a rusty and weird taste. 

The name of the woods you should stay out of are- Cedar, Cyprus, Pine, Mangrove, Locust, Tamarack, Hemlock, Conifer, and Osage Orange, etc. Stay alert and take enough precautions before smoking any food. 

Choose the wood wisely according to your food. Try to follow the cautions mentioned before.

How To Select Woods For Smoking

Before starting any smoking, you should know how to select the suitable wood for your grill. There are few methods how you can choose woods for smoking. These are-

  • Try to know if the wood can be used as a fuel source primarily or not.
  • Use wood for smoking purposes only.
  • Always select hardwoods as these are durable burns a long time and get more heated. 
  • Learn to differentiate which kind of wood is needed according to the food you are smoking. If it is fish or vegetables, then use mild woods and if it is meat or ribs, use a stronger or moderate one. 

This is how you will be able to select the ultimate wood you need for smoking.

Tips For Using Different Woods In Different BBQ

We all should know how to use different kinds of woods for smoking food and use in other BBQs. Some essential tips may help you in this case.

  • We know dried woods are more appreciated than the soaked ones as dried ones catch fire faster than the other ones. So, do not ever soak the wood chunks in water; rather than use it dry.
  • You can mix few kinds of wood to create a new type of taste for the food. But before doing so, study about the woods a bit.
  • Do not use charcoal as your fuel source. Always try to use woods to create smoke.
  • Mix the wood according to demand. For example, if you are about to smoke fish, try to mix the fruity-flavored mild wood chunks that may suit the fish well.
  • Please do not use any fungal or rusty smelled wood, or it will put a nasty smell on your food.
  • Never store the woods on the ground as it may collect few unwanted bacteria from the ground. Try to keep them in a secure place.
  • Use a grilling pan or smoking surface between the heat and the food. Or else, it will just burn the food directly and will not cook it correctly.
  • Clean the cooking zone perfectly before starting cooking and even before starting burning the woods.
  • You can shop the same woods from your nearby local stores or even online.

These are the essential tips you should know and follow to use woods in different types of BBQ.


Many people may know that woods are good and need to smoke any food. But you may get confused about which one to pick, which one will be suitable for your grill and food. There are a lot of varieties of wood. You need some good and productive knowledge about them. Thus you may choose what you want.

Good knowledge about good woods and their functions will help you choose the best woods for smoking, the best woods for smoking fish, the best woods for smoking all kinds of meat, etc. I hope this article has helped you out at least a bit. So, shop your favorite woods for smoking and enjoy delicious smoked dishes at home.

Leave a Comment