Best Wood for Smoking Meat

Smoking meat add natural wood smoke flavor to different cuts of meat, while leaving it juicy and tender. Meats cook slowly without being directly placed on the fire. The kinds of woods used in smoking varies regionally and according to whether or not you want bold, mild or sweet flavors. In general, you have a wide selection of woods from which to choose for whatever meat you plan to smoke.


Apple wood chips and chunks give grilled and smoked meats a sweet, fruity flavor. Apple wood works with any kind of meat; however, it is best for salmon and other fatty fishes and pork. You can also mix apple wood with other woods when cooking salmon on a barbecue pit. The meat will take on the flavor of the type of apple grown on the tree.

Wild Cherry

Wild cherry, like apple wood, adds a sweet, fruity flavor to smoked meat. It offers versatility, able to work with poultry, veal, game, ham, and sausage. Wild cherry give rich flavor in seafood and shellfish. Meat and seafood also get a rich dark color from the wood. says wild cherry is one of the most popular hardwoods used for flavoring meat.


Likely, you have heard of hickory smoked meats and have probably tasted this flavor. History smoked meat has a strong, bold flavor commonly associated with pork products like bacon and ribs. In addition to pork, hickory works in beef and poultry. Because it has a bold flavor, not much hickory is needed to smoke a perfect piece of meat.


Mesquite is another wood that gives smoked meats a bold, smokier flavor, particularly chicken, beef and fish. Mesquite wood should not be used in large pieces because it would add to smoking time. To cut down on its strength, you can add milder fruit woods to mesquite. Green mesquite gives meats a bitter taste, so it should be avoided. Local hardware stores sell mesquite wood that can be used for smoking meat.


Oak wood adds a medium to bold flavor to meat, yet it does not overpower the natural flavors. Oak works best for slow smoking large cuts of meat like briskets, roasts, chops and steaks. People pick red or white oak, depending on the flavor they wish to achieve. Red oak gives meat a sweeter flavor while white oak burns longer.


Pecan wood gives meat a fruity flavor, and because of its slow, cool burn, pecan is the choice for larger cuts of meat, like briskets, roasts and steaks, that need to cook longer. It also added a rich flavor to fish and poultry. Pecan wood mixes well with stronger woods like hickory and mesquite, minimizing their bold flavors.


Maple wood offers a mild smoky, sweet taste to grilled foods and burns cool like pecan wood. It adds flavor to all kinds of meats, as well as vegetables. Maple wood trees grow in the Northeastern United States, so that’s were you generally find those flavors. Because it has a sweet taste, maple wood mixes well with hickory and mesquite.

The variety of woods used for smoking meats offers a variety of flavors that enhance the taste of your cuts. You get to chose from mild sweet woods or bold, rich ones. You can also smoke your meat with a mixture of woods to produce a balance of bold and sweet. No matter what smoking wood you choose, you are guaranteed flavorful meats to tantalize the taste buds. 

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