Alright! Hold on one second. I know what you are thinking. But no. This is not a commercial to promote cigarettes or the general habit of smoking cigarettes.
Masters of the art of barbeque from all over the wood as well as those who simply love smoked meat have done a lot of researches and experiments, trying to find the best wood for smoking meat; what meat is best smoked with what wood.
The varieties of wood for smoking meats are as many as the variety of meats out there that can be smoked. And obviously, not every wood can be used for smoking meat.
To get the best taste out of your smoked meat, you must be sure to use the best wood for that particular type and cut of meat (and sometimes, the best combination). When the wrong type of wood is used to smoke some meats, the results can range from burnt meats to meats with completely ruined taste. Think of the wood you intend to use for smoking as a taste enhancer. But the taste is not the only thing woods bring to the table, the best woods can also add color, making your smoked meat look even more appetizing.
- Type of Wood for Smoking
- The Different Sizes of Wood and Their Best Uses
- The Best Woods for the Best Kind of Smoking
Type of Wood for Smoking
Let us dive right into the different types of woods you can use for smoking your meats.
Oak woods (red oak and white oak) are considered one of the best hardwoods around. When it comes to smoking, this is the first choice of wood for those who are new in the art. Generally suitable for smoking. Oak wood is a strong wood that burns really hot and for a long time. They are also known to be versatile, going well with just any type of meat. Oak produces very heavy smoke flavors as well. It is therefore generally common in smoking pork ribs as well as salmon. Oak is also great for smoking lamb, brisket as well as sausages.
Reported to be the most versatile of all the woods used in smoking. It is, however, mostly used by the grilling experts as it is known to ruin the flavor of meat if used wrongly. For instance, when too much of it is used, the meat could end up with a bitter flavor. But generally, the hickory wood is known to produce a strong hearty sweet and savory flavor. It is commonly used to smoke meats such as large cuts of pork shoulders and ribs. It can also be used to smoke any type of red meat.
This wood is known to be mild, somewhere between not too hard, and not too soft. This subtleness is what makes maple wood very unique. It produces a mild smoke with a light sweet flavor and is best used for smoking pork, poultry as well as small game foul.
The apple wood is known as a very soft wood. It is likely to produce mild smoke that could take a long time before penetrating the meat. However, at the end, your meat comes out with a mild fruity sweet flavor. It is therefore advisable to use this wood for smoking pork, ham, and poultry.
Mesquite wood is considered as one of the strongest and fastest burning woods. It burns really hot and is therefore recommended to be used in small quantities for great results. This hardy wood produces additional strong earthy flavor when used in combination with other woods. It is best used to smoke meats such as beef, fish, poultry, and game foul.
This is a light wood that produces very subtle smoke flavors that would leave your smoked meat with some natural sweetness. Most grillers use this type of wood because of the delicate taste it offers the smoked meat. It is best used to smoke salmon, poultry, pork and some groups of game foul.
Often considered by many as the best wood for smoking, this mild wood leaves a fruity flavor on the smoked meat. It does not only bring its fruity flavor to the smoking, but it also adds a uniquely rich, mahogany color to the meat making it look irresistible. It can also be used in combination with other woods such as alder, oak, pecan and hickory for a better result. Cherry wood is best used to smoke beef or pork, however, it is not limited to just these two as it can do an excellent job when used to smoke any other type of meat, including poultry, and ham.
The pecan wood produces similar results with hickory when used to smoke meats. This is a no-brainer since it belongs to the hickory family. It is considered to be a superior smoking wood. Pecan usually burns quite slowly leaving the smoked meat with a delicate flavor. The flavor produced is subtle and fruity. However the wood may likely produce a pungent smell, so it is advisable to use it in moderation and in combination with other woods. Absolutely the best wood when it comes to smoking pork, beef, poultry, and cheese.
This fruit-wood produces a very similar result with the apple wood, giving the smoked meat a subtle flavor. When used appropriately, it can impart the meat with additional light and sweet flavors. It is usually best used to smoke pork and poultry.
This is also a fruit-wood and it produces a unique flavor that is both sweeter and milder than the hickory wood. The flavor it produces is also subtle as well as light and sweet. Just like the pear wood, it can be sometimes hard to find and is best used to smoke pork and poultry.
The Different Sizes of Wood and Their Best Uses
When attempting the art of barbequing, it is not enough to be careful about what type of wood to use for what type of meat. It is also important that you recognize that different sizes of wood serve different purposes. A particular size of wood cannot serve every purpose. For instance, while it is ideal to smoke certain meats with ordinary wood chips, with some meats you have to go all out with a huge wood chunk. Let us, therefore, consider what size of wood is best suited for what type of meat.
These are usually the tiniest size of wood used in smoking. They usually come in small rod or pea sizes. The perfect size for adding a quick smoky flavor to a small cut of meat when necessary. Using this size of wood can become a lot of work as you would need to keep feeding the smoker with the pellets constantly. And also, the smoky flavor produced during this type of smoking can be sometimes uneven. Pellets are best used to smoke meats such as pork chops, steaks as well as chicken breast or wings.
These are tiny bits of wood (roughly the size of a large coin) that can be used in a quick smoke. They are usually used for short-term grilling, especially for meats that cook in a very short time (say, about five or ten minutes of smoke) or small cuts of meats. They are best used to smoke meats such as chicken thighs or fish fillets.
When trying a larger scale of smoking or you simply want to smoke for a long period of time, it is best to make use of wood chunks as they tend to burn out more slowly than the other wood sizes. Chunks are also more suitable for smoking as they tend to add a rich smoky flavor derived from the barks they come along with. They are best for smoking pork ribs and shoulders, beef ribs and briskets, whole poultry as well as other large cuts of meat.
The Best Woods for the Best Kind of Smoking
Best Wood for Smoking Ribs
Smoking ribs, whether beef’s or pork’s, can take a lot of your time and energy. This large cut of meat can take about 3-6 hours and at a high heat of 225 degrees to smoke completely. It would, therefore, be best to make use of the best wood not only to save time and energy but to also get that juicy taste you desire.
When it comes to smoking pork ribs, the best woods to use include, oak, maple, pecan, and hickory. Usually, these woods can be used individually or in combination with other types of wood.
Pork ribs are generally very large cuts of meat. Hence, it is recommended that you use wood chunks when smoking.
The same types of wood used in smoking pork ribs can also be used to smoke beef ribs. With oak and hickory being everyone’s favorite for this type of job.
Wood chunks are also the best choice for smoking beef ribs as they burn out more slowly.
Best Wood for Smoking Briskets
Because the brisket is a cut made from the pectorals of a cow, it can be a very tough cut of meat. To turn that tough meat into something soft, tender and juicy, there is a need to use the best wood. The wood you use for this type of smoking needs to be able to produce smoke that would penetrate the meat and break down its collagen.
Oak, hickory, and mesquite are top on the list of the woods you should use. You can use any of these three wood in combination with either apple, pecan or maple for enhanced flavor.
Briskets are usually large cuts of meat, hence the best wood size to use for smoking them would be chunks.
Best Wood for Smoking Pork
They say you have not smoked until you have smoked pork. When done properly, a slice of smoked pork can be an absolute delight since pork tends to take in smoke well enough to give a delightful taste. From the shoulder to the ribs, just about every part of the pork can be grilled.
Smoking pork shoulder can be an intense task. This is because the shoulder is filled with connective tissues and tight muscles and would need a long and slow process of smoking to tenderize and become succulent enough to be enjoyed.
The best, and usually, the most common types of wood to use in smoking pork shoulder include hickory and apple. Used either individually or in combination.
It is also advisable to make use of wood chunks for this type of smoking.
Pork chops are usually smaller cut of meat, approximately 2 inches and when smoked properly, they can as well pass for one of the tastiest meats in the world.
It is advisable to use hardwoods such as hickory, oak, mesquite, apple, and cherry when smoking pork chops. You can use them in isolation or in combination.
Pork chops are not as large as other cuts, so you can use a little of wood chunks and a little of wood chips to get a juicy and tender smoked meat.
Best Wood for Smoking Chicken
People eat more chicken than any other poultry and the art of smoking chicken is becoming something that more and more people are embracing daily. Chicken can be smoked as a whole or in parts. The parts include chicken quarters such as legs and thighs as well as chicken wings.
To smoke chicken parts such as chicken quarter, it is recommended to use fruit-woods such as apple, cherry or pecan. These impart light smoke flavors on the meat.
Wood chips are the ideal size to use for chicken quarters.
Chicken wings are smaller cuts as well and do not take too long to smoke. They can be smoked using wood such as alder, apple, or maple.
Wood chips are the recommended wood size to use in this case.
Chicken whole, on the other hand, is a larger cut of meat. It, therefore, takes more time to smoke properly and would, consequently, require different wood types and wood size.
Apple and cherry are two excellent choices for smoking chicken whole. However,
For best results, it is recommended that you make use of wood chips for smoking your chicken whole.
Best Wood for Smoking Salmon
Smoked salmon is a meal that is becoming increasingly popular with different people bringing up different recipes for smoking their salmon. But whichever recipe you decide to try out, you cannot ''forget to remember'' that you must make use of the best wood.
Fruit-woods such as apple and cherry woods are usually the first choice for smoking salmon but maple and oak can also do an excellent job.
Because the salmon is not usually a large cut, you can make use of wood pellets to fuel your smoker.