Best wood for smoking

Smoking food is an integral part of barbecuing. This part of the cooking process, is what makes it so different from the rest of cooking methods. Traditionally barbecue was done using logs of wood, however, there are many electric smoker available out there today that come with the option of using small pieces or chips of wood for smoking. Wood from various trees can be used for smoking and they are available in various forms as well. Specific type of wood should be used with certain types of meat, to get the best outcome possible. In this article we will review some of the best wood for smoking with electric smokers.


Given below are the most commonly used best wood for smoking:

Heavy Woods: Oak, Hickory, Maple & Mesquite

Light Woods: Pecan, Apple, Peach, Alder & Cherry

Depending on the type of wood you are using, the flavor of the meat being smoked will change. Electric smokers are the best way to smoke food because if you are using a non electric smoker the fuel type being used in the smoker will also change the flavors slightly, since every fuel will produce different byproducts after combustion. It is important to remember that smoking is to add flavor to the meat, however, it should not over power and become the main part of the dish.

Wood is also available in various types to be used in the smoker. Some of the types which can be used while smoking are:

  • Logs, Chunks, Chips, Pellets, Bricks, Briquettes and Sawdust

Different type of wood have some benefits and work best with particular types of smokers or grills. Sawdust is rarely used since it burns out quickly, but does impart flavor.

In the below table we will look at characteristics of some of the more popular woods used for smoking:


Type of Smoke

How it burns Type of meat


Oak Medium or Heavy Flavor Hot & Slow Lamb, Beef, Brisket, Sausages Available as Red and White Oak, both have different properties
Hickory Sweet & Strong with Bacony flavor Hot & Slow Ribs, Pork Shoulder (Red Meat / Poultry) Excess smoke can make meat bitter. Use small pieces or chunks of wood.
Maple Sweet, Light and Mild Hot & Slow Poultry, Pork, Game Birds It is the sweetest heavy wood
Mesquite Strong with lot of smoke Hot & Fast Red Meat Has a very potent flavor, to be used in small doses
Pecan Medium, Fruity, Nutty and Sweet Slow & Cool Briskets, Roast & Ribs Use as a complement to Mesquite
Apple Light, Mild, Fruity and Lightly Sweet Hot & Slow Chicken, Quail, Pork & Poultry It takes time to permeate the food, should be used sooner.
Alder Light, Sweet & Delicate Cool & Medium Fish and sometimes Poultry & Pork Best used with fish, especially Salmon
Peach Light, Sweet & Delicate Hot & Long Fish, Poultry & Pork Since it loses flavor, it should be used freshly cut
Cherry Light, Sweet & Delicate Hot & Long Chicken, Turkey, Fish & Ham Works best when used with Oak, Alder or Hickory

When you are planning to cook for longer duration, use chunks of wood which are the size of a golf ball or baseball. For shorter duration of cooking, you can use pellets, which produce lot of smoke in short duration. Hope you found itĀ useful onĀ best wood for smoking with electric smokers.

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