Types of Barbecue Wood to Use while Smoking Meat

by The Smoke Expert on December 19, 2013

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to barbecue. What flavors will you look for? What rubs and marinades will you use? How well done will you cook the meat? When making barbecue decisions, you’ll need to choose which type of wood you’ll use.

Here, we’ll look at a few popular types of wood and forms of wood and the effect they’ll have on your finished product. Ultimately, it’s the smoke that distinguishes barbecuing from other forms of cooking so you need to know which wood helps bring out the best flavor.


This is a popular wood to use for smoking because it works well for all types of meat. The sweet and fruity hints of flavor will taste great.

cherry wood for smoking


Nearly all of us have tasted recipes that have been created with mesquite flavors. One of the most popular choices for good reason, the mesquite flavor is rich and strong. It has a slightly sweet taste that works well with beef, but can be used for other meats as well.


Maple provides a mild smokiness, but a great sweet flavor. Maple is a great choice for poultry and pork.


This wood creates a very strong taste. It shouldn’t be overused, but when it’s used sparingly, it can be a favorite for many. Try it with red meat and ribs.


Finally, a wood that works well with fish. Alder doesn’t have a strong smokiness or a flavor that will overpower the food, making it a great choice for fish.

alder wood for smoking fish


Another favorite wood of mine when it comes to my electric smoker is Pecan that gives somewhat of a fruity flavor and burns cooler than most other barbecue woods. I use it mainly for large cuts like pork roast and briskets but it can also be used for fish, poultry and chops.

It is similar to Hickory and I often find that these two woods complement each other perfectly.

Choosing the Type of Wood

After you choose the wood, you’ll need to decide what form of it you’ll use. Chunks, chips, and logs are all used in smokers. Using logs may be great for some, but certainly not for everyone. For those who have huge smokers and cook professionally for large groups, logs can be efficient. Using logs in a smoker takes a lot of skill and should be left to those who really know what they’re doing.

Most of us will use chunks or chips. Chunks are a great option and are easily available in the market as well. The fist sized pieces of wood will burn slowly and give long lasting flavor to the meat that’s being smoked. Because the chunks last longer, there’s no need to continue adding wood to the smoker as it works.

The same goes for chips. You can find them in many stores and they’re a convenient option. Setting them apart from chunks, they burn much more quickly so you’ll need to continue adding chips as the smoking goes on.

Summing Up:

Ultimately, you’ll need to experiment yourself with different types of woods to find out what works best for you. This is because each one of has different tastes and some of the woods listed above might not give you a flavor of your liking. However, the list above is a good starting point for those who’re interested in smoking, grilling and barbecuing.

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