Know Your Wood

Know your wood for adding smoke to your grilling and for your smoker.  Good smoke is produced by a variety of hardwoods that are low in resin and high in flavor.  (Only wood, no nails, glues etc.)  Wood creates different kinds of smoke, apple wood imparts a mellow flavor without overpowering food, but needs a longer cooking time to give the flavor.  Mesquite wood has a very strong smoke, and if the meat has a long smoking time, the mesquite may impart a bitterness to the meat.  Don’t use too much mesquite for too long a period of time.

Wood smoke gives outdoor cooking it’s flavor.  If you are trying a new type of wood in your outdoor cooking, start using it with smaller cuts of meat, such as steaks or chops, don’t use it for the first time when you are smoking a pork shoulder.

Below are the most common woods used in outdoor cooking.  However, many other types of wood can be used such as Mulberry, Lilac, Lemon, Peach, Birch and Ash.  Caution should be taken when using heavy woods such as Walnut and Black Walnut which can give a heavy, smoky flavor.

Alder:  Light flavor works well with fish and poultry; it is the traditional wood used for smoking salmon.

Maple: A sweet flavor is imparted from Maple smoke which is excellent with pork, especially ham and bacon and poultry.  Sugar Maple is especially good for Turkey; try using maple wood when smoking vegetables or cheese.

Oak:  A versatile hardwood, it provides a strong, but not overpowering is a good wood for lamb and beef, it overwhelms poultry.

Hickory:  Requires a light hand and experience due to the strong flavor that it adds to meat.  Hickory is successfully used with beef and lamb.

Mesquite:  One of the strongest flavored wood choices, it burns hot and fast.  Mesquite should be reserved for open-air grilling of poultry

Pecan: A much more subtle flavor than hickory, pecan wood has a nutty smell that mixes well with fruit-wood when used with poultry.

Apple:  A very mild flavor which gives food a sweetness.  Apple wood is good with pork and poultry, note that the chicken skin will be turned a dark brown.

Cherry:  Sweet, mild flavor goes with nearly every meat and vegetables that you use in your outdoor cooking.  Cherry is a very popular wood for smoking

Cedar:  This wood’s strong flavor is best for smoking fatty fish like salmon, rather than poultry.

 

 

 

 

 

Wood

Beef

Lamb

Pork

Poultry

Fish

Venison

Vegetables

Hickory

X

 

X

X

 

X

X

Apple

 

X

X

X

 

 

X

Mesquite

X

 

 

X

 

X

X

Cherry

X

X

X

X

 

X

X

Maple

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Pecan

X

 

X

X

 

X

X

Alder

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

Oak

X

 

 

 

X

X

 

Fruitwood

 

X

X

X

 

 

X