How to Choose the Right Smoking Wood

Wood chunks placed on top of chunk charcoal in a smoker charcoal tray

Different wood types produce different flavors when it comes to smoking. From oak wood chips to apple wood chunks, learn about which smoking wood types and flavors are best for what you are smoking.

How to Choose the Right Smoking Wood

When it comes to smoking on your charcoal grill, electric smoker, or other type of smoker, you'll want to ensure you're selecting the right type of wood for your smoke. Each type of smoking wood burns differently, so picking the right one for your grill or smoker is important.

Smoking Wood Sizes

The following wood sizes below will help you best choose the right smoking wood for your cook:

  1. Wood Chips - The smallest type of smoking wood. Wood chips are best used for electric smokers or to impart quick smoke on your charcoal grill or smoker. Easily found online or in retail stores.
  2. Wood Chunks - The most commonly used type of smoking wood for low & slow cooking. Wood chunks typically burn for a few hours and are best used for larger meats such as brisket or pork butt. If smoking on a Gravity Series Grill + Smoker or other type of charcoal grill, these are the preferred choice.
  3. Wood Splits - Otherwise known as wood logs, these are the largest type of smoking woods to use. Best for long cooks on offset smokers or charcoal grills that can handle the size.

Types of Smoking Wood

The following types of woods below deliver the right smoke and flavor for the right meats. Your best choices are:

  1. Oak - Oak wood imparts a medium, smoky flavor that is stronger than most fruit woods but lighter than hickory or mesquite. Best blended with apple, cherry, or hickory woods, but works well by itself with just about any meat.
  2. Hickory - Hickory wood delivers a sweet yet strong flavor, comparable to the flavor of bacon. The smoke can be quite pungent, but it does add a nice, strong flavor to just about anything. Most popular with pork and ribs.
  3. Mesquite - Mesquite wood is perhaps most synonymous with Texas BBQ. This smoking wood burns hot and quick, producing a lot of savory, earthy smoke. Best used for steak or brisket.
  4. Maple - Maple wood has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Works well with poultry, vegetables, and cheeses.
  5. Pecan - Pecan wood burns quick and produces a mild, sweet flavor. Works best with fish, chicken, or ribs.
  6. Apple - A fruit wood. Has a mild, subtle, sweet, fruity flavor. Ideal for poultry, beef, ham, lamb and fish.
Wood Pairing Guide

Using the right type of wood will help produce the best flavor of smoke for whatever you've got cooking. For more inspiration, check out our blog.