"Flavorite" Barbecue Woods

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Barbecue woods that are used vary greatly depending on demographic location and other factors and variables. Two of the favorites from here in the Oklahoma area is hickory and mesquite. In Texas it is predominately mesquite.

I have listed all of the popular types of wood below with a short description of each however I highly recommend that you do not take anyone's word for it (including my own) but that you will experiment and see what works for you.

Types of Barbecue Woods

Apple: Produces a sweet, fruity taste.Good mild wood which works well on poultry and ham. Get it here

Alder: What can I say about this barbecue wood… it is the wood that is greatly preferred for most any fish especially salmon. Get it here

Cherry: Similar to apple… sweet and usually very fruity depending on the age of the wood. Tends to be mild making it a good choice for poultry, fish, and ham. Get it here

Hickory: Probably the most well known woods and while lots of folk may disagree, it tends to be a bit to pungent for my own taste therefore great care must be taken so that it is not overused. Most feel it is excellent on ribs and most red meats. Can also be used very sparingly on cuts of poultry. (should be able to get this at the local hardware/department store)

Maple: Gives a light and sweet taste which best compliments poultry and ham. Get it here

Mesquite: My personal favorite barbecue wood however, great care must be taken or it can become overpowering. Best not used for larger cuts which require longer smoking times but I have been known to be quite successful at it by using it in tandem with another type of wood. (should be able to get this at the local hardware/department store)

Oak: Good choice for larger cuts which require longer smoking times. Produces a strong smoke flavor but usually not overpowering. Good wood for Brisket. Get it here

Pecan: Gives somewhat of a fruity flavor and burns cooler than most other barbecue woods. It is similar to Hickory and is best used on large cuts like brisket and pork roast but can also be used to compliment chops, fish and poultry. Get it here


Bottom line… you must experiment to find out what works for you and what does not. The woods that I like will most likely not be the ones you find most tasty and vice versa.


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  1. charles keevert says

    Our son ‘Chef Tex’ Smokes all kinds of meat and says Mesquite is his preference. He says any kind of fruit wood is acceptable for sweetness.

  2. Stephen says

    I had a neighbor’s huge magnolia limb fall into my yard during the recent ice storm here in Georgia. Can magnolia be used as a smoking wood?


  3. Alex says

    I had some wood given to me, I believe it is Beech, from what I can tell from the bark. I usually smoke with Oak or Pecan, can this Beech be used to smoke with? I have never heard of Beech being used and thought I would get an opinion on it. Thanks

    • says

      Also known as a hedge apple, the osage orange wood has a lot of debate around whether it should be used as a smoking wood or not. Some say it is wonderful while others say you should leave it alone due to the fact that it is known to contain some skin irritating toxins in the non-edible fruit it produces.

      I would not use it personally but then I try to err on the side of safety most times.

      I would certainly like to see a good scientific article written on it’s use as a wood to cook with and how safe that would be.

      For now, I plan to leave it alone personally ;-)

  4. Dick says


    I ordered some guava wood from Hawaii and found it great for smoking fish and brisket. The flavor is more pronounced with fish as it would be. Slightly sweeter. Have you ever tried this wood in your smoking?


  5. tony melendrez says

     hi i usually use apple wood to smoke ribs , chicken, pork , what do u think of alder wood for same kind of meats.  thanks  SMOKIN TONY BOULDER CREEK CA

  6. Bill says

    Water with pecans picked on the ground and a little bit if aromatic cedar to get the heat started after that wet pecan and some slow burning wet! Hickory to finish it off is the BEST finish her off with a slow burning not so hot wood like oak" not kiln dried" and if that's not available use sycamore wet! In a river for your smoke it will give it a natural smoke but not that I want to kill my cook taste, salt and pepper is all you need for the seasoning let me know why you think. I would love your input even if it was with a different concoction 

  7. donald says

    I remember when i was young im now 67 but we had a smoke house and smoked half hogs big hogs,also lamb,goad chickens boy were they good.

    • says

      In my experience, any kind of cherry is wonderful smoking wood. Even the ornamental variety works great. Be sure to let it season in the dry for 4-6 months before using it. A good way to know that it is ready to use is that it will feel lighter than it did when it was green and it will usually have cracks that “spider” out from the center of the wood toward the outside.

    • Tom Koller says

      Another wood is black walnut. It has a dry tart taste. I would not use it with beef. It is good with chicken. It is amazing with pork ribs and cooked on sauce. Think of it as a balancing flavor, like the hops in an ale.

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