Using the best wood for smoking the kind of meat you have goes a long way in making it taste delicious. When it comes to smoking meat it is important to have some knowledge about the wood you should make use of. So, what’s the best wood for smoking you might ask? Well, quite frankly it really depends on your preference. You need to realize that there aren’t ‘set-in-stone’ rules that you need to follow. Yes, different kinds of wood impart different kinds of flavor to the meat. But in the end, it all depends on how you want the meat to taste.

One of the things you need to keep in mind is what kind of characteristics the wood you want to use for smoking possess. Don’t be afraid to try out different kinds of wood for smoking meat. It is always good to experiment with such things so you can discover the best wood for smoking and providing you with the meat that tastes perfect.

Heavier and Lighter Woods

The wood for smoking ‘heavier’ meats such as pork and beef are hickory and oak or other ‘heavier’ hardwoods. You can use ‘lighter’ hardwoods such as alder and pecan, etc. for smoking poultry meat and fish or what are considered as ‘lighter’ meats. People are also known to add a bit of heavier wood in lighter hardwood when smoking fish and poultry meat. You can also do the opposite by adding lighter hardwood to heavier wood when smoking pork or beef. There are just so many variations that you can try out. Don’t be afraid to give them all a try!

Heavier Hardwoods

Here’s a little guideline about the heavier hardwoods that you can use in order to smoke meat. Give it a read and understand what sort of flavors using such wood can impart on your meal.


Oak burns slow. It is also able to provide a lot of heat. The smoke from burning oak will provide your meat with a medium to heavy flavor. You don’t have to worry about the flavor being too overpowering though when using oak. It is recommended to use oak for smoking beef and lamb. Keep in mind that there are two types of oak you can go for.

You can either use white oak or red oak. Compared to each other, red oak has a sweeter smoking flavor while white oak burns longer. So, make sure which one you’d want to use to smoke your meat.


Hickory is another type of heavier hardwood that burns slow and produces a lot of heat. The smoke from hickory will impart a sweet to strong flavor to the meat. Some people have even compared the flavor to bacon. Using hickory is suitable for smoking ribs and pork shoulders.


Maple, similar to Oak and Hickory, burns slow and produces a lot of heat. Smoking meat with this kind of wood will allows you to impart a sweet and light flavor. It is the best wood for smoking if you happen to enjoy a mildly smokey taste. It is recommended for smoking game birds, fish, and even pork. Maple is definitely the sweetest of all the heavy woods that you can use for smoking.

The Light Wood Guide

As mentioned earlier, lighter hardwoods may be the best candidate for smoking lighter meats such as fish and chicken. Here’s a guide regarding the characteristics of these lighter hardwoods and the kind of flavor they’ll give your meat.


Staying true to its lighter hardwood nature the smoke from apple wood provides meat with a light, sweet and delicate taste. You might even sense a fruity taste when you consume the smoked meat. Apple burns slow and produces a lot of heat. if you want to smoke chicken, quail and other game birds, it is the first thing you should use. Keep in mind, experts say that it takes a few hours for apple wood to properly smoke meat and give it a unique flavor.


Peach is another wood you can go for to provide smoked meat with a light, sweet and delicate taste. It is recommended for fish, poultry and pork. However, you need to take note that peach wood loses flavor quickly. So, make sure you start smoking the meat as soon as you collect a few logs.


Alder smoke is also suitable to smoke meat in a light and delicate fashion. It is commonly used for smoking fish. But it can also be used for smoking other kinds of meat such as pork and poultry. A lot of people like using Alder for smoking salmon.


If you want to smoke chicken or turkey then Cherry wood is for you. The characteristics of its smoke aren’t the slightest bit overpowering. It is also one of the woods that are normally mixed with other types when smoking meat. Feel free to add in bit of Cherry wood if you’re already smoking meat with hickory or oak.

Don’T Over Smoke

While using the best wood for smoking to provide your meat with a rich flavor is preferable, over smoking is a mistake a lot of people make. You want to eat the meat and not the smoke!

You should not smoke more than half of the cooking time. Going longer than that will increase the risk of over smoking and ruining the taste of the meat. Keep in mind that smoking doesn’t mean simply imparting a nature-based flavor to the meat; it also provides it with a hue. Make sure you know how much smoking time a particular meat requires for the best taste and hue.

Stay Away From These Woods

[wpmfc_cab_sd]Not all woods are meat for smoking. You need to stay away from pine and other resinous woods. Using them for smoking will immediately make your meat inedible. Don’t just break off any branch and use it for smoking. Make sure you understand the properties of the wood you’re going to use.[/wpmfc_cab_sd]

You’Re Ready To Smoke Meat!

Now that you have some basic knowhow about the best wood for smoking meat go ahead and give it a try. Keep in mind the wood and smoke characteristics shared above. Remember not to feel frustrated if you can’t get it right on the first try. Knowing which wood to use to smoke a particular type of meat and the duration it should be smoked for takes experience and patience. How to cape a deer that you and your taxidermist will love.