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Smoking Woods - Types and Descriptions

With warmer weather fast approaching, its time to brush up on your outdoor grilling and BBQ skills.  One area of BBQ and grilling that comes up often is what types of smoking woods are there, what flavors do they give to the food and which woods go with which types of foods.  There are many different choices available to use for smoking and grilling.  Here is a list of the most popular smoking woods, descriptions and food pairings.  Inside Effects and Outside Effects have all of these woods available for all of your smoking and grilling needs.

Alder
A sweet, musky smoke that is the traditional wood of the Northwest and pairs particularly well with salmon
Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

Apple
Probably the most used fruit smoke wood. Apple Wood burns with a mild, fruity smoke that enhances the natural sweet and warm flavors in foods. The subtle, but dense, smoke of apple wood is best paired with mild white meats and is the perfect backdrop for sweet or tangy sauces, marinades or brines. Try apple wood when using honey, molasses, maple or cinnamon with your grilled or smoked meats. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory. Ornamental apple trees like crab apple can be used as well.
Good with all meats.

Beechnut
A mild much used wood like oak. The wood of the Beechnut produces a mild, somewhat delicate smoked flavor
Good with meat and seafood.

Cherry
The second most used fruit wood. Slightly sweet fruity smoke that’s great with just about everything. It can blacken the skin of poultry making it look unappetizing, but will still taste great.  It’s an excellent candidate to mix with a lighter wood like apple or apricot to reduce the blackening.  What blackens the skin of chicken makes a great smoke ring. Ornamental cherry wood like double blossom cherry can be used as a substitute.
Good with all meats.

Grape (Grapevines)
Tart, aromatic, but can be a heavy flavor so don’t overdo it.
Use sparingly on poultry or lamb but otherwise if used in moderation is good with red meats, pork ,fish, chicken and game.

Hickory
The most common hardwood used, even more so than apple and cherry. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. A full, rich and distinct flavor for any meat.
Good for all smoking, particularly pork and ribs.

Maple
Mildly smoky, somewhat sweet flavor. Maple adds a sweet, subtle flavor that enhances the flavor of poultry and game birds, and outstanding for planking for those that don’t like cedar plank salmon.
Mates well with poultry, ham, cheese, small game birds, and vegetables. Wonderful for smoked turkey!

Mesquite
Strong earthy flavor. One of the most popular woods in the country, mesquite is a scrubby tree that grows wild in the Southwest. Sweeter and more delicate than hickory, it’s a perfect complement to richly flavored meats such as steak, duck or lamb. Burns hot and fast and it probably the strongest flavored wood.
Good with most meats, especially beef and most vegetables, but be careful as it can overpower.

Mulberry
A mild smoke with a sweet, tangy, blackberry-like flavor. Similar to apple
Good with Beef, poultry, game birds, pork (particularly ham).

Oak
Most versatile of the hardwoods blending well with most meats. A mild smoke with no aftertaste. Oak gives food a beautiful smoked color. Red oak is believed to the best of the oak varieties.
Good with red meat, pork, fish and big game.

Olive
The smoke favor is similar to mesquite, but distinctly lighter. North Atlantic Olive Wood is a domestic relative of Mediterranean olive wood. It has a fragrant burn with a mild flavor and just a hint of sweetness. The smoke from olive wood pairs wonderfully with bright and fragrant Mediterranean flavors like rosemary, citrus or oregano. 
Delicious with poultry lamb, steak or seafood, as well as grilled vegetables like artichokes, tomatoes or eggplant.

Orange
A tangy, citrus smoke. Medium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitiness. Orange gives food a golden color. Produces a nice mild smoky flavor.
Excellent with beef, pork and poultry.

Peach
Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor, milder and sweeter than hickory.  Peach is a bit redder than apple and produces a better smoke ring and is a little more flavorful.
Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish.

Pecan
Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory but not as strong. Tasty with a subtle character. An all-around superior smoking wood. Try smoking with the nut shells as well. This is a great wood for Brisket and pork.
Good for most things including poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is the best for that beautiful golden-brown turkey and we absolutely love it on brisket.

Persimmon
A strong, sweet, and dry smoke that is popular in restaurants.
Excellent with beef and pork.

Sassafras
A mild, musky, sweet smoke with a root beer aftertaste. Some say this is not a good candidate for smoking. Others love it.
Especially good on beef, pork and poultry.

Flavored Smoke Woods
There are a variety of flavored wood chunks and chips. Some are made from old wine or whiskey barrels, while others have been soaked in wine or even Tabasco.  Flavored woods can add an interesting aroma to the smoke coming out of your cooker and to the foods you are smoking.
Good on beef, pork, fish and poultry.

 

 

 

 

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