Choosing the Right Wood for Smoking Meat or Seafood

All wood is not the same. They each have different levels of imparted flavor and smokiness. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right wood for your barbecue adventure.


For mild smoke flavor, choose alder or fruit woods, such as apple or cherry. They’ll impart a mild smokiness with a hing of fruity sweetness. These are great choices for smoking more delicate foods, such as poultry or fish. Alder is especially mild with a hint of sweetness. Apple and cherry offer fruity notes and go well with either chicken or pork.


For a medium smoke flavor, oak, hickory, or maple are your best bets. They’ll impart a distinctive and intense smokiness without overpowering the meat. These are great choices for poultry, pork or beef.k Hickory is probably the most common smoking wood. It’s flavor is intense, so it is often mixed with a milder wood to tone it down. Oak offers a milder smokiness that hickory and a little more flavor than apple or cherry, making it a good wood to mix with hickory.


Mesquite, the smokiest of all the smoking woods, is what is typically used for a Texas-style barbecue. That’s because hearty meats, such as brisket, can hold their own against the intense smoke flavor it delivers. Used sparingly, in combination with milder woods, it can be used successfully for fish, chicken, pork, or beef.


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