Smoked BBQ food gets its distinct “smoky flavor” from burning hardwoods. There are different wood chips for smoking meat, and today we are talking about the best wood chips for smoking meat on either your grill or smoker.
Why Use wood chips ?
You should buy wood chips because charcoal alone cannot add a good smoky flavor to meats. Charcoal is a fuel source, and although it does add some level of taste, it does not compare to the flavor punch wood chips can add.
To get that rich bbq smoky flavor, you need to add smoke, and only good wood chips for smoking can deliver naturally flavored smoke. The smoke flavor wood chips can provide depends on the tree wood chips derived from.
Wood for smoking can be produced from Apple trees, cherry, and Pecan. You will also find other flavors like oak, hickory, and mystique. All good flavors and some flavors can be mixed to add even more unique tastes.
Best Wood Chips for Smoking – Get the most flavor out of every meat
Oak is a popular wood for smoking and is often used by professional pitmasters as a base flavor. Oak wood is considered a balanced flavor, and its smoke taste is lighter than hickory. But you can miss oak and hickory to add a stronger smoke flavor.
Oak wood chips go well with lamb, beef, red meat, pork, and even fish. Oak pairs well with many meat cuts, which is why oak chips are so popular.
Mesquite wood is extracted from Prosopis trees, and its inherent characteristic is that it burns hot, fast and can produce a lot of smoke. Mesquite’s taste is more potent than hickory, making it perfect for less flavorful meats like lamb, fish, and thinner cuts of meats that cook fast as mesquite burns and deliver some fast.
Mesquite has an earthy aroma; the wood is oily and gets hot quickly. Some like to mix mesquite with oak and even hickory to add an extra layer for flavor.
Hickory Wood chips are produced from Carya Trees and are popular wood chips for smoking. Hickory chips have a similar flavor to oak but add a bit of sweetness. Hickory can be paired with apple wood chips and add an extra layer for sweetness for those who like sweet ribs.
Hickory is often used to smoke pork ribs and even cheese. Hickory also pairs well with many bbq sauces.
Apple wood smoke alone will not overpower meats, but it can add a distinct sweet signature taste when combined with other woods, especially when smoking ribs. Apple wood is often mixed with hickory and has a good balance of smoky flavor and sweet state.
Apple wood chips offer mild flavor and can be used for smoking chicken, ham, goes well with bacon and even fish. Apple is an excellent wood to tackle the taste of meats like fish and chicken.
Cherry wood is another mild flavoring of smoke wood and is excellent to add a sweet taste to all kinds of meats. Its flavor is mild, so it alone will not overpower meat seasoning or sauces.
Cherry wood adds a distinct taste and color to foods and works well with vegetables. Cherry wood chips can add a nice touch to pork ribs.
Peach Wood chips are another mild fruity flavor and light. The peach smoke flavor alone will not overpower the state of stringer flavors like oak and hickory, making peach wood great for adding extra sweetness to meats. Fruity woods are mainly used to accent meats and vegetables.
Pecan wood chips can pack a stronger flavor than other wood chips types but will not overpower stronger woods like oak and hickory. Packan goes well with beef and poultry.
Maple wood adds light and sweet flavor. Its natural sweetness hits meat lightly and goes well with sweet BBQ sauces and vegetables.
Wood chips for smoking comparison buyer’s guide
There are so many wood chip options to choose from, each adding its own unique flavor and taste. The right wood chips will turn meats into unique BBQ dishes. For example, oak is an excellent smoking wood for smoking ribs but might not go well with fish.
Knowing which wood chips to use with different cuts of meats is crucial. The right wood chip type can have a significant impact when it comes to flavor and taste.
Here is a wood chip paring guide you can use to know which wood chips to use with which meats.
One Last Word.
When choosing wood chips for smoking, spend some time tasting and trying the different types of wood chips discussed in this article. Not everyone has the same taste and preferences, and I recommend trying a few wood flavors until you find what you enjoy best.