Different Types Of Smoking Woods You Can Use

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by smokewood, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    As It's all about the flavours, I have compiled a list of the different types of woods you can use for smoking.  As this is a UK forum I have included smoking woods from the UK, however I have included a couple of the American favourites to make Danny feel at home.  I am sure there are many other fantastic woods that I have missed, but please feel free to share them with the other forum members.

    Happy Smoking



    Very delicate with a hint of sweetness.  A sweet musky smoke that is good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds. Traditionally used in the pacific North-west to smoke salmon.


    Apple has a light, fruity, slightly sweet aroma and is commonly used with pork and poultry.  I like to use it with pork ribs, and it can be mixed with other smoke woods like oak and cherry with fantastic results.


    A fast burning wood, with a light but distinctive flavour. Good with fish and red meats.


    A mild much used wood like oak.  Great for whatever you care to use it with.  Good with meat and seafood.

    Silver Birch  

    A medium hard wood with a flavour similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

    Western Red Cedar

    The Pacific Northwest of America is renowned for the spicy and fragrant smoke of cedar.  The aromatic and full-­‐bodied flavour is what creates delicious cedar planked salmon.  Cedar is especially good with Salmon or any strong tasting fish, pork chops, poultry, soft cheeses with a rind (Camembert or Brie), mushrooms, tofu, and vegetables.     


    Slightly sweet fruity smoke that's great with poultry . This smoke is a mild, sweet and fruity smoke which gives a rosy tint to light-coloured meats.   It has a slight red colour and a subtle, sweet, fruity flavour. It goes well with beef, pork, and poultry and can be mixed with oak and apple. 


    Very similar to apple wood


    Hickory is probably the most popular smoke wood used in barbecue, especially pork and ribs.  It has a sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavour, and has a strong flavour that complements all meats.  Some people find that hickory alone can be overwhelming especially if too much is used.  I never use hickory alone, but mix it with oak, and use two parts oak to one part hickory.  A good for all round smoking wood and works well with pork, ribs, hams, poultry, and beef.


     Very light and subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.


    Maple has a mild flavour.  Some say it has a slightly sweet flavour because maple is commonly used in the production of maple syrup.  Maple goes especially well with pork and poultry. The wood is dense in weight but light in colour.


    A Strong earthy flavour. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game.


    The smell is sweet and reminds you of apple


    It goes with just about any barbecue meat. It has a medium smoky flavour that is stronger than apple and cherry, but lighter than hickory. As a result, it mixes well with these three woods, but also works great by itself.  An excellent wood to start off with.


    Pear has a nice subtle smoke flavour, much like apple, a slight sweet woodsty flavour.  It is good with game birds, chicken & pork.  It can be mixed with other smoke woods like Oak with good results, but take care not to overpower the delicate flavours. 

    Whisky Oak

    The whisky oak chips come from aged whisky barrels which have been used to store whisky in for the past 9 - 15 years.  The mixture of Whisky & Aged Oak gives you the wonderful Whisky Oak smoke flavour.  Fantastic for Beef, Chicken, Lamb Pork or Vegetables.   For best results soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes before using on your barbecue.  Drain off the excess water and add the wood chips directly onto the lit charcoal, or alternatively double wrap the chips in cooking foil and pierce to allow the fantastic flavours to infuse your food.


    A very heavy smoke flavour, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Walnut can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game. 
    mike w likes this.
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the extensive list and description of each Smokewood, We all have our favourites - Which ones do you mostly use?
  3. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya Wade, 

    Oak is my favourite smoking wood followed by apple cherry & pear.  If I am cold smoking I like to combine 50% oak and 50% apple.  Given that I love plank cooking and just love the flavour of Cedar.

    I am a bit of a traditionalist, and really stick to what I know, I should try new flavours, so it will be interesting to see what other people use

    What do you mainly use?
  4. Hello.  Thanks for the list.  Will be of much help for our U.K. members.   Pecan, live oak and mesquite are traditional woods used in Texas depending on the area.  Don't tell my Texas friends but I don't always use mesquite now.  I do use it quite often but my real "go too" now is pecan and cherry.   I will use about 10-15% mesquite or oak mixed with those woods.  Pecan adds a wonderful flavour to any meat and the sweetness and color cherry adds just can't be beat.  There are so many great smoking woods out there I should broaden my horizons but you do tend to stick with what you know and like.  Has anyone tried citrus wood?  I have been curious about those.  Keep Smokin!

  5. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya Danny, so you use about 10 - 15% oak or mesquite, and then an even mix of pecan and cherry/ what do you use that mix on?
  6. I use about 2/3 pecan to 1/3 cherry.  Then now and then throw in some oak or mesquite.  I only ever use pure mesquite when it is only the Missus and I.  As you know mesquite is not to everyone's taste.  Luckily my Missus likes it.  I rarely smoke fish/seafood but I use that mix on beef, pork, poultry and my smoked sausage.  I haven't made bacon yet but I can tell you that mix works a treat on a bacon joint.  My missus wants some smoked salmon so I'll have to experiment with some milder woods for that.  Maybe some alder.  I have been curious about beech also.  Maybe on a pork belly.  Keep Smokin!

  7. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Thanks for that Danny I will give it a try,  I am smoking a couple of sided of ribs tomorrow, so I wanted to try something different.

    I love Cedar if I am plank cooking Salmon, otherwise I use oak & Apple. 

  8. Hello.  I think you will like the taste of the pecan on those ribs.  Let me know what you think.  Good luck.  Don't forget to post some Q-view.  Keep Smokin!

  9. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would like to add a couple to that list if that is ok. Plum is a nice sort of complex and slightly floral fruitwood that is good on pork chicken and fish. Also Grape wood is good to smoke with and well, you can guess what it tastes like. Happy smoking. I am glad you mentioned Lilac. No one hardly ever talks about lilac and I think it is a great smoking wood.
  10. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Thanks for the additions to the list Timberjet, I appreciate your input [​IMG]


  11. john trotter

    john trotter Fire Starter

    Hi all  i have an apple tree in the back garden that needs cutting back badly, at what point could i use the wood  for smoking ?does it need to dry out, any help as usual appreciated .

  12. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya John.

    The wood from newly felled trees is classed as "green" wood and has a moisture content of about 50%, you can smoke with green wood but it is a desired taste.  

    I have found that if you leave the wood in logs it can take 9 - 12 months to dry depending on how big and thick the logs are.  

    We split our logs into manageable splits, which are about 18 inches long and about 6 inched wide and then stack them with good ventilation. These take about 4-5 months to dry with a moisture content between 15 - 17%.  If I need a batch to dry out quicker I cut them into fist sized chunks and bag them in into 10 Kg netting bags and stack them with good ventilation, and they dry out quite quickly, say within 2 months and  the moisture can be down to about 20 - 23% which in my opinion is fine for smoking.  

    If you leave the chunks or logs longer the final moisture content will be about 15 - 17%.  If you leave the above logs even longer the moisture content will only drop by another 2 or 3%, but not much more.

    As we are now getting into Autumn, you will need good air circulation otherwise you will get spores or mould growing on the wood, which is not ideal.  There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, for example the surrounding temperature and also ventilation.

    I assume you do not have a moisture meter, but if you hold a piece of the apple wood in each hand and "slap" them together, moist timber sound more dull, whereupon dryer timber sound more of a "crack"

    If you have a garage I would suggest cutting the apple into chunks and then storing them in netting bags, that way you will have a ready supply in a couple of months,  if you are desperate and need to use the apple earlier you could always put a couple of Kg's on a kitchen tray and store it indoors.  the netting bags are about £25 per 100, if you are interested in this option send me a pm and I will send you a link to a good supplier.

    I hope I have covered what you are after, if you require additional information just drop me a pm.

    p.s If you put a tarp down when you are cutting your apple, and you will have a  nice amount of apple dust which is ideal for cold smoking, just dry it out.

    Regards N Stuff

  13. russnettle

    russnettle Newbie

    Hey, great list

    I have a couple of cherry blossom trees that I chopped down last year, the wood is seasoning at the moment but I am not sure if its going to be suitable for hot smoking food.

    At the end of a cook last week I whacked a couple of chunks on and smoked a sausage and the result was pretty good, but I can't be sure it was the cherry blossom or the left over pecan I was using to smoke some ribs

    Anyone got any experience with it?
  14. russnettle

    russnettle Newbie

    I got some Orange wood, it was okay, it didn't jump out as being much different to cherry other than the lack of colour that cherrywood gives. I still have a couple of chunks so I might try a mix of it on a pork butt I am going to do in the weekend. 

    I have just ordered some mesquite, not tried it before - might save that one for a brisket in a couple of weeks
  15. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya russnettle, got any experience with what?
  16. russnettle

    russnettle Newbie

    Cherry blossom - I have loads of it so am hoping to put it to good use
  17. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I have not used it personally, and have asked the same question, a couple of other forums recommend that you don't use it, however after further research I have found a website that sells cherry blossom chips.
  18. russnettle

    russnettle Newbie

    Thanks dude, good to know I am not going to ruin a big slab of meat with some bad wood :)
  19. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    no worries, have a look at the information above regarding storage and ventilation etc, after all there is no point is having all that fabulous cherry only to find it's gone mouldy a couple of months down the line[​IMG]

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