Apple – Mild and fruity, apple wood complements pork well. However, it can overwhelm poultry if smoked for too long.
Cedar – This wood’s strong flavor is best for smoking fatty fish like salmon rather than poultry.
Cherry – Sweet and fruity, the flavor of this wood blends best when smoked with hardwood-flavors, like oak. It also adds a nice color to poultry.
Maple – Mild and subtle, the sweetness of this wood is perfect for smoking pork and poultry. Sugar-maple is exceptionally good for turkey.
Mesquite – This strong, smoky wood should be reserved for open-air grilling of poultry rather than contained smoking because of its concentrated flavor.
Oak – A great wood for smoking beef but tends to overwhelm poultry.
Pimento – A difficult wood to source but has great flavor for smoking authentic jerk chicken.
Hickory – A classic wood excellent for pork—especially bacon—but can be too heavy for chicken.
Pecan – Similar to hickory, pecan wood has a nutty smell that mixes well with fruit-wood when used for smoking poultry.
Wood chips have a short burn life, which is why they should be a last resort.
Three to four-inch wood chunks burn longer than wood chips and mix well with charcoal.
Small splits are long, thin wood pieces that burn evenly and yield consistent smoke.
Should I Soak My Wood?
Simply put, no. According to North Carolina Prime BBQ Pitmaster, Christopher Prieto, soaking wood actually diminishes smoke production. Still skeptical? Check out these studies for more information.