How to Pick the Best Smoking Wood

Flavored wood chips are a great way to infuse flavor into your food.

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Wood Types
1. Apple – Mild and fruity, apple wood complements pork well. However, it can overwhelm poultry if smoked for too long.
2. Cedar – This wood’s strong flavor is best for smoking fatty fish like salmon rather than poultry.
3. 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.
4. Maple – Mild and subtle, the sweetness of this wood is perfect for smoking pork and poultry. Sugar-maple is exceptionally good for turkey.
5. Mesquite – This strong, smoky wood should be reserved for open-air grilling of poultry rather than contained smoking because of its concentrated flavor.
6. Oak – A great wood for smoking beef but tends to overwhelm poultry.
7. Pimento – A difficult wood to source but has great flavor for smoking authentic jerk chicken.
8. Hickory – A classic wood excellent for pork—especially bacon—but can be too heavy for chicken.
9. Pecan – Similar to hickory, pecan wood has a nutty smell that mixes well with fruit-wood when used for smoking poultry.
Wood Configuration
1. Wood chips have a short burn life, which is why they should be a last resort.
2. Three to four-inch wood chunks burn longer than wood chips and mix well with charcoal.
3. Small splits are long, thin wood pieces that burn evenly and yield consistent smoke.
Should I Soak My Wood?
1. Simply put, no. According to North Carolina Prime BBQ Pitmaster, Christopher Prieto, soaking wood actually diminishes smoke production.
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