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The 9 Best Woods For Smokers

Which woods are best for your smoker or grill? Hickory and charcoal are commonly used, but which ones do you choose? These 9 woods listed all have unique flavors, and use, and will add that signature smoke to your meats for a delicious taste.

If you are a veteran smoker, chances are that you can easily tell the difference the wood you use makes in the taste of your meat. Smoking meat is one of the best ways to bring as much flavor to the surface of your food as you can. It is essential to know how to smoke your meat correctly. So, what are the best woods for smokers?

Continued reading to learn about the 9 best woods for smokers. The wood you use can be the deciding factor between a decent piece of meat and the best meal you have ever had. Find out which wood you should consider using for smoking below.

The 9 Best Woods For Smokers

Below are the 9 best woods for smokers. Depending on the flavors you want to emphasize when you smoke your meat, you might want to go with different wood. Learning about the best types of wood to use to enhance your meat-smoking experience is one of the key necessities to smoking your meat properly.

Keep in mind that for different types of meat, you may want to experiment with certain wood. It all depends on your preferences and how the wood can make your meat taste better. So, what are the 9 best woods for smokers?


Hickory wood is a classic go-to for smoking almost anything. It is popular because of its versatile qualities. The sweet, savory flavor will infuse a nice kick of flavor in whatever you smoke. 

A hickory wood.
The sweet, savory flavor will infuse a nice kick of flavor in whatever you smoke. 

You do need to be careful using hickory, however, because if smoked for too long, it can overpower your meat with bitterness. While it is versatile, hickory is best for smoking ribs, pork, and just about any red meat you want to cook.


Oak is another common wood used for smoking. It is versatile not necessarily because of its flavor, but because of its mild taste. It is hard to mess up beef, brisket, and sausage when smoking with oak. 

A chopped oak firewood.
Oak is an affordable option for smoking wood, especially as an amateur.

Because it is so common, oak is an affordable option for smoking wood, especially for an amateur. If you are looking to smoke something lighter, such as chicken or other poultry, Oak may not be the best choice.


If you know anything about smoking meat, you are probably familiar with the sweet, mild tang of smoked Maple wood. It is easy to burn, making for a quick, smooth smoke for poultry and game fowl. Even if you have bought sliced turkey at a grocery store, surely you enjoy the subtle, smoked flavor of Maple wood. 

A bark and a maple leaf.
It goes well with many types of meat, including fish.

Maple is also widely used to smoke pork. It goes well with many types of meat, including fish. If you are looking to give your meat a mild taste without taking away from any initial flavor, Maple is a great choice.


Applewood bacon is one of the most popular forms of pork you can find. Applewood smokes any type of pork excellently, giving the meat a sweet, fruity flavor. It is also used to smoke chicken, but you will want to make sure the smoke does not overwhelm the blander taste that makes chicken what it is. 

Applewood is known to take quite some time for its smoke, so expect to allot enough time for your meat to take in the flavor.


If you are looking to smoke fish, one of your best options is using Alder wood. It is very easy to smoke fish incorrectly. Alder provides a sweet, almost fruity flavor to compliment the already sweet, commonly briny flavor of fish.

A alder firewood.
Alder is light enough that it is fairly easy to smoke with.

You can use Alder wood for any type of seafood to give it a light smoke and accentuate the other flavors. Alder is light enough that it is fairly easy to smoke with.


Cherry wood gives a sweet, fruity flavor that pairs well with richer wood, such as hickory or oak. When smoking pork, such as ham, and poultry, especially chicken, Cherry wood is excellent, even by itself. 

However, pairing it with a stronger wood can add a nice touch of delicacy to red meat. The light flavor gives a surplus of sweetness without being overbearing.


Pecan wood is great for smoking if you are looking to add a bit of a nutty taste to your meat. It has also got a similar bittersweet accent as tasted in Hickory. Pecan wood is another would suitable for mixing with fruity wood to combine excellent smoke flavors. 

Some smokers believe it is sweet enough that it always needs to smoke with another type of wood to tone down the richness. Pecan wood is great for roasts, briskets, and ribs. It can also add some unique flavor to other red meat, such as steak.


Mesquite wood is another type that you have probably heard of. It gives a very identifiable, richly smoky taste to whatever meat you cook. It is common, but it packs a punch with its original flavor.

A Mequite Wood.
It is common, but it packs a punch with its original flavor.

While it is popularly used for red meat, it is also an excellent choice for poultry, especially chicken and smoked turkey. It adds a smoky touch when grilling, making for a unique taste that sets it apart from other smoked wood.


Cedarwood also offers a strong, rich, unique taste for any type of meat you smoke. It is a great choice for fatty fish, and if used correctly, can supplement additional seafood you may have. 

A cedar firewood logs.
It is a great choice for fatty fish.

It has an almost spicy flavor to its smoke, which is a favorite for salmon among smokers. This distinct smoke quality is sure to bring out the piquancy of seafood.

What Is The Best Wood For Smokers

Now that you know some of the best woods for smokers, you might be wondering which type of wood takes the cake. Well, it depends on what you are cooking. As you have seen, different woods complement a variety of meats in various ways.

Overall, with hickory and oak being the most versatile, they are safe bets for any type of meat. Not only will they get the job done, but they offer enough originality to make a satisfying accent to your meat. They are easy to smoke and give a rich flavor to whatever you are cooking.

If you are focused on smoking red meat, hickory, cherry, or a mix of the two, create excellent, palatable smokes for your meats. In fact, fruity woods such as Cherry, Apple, and Alder typically do not disappoint when paired with numerous kinds of wood.

Concerning the smoking of fish, your best bet will probably be Alder or Cedar. With their unique touches, you can add to the intense flavor of fish without taking too much away from the briny undertones. 

Lastly, if you are smoking chicken or poultry, you should look to use Maple or Mesquite wood for smoking. The subtle yet noticeable richness of either wood makes for great flavor output when smoking poultry.


With so many options of wood for smokers, it can be difficult to decide which to use for your meat. Depending on what type of meat you are smoking, different woods offer various flavor contributions. If you choose the correct wood to use for smoking a particular meat, you will get the job done properly and come out with an excellently prepared meal.

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