Woods Used For Smoking
Acacia is similar to mesquite but not as strong. Acacia should be used in small amounts or for limited amounts of time.
Alder has a light flavor that works well with fish and poultry. Alder is the traditional choice for smoking Salmon.
Almond is similar to pecan and give a nutty, sweet flavor to meat.
Apple is mild and sweet in flavor and is often used with poultry and pork. Apple smoke will cause chicken skin to turn dark brown in color. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most popular woods for smoking.
Apricot is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor. It’s great for poultry and pork.
Ash burns quickly and has a light, unique flavor.
Black Walnut has a bitter, heavy flavor and should be mixed with other wood.
Birch has a flavor similar to maple and is good with pork and poultry.
Cherry has a sweet, mild flavor that goes well with any meat and many other foods. Cherry is one of the most popular woods for smoking.
Chokecherry has a bitter flavor and should be used in small amounts for short period of times.
Citrus woods (lemon or orange) give a light, fruity flavor milder than apple or cherry.
Cottonwood is very nice and an old favorite of many people. It’s mild in flavor and may be used with stronger flavored woods if desired. Avoid “green “ cottonwood.
Crabapple is similar to apple wood and may be used interchangeably.
Fruit, like apple, apricot or cherry, fruit wood gives off a sweet, mild flavor that is good with poultry or ham. It may be quite “sooty”.
Grapefruit is a mild wood that produces a good, smoky flavor for any meat.
Grapevines make a lot of tart smoke. It’s fruity but sometimes heavy and acrid. Use it sparingly with poultry or lamb.
Hickory is everyones’ favorite and adds a unique, strong flavor to all meats.
Lemon is a mild wood that produces a good, smoky flavor for any meat.
Lilac produces mild, sweet smoke for smoked cheese, poultry, and pork.
Maple smoke gives a sweet flavor to poultry and ham.
Mesquite burns hot and quickly. It is popular for short-term grilling but not recommended for barbecuing or for smoking sausages. It is probably the strongest flavored wood of all types.
Mulberry is sweet and similar to applewood.
Nectarine is similar to hickory but sweeter and milder in flavor. Good used with poultry and pork.
Oak is possibly the most versatile of all hardwoods, strong but not overpowering, and a fine choice for beef or lamb.
Orange is a mild, smoky-flavored wood used on any meat.
Peach is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor and is a nice choice used for poultry and pork.
Pear produces a sweet, mild flavor similar to apple wood.
Pecan has been called “mild hickory”, burns cool, providing a more delicate flavor.
Plum is similar to hickory but sweeter and milder in flavor. Great choice for poultry and pork.
Walnut has a heavy, smoky flavor and should be mixed with more mildly flavored woods.
Other lesser-known woods safely used for smoking include: avocado, bay, beech, butternut, carrotwood, chestnut, fig, guava, gum, hackberry, kiawe, madrone, manzita, olive, range, persimmon, pimento, and willow. For smoking, AVOID cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, fir, pine, redwood, sassafras, spruce, and sycamore.
Moisten hardwood sawdust well ahead of burning time, but do not soak it until it is dripping wet. Turn the hot plate to high until smoldering begins, then turn the heat down until it produces only a constant trickle of smoke. Moistened wood is not as acrid and produces a better tasting sausage. As a rule, any hardwood free of resin (or sap) is generally good for smoking food. If the tree produces edible fruit or nuts, the wood is typically good for smoking.
Also, it is important to avoid any chemically-treated or processed wood when smoking food. Numerous arsenates, borates, silicates, coppers, pesticides, and other substances, have routinely been placed into wood as preservatives, insecticides, and who knows what else. In many cases, when this type of wood (lumber) is burned, the smoke may become toxic and dangerous. Never use processed lumber to smoke any food.