Hickory vs Cherry vs Oak

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
OTBS Member
Feb 27, 2006
Southeastern Ohio
I have always used Hickory in the past, but recently, I completed building my first all wood burning unit.
Because it was all I had available, I used Cherry the other day and was extremely suprised.

I was concerned with "over-smoking" the meat because I was using all wood instead of charcoal, but this was not the case.

What I noticed was that the cherry was such a mild smoke that I don't think I could ever get it "over-smoked"

I believe in the future, cherry will be my wood of choice with just a bit of hickory for that extra punch.

I am curious what blend other folks with a wood smoker are using..I was thinking of oak as a base for the heat, because it is so much easier to obtain, but would like some input from other out there who may have tried different woods.
rok, cherry is the wood for smokin' in my book. On beef I burn 2 sticks of cherry and then one of hickory. On mild pork (BB's or loin) I like to mix cherry with maple and apple in equal parts. For butts and spares cherry, apple and the odd hickory stick. In the pellet cooker I mix the pellets at the same rates.
Even if I didn't like the way cherry tastes on food, I'd cook with it anyway because it smells so darn good when you burn it.

The great smell of cherry is one of the best parts of the American Royal Cookoff each fall. Last year there were more than 450 teams on the 20+ acre cooksite, nearly everyone uses at least some cherry. You can smell the wonderful aroma several miles before arriving at the contest site. It's a beautiful thing!!

I don't use oak for cooking myself. I know lots of people who do, and I've eaten plenty of food cooked on it with no complaints. I've been a cabinet builder for 16 years and burning oak, smells just like sawn or machined oak. Being reminded of work doesn't exactly whet my appetite on the weekend, so I cook with other woods. I do use oak pellets as they are very cheap and don't smell as much like work.

I have a chart of the btu outputs of various woods but can't find it in a format I can post easily. I'll do some looking later today and see if I can't get that info posted.
I use alot of oak when i smoke, but I have also used Hickory and maple. I have not used cherry before, but I may have to start by the way you all talk about it. I like the flavor of the oak smoke. However the other day I used more maple than I ever had before and really liked the taste. I like to experiment any time I can. I have some apple and pear that I am planning to use one of these days. Mainly I use wood that is readily avaiable in my area. That is probally why i have never used cherry. I am certinly going to try to get my hands on some!!!

Scott, I am going to try to make it The American Royal this year since i am only about 2 hrs away.
The chart would be great..

..speaking of the Royal..my friend and I are planning a business trip to KC later this year and we have to pick dates we want to travel.

I thought we might want to make it around the time of the Royal...

Is it an open event for spectators? Or would we be wasting our time trying to get in?

Are there any other events in KC later this year we might hit?

Rok, The American Royal is absolutely open to spectators. The Royal is actually 2 consecutive contests. The invitational is Thursday and Friday, The open Friday and Saturday. The peak of the event is the Friday night Party. The population of the 20 acre event site on Friday night can grow to 80,000 or more.
Even during the Invitational, the cooks are incredibly acessible (except at turn in time) and very happy to talk Q with anyone. There are contests within an hours drive from here from May thru the Royal in late Sep. The two big events are the AR and the Great American BBQ on Memorial Day Weekend. It's not as big as the Royal, but more family oriented. I haven't been to GAB, this is just it's second year, but everyone who attended last year (competiotors) say it was one of the nicest events of the year. GAB is put on by the Group of NFP's that used to do the Royal, 2 years ago the NFP's had a falling out with the Royal Organizers, and they parted ways, the GAB was born. I absolutely plan a visit this year.

Ben, save that pear for a pork loin or some BB ribs. It is subtle sweet and you'll wish you had more.
The apple will rock, if you go with is solo on some chicken or use it with a dab of something else on pork.
Peach is a mellow gem, don't let anyone you know with a peach tree throw away even a small limb of it. Mulberry is a suprisingly good smokin' wood too. Very sweet, smells like cotton candy when you burn it.
Definitely find some cherry to try.
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