What kind of wood to use when smoking chicken? Any tips?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by rob sicc, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I am going to try smoking 2 couple chickens this week.  Can anyone suggest which kind of wood to use for chicken?

    Does anyone have any tips with chicken?
  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Maple is my preferred wood for chicken.

    Cook temps should be in the 300°-325° range.

    That's all I got. Good luck.
  3. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    Brine the birds.  Use the search bar above to find Slaughterhouse Brine recipe
    redbeard007 likes this.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  5. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've always had good luck with apple on birds and lately my fav wood has been cherry, which lends a beautiful color to chicken. 
  6. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Thanks everyone.  I appreciate all of your opinions/suggestions.  Now I am completely confused!  LOL  Just kidding.

    What is my internal temp for chicken?
  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'll second Chef Willie on the cherry. We like to mix a little hickory or mesquite with it but we like the stronger flavors.

    Going to experiment with oak and cherry next to see how that plays with my brine recipe. Will be a milder result but I haven't done it yet so worth a try. There's no such thing as a bad experiment as long as you can still eat it!
  8. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    A good rule of thumb is to know the seven woods you shouldn't use:  Sarsaparilla, Sycamore, Eucalyptus, Elm, Cedar, Pine and Spruce (and any other coniferous trees.)  Everything else is fine that I know of for smoking they just have different strengths/sweetness's etc.  But then Cedar planked smoked Salmon is an exception that I've never tried.  I have a whole fence row of Mulberry that many people have never tried that's a mild and sweet fruit wood for all kinds of meats.  I was a little apprehensive about trying it the first time and now I use it all the time.

    -Dr K    
  9. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

  10. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    I love cherry wood for chicken. Gives it a kiss of smoke without being over-powering to those who are new to bbq or just like lighter tasting flavor.
  11. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I may be a outcast on this, I only use lump.

    Any wood added is to much for my family.

    Cook HOT.     350+.
  12. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    The combustion is part of what gives the meat flavor in my opinion. No shame. I've turned out some great tasting meat slow-cooking on an indirect grill with charcoal.
  13. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You have already heard to smoke chix at higher temps than other meats or flash on a grill to avoid rubber skin.

    Chicken cooks much quicker than most meats we smoke.  Getting smoke flavor on them means more smoke is required than with normal smokes or using a stronger wood. When using sweeter woods, I would mix them with a stronger flavored wood.

    A lot depends on the amount of smoke flavor you and yours would prefer.

    A little experimentation will get you where you want to be.

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  14. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  15. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    165 minimum!

    Where I like the breast.

    I like my thighs at 175 though.  Mostly for the texture.

    Tricky to do that on a whole bird, though.

    Lots of info about foiling the breast and that kind of stuff.

    Still the whole birds are hard to get perfect.

    Best part of BBQ is that less than perfect is still pretty dam good!  [​IMG]

    Do be safe, though!

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  16. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

  17. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Everyone said to run the smoker hot, 325 - 350.  When I smoked the pork butt this past weekend I was only about the get the heat in the CC up to 250.  how do I get the temp in the CC up to 350?
  18. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    here is a list i saved awhile back that some one posted...hope this helps one and all...even though a lot of people have a personal preference for different smoke flavors

    Reference guide for Woods used to Smoke Food

    ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. Is a very hot burning wood.

    ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

    ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.

    APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.

    ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

    BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

    CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.

    COTTONWOOD - It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don't use green cottonwood for smoking.

    CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.

    GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

    HICKORY - Most commonly used wood for smoking--the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

    LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.

    MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

    MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning woods.

    MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.

    OAK - Heavy smoke flavor--the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

    ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

    PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

    PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.

    SWEET FRUIT WOODS - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.

    WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

    Other internet sources report that wood from the following trees is suitable for smoking: AVOCADO, BAY, CARROTWOOD, KIAWE, MADRONE, MANZANITA, GUAVA, OLIVE, BEECH, BUTTERNUT, FIG, GUM, CHESTNUT, HACKBERRY, PIMIENTO, PERSIMMON, and WILLOW. The ornamental varieties of fruit trees (i.e. pear, cherry, apple, etc.) are also suitable for smoking.

    Types of wood that is unsuitable or even poisonous when used for grilling. Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR, CYPRESS, etc.

    There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain chemicals toxic to humans--toxins that can even survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you grill and the smoke particles and chemicals from the wood and what may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood for grilling that you are sure of.

    If you have some wood and do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR GRILLING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.

    Also ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.

    Here are some more woods that you should not to use for smoking:

    Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.

    Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
    Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.

    Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.

    Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat
  19. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    AWESOME!  Thanks.
  20. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Some smokers are difficult or impossible to get to high temps.

    Many people like to flash cook their birds on a hot grill at the end to crisp up the skin.  Works best with a really hot indirect heat and the lid on.

    A hot oven would do the trick as well.

    Good luck and good smoking.

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