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The Best Wood To Smoke Food With

Learn What Flavors Of Smoke Certain Woods Impart And The Food That Goes With It

The Best Wood To Smoke Food With

Choosing the best wood to smoke food with is an important decision. You don’t want to throw just any wood chips, chunks, or planks onto your grill. Each variety of wood that you would normally use for smoking produces a different flavor profile for the food you are cooking. That means that the wood you are using to smoke with should be considered, and seasonings should be used alongside the wood to complement the food you are smoking or plank grilling.

Here is a list of common woods used in smoking, and plank grilling, their flavor profile and what food that particular variety pairs well with.


Wood Type

Alder
Semi-hard wood
Delicate and sweet smoke

Flavor it with:

Water
Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc
Riesling
Pinot Noir
Apple Juice
Lager
Ale

Pair it with:

Vegetables
Salmon
Halibut
Arctic Char
Pork
Chicken
Fruit

Wood Type

Apple
Semi-hard wood
Sweet and fruity smoke

Flavor it with:

Water
Apple juice / cider
Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Pineapple Juice

Pair it with:

Poultry
Fish
Shellfish
Pork
Veal
Vegetables
Fruit

Wood Type

Cherry
Semi-hard wood
Tart and fruity smoke

Flavor it with:

Water
Apple juice / cider
Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Pineapple Juice

Pair it with:

Poultry
Fish
Shellfish
Pork
Veal
Vegetables
Fruit

Wood Type

Hickory
Hard wood
Bold and fairly universal - It goes with pretty much everything

Flavor it with:

Water
Beer
Bourbon
Ginger Ale
Coca Cola
Apple Juice
Pineapple Juice
Cabernet Sauvignon

Pair it with:

Pork
Bacon
Turkey
Steak
Game
Portobello Mushrooms

Wood Type

Maple
Hard wood
Sweet and subtle, balanced

Flavor it with:

Water
Apple Juice
Chardonnay
Cabernet Sauvignon
Honey Brown Lager
Maple Lager

Pair it with:

Poultry
Pork
Trout
Salmon
Arctic Char
Pizza

Wood Type

Mesquite
Hard wood
Sweet, but strong flavored

Flavor it with:

Water
Cider
Pineapple Juice
Lemonade
Beer
Ginger Ale

Pair it with:

Beef
Pork
Poultry
(basically meat)

Wood Type

Pecan
Hard wood
Sweet and nutty

Flavor it with:

Water
Guinness
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Chardonnay
Apple Juice
Ginger Ale

Pair it with:

Desserts
Fruits
Veggies
Mushrooms
Poultry
Pork

Wood Type

Red Oak
Hard wood
Rustic and best paired with bold flavors

Flavor it with:

Water
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
India Pale Ale
Grape Juice
Cranberry Juice
Orange Juice

Pair it with:

Beef
Game
Poultry
Cheese
Desserts

Wood Type

Red Cedar / Cedar
Semi-hard wood
Sweet and tangy, big smoke and big flavor

Flavor it with:

Water
Chardonnay
Hard Cider
Pilsner
Dr. Pepper
Cherry Juice

Pair it with:

Seafood
Cheese
Poultry
Game
Beef
Pork
Veal
Lamb
Fruits
Vegetables
Desserts


Smoking is a fantastic way to preserve food as well as add intense flavor. Whether you are using grilling planks, or wood chips and chunks to smoke with, one thing is for sure, you're in for a flavor game changer when you add a little smoke to your barbecue. There are a ton of techniques from using charcoal to using your gas grill, as well as some great reasons to use smoke on your food. What is your favorite food to smoke?



Happy Smoking!