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BBQ Smoking Woods

Choosing BBQ Smoking Woods

Have you ever been to a great barbecue restaurant and just stood outside and inhaled that fantastic smoke billowing from a wood-fired, brick pit? There is just something special about how barbecue smells as it slow cooks for hours upon hours. Let’s get to work now on trying to duplicate that same aroma in your own smoker.

Wood Varieties

          The type of wood you use will make a big difference. The general rule of thumb is that fruit woods are mild and sweet, hardwoods are more robust and savoury, and nut woods produce a strong smokey flavour. This includes such woods as Hickory, Oak, Holm Oak, Olive, Almond and Pecan. Fruit woods would include Apple, Cherry, Lemon, Orange, and Peach.

BBQ wood smoking chart

Woods not to use:

Any softwoods are not recommended. Also, anything that has a high content of sap will likely cause too much smoke. Evergreen woods are a no-go. For example, any conifers aren’t very good because of their sap level, so stay away from pine, spruce, redwood and cedar. Cedar can be used as a plank to smoke salmon on, which we’ll cover later, but it isn’t a good wood to smoke with. Stick to hardwoods, especially nut or fruit trees.

It goes without saying that do not ever use any wood that has been treated with chemicals or painted. No old fences or garden tables. The chemicals found in these are very likely to be dangerous when burnt, and if you’re cooking with them, there’s a high chance that they could make you very ill or worse. Stick to natural hardwoods.

Wood Forms

          Wood can come in several forms. Logs, split logs, chunks, chips, dust, and pellets.

  • As a fuel source, wood in the form of logs or split logs is the best choice for providing the most BTUs.
  • Wood chunks are better suited for use in a Kamado for a long smoulder without opening the lid.
  • Wood chips provide little heat but a lot of smoke.
  • Wood pellets are a compressed wood product. Some smokers like Green Mountain Grills, Pit Boss, and Traeger use pellets as the heat source and smoke flavour. But they can also be used like wood chips.
  • Wood Dust is used for cold smoking.

BBQ wood ChipsBBQ Wood Chunks

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