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Pro Tip: How to Pick the Right Wood for Smoking tips

Pro Tip: How to Pick the Right Wood for Smoking

Author: Lead Pitmaster Rosalie Pareja
IG: @castironskillz

The world of barbecue is so complex, yet so simple. There are so many different cultures of BBQ, types of grills and smokers, proteins and sides to cook, sauces and rub recipes to pass on to generations and types of wood for smoking. We’ve written a guide for our Grill Masters Club community to check out!

Types of Wood for Smoking and How to Use Them

Forms of Wood

Smoking wood typically comes in the form of logs/splits, chunks, pellets and chips. Wood chunks and logs are used for traditional BBQ like offset smoking.

Logs and chunks last a lot longer than any other form of woof. Pellets are used for pellet grills and wood chips are used for extra flavor to charcoal or other woods, or used for shorter cooks.


A Hardwood is the most common wood for smoking. The most common hardwoods are hickory, oak, maple, pecan, alder and mesquite. This type of wood has a slow burn, and will produce the best smoke flavor over a long period of time for traditional BBQ.

Oak, and particularly post oak, is Texas’s wood of choice which is used for brisket, sausage and ribs. Oak is also used for pork, and other beef or chicken cuts.

Hickory is the more southern favorite, which is incredibly versatile and used for all proteins, however works the best for pork and chicken cuts.

Maple is used for a heavier sweet undertone, which is great for smoking bacon, ham, cheeses and vegetables.

Pecan is similar to hickory in its versatility, being a common wood for pork, beef, chicken, and more.

Alder wood is best for seafood because of its subtle smoke flavor. Mesquite yields a savory smoke flavor, best for chicken, and large cuts of pork and beef.


Softwood is typically not used for smoking because of its ability to burn faster and omit residue which causes flare ups.

Cedar and pine are the most common softwoods and are best for hot and fast over the fire cooks, or used as a surface for a protein to cook on (i.e. a cedar plank for salmon).

Fruit and Citrus Woods

Apple and cherry are very popular fruit woods because of their lightness and sweet flavor. Apple and cherry are great for smoking pork, chicken, desserts, game/exotic proteins, cheeses and cured meats. These are best used in the form of chips, in addition to charcoal.

Stay tuned for more over the fire cooking tips! Check out more awesome grilling tips on our socials @grillmastersclubvip & @castironskillz