A legendary BBQ pitmaster helps you pick the best wood for smoking and grilling meat! Great pointers and tips to pick the perfect type of wood for whatever you want to cook at any given moment…

Smoking Tips: Choosing The Best Wood for Smoking Meat

[Aaron Franklin] So let’s talk about Firewood. There are a lot of different types of wood to use-┬ágenerally with barbeque you typically use whatever’s around. Here in central Texas we’ve got a lot of Post Oak and that’s what I like to use.

Oh well, look here, a nice piece of Post Oak. I can tell by picking up this piece that it is still pretty green, that means it has not cured very long and has a lot of moisture in there. What that tells me is that it’s going to be really smoky, it’s gonna give me a very slow heat, it’s not going to get up to temperature very quick- it’s very heavy.

If it looks like it’s going to be heavier than it is, you probably know there’s not a lot of moisture in it, maybe the wood is dead, and you’re not going to get much heat or smoke out of it. This one, on the other hand, feels very heavy for what it looks like. I know it’s got a lot of moisture, it’s going to have a lot of smoke, it’s gonna burn slow. This is what oak looks like, it’s my preferred wood.

Even though my preferred wood is oak, there are many other types of woods.You can really use anything that is available in whatever region you live in.

Oak Wood

  • Burns Clean
  • Even heat
  • Not overpowering flavor
  • Good for smoking

Hickory Wood

  • Burns clean
  • Mild flavor
  • Good for smoking

Pecan Wood

  • Sweet flavor
  • Smoky
  • Good for short cooks

Mesquite Wood

  • Burns hot & fast
  • Strong flavor
  • Lots of smoke
  • Good for coals, grilling

Fruit Woods (cherry, peach, etc)

  • Very smoky
  • Mild flavor
  • Popular for competitions

One last thing you should consider about your firewood is seasoning (or aging). The fresher your wood, the more moisture it contains, the more smoke it will produce. As you start seasoning the wood it becomes cured, the moisture dries up, and it burns cleaner.

If you buy wood at the store, it will probably be kiln- or air-dried. It won’t be very smoky, will ignite easily and burn really fast. If you cut wood down yourself, buy it off craigslist or it falls into your backyard, you will want to age it for 6 moths to a year, depending on the weather. Stack it up outside and let the air circulate.

Take the time to experiment and get a feel for what wood will produce the result you want, what the best wood for smoking is, and also how to control the fire properly.

Have fun!

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