At Wildwood Grilling, we know wood. One of the most common questions we get is, “What kind of wood should I use for this meal?” Each type of wood naturally contains different flavor profiles, heating properties, and even different colors of smoke.
There are two main ways you might be using wood while cooking. One way is purely as a source of heat to cook your food. This is a whole topic itself and as long as the wood you are looking at is food safe, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot what type you go for.
The other way one might be using wood with food is as a source of smoke flavor. Again, as long as the wood is not going to produce resinous smoke and was procured in a food safe manner, you don’t need to sweat this decision too much if you’ve got some base knowledge on the subject. Different woods can range from mild to strong with the amount of flavor imparted on your food.
We made up this handy chart with our recommendations for smoking chip types - mildest smoke at the top down to strongest smoke at the bottom.
That being said, smoke is going to taste like smoke, so have fun with it!
Smoking Chip Wood Types
With its delicate earthy flavor, Alder is the perfect pairing for white fish like halibut, seafood in general, vegetables, and fruit.
Apple has a very mild with a subtle sweet, fruity flavor that will not overpower anything you cook with it. This wood is great with poultry, beef, pork, game birds, and lamb.
Slightly on the sweeter end, Cherry pairs well with chicken, turkey, peaches, and vegetables. Cherry offers a sweet fruity flavor that keeps on kicking.
With a subtle and balanced flavor, Maple pairs especially well with pork. Wrap whatever you’re grilling in bacon or prosciutto and use a Maple plank for delicious and sweet smoke flavor. Pizza, pineapple, and veggies are also great pairings for Maple planks.
Popular in smoking for its strong and bold flavor. Hickory is pungent and pairs especially well with beef, lamb, wild game, and bacon.
Mesquite is the powerhouse of smoking woods. Best used in moderation or with other woods, it produces a hot, intensely flavored smoke.