Barbecue is all about the combination of smoke, heat, and meat.
Here are some of the smoking woods that I’ve used and what flavors they impart…
Alder has a light, sweet flavor that goes well with fish and poultry. I prefer alder to cedar for planking salmon as it adds a nice touch of smoke without overwhelming the fish.
Apple is mild with a slightly sweet and fruity flavor. Good with poultry. Great with pork, particularly ribs.
Cherry has a nice sweet and mild flavor that goes great with virtually everything. Very popular smoking wood. Can turn meat a deep red.
Grapevines are good for a lot of tart smoke. Fruity, but can be heavy. Use it sparingly with poultry, game, or lamb. I like it for paella.
Guava is a fruit wood from the tropics. Very versatile. Its semi-sweet aroma goes well with beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish. My go-to wood for most smoking.
Hickory is the most commonly used wood for smoking. Sweet and strong, great for that heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.
Maple is mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, wild game, and cheese.
Mesquite has a strong earthy flavor. Can be overpowering, so it’s better for shorter cook times. Good with beef.
Oak is versatile and goes with just about any barbecue meat. Strong, but lighter than hickory and not overpowering. Very good wood for beef , lamb, or pork.
Pecan is sweet and nutty, kind of a softer version of hickory. Great with beef, pork, and poultry.