How to Choose the Right Wood For an Outdoor Smoker?

18 minutes read

When choosing the right wood for an outdoor smoker, there are a few things to consider. First, it's important to select a hardwood that will impart a desirable flavor to your meat or other foods. Some popular options include hickory, mesquite, oak, apple, cherry, and pecan wood.


Additionally, you should take into account the intensity of the smoke flavor you desire. For a milder flavor, consider using fruit woods like apple or cherry. For a stronger, more robust flavor, opt for woods like hickory or mesquite.


It's also important to ensure that the wood you choose is suitable for outdoor smoking. Avoid using softwoods like pine or cedar, as these can produce harmful chemicals when burned at high temperatures.


Lastly, consider the availability of the wood you choose and whether it is cost-effective for your needs. Some types of wood may be more readily available in your area, while others may need to be purchased online or from specialty stores.


Overall, the key to choosing the right wood for an outdoor smoker is to consider the flavor profile you want, the intensity of the smoke flavor, the suitability of the wood for smoking, and the availability and cost of the wood.

Best Outdoor Smokers of July 2024

1
Masterbuilt® 30-inch Digital Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Leg Kit, Side Wood Chip Loader and 710 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070421

Rating is 5 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 30-inch Digital Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Leg Kit, Side Wood Chip Loader and 710 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070421

  • Vertical digital electric smoker with 710 square inches of cooking space
  • Digital controls to easily set cooking time and temperature up to 275°F
  • Four chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Removable water bowl to add moisture and catch food drippings
2
EAST OAK 30" Digital Electric Smoker, Outdoor Smoker with Glass Door and Meat Thermometer, 725 Sq Inches of Cooking with Remote, 4 Detachable Racks Smoker Grill for Party, Home BBQ, Night Blue

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

EAST OAK 30" Digital Electric Smoker, Outdoor Smoker with Glass Door and Meat Thermometer, 725 Sq Inches of Cooking with Remote, 4 Detachable Racks Smoker Grill for Party, Home BBQ, Night Blue

  • 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗺𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗿 𝗙𝗹𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿: The smoker features a side wood chip loader for continuous smoking for 2-3 hours without opening the door and adding chips, preserving the internal heat, and locking in the smoked flavors
  • 𝗧𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗝𝘂𝗶𝗰𝘆 𝗧𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲: The 800W power heating tube in the electric smoker creates consistent smoke from wood chips, guaranteeing tender, juicy meats through low and slow cooking. Follow EAST OAK's website for more delectable recipes
  • 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗢𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱: The visual glass door allows you to directly observe the food in the smoker, and the internal light also aids in illumination. The meat probe detects food temperature and keeps track of smoking progress and heat in real-time
  • 𝗘𝘅𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗗𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: The digital smoker features a casing made of three layers of high-quality materials. Additionally, aluminum plating along the edges reduces deformation and damage, ensuring long-lasting durability for outdoor use
3
Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, Bluetooth, App Enabled, 7-in-1 Master Grill, BBQ Smoker, Outdoor Air Fryer, Woodfire Technology, 2 Built-In Thermometers, Black

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, Bluetooth, App Enabled, 7-in-1 Master Grill, BBQ Smoker, Outdoor Air Fryer, Woodfire Technology, 2 Built-In Thermometers, Black

  • 7-IN-1 FUNCTIONALITY: Grill, BBQ smoke, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, and Dehydrate with 100% real woodfire flavors​ all in one place.
  • WOODFIRE TECHNOLOGY: Powered by electricity, flavored by real wood burning pellets for all the flavor and none of the flame. Add woodfire flavor you can see and taste. ​
  • FOOLPROOF BBQ SMOKER: Authentic BBQ bark and flavor—fast and easy with just ½ cup of pellets.
  • DUAL THERMOMETER COOKING: Includes 2 built-in thermometers so you can cook 2 different protein types to 2 different doneness settings from rare to well.
4
Ninja OG701 7-in-1 Outdoor Electric Grill & Smoker - Grill, BBQ, Air Fry, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate & Broil - Uses Woodfire Pellets - Portable & Weather Resistant

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Ninja OG701 7-in-1 Outdoor Electric Grill & Smoker - Grill, BBQ, Air Fry, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate & Broil - Uses Woodfire Pellets - Portable & Weather Resistant

  • MASTER GRILL, BBQ SMOKER, & AIR FRYER: All in one with 100% real smoky flavor..Voltage: ‎120 volts
  • MASTER GRILL: Get all the performance of a full-size propane grill with the same char and searing.
  • FOOLPROOF BBQ SMOKER: Create authentic BBQ bark and flavor fast and easy with just 1/2 cup of pellets.
  • OUTDOOR AIR FRYER: Add smoky flavor to your air fried favorites and cook all your side dishes outdoors.
  • WEATHER-RESISTANT: Cook and store outdoors year-round.
  • 1760-WATT ELECTRIC POWER: No charcoal, propane, or flareups. Balcony & apartment friendly.
5
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36", Black

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36", Black

  • Product Dimensions: 19.3" L x 18.1" W x 38.6" H | Weight: 69.5 lb
  • FOUR 14 X 14-INCH REMOVABLE STAINLESS STEEL SHELVES: Four stainless steel racks can be easily removed for smoking whole birds or large cuts of meat. Racks are dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy.
  • BUILT-IN THERMOMETER: Features easy-to-read thermometer on the front door for accessible monitoring of the internal temperature.
  • SEAL-TIGHT TWIST-LOCK DOOR AND HANDLE: The door stays tightly sealed with a twist of the handle.
6
Masterbuilt® 40-inch ThermoTemp Propane Gas Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control and 960 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20051316

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 40-inch ThermoTemp Propane Gas Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control and 960 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20051316

  • Vertical propane smoker with 960 square inches of cooking space
  • Ignition button to easily light fuel with the push of a button
  • Four chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Woodchip tray to add delicious smoky-flavor to food
  • Adjustable air damper for smoke control
7
Royal Gourmet SE2805 28-Inch Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Cooking Grates, 454 sq inches Cooking Area in Total, 1350W Output, Outdoor BBQ Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control, Black

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Royal Gourmet SE2805 28-Inch Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Cooking Grates, 454 sq inches Cooking Area in Total, 1350W Output, Outdoor BBQ Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control, Black

  • Better Smoked Flavor: The bottom heating tube works with a removable stainless steel water pan and a chip box to add smoked flavor and make it more tender.
  • Outstanding Heating Performance: 1350-watt heating power and an insulated chamber provide an even and consistent heating experience.
8
Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature Control, BBQ Smoker Grill Outdoor Heavy Duty Three Removable Smoking Shelves, Black

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature Control, BBQ Smoker Grill Outdoor Heavy Duty Three Removable Smoking Shelves, Black

  • With its simple design and a large smoking chamber, this vertical gas Smoker is the perfect choice for any enthusiast of smoked food, its compact design fits nicely on most patios or decks.
  • Incredibly solid and well-built, this sturdy smoker’s door seals in the smoke. The extra wide racks allow for ample airflow around the meat. Both the water bowl and wood chip tray are easy to access.
  • Smokers with wider racks to allow for larger-format smoking or big cuts of meat. The door of the cooking chamber can seal tightly shut, to trap smoke inside with minimal leaks.
9
Masterbuilt® 30-inch Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control, Chrome Smoking Racks and 535 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070210

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 30-inch Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control, Chrome Smoking Racks and 535 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070210

  • SPACIOUS VERTICLE DESIGN with 535 cooking square inches that fits up to 3 chickens, 2 turkeys or 3 racks of ribs
  • REMOVABLE WOOD CHIP TRAY – Add rich smoky flavor to your food and experiment with different wood chip types.
  • THREE chrome coated smoking racks included


How do I know when I have found the perfect smoking wood for my outdoor smoker?

There are a few key signs to look out for that indicate you have found the perfect smoking wood for your outdoor smoker:

  1. Aroma: The wood should have a pleasant aroma when burned, giving off a sweet, smoky scent that enhances the flavor of your food.
  2. Flavor: The wood should impart a distinct flavor to your food that complements the type of meat or other ingredients you are smoking. Different types of wood produce different flavors, so experiment with a few options to find the one that suits your taste.
  3. Consistency: The wood should burn evenly and consistently, creating a steady stream of smoke to infuse your food with flavor. Avoid woods that burn too quickly or produce too much smoke, as this can negatively impact the taste of your food.
  4. Clean burning: The wood should burn cleanly, without producing excessive ash or soot that can affect the flavor of your food. Look for wood that produces a smooth, clean smoke that enhances the taste of your dishes.
  5. Availability: Ideally, the perfect smoking wood for your outdoor smoker should be readily available in your area, making it easy to restock when needed. Consider local options that are easily accessible and affordable for your convenience.


Overall, trust your senses and experiment with different types of smoking wood to find the perfect fit for your outdoor smoker. Enjoy the process of discovering new flavors and aromas that enhance your smoked dishes to perfection.


What is the best type of wood for smoking meat?

The best type of wood for smoking meat depends on personal preference and the type of meat being smoked. Some popular options include:

  1. Hickory: Provides a strong, bacon-like flavor that works well with pork and beef.
  2. Mesquite: Offers a bold, earthy flavor that is ideal for beef, but can be overpowering if used in excess.
  3. Applewood: Imparts a sweet, fruity flavor that pairs well with poultry and pork.
  4. Cherry: Gives a mild, sweet flavor that complements pork and poultry.
  5. Oak: Provides a mild, versatile flavor that works well with a variety of meats, including beef, pork, and poultry.


Ultimately, the best wood for smoking meat is the one that complements the flavor of the meat you are cooking and suits your personal taste preferences. Experimenting with different types of wood can help you find the perfect match for your favorite dishes.


How do different woods affect the tenderness of smoked meats?

The type of wood used in smoking meats can have a subtle impact on the tenderness of the final product. Different woods produce varying levels of heat, smoke, and flavor, all of which can affect the tenderness of the cooked meat.


Hardwoods, such as oak, hickory, and mesquite, are popular choices for smoking meats as they provide a strong, robust smoke flavor. These woods burn hot and produce a lot of smoke, which can lead to faster cooking times and potentially drier meat if not closely monitored. However, when used correctly, these woods can impart a delicious smoky flavor and create a tender, juicy end result.


On the other hand, fruitwoods, such as apple, cherry, and peach, have a milder smoke flavor and burn at a lower temperature. This can result in slower cooking times, allowing the meat to become more tender and juicy as it absorbs the subtle fruity flavors of the wood.


Ultimately, the tenderness of smoked meats is determined by a variety of factors, including the type of wood used, the cooking temperature, and the duration of the smoking process. Experimenting with different types of wood and adjusting cooking techniques can help achieve the perfect balance of tenderness and flavor in smoked meats.


How do I know if the wood I am using is too strong for the meat?

There are a few signs to look out for to determine if the wood you are using is too strong for the meat:

  1. Smell: If the smoke produced by the wood is too overpowering and has a strong, acrid smell, it may be too strong for the meat.
  2. Taste: If the meat tastes overly smoky or bitter, it may be a sign that the wood is too strong for the meat.
  3. Color: If the meat has a dark, almost burnt appearance, it may be a sign that the wood is too strong.
  4. Texture: Over-smoking can sometimes make the meat tough or dry, so if the texture is not as tender as desired, the wood may be too strong.


To avoid using wood that is too strong for the meat, it is recommended to use milder woods such as apple, cherry, or pecan for a more subtle smoke flavor. It is also important to use the right amount of wood and monitor the smoking process carefully to ensure the desired level of smokiness.


How can I assess the quality of smoking wood?

There are several ways to assess the quality of smoking wood:

  1. Aroma: High-quality smoking wood will have a strong, pleasant aroma that enhances the flavor of the food being smoked. The aroma should be rich and natural, without any chemical or artificial scents.
  2. Moisture content: Smoking wood should have a moderate level of moisture to ensure a slow, steady burn and produce a flavorful smoke. Wood that is too dry can burn too quickly and give off a harsh, acrid smoke, while wood that is too wet can produce excessive amounts of creosote.
  3. Size and shape: The size and shape of the smoking wood can also affect the quality of the smoke. Pieces that are too small may burn too quickly, while pieces that are too large may not burn evenly. Look for wood chunks or logs that are of a suitable size for your smoker and can provide a consistent, long-lasting burn.
  4. Cleanliness: Smoking wood should be clean and free of dirt, debris, and mold. Avoid using wood that has been treated with chemicals or has visible signs of rot or decay.
  5. Species: Different types of wood produce different flavors when used for smoking. Popular smoking woods include hickory, oak, cherry, apple, and mesquite. Experiment with different types of wood to find the flavor profile that best complements the food you are smoking.
  6. Reputation: Purchasing smoking wood from reputable suppliers or brands known for their quality products can help ensure that you are getting a high-quality product. Look for customer reviews or ask for recommendations from experienced smokers.
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