What Type of Wood Should I Use for My Meat Smoker?

Fire up the barbecue and heat up your menu by experimenting with new types of wood for your smoker! Although the type of meat, temperature and marinades all affect the flavour of the meat you’re cooking, the type of wood that you put into the smoker will help you create new and exciting flavour profiles.

If you’re unsure about what type of wood you should be using in your gas or electric smoker, then you’ve come the right place! We’re going over some of the basics of selecting a hardwood so that you can cook with confidence. And if you’re wondering where you can purchase some cooking wood, Kendale has got you covered, too. Let’s get cooking! 

Hardwood Versus Softwood.

Although Southern Pride’s electric and gas smokers make smoking meat easy, the type of wood that you load into your smoker is important; for example, you’ll want to use woods classified as “hardwood” and avoid those that are categorized as “softwood.”

And, if you’re wondering what the difference between hardwood and softwood is, and how you can tell them apart, remember that these terms refer to the type of tree that the wood comes from, and not their “hardiness”:

  • Hardwood: Oak, Maple, Hickory and Apple woods are all hardwoods, since they are taken from Deciduous trees that drop their leaves.
  • Softwood: Pine, Juniper and Fir are classified as softwoods, since they are derived from Coniferous trees that do not drop their needles or leaves.

Because softwoods have a different cellular make up than hardwoods, and have higher moisture and sap content, they burn faster and smell smokier than hardwood, which is not ideal for cooking. Using hardwoods in your smoker will give your meat smoky character without the taste of campfire!

Here are a few hardwoods that you can experiment with:

  • Apple: Mild smoke flavour, some users believe it adds a touch of sweetness to the meat. Use with poultry and fish.
  • Cherry: Versatile and mild, Cherry wood makes a great match for chicken, pork, beef and fish.
  • Hickory: If you want a heavy-hitting smoke that will stand up to beef or lamb, Hickory wood will offer a distinct smoky flavour.
  • Maple: An excellent choice for chicken, pork or even vegetables, Maple wood has a mild and pleasant flavour that won’t overpower your food.
  • Mesquite: Arguably one of the strongest-flavoured woods, Mesquite’s powerful smoke is best paired with heavy meats, like beef, lamb and even game. Because it burns quickly, you can use Mesquite for meats with faster cook times or use it for a few minutes at the end of your smoke.

And these are just a few of the many hardwoods that you can use in your smoker—the Spruce Eats has an excellent breakdown of the different species of wood that will complement meat, fish and vegetables.

Selecting the Right Form of Hardwood for Your Smoker.

Now that you know the difference between hardwood and softwood, it’s time to decide on the type of wood that you’ll load into your smoker. Most hardwoods are available in a variety of forms, like logs, chips and even pellets. These hardwood forms can also be used in different types of smokers to achieve varying levels of heat or flavour, or a combination of the two.

Gas Smokers: If you’re using a gas smoker like the SRG-400, you’ll need to use large fireplace logs to add additional heat and smoke to your meat. Southern Pride smokers also use a Subterthermic™ flue, which is specially designed to increase smoke intensity and maximize the life of the wood.

Electric Smokers: In electric smokers like the SC-300, the purpose of the wood is not to provide a secondary source of heat. Instead, the hardwood’s function is to provide smoke. Wood chips allow the user to generate a steady stream of smoke into the smoker without high heat. The SC-300 has a dual woodchop box that allows the user to turn the smoke element on and off during the cooking cycle, so that they can control the intensity of the smoke.

The Secret to Amazing Smoked Meats is Kendale!

Our range of Southern Pride smokers are designed to take the guesswork out of traditional barbecue. We’re proud to offer not only great products, but also professional expertise to help our clients increase their confidence, revenue and productivity. And, if you’re wondering where to buy hardwood for your smoker, simply contact our team to learn more about what cooking wood we carry, and we’ll help you select the variety that works for you.


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