Barbeque Wood

The Key Ingredient to an Awesome Smoked Taste




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Barbeque wood is the magic ingredient for smoked BBQ food.

There is a few ins' and outs' to which woods to use with what meats - and which woods to definitely avoid.

You can collect wood locally or you can have bags of wood chips or wood chunks in a variety of flavors delivered to your door.

There if you buy wood chips there is also a vital piece of equipment you need to buy before you start.

Check out Amazon's bestseller list of wood chips

Barbeque wood is always some type of hardwood; softwoods are never used. This is because hardwoods contain cellulose - a sugar, which effectively "caramelizes" imparting a "sweet" aroma under heat.

Also other chemical compounds impart the spicy and pungent aromas we associate with barbecue smoking or pit barbeque roasting. Softwoods like pine contain more resin, which turns to soot when burnt and contributes nothing desirable to the taste of the food - so we don't use them!

I only mention all this, because although you can buy BBQ Wood in bulk, it's cheaper i.e. free to collect your own - and also some newbies might know a pine forest and give that a try!

Actually, collecting BBQ wood - the right wood - is an amusing way to spend an hour or two outdoors with the kids.

BBQ Wood Chips

The simplest idea for anyone with a lidded grill or BBQ smoker is to buy bags of BBQ wood chips like these from Amazon.

barbeque wood

They come in every imaginable variety and can be purchased anywhere that sells BBQ equipment.

First soak them in water for a few hours, then put them in a BBQ smoker box above the heat source of your barbecue and close the lid.

The wood chips will smoke profusely adding a glorious range of flavors to your food.

Wood Chunks

Another similar product used in grill or grills or pit barbeques is wood chunks. They are basically tennis ball sized chunks of wood and come in all the usual flavors (if that is the correct term) of wood mentioned below.

If you can't find them in local shops, there are several suppliers at Amazon.com - see the search box below.

Which Wood is Best?

Check out Amazon's bestseller list of wood chips

The barbeque wood you use could be dictated by what grows wild in your region, and your own taste - there is no best really..

In Europe this would be Alder, Oak, Apple and Cherry. In the US Hickory and Mesquite are popular, but with many other species (including Oak, Alder, etc) being used in different states or regions.

So here is your guide to which wood to use with which meat.

  • Alder - relatively low heat compared to other woods, and delicate flavor, making it good for fish, especially salmon, and slow cooked pork.
  • Oak - another with a lower heat output, but with a stronger flavor. Good for longer cooking times required by brisket, ribs, lamb or game.
  • Apple - produces a sweet flavor, good with white meat - pork, ham, sausages and poultry.
  • Cherry - gives a distinct fruity taste and goes well with any red meat, lamb, pork, ham, poultry, or even fish. It also darkens meat.
  • Grape vine wood - quite fruity, awesome with chicken and white fish. Hard to come by unless you have a vineyard nearby - search on Google though, you'll be surprised how many there are around. Ask nicely and you'll probably take a load of cuttings etc.
  • Hickory - probably the most popular barbeque wood in the US, gives a strong aroma that sets mouths watering. Used sparingly it's good for any red meat (especially ribs), pork, poultry, even burgers.
  • Mesquite - a favorite from Texas, a lot of heat and a strong flavor needing care in use i.e. don't use it on cuts that need long cooking times. Use with beef, ribs, venison, fish.
  • Lilac - This gets used in the UK by those who know. Pleasant floral taste, very good with lamb and game birds like pheasant.
  • Asado style fire pit barbecues use Espinillo - a type of Acacia that grows in South America which is often used as BBQ wood or to make charcoal.

Others commonly used, that I haven't tried are Pecan and Peach, but I they are on my shopping list.

Many experienced people use two or more barbeque woods in combination, either to combine types (combined 50/50), or to offset stronger flavored woods with another milder one (in which case reduce the amount of the stronger wood to say 75/25).

For example apple and cherry together would be done 50/50, or apple and pecan might be 75/25 (pecan is nice, but I believe it's relatively strong). Just experiment, it's all a matter of taste and experience.

Where to Buy Barbeque Wood

Check out Amazon's bestseller list of wood chips

Almost all of the BBQ woods listed above are available in the form of wood chips, chunks and planks on Amazon. The rest grow wild, in gardens or commercially where the producers might be willing to let you take prunings and off cuts.

BBQ wood chips used in conjunction with a smoker box are best for indirect grilling or smoking.

Have a search on Amazon.com for:

  • Weber Wood Chips 
  • Char-Broil wood chips
  • Cameron's wood chunks
  • smoker boxes

Recommended Barbeque Wood Related Reading

Smoker Recipes to try with your BBQ wood or wood chips

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