BBQ Smoking Woods
When choosing smoking woods for BBQ, hardwoods from fruit or nut bearing trees are the preferred choice. Sappy woods such as pine, spruce, and cedar should be avoided or used carefully and for quicker smokes, such as planked fish.
Combining woods is also a great option, such as one of the nut bearing woods with a fruit bearing wood. Hickory and Apple, or Oak and Pecan are great examples.
You can use whole/split logs, chunks, chips or pellets - all work well. If you place chips or pellets directly on the fire, it is recommended that you soak them in water for 20-30 minutes prior to use. If you have an electric or gas grill, you can place these in pouches of foil with holes poked in them with a fork or you can buy an inexpensive small metal wood chip box at your local major hardware store. Wood chips are available at most grocery and hardware stores, right alongside the charcoal. The more esoteric woods can easily be found online or a local specialty store.
It is also recommended that you only use smoke in the beginning of your barbecue process - the first 1/4th to 1/3th of your cooking time. You can add more smoke during the process but, particularly with mesquite, be careful not to overwhelm the natural flavors of the meat.
Hickory - the most popular smoking wood and for good reason. Hickory works well with everything and also can be enhanced with the fruit woods such as apple and cherry. Often used with or without oak as the basis of the actual fire, and no other smoking wood is needed.
Oak - another very popular BBQ wood due to its abundance throughout much of the United States. Oak imparts a lighter flavor that hickory and is a great base for a main fire, and not often used just as a smoking wood.
Mesquite - the official smoking wood of Texas, mesquite is strong and distinct, so use with caution. However, when properly applied, especially to brisket, you will achieve tremendous flavor.
Apple - light and fruity, ideal for pork and poultry. Great with ribs especially when mixed with oak, hickory, or cherry.
Cherry - excellent for poultry, but works well with other meats and mixed with other woods.
Pecan - another excellent choice for poultry, especially turkey. A lesser know smoking wood that is sweet and nutty and great mixed with oak or hickory.
Alder - a great wood for fish, poultry and pork, with a light, sweet flavor.