Best Wood for Smoking Pork


You may be wondering what is the best wood for smoking pork. Each type of wood provides a distinct taste characteristic to the meat and adds mouth-watering color to the bark. Some types of pork go well with apple, hickory, and even cherry. Some plank flavors may be too strong and cause bitterness in the meat. This can also happen from using too many planks.

This in-depth guide will provide all the necessary information needed in order to decide which type to use and the frequency.

It’s important to have the proper knowledge to smoke pork as it is a time consuming hobby and the last thing you want it to spend an excess amount of time and it not turn out great.

The top woods to use when smoking pork are oak, hickory, cherry, and apple.

Best Primary Woods for Smoking Pork

Oak

This includes white and red oak and is some of the best hardwoods around.  This is the first choice for many when it comes to smoking.  It is a strong wood that will burn hot and for a long time.  Oak is also versatile and can go with almost any meat.  When using in a smoker it gives off a very heavy smoky flavor.

Hickory

This is also considered a versatile wood and is mostly used by those who are considered expert smothers.  The reason is that if it is not used correctly, the wood can give the meat a bitter flavor.  This is because you have used too much.  When used right, it gives the meat a hearty, savory and sweet taste. 

Hickory will generally be used to smoke large cuts such as ribs and pork shoulders.  It is also used to smoke many types of red meat.

Cherry

Some experienced smokers that have tried other woods say that this is one of the best woods for smoking.  It is due to the fruity flavor it gives the smoked meat and is forgiving if used in excess.  In addition to the fruity taste, it gives the meat a rich, mahogany color.  For a better result, use it in combination with other woods like pecan, hickory, or oak. 

Apple

This is a very soft wood and produces a mild smoke.  The mild smoky flavor can take a long time before it penetrates the meat.  If you decide to use it for smoking you will have meat that has a sweet, mild, fruity flavor.

Best Secondary Woods for Smoking Pork

Maple

This is a very soft wood and produces a mild smoke.  The mild smoky flavor can take a long time before it penetrates the meat.  If you decide to use it for smoking you will have meat that has a sweet, mild, fruity flavor.

Alder

This is a wood that some may not familiar with but it will give your smoked meat a subtle smoky flavor that leaves the meat you are smoking with some natural sweetness.  Those that use this wood do it because of the delicate taste it gives meat. 

Mesquite

This wood is one of the fasted burning and strongest woods on the market for smoking meats.  It burns hot so when using it, use just a small amount for the best results.  It gives the meat a strong, earthy smell and is great when used in combination with other woods.   

Pear

Yes, this is an unusual wood to use for smoking but it gives you a result that is similar to apple.  The meat will have a subtle taste.  Used correctly, it also gives the smoked meat a light, sweet flavor.

Pecan

This wood gives your meat a taste that is similar to what you get when using hickory wood.  The reason is that this wood belongs to the hickory family.  It is a superior wood because it burns slowly.  The meat has a delicate flavor that is fruity yet subtle.  The drawback of using pecan is that it can produce a pungent smell so use it in moderation.

Peach

This is another unique wood for smoking.  It gives the meat a flavor that is milder and sweeter than hickory.  The flavor is also sweet, light, and subtle.  This and pear wood are hard to find.

Wood Size for Smoking Pork

When smoking pork, it is not just about the type but also the size.  Certain sizes are best with certain meat.  Each side also has a different purpose.  With some meats, you need the large wood chunks, while others work best with wood chips. 

  • Pellets—this is the smallest wood that is used in smoking and comes in pea or rod size.  They are just the right size to add that smoky flavor to a small cut of meat.  Being so small you have to keep feeding the smoker hot and producing smoke.  These can also produce uneven smoking
  • Chunks—these are ideal for large scale smoking.  These will add a flavor that is rich and smoky, which comes from the bark of the chunks.  They also burn out slower
  • Chips—these are about the size of a large coin and are used for a quick smoke and short-term smoking for meats that cook quickly. 

Smoking Different Types of Pork

  • Ribs—with ribs, you should use wood that saves you energy and time but gives you juicy meat.  The best woods for this meat would be hickory, pecan, oak, and maple.  They can be used as a combination or separately.  You should also use wood chunks for a long smoke.
  • Pork Tenderloin—this is a moderately tough piece of meat, so the wood needs to produce the smoke that will break down the collagen and penetrate the meat.  These types of wood include mesquite, hickory, or oak.  You can also combine it with pecan, apple, or maple for an enhanced flavor.  You should use wood chunks.
  • Pork shoulder—the wood should be apple or hickory either individually or combined.  Wood chunks should also be used here.

Pork chops—they should be smoked using apple, hickory, mesquite, or oak separately or in a combination.  You should use wood chunks and wood chips to get tender juicy pork chops.

In Conclusion

The type of wood that is best for smoking pork is a smoker’s preference and choice and the flavor they want their pork dish to have.

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