Best Wood for Smoking Ribs


Curious what wood to use when smoking ribs? When having a backyard party,  there is nothing better to put on the table than a plate of smoky ribs.  To get them right, you need to make sure that you are using the right wood.  They are various types of heavy woods and if you accidentally pick the wrong one, then the smoke can become too much.  This could ruin the texture and taste of the ribs, along with how juicy they will be.

Don’t these look delicious?  And just looking at the picture, you can almost smell them too.  Let’s explore the wood that would make these delicious looking ribs.

   Main Woods for Smoking Ribs

Hickory

This is the wood that is most often used for smoking ribs.  You can find this wood in the Midwestern and Southern parts of the United States. It is known for the strong flavor that adds taste to the ribs as you are smoking them.  One important thing to remember is, if you use too much you could have the meat come out bitter. You can also use hickory pellets or chips for smoking.

Oak

This is also a good choice for smoking ribs as it generates a good smoke.  It gives the meat if done correctly, a great layer of earthy tone flavor.  This is the perfect wood for those that are new to smoking because it is easy to control the strong flavor.  The only problem with oak is when you go overboard with the wood.  

That is when the flavor of the ribs is overwhelmed and overpowered by the wood.  Go easy on the wood.  You can also  get this in pellets or chips.

Mesquite

This wood gives you just the right taste when used to smoke ribs.  It has a strong, earthy flavor, but it can be quite intense if too much is used.  Make sure that you use a small quantity.  Because of its natural oil content, it is prone to burning up.  It is not a good choice if you are planning a long barbeque.

Other Woods You Can Use for Smoking Ribs

The above woods are what many choose to use, but there are others that you can use to give the ribs a unique taste.  Ribs also go well with wood chips that are fruity and sweet.

Grapevine

This is a good wood for smoking ribs, but the drawback is that it emits an odorous smoke.  It can overpower the delicious smell of the ribs when they are cooking.

Apple

Many people like apple-scented wood chips as it makes the ribs sweet.  It goes great with ribs on which you have used BBQ sauce for a glaze.  It has a mellow, subtle flavor.  Because it has such a subtle flavor, it will take time to permeate through the ribs and infuse it with flavor.  What this means is that it can slow your cooking time down for the ribs.  Make sure that you cook it at a lower temperature and for a little longer than normal.  To some people, this is a wood that advanced people who smoke meat would use.

Cherry

This wood gives your smoked ribs the wonderful color that is similar to mahogany. It can also be used in combination with hickory, oak, and pecan. Cherry wood chips are fruity and mild.

Pecan

This type is like apple wood, which is also sweet-tasting. The main difference between the two is that pecan wood offers a touch of nutty flavor underneath the sweetness. It is also much richer in flavor. Pecan is good to match with hickory. When these two are combined, it gives the meat a good balance between a sweet, rich flavor and earthy smoke. One reason that hickory and pecan make a good match combination is that pecan belongs to a variety of hickory. It is a slow-burning wood. Use it in moderation so the meat does not have the wood’s pungent smell.

Maple

This gives out the light, mild, sweet smokiness. If you want your smoked ribs to have a sweet taste, this would be a great wood to use.

In Conclusion:

Some who smoke ribs say that before you use wood chips of any type, that you should soak them before you put them in the smoker. Why some does this is that they feel that the water content will help to release the flavor when you are smoking ribs. Soaking them will also help them burn longer.  It is not necessary to soak them, but you can try it and see which you prefer.  If you decide to soak them, do it for 30 minutes.  Dump the water and spread out the chips, wiping away any excess liquid.  Once this is done, you can transfer them to your pouch or smoker box for smoking.

If you are using chunks of wood from the woods or a downed tree, make sure that you take all the bark off.  The reason to remove the bark is that when the bark is burned, it can emit an acrid taste and possibly seep into the ribs you are cooking.  Start with a little wood and as you go along, you can add more.  By adding wood as you go along, you can avoid overpowering the flavor of the ribs.  You also should not let the wood burn too long as it could produce smoke that could ruin your rib’s flavor.

You should create a position or pattern with the wood when you are placing it in the smoker.  This will let it burn fast and easier.  The final thing to remember when smoking ribs is that having smoke is good but minimize it because less is more. Try different woods to find the one that you like best.   Following these tips for the best wood for smoking ribs will give your meat that scent your neighbors will surely be envious of. You will have them hinting for an invitation to your next barbecue.

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Found the information you needed to make those amazing scented ribs? Check out our other in-depth guides related to helping you decide on which ribs you should make!

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