If you’re the kind of person who loves eating barbecue, then chances are you’ve attempted trying to grill your own meat at home. After all, how hard can it be?
And although you may have delivered a plate of well-cooked meat, that doesn’t mean you have won any brownie points for the flavor.
But why is this? Why does your barbecue always fall short of your smoky expectations? Well, the answer is clear, maybe you’re just not using the right kind of wood.
Part of what makes barbecued meat so delicious is the kind of wood that has been used to prepare it. Different types of wood each come with their unique properties and flavors, which are then passed through the meat as it cooks on the grill.
And like condiments, certain wood types pair better with certain meats than others. If you want to make sure that your next batch of barbecue is the smokiest you’ve ever made, then you need to make sure that you have the right wood chips for the job.
Of course, there are currently hundreds of different wood chip types available for purchase, and you may find it difficult limiting down your choices to the one that is the best for you.
That’s why we have assembled this list of the best BBQ wood chips that money can buy. These different wood chips are versatile, easy to use and capable of flavoring your barbecue so that it is mouth-wateringly delicious.
We have also put together a handy buyer’s guide, to aid you in your search for the best wood chips for you and your barbecue.
If you are a first-time barbecue enthusiast, then you’ll need a wood type that is easy to find and capable of delivering delicious results every time. That’s why this pack of Weber hickory wood chunks is at the top of our list.
Hickory is considered the universal wood when it comes to smoking and barbecuing meat. This is because hickory is an extremely obtainable wood that can deliver perfect performance and flavor with every use.
This makes it an ideal choice for any beginner barbecuer who is still learning the tricks of the trade.
Hickory wood is known for giving the meat a rich and savoury flavor and is capable of transforming even the humblest streak into a decadent treat. As a wood type, hickory can be paired beautifully with meats such as pork, beef and chicken.
However, it is probably the best when used to cook large cuts of ribs. So why not test the smoky waters of barbecuing and purchase these hickory wood chips today.
- Good For Beginners: Hickory wood is considered a more traditional and timely wood in the barbecue industry. This means that it is perfect for beginners who are testing wood for their favorite flavors.
- Rich And Savoury Flavor: Hickory is noticeable for its rich and savoury flavor, which can turn any meat into a smoky and delicious treat.
- Versatile Performance: Hickory wood is very popular among barbecuers because it is easy to work with and always delivers a strong flavor. The wood is also very versatile and can be paired with most types of meat.
- Easy To Obtain: Beyond its high approval rate, Hickory is also very easy to find and purchase.
- Overpowering Flavor: Although hickory can deliver a strong and rich flavor, it can be slightly overpowering for people who have never experienced it before.
If you have already established yourself as a talented barbecuer and smoker, then chances are you’ve worked with mesquite at some point. Mesquite wood is often used when cooking meat that requires that traditional Texas-style flare.
So if you are hoping to bring a taste of the wild west to your dinner table, mesquite is the perfect wood for the job.
Mesquite wood is capable of infusing your meat with a bold and unique flavor, one that can be somewhat overpowering when being used by an inexperienced smoker.
This is why mesquite is considered a more advanced barbecue wood, as only skilled barbecuers know how to use the wood for a delicious and aromatic result.
So if you have just entered the world of barbecuing, we advise avoiding this wood type until you are more confident in your cooking and smoking skills.
- Bold And Powerful Flavor: Mesquite wood is infamous among barbecuers for its intense and powerful flavor, which is both bold and unique.
- Perfect For Texas-Style BBQ: Mesquite wood is traditionally used to flavor barbecue in Texas, giving the meat a rich and smoky flavor. If you want to produce delicious Texas-style barbecue, then mesquite wood is the best choice for the job.
- Pairs With Red Meat: Mesquite wood pairs particularly well with red meat and can add additional flavor when used for grilling or cooking brisket.
- Works With Large Cuts: Mesquite is often used when cooking larger and more robust cuts of meat, as the strong and distinctive flavor will always shine through.
- Not For Beginners: Due to mesquite wood’s strong and intense flavor, it should only be used by skilled barbecuers who are confident in their smoking and grilling. First-time barbecuers may find it difficult to keep the flavor at a subtle and delicious level.
Imagine it, it’s a beautiful sunny day and you want to fire up the barbecue to cook a delicious cut of pork. You look around and realize that you don’t have any wood chips. So what type of wood should you choose?
Well, when it comes to barbecuing pork, there’s only one type of wood that is perfect for the job. Applewood is a lighter and drier wood that is often used when flavoring pork and ribs.
The wood is distinctive due to the sweet and somewhat fruity flavor that it is capable of infusing into the meat. However, this does not mean that applewood is an easy wood to work with, or that it doesn’t come with its positives and negatives.
For example, the flavor of applewood is extremely mild, which means you may have to cook the meat for long periods to acquire the distinctive applewood taste.
Beyond this, applewood is also an extremely versatile wood that can be used when barbecuing a variety of different meats.
Although it is traditionally paired with pork, applewood can also be used when grilling meats such as chicken, wildfowl and other types of poultry.
- Pairs Well With Pork: Applewood, just like apples in general, pairs particularly well with meats like pork. This helps to give the meat a sweet and subtle flavor.
- Distinctive Fruity Taste: Applewood is primarily known to infuse the meat with a delicate and fruity flavor. Perfect for barbecuers who have subtler and softer tastes.
- Will Burn Well: Applewood is known to burn especially well, providing a fire that smells good and will have your meat grilling in no time.
- Versatile Wood Type: Beyond being used to flavor pork, applewood can also be paired with different types of meat such as chicken and wildfowl.
- Mild Flavor: Unfortunately, the applewood flavor is incredibly mild which means you may have to grill the meat longer to get the full flavor.
Next to hickory, oak is widely regarded as one of the best wood types for at-home barbecuing. This is because oak is an extremely versatile wood that can be used to cook almost every meat product that you can imagine.
This also makes it an extremely beneficial wood type for beginner barbecuers, who may still be trying to build their confidence.
Oakwood is known to infuse the meat with a medium and smoky flavor, which is more powerful than applewood but lighter and more refined than hickory.
This makes it a highly complementary wood that can be paired with the most significant barbecue meats. However, it is particularly delicious when used to prepare lamb and beef brisket.
Beyond this, oak is often primarily used as a flavor enhancement, as it can be added to other wood types for a tasty and memorable result.
- Easy And Obtainable Wood: Oak is a very common wood type which means that it is easy to find and purchase. This makes it a reliable backup if you are unable to find the wood type you want.
- Extremely Versatile: Oak is a highly versatile wood that can be paired with every barbecued meat.
- Brilliant Wood For Beginners: Oak is highly recommended for beginners due to its versatility and range.
- Can Be Used For Flavor Enhancement: Unlike other barbecue wood types, oak can be used as a flavor enhancement when added to the fire with other wood chunks.
- Medium Flavor: Although the medium flavor makes oak a highly complementary wood, it may not fulfil a barbecuer who prefers more intense and distinct flavors.
- Expensive Brand: In terms of brand, Western is far more expensive than Weber. However, they do deliver on higher-quality wood.
If you want to infuse your meat with an earthy and distinctive flavor, then you should consider using pecan wood for the job.
Pecan wood is known for its sweet, rich and slightly nutty flavor which can be very complementary when paired with certain barbecue meats.
Overall, pecan wood delivers a flavor that is milder than both mesquite and hickory but perhaps stronger than apple. Unlike previous wood types mentioned on this list, pecan wood pairs particularly well with white meat, such as chicken and turkey.
Although this does not mean that it is limited in its performance, as you can also use pecan wood when preparing spare ribs, smoked ham and even smoked nuts.
- Rich And Nutty Flavor: Pecan wood is distinctive in the flavor that it can infuse into your meat, which takes on an earthy and nutty taste.
- Pairs Well With White Meat: Pecan wood pairs particularly well with white meat such as chicken and turkey, which can be helpful for the barbecuer who chooses not to eat red meat.
- Strong And Burnable Wood: Pecan wood is a strong durable wood type that burns particularly well when used for grilling.
- Versatile Wood Type: Beyond being used for white meat products, pecan wood can also heighten the flavor of meats such as pork and beef. Pecan wood can also be used to smoke nuts.
- Small Quantity: In terms of the product itself, some buyers have criticized the number of wood chunks that come in the packet.
Before purchasing any barbecue wood chunks, there are certain elements that you as the buyer should consider first. Elements that will help to assure you that you are buying the correct barbecue wood for your purposes.
Down below we have compiled together some key points that should be kept in mind when purchasing a new bag of barbecue wood chunks.
By following this informative buyer’s guide, we hope that you will be able to find the best wood for barbecue for you, saving you time and effort.
Chips or Chunks? You Decide!
When it comes to purchasing a new packet of wood for the barbecue, then you have to consider if you are going to buy chips or chunks.
Although the products listed above are primarily wood chunks, this does not mean that chunks are needed for every grilling job.
So what are the main differences between wood chips and wood chunks? Well, for one thing, wood chips are smaller and will only be capable of burning for short periods. While wood chunks are larger and will provide more grilling time throughout the day.
Wood chips are primarily useful if you don’t intend to be barbecuing for hours on end, like when cooking chicken pieces or steak.
If you want to host a garden party and get the food cooked on the barbecue as quickly as possible, then wood chips are the best option for the job.
Chips burn and smoke a lot quicker than chunks, which means they can provide enough heat to assure that the meat is cooked quickly and efficiently.
Wood chunks, on the other hand, are favored for their ability to smoke for long durations of time, which makes them ideal for cooking dishes such as brisket.
If you have a large chunk of meat that you want to cook slowly on low yet effective heat, then wood chunks are what you need.
This is why wood chunks are particularly favored by barbecuers around the world, as they provide ample time to smoke and cook the meat to perfection.
So when it comes to chips vs chunks, the winner truly depends on what you require at the time. If you intend to take barbecuing seriously, then you’ll probably find yourself buying both at some point. So that you may have options throughout the year.
How Are You Using The Wood?
Another thing to consider is how you intend to use the wood you are purchasing. When it comes to barbecuing meat, there are two different ways you can utilize your wood.
You can use it as a fuel source, or you can use it primarily as a flavor enhancement for your meat. Both methods have their advantages, and you should decide which one you are going to use before buying your wood.
- Wood As Fuel:
This is when you use the wood for the primary purpose of burning it to create a heat source. By using this method, the wood begins to combust creating enough heat and smoke to cook the meat, while also giving it a smoky flavor.
Of course, you can do this in many different ways. For example, you could invest in wooden logs and build a fire in an offset smoker.
Or you could use wood chunks as the primary source of kindling. By doing this you can create the necessary heat while also maintaining a rich and delicious flavor.
- Wood As Flavor Enhancement:
This particular method relies on using a different fuel source to create the bulk of the heat that you need, such as charcoal or gas. You can then add pieces of your chosen wood to the heat source, which will help to infuse the meat with the flavor of the wood.
For example, you could fill a smoker with charcoal and let them burn before placing some chunks of wood into the mix. This helps enhance the woody flavor and leave you with some perfectly cooked barbecue.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Wood For Smoking Meat?
Although this does come down to preference, we would suggest that oak is the best wood for smoking meat as it is versatile and crowd-pleasing.
Oak has a very mild flavour which complements most meat, while woods like mesquite are far more intense and could prove unpopular with some people.
What Is The Best Wood For BBQ?
Again the answer to this question relies on your tastes. However, many agree that hickory is the superior wood when it comes to barbecuing. This is because it is capable of delivering perfect results and can be easily found.
Hickory gives the wood a rich and savoury flavor which is also popular with most barbecue lovers.