Best Wood For Smoking Chicken

Best wood for smoking chicken

When it comes to the battle of the meats, there’s no doubt that chicken is one of your best options for smoking.

Depending on the type of wood you use, you can create a whole variety of flavor notes and depths thanks to its naturally subtle taste. 

It’s not an easy thing to get right, though. Choose the wrong wood chips and you could find that hours of smoking have resulted in chicken that is far too strong for your taste. Or, even worse, doesn’t really have any flavor at all!

So, what wood is best for smoking chicken? Finding the perfect wood chips will make the difference between creating mouthwatering smoked chicken, or people remembering your cookout for all the wrong reasons!

That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you. Below, you’ll find a list of the best wood for smoking chicken. We’ve also put together a super useful buyer’s guide that’s packed with information on what to look out for when you’re making your decision. 

Camerons Premium BBQ Wood Chips

These Premium BBQ Wood Chips from Camerons are precision cut, kiln dried and made from 100% natural raw timber. This means there’s no risk of your chicken picking up any artificial or chemical additives. Just that pure, smoky taste!

Available in 6 different wood types including alder, apple, hickory, maple, mesquite, and pecan, there is plenty of choice for getting the perfect flavor. We particularly like the maplewood for chicken as it adds some real BBQ taste along with light, sweet aromas that aren’t too overpowering.

These wood chips ignite very quickly, so there’s no need to worry about spending hours trying to get a flame going. They also completely combust, which doesn’t only make it easier to clean your smoker but ensures that as much smoke as possible goes into flavoring your chicken.

Pros:

  • Made from 100% natural raw timber – this means no artificial flavors getting into your chicken
  • Available in 6 wood types – choose from alder, apple, hickory, maple, mesquite, and pecan
  • Ignite quickly and combust completely – makes lighting and cleaning up easier than ever

Cons:

  • Expensive – these wood chips sit at the higher end of the price range for a 2lb bag

Weber Applewood Chips

These Weber Wood Chips are available in a variety of wood types including apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite, and pecan. This gives you the power to experiment with depths of flavors across various meats. However, when it comes to chicken, we’d recommend choosing the applewood smoking chips. 

These will infuse your chicken with a subtle, sweet flavor without the overpowering fruitiness that some woods can create (such as cherry). It’s also not as bitingly smoking as the other wood options, so it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser. This makes it ideal if you’re cooking for a group of people with varying tastes. 

Since the fruitiness of the flavor is so subtle, these applewood chips are also a good option if you’re coating your chicken with a BBQ rub or marinade before putting it in the smoker. This is because they will let the flavors through and add a little extra flavor without stealing the show.

Each bag is 2lbs in weight and is resealable, allowing you to keep the wood fresh if you don’t use it all at once. 

Pros:

  • Applewood chips – infuses chicken with a subtle, fruity flavor
  • 2lb resealable bag – keeps the wood chips fresh if you don’t use them all at once
  • Variety of wood types – also available in cherry, hickory, mesquite, and pecan, giving you more variety if you’d like to experiment with other flavors

Cons:

  • Burn up quite quickly – these chips are quite small, which means they burn up quite quickly. With this in mind, you may need more than one bag if smoking for more than 3 hours

Zorestar Wood Chips for Smokers

If you really want to experiment with different types of wood and the flavors they create, but you don’t want to spend a fortune in the process, these Zorestar Wood Chips are a great choice. This is a variety pack that consists of four different woods; applewood, alder, oak, and cherry. 

You also get two bags of apple and cherry, giving you a total of six bags of wood chips for a fantastic price. There aren’t any artificial flavors or preservatives in sight either, just 100% natural wood. 

All of these wood chips can be used in all types of smokers as well as fire grills and gas grills, too. This gives you loads of versatility over your smoking style. They also come in eco-friendly, fully recyclable packaging. 

Pros:

  • A variety pack of four types of wood chips – includes applewood, alder, oak, and cherry
  • No chemicals, additives, or preservatives – 100% natural wood chips
  • Can be used with all types of smokers – can also be used with fire grills and gas grills for ultimate versatility

Cons:

  • Small chips – could burn out faster if not soaked thoroughly beforehand

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips

These Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips are made from real Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 whiskey barrels. Perfect for infusing chicken with that unmistakable Jack Daniel’s flavor with the smokiness of oak wood!

They’re also really versatile and can be used with all types of smokers as well as charcoal, gas, and electric grills. They are cut into large chunks too, so they will last a little longer than smaller wood chips. Ideal if you’re smoking low and slow!

These are available in single packs or, if you’re cooking on a really large scale, you can purchase them in packs of 2, 4, and 6. Each bag contains 180 cubic inches of wood chips. 

Pros:

  • Made from real Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels – ideal for getting infusing chicken with that famous, smoky taste of Jack Daniel’s
  • Versatile – can be used in all types of smokers, gas grills, charcoal grills, and electric grills
  • Available in multipacks – choose from packs of 1, 2, 4, and 6 to meet your smoking needs

Cons:

  • Creates a very strong flavor – this is perfect if you really love Jack Daniel’s, but it could be a little too strong for some people 

Bangerz Sunz Wood Chips for Smoking

These Wood Chips for Smoking from Bangerz Sunz are another great choice if you’re looking to experiment with different smoke flavors on chicken. This is a variety pack that contains four different types of wood chips; apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry. 

Each bag contains 180 cubic inches of wood chips that have been created using 100% natural hardwood. They are also mold-resistant so, even if you don’t use a whole bag at once, you don’t need to worry about them going bad.

They are quick to ignite and highly combustible for easy, hassle-free use. They are also extremely versatile and can be used with all types of smokers, electric grills, and gas grills. Each pack also gives you some guidance over what type of food the wood works with, making it perfect for anybody new to smoking.

Pros:

  • Variety pack – includes apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry wood chips
  • Mold-resistant – no need to worry about the wood chips going bad if you don’t use a whole bag at once
  • Easy to use and versatile – quick to ignite and can be used with all types of smokers, gas grills, and electric grills

Cons:

  • The bags aren’t resealable – while the wood chips are mold-resistant, you may need to tape the bag up to keep them extra safe until you use them again

Buyer’s Guide

You’re understandably eager to fire up your smoker and create some delicious smoked chicken. But, before you dive in and choose the first bag of wood chips you come across, there are a few things you need to consider. 

Below, we’ll take a look at some key points to bear in mind when you’re choosing the best wood for smoking chicken.

Taking the time to do this will help you in your bid to make the tastiest smoked chicken possible and, ultimately, it will save you time and money. 

Type of Wood Chips

You know that you want your chicken to have that delicious, smoky flavor. But what about the flavor notes of the smoke itself? 

Each type of wood produces its own flavors and aromas that the chicken will absorb. Some have strong, BBQ flavor notes while others are fruitier.

Below, we’ll take a look at the 5 most common types of wood chips used for smoking, along with notes on how each of them will affect the taste of your chicken.

  • Applewood: Applewood is one of the most popular woods used for smoking chicken and it produces a subtle, sweet, fruity flavor. This makes it ideal for smoking chicken that has been coated with a BBQ rub or a marinade, as it will add its own mellow flavor notes without overpowering the spices you’ve already added to the chicken.
  • Maplewood: If you’ve been smoking meat for a while, you might be more familiar with the idea of using maplewood with pork. However, it also adds a beautiful flavor and aroma to chicken. It’s stronger and sweeter than applewood but also manages to make its mark without overpowering the flavors of the chicken itself.  
  • Cherrywood: Slightly fruiter in flavor than applewood, cherrywood gives your chicken a sweet, smoky flavor. It also colors your chicken while it cooks, leaving it with a beautiful, deep red glow that is simply irresistible. 
  • Pecan: If you’re looking to get a really deep, rich, smoky flavor, then pecan is a great choice of wood. Along with its strong flavor, pecan will infuse your chicken with a nutty aroma that works beautifully with its taste. 
  • Hickory: Hickory provides that classic, smoky BBQ flavor that most people think of when it comes to smoked chicken. It’s a great choice if you’re new to smoking and want to achieve that classic taste, but it can be a little overpowering if you use too much!

If you’re not sure which is best for you, or if you’d simply like to try them all out, it’s a good idea to choose a variety pack of wood chips.

These will usually consist of at least four of the flavors we’ve listed above, giving you the power to experiment before settling on your favorite type of wood for smoking chicken. 

You can also mix certain woods together to reach whole new levels of flavor! For example, mixing cherry wood with hickory will keep the chicken sweet but give it an extra depth of smokiness. 

Whichever type of wood you’re tempted by, it’s also important to make sure that it doesn’t contain any additives or preservatives.

Most wood chips are made from 100% natural wood (including all of the choices on our list), but there are some that use chemicals to enhance the flavor of the wood a little more. 

Using these will give your chicken an artificial flavor and, since chemicals burn a little differently from natural sources, they could coat your chicken in a layer of bitter smoke.

This certainly isn’t something you want if you’re looking to impress your friends and family with your smoking skills!

Wood Chip Size

Once you’ve decided which wood you like the sound of the most, take a look at the size of the individual wood chips. This may not seem like a very important factor, but it’s actually pretty essential to the smoking process.

To put it simply, smaller pieces of wood will burn up faster. So, if you’re planning on smoking your chicken for a long time, you’ll spend more time adding more wood chips. This isn’t only labor intensive but can end up costing a lot more money too.

Depending on the design of your smoker, you may also need to open the door to add more wood chips.

When you do this, the temperature will drop slightly, and, in turn, it will take longer to smoke your chicken as it will need to rise again. And so, a vicious cycle begins!

If you’re cooking for over three hours, we’d recommend choosing wood chips that are cut into large chunks. These will keep smoking for a longer time and reduce the number of times you need to add more wood to your smoker. 

If, however, you’re only looking for a subtle smokiness or you’re adding wood chips to a grill, smaller sized pieces would be fine. 

Versatility

One of the most important things to make sure of is that the wood you’ve chosen can actually be used in your smoker. Get this wrong and you’ll have to wait even longer before you can start smoking your chicken!

Luckily, most wood chips can be used in all types of smokers, but it’s still something that you need to look into before purchasing. 

Some are even versatile enough to use on charcoal, gas, and electric grills. This is perfect when you want to add a little extra flavor to your chicken when you’re barbecuing. 

Packaging

It’s also a good idea to take a look at the packaging that your wood chips come in. Depending on the size of your smoker and how long you’re planning to smoke your chicken for, you may not need to use an entire bag of wood chips at once.

In this instance, you’ll need to keep the wood chips dry and ready to use again when you do need them. Some wood chips come in a resealable bag, which is the best option for doing this.

However, if your chosen ones don’t, make sure you open the bag in a way that allows you to tape it shut and create an airtight seal. 

Some wood chips are mold-resistant, too. This is a great feature to look out for if you’re concerned about storage or if you don’t intend on using them very regularly.

Price

Finally, it’s worth taking a look at the price differences between certain types of wood chips. Some are priced quite high compared to others and some of the time this is because they are from a well-known brand.

Pay attention to the features. Take a look at the types of wood on offer and the versatility of the wood chips before making your decision. You might be surprised to discover you can get something equally as good as a well-known brand for a fraction of the price. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best wood to smoke poultry?

This really depends on the flavor you’re trying to infuse the poultry with. Applewood and cherrywood are great choices for sweet, fruity flavors.

However, if you want something with a more classic, BBQ taste, go for woods such as maple, pecan, or hickory.

Can I use wood chips on a bbq?

Yes, absolutely! Adding some wood chips to a barbecue is a great way to give chicken, beef, pork, fish, and vegetables an extra hit of flavor.

However, bear in mind that the flavor won’t be as intense as food that has been smoked using wood chips. 

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