The 6 best woods for adding flavour to barbecued meat and fish

January 30, 2015

It may be surprising, but adding wood to a grill will dramatically enhance the flavour of meat. Discover six options for upping your grill game.

The 6 best woods for adding flavour to barbecued meat and fish

Different hardwoods add their own distinct flavour with the smoke they give off during cooking. We've collected the six best types of woods to add flavour to your barbecue.

1. Mesquite

Mesquite has a very strong and spicy flavour, which is why it's one of the most commonly used smoking woods.

  • Mesquite goes well with most types of meat but is especially good with beef and pork, as the heavy smoke taste is best suited for full-flavoured meats.
  • Mesquite is also the wood of choice for Texas-style barbecue dishes like beef brisket.

2. Hickory

Also a strong flavoured hardwood, Hickory is commonly used to smoke bacon, which gives it a wickedly flavoured touch.

  • Hickory is good for large cuts of meat as its smoky aroma is penetrating.

3. Oak

Oak is a lighter flavoured hardwood with a nice aroma that matches everything from chicken to beef.

  • It burns slowly and can grill large quantities of meat on a small amount of wood.

4. Pecan

Great for everything from lamb to fish and especially wild game, pecan wood smoke has a unique nutty and rich flavour.

  • It has some of the spiciness of hickory and mesquite.
  • Be warned, the flavour can be strong if overdone.

5. Maple

Maple wood has a mild smoky and sweet flavour that makes it ideal for a wide variety of meats.

  • It's especially good for those that want a subtle flavour from their wood.
  • Maple is often used to smoke hams, as the sweet and woody flavour perfectly matches the richness of the pork.

6. Apple

With a fruity and sweet profile, the smoke from applewood is great for chicken and fish and is commonly used in popular apple-smoked chicken sausages.

  • It is a great light smoking wood for those getting into using smoking woods on their barbecue who don't want to overdo it.


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