There are different types of woods, and each provides a unique flavor profile to whatever you’re cooking. Some taste better than others, some give off more smoke than others, and some add flavors that you wouldn’t want in the food. Let’s take a quick overview and see which is the best wood for smoking brisket!
These are the woods I always turn to when I’m smoking the brisket.
Best Wood for Smoking Brisket – My Top Picks
My Preferable Choices To Get Medium To Strong Flavors
In my cooking adventures, I noticed that if you long for medium to intense flavors, the following woods will give you the best results.
Oak is a popular and premium wood. You could swear by oak furniture while also being in love with its culinary uses. It’s popular for smoking brisket primarily because it gives the meat a medium smokey flavor that is not too overwhelming.
Apart from adding to the flavor, it is a suitable pick as it burns for a longer period of time. From beginners to experts, everyone can use it. In short, to get the most subtle brisket flavor, Oak is an ideal choice.
Hickory is often used in barbecuing and smoking. It gives brisket a strong smoky flavor. It’s known for providing a nutty or bacon-like flavor.
Remember, Hickory produces a lot of smoke, so do not overdo it; otherwise, you’ll end up with a bitter brisket. If you’re looking for something with a little more kick, then Hickory is the perfect choice for you!
For strong flavors, Mesquite is the most preferred wood for smoking brisket. It gives the brisket a strong, smoky flavor that is incomparable to any other wood.
Unlike Oak or Hickory, Mesquite burns out pretty fast, so you need to use a good amount, especially if you are cooking a large cut of brisket.
Right Woods For Light Flavors On A Brisket
Now, if you want something with light flavors, the following woods will do the trick.
When it comes to smoking brisket, apple wood is a popular choice as it imparts a sweet and fruity flavor. Just like Oak, apples also burn for a decent amount of time. It can also be used as the base wood for smoking to balance out the stronger flavors from other woods.
Maple is a light flavored wood that gives off a sweet and mild flavor. It is an excellent pick for newbies as it provides a good amount of heat and burns for an extended period of time. As per my experience, it is an ideal choice for slightly enhancing the natural flavors of the brisket.
Pecan is great for smoking brisket. It gives off a light smoke flavor, and it doesn’t overpower the meat’s natural flavors. To get a sweet and rich flavor, Pecan works brilliantly.
Cherry is used to darken the bark of the brisket, which makes it look more appetizing and leaves the brisket with a touch of sweetness. Also, it’s often used in conjunction with other woods to give it a slightly sweet and smoky flavor.
Olive isn’t always the primary choice, but it deserves a spot because it is suitable for getting a light flavor. It can give off a Mesquite-like flavor that isn’t overpowering.
Know About the Right Size of Woods
Now that you know about the best wood options, let me walk you through the different sizes and which one’s the best for you.
Pellets are a popular choice and are often used by beginners because it is easy to use and doesn’t require any cutting. Pellets are convenient, and above all, they come in different flavors. However, they are quick to burn, so for longer smoke sessions, you’ll need to replenish them more frequently.
Wood chunks are a popular choice for people who have some experience in smoking meat. They come in different sizes, and you can use them as it is or cut them into smaller pieces. When I cook a large brisket cut, I prefer using Chunks because they have a slightly longer burn time.
Also called wood shavings or scraps, they are small easy-to-burn chips. If you want a quick way to get that smoky flavor, then Chips are your best bet. They are easy to handle, smallest in size, and burn for a very short time, so they would work best for a small-sized brisket cut.
Sawdust is easy to light and burns quickly, so it’s best for smoking brisket in handheld smokers and stovetops. Sawdust is a popular choice and offers different flavors.
Disks are essentially made with compressed sawdust and are a great option for a quick smoke. They are Ideal for electric smokers; however, it must be noted that you should not put them in water because they will disintegrate.
Using logs for smoking brisket speaks of nostalgia since it’s an old-school smoking method, and guess what? It works great.
They are ideal for larger brisket cuts because they have a long burn time. The best part about logs is that you can get creative with the cuts to get the flavor you desire.
Can You Mix Two Kinds of Woods?
Yes, of course! You can combine two or more woods to get a distinctive flavor. Mixing woods is all about balancing or coming up with eccentric flavors. For instance, you can mix apple and cherry to get a slightly sweet but tangy flavor.
Hickory and Mesquite are the best choices if you want a strong smoky taste. They have stronger flavors that will cover up the other ingredients in the smoker. However, these can overpower the flavor, so you should use mild flavor woods like oak or apple with one of the strong-flavored woods to balance things out.
Cherry is another mild flavor wood that is used in several combinations. The smoke of Cherry wood leaves a subtle red color and light flavor, so it is often combined with Hickory or Maple.
In my experience, there are some standard combinations like Oak + Pecan, Hickory + Apple, Maple + Cherry, Oak + Hickory + Apple, etc. These combinations are tried and tested, so you can’t go wrong with them.
Ideally, you can start with mixing strong and mild flavor woods to get a uniform taste. Whereas for the newbies out there, sticking to the classic ones would be great, but then, you are open to exploring more possibilities. Experiment a little and find the flavor that you like the best.
Some Additional Tips
Knowing what to do is essential, but knowing what not to do can help you avoid many shortcomings. I’ve seen that people often overlook many factors that can create a world of difference in your smoking experience. To make sure you don’t make such mistakes, I’m listing some tips here.
Soak the wood: When using chips, I’d recommend soaking them in water and then draining them before using. By doing this, the chips will create more smoke. On the contrary, if you are using logs, you don’t necessarily need to soak them. They have enough moisture to create adequate steam and smoke.
Don’t overdo it with the wood: For those who like the taste of smoked meat, adding a little bit of extra flavor is good, but you need to know when to draw out. If you add too much wood or let it smolder for a long time, the meat will leave an unpleasant bitter taste.
Combine woods: As I mentioned above, different woods add to the aroma of the brisket respectively, so combining them will make things even more exciting. You can try numerous wood combinations, and it’s a good idea to experiment a little.
Avoid green woods: If you are using green wood, the meat will leave a bitter taste. Make sure to use dry and seasoned woods, as these can provide the best flavor.
Let the brisket rest: This is an important aspect that many people tend to forget. Serving the brisket right away after smoking is a no-go; you should let it rest for a while before serving.
There is no definitive answer for the best wood for smoking brisket, but the right recipe is about your willingness to experiment and adapt it to your taste.
Smoking the brisket perfectly involves a mixture of skill, knowledge, preference, and experiment. Those mentioned above are the ideal choice of woods to achieve unique savors as per the skill level required to handle them.