What Is The Best Wood For Cooking

What Is The Best Wood For Cooking

So you want to step up your grilling game, huh? Well, let me tell you, the wood you choose can make a massive difference in the flavor of your food.

So, what is the best wood for cooking?

When it comes to grilling, it’s all about the smoke flavor. So, forget about those flashy gas grills and embrace the good old open fire.

Now, let’s talk about selecting the best wood. You’ve got two main options:

  • softwood
  • hardwood.

Softwood burns faster and hotter, which is great for a quick cookout.

But if you want that rich and smoky aroma, hardwood is where it’s at.

Oak, hickory, or mesquite are some great choices for outdoor cooking. 

What Is The Difference Between Firewood And Wood For Cooking

There’s wood to build a campfire and then there’s wood for cooking food, and they’re not exactly the same thing.

Firewood is your go-to for heating up your home or keeping your bonfire blazing.

It’s typically made up of hardwoods like oak or maple, which burn slowly and produce a lot of heat.

Cooking wood is specifically designed for, you guessed it, cooking!

This wood is all about adding flavor to your food. It’s usually made from fruit tree wood like apple or cherry, which gives off a sweet smell.

Now, here’s the thing: while you can cook with it, you might find that it imparts a stronger, smoky flavor that may not be to everyone’s taste. So, if you’re just looking to keep warm or have a good ol’ bonfire, stick with firewood. 

Can You Use Any Type Of Wood To Cook?

Can you use any old type of wood? Well, not quite. You see, not all wood is created equal when it comes to cooking. So, what is the best wood for cooking?

Popular wood, such as hardwoods, like oak, hickory, or fruitwood, are ideal choices because they burn longer and produce a nice, smoky flavor. 

Softwoods, on the other hand, should be avoided like the plague. They tend to contain resin or sap, which can give your food a funky taste.

Softwoods also burn too quickly, making it tricky to maintain a low, steady heat.

So, stick with hardwoods if you’re planning to fire up your grill or smoker.

Just remember, always use wood that has been properly dried and seasoned. 

Tip: If you are smoking meat you should use the meats I wrote about here.

Grilling With Wood vs Charcoal

When it comes to outdoor cooking, the debate between wood and charcoal is a hot topic.

Personally, I’m all about that smoky flavor, so I prefer grilling with wood as much as I can.

Sure, charcoal gets the job done too, but it just doesn’t have the same level of flavor.

Charcoal may be quicker, but there’s no rushing perfection when it comes to grilling.

Related Read: https://bettergrills.com/can-i-grill-with-wood-instead-of-charcoal/

So next time you fire up the grill, skip the charcoal and go for the wood. Believe me, your taste buds will thank you. 

Charcoal has its own perks. It’s convenient, easy to use, and can get your grill up to temperature in no time.

But let’s be real, it doesn’t compare to that wood-fired goodness. So if I had to choose, I’m definitely team wood when it comes to grilling. 

What Kind Of Wood Is Best For Grilling?

So, when it comes to grilling and choosing the best kind of wood, there are a few things you need to consider. 

First off, you want to make sure the wood is best suited for grilling.

You don’t want just any old piece of wood from your backyard.

You need wood, such as oak or hickory, that will infuse your food with that smoky goodness.

These hardwoods burn consistently and give off a nice, even heat source for your grill.

Now, if you’re just starting out and need some tips on getting your fire going, you might want to consider using charcoal to get things started.

Once you’ve got your fire going, it’s time to start grilling. 

So remember, when it comes to grilling, choose the right wood, get your fire going, and enjoy the amazing taste that only wood can bring. Try to experiment with different wood.

What Are The Best Types Of Wood For Smoking Meats?

Yo, let’s now talk about the best type of wood for smoking meats.

When it comes to that smoky flavor, hickory, pecan, and cherry wood are the kings of my game.

Hickory is the OG of smoking woods, giving off a strong and robust flavor that works well with pretty much any meat.

Pecan brings a sweeter touch to the table, particularly great for pork and poultry. And cherry wood? Man, that stuff is like a sweet symphony of flavor, perfect for pork and poultry as well.

If you’re feeling adventurous, mesquite is the way to go. It burns hot and fast too and imparts a bold and unique flavor to your meats.

So, there you have it, the best wood for smokin’ meats! Get grillin’, my friend!

What Is The Best Wood For Fire Pit Cooking?

I am getting more into fire pit cooking, huh? Let me tell ya, it’s all about getting that perfect balance of heat and flavor.

When it comes to firewood, I like to go for a hardwood that’ll give you a long-lasting and consistent heat source.

None of that softwood that burns so fast.

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Maple

Now, if you’re looking for something more robust, mesquite is your best bet. It’s got a strong, bold flavor that’s perfect for grilling.

When it comes to cooking on a fire pit, there’s no one-size-fits-all. But these are the most popular wood for smoking.

It all comes down to personal preference and what you’re cooking. Just remember, once those logs have turned into glowing coals, that’s when the real magic happens.

What Wood To Use

As I mentioned there is no one size fits all and here is just a list of the wood I use.


Let me tell you about Hickory – it’s the bomb when it comes to grilling.

It is my secret weapon for giving your food that rich and caramelizing flavor.

When you cook on a hickory grill, you will find this amazing smoky taste that just can’t be beaten.

And if you’re into grilling and smoking as I am, hickory wood is where it’s at.

It’s perfect for steak and poultry. This hardwood is best for outdoor cooking, my friend. 

Oak Wood

Oakwood, it’s like the ultimate wood for grilling up some juicy red meat. 

There is not much that beats the rich, smoky flavor it infuses into your steaks and burgers.

It got this natural sweetness and a hint of earthiness that takes your grilling game to a whole new level.

Oakwood burns nice and slow, giving you that perfect amount of smoke to really enhance the taste. 

Mesquite Wood

Let me tell you about my personal experience with mesquite wood. Mesquite is the wood for grilling and smoking. It’s smoky and intense and just adds this delicious aroma to your red meat.

Trust me, I have tried it and there’s nothing better than that perfect combination of mesquite and a juicy steak.

Pecan Wood

So, I tried using pecan wood for my barbecue a while ago, and let me tell you, it was the bomb!

Pecan wood adds this amazing flavor to the meat, especially poultry.

It looks that the chicken or turkey just soak up that smoky pecan flavor. And when it comes to smoking pork butt? The taste is out of this world!

Trust me, once you’ve tried it, you’ll never want to go back to regular old charcoal again!


Ever heard of Alder? It’s this awesome wood that many people use for barbecues. This wood is perfect for adding that smoky flavor we all love.

It’s got this sweet and earthy taste that pairs so well with all sorts of meats.


Let me tell you about Maplewood. It’s this awesome hardwood that makes for the perfect campfire.

When I burn it in my fire pit, the aroma is just out of this world.

It’s like a mix of hickory and mesquite, giving you that irresistible smoky goodness.

Trust me, there’s nothing quite like the sweet smell of maple on a cool evening around a roaring fire. I am lucky to have some of these trees on my property.

Which Types Of Wood Should Be Avoided When Smoking Meats?

There are certain types of wood that you definitely want to steer clear of.

First off, stay away from any wood that has been treated or stained. I mean, come on, who wants to ingest all those chemicals, right? 

Another wood to avoid is any kind of softwood, like pine or fir.

That wood just doesn’t give off that smoky, delicious taste that we’re after.

Stick to hardwoods, my friend. Oak, hickory, and mesquite are all good choices. 

Don’t forget to pair the meat that you bought with the right type of wood to enhance the flavor,

Where To Find The Best Cooking Wood

I am in lucky circumstances that I can just call a friend of mine that delivers firewood. We have a woodstove that heats our house in the winter months and we use mostly Oak and Hickory for that. So, I always have a stack of these 2 woods in my backyard.

He can also get me a small amount of the other wood I have mentioned here.

Other places to look for wood to use on your grill, smoker, or fire pit are Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist, and do not forget to look in your local newspaper.

If you only use a small amount of wood you can also see what the gas stations sometimes have. At least they have that here in Kentucky most of the time.

One tip I can give you is the let as many people know that you are looking for wood. You will be surprised how many trees are down that you can just pick up for free in many cases.

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top