Talk about wood: the best smoking wood

You now possess a rack of ribs, a fantastic dry rub, and perhaps even a sauce to provide as a finishing touch.

But regardless of whether you're using a pellet grill, charcoal smoker, or an offset to smoke your ribs, you'll need to pick a smoke wood.

Despite the fact that pork is rather forgiving, there are a few types of wood that we usually suggest for ribs. If you want to try some different combinations, read on because we've had some luck with a couple of them.

What kind of wood works best for smoking pork ribs?

There is no one "best wood" for ribs, despite the fact that it can sound like a cop-out.

Pork has a rather light flavour on its own, so if you want to give your ribs additional smokiness, use a wood with a stronger flavour, like hickory.

Use fruit woods like apple, cherry, or pecan if you prefer a sweeter, lighter flavour. You can also try combining flavours simultaneously, such as cherry and oak.

The best woods to use that give your ribs a robust flavour

It's worthwhile to take flavorful woods into consideration because pork ribs can endure a stronger smoke. These woods will give the meat a rich hue and a deep, discernible smokiness.


Try adding some mesquite wood to your smoker if your ribs have been missing in smoke flavour.

Just keep in mind that mesquite tends to oversmoke and might burn hotter, leaving a harsh aftertaste.


Hickory is said to offer a nutty or bacon-like fragrance, making it the ideal wood for pork, including ribs. Additionally, it contributes to the mahogany hue that shouts "smoked meat"!

But excessive smoke, such as mesquite, can also have a sour aftertaste, so you should be aware of that.


Oak is a wonderful wood that adds a lot of flavour, even though it might not be nearly as powerful as mesquite or even hickory. Additionally, it aids in giving the meat a rich crimson hue that is ideal for ribs. Simply put, this is one of my favourite smoking woods.

Best woods for a mild flavour in ribs

Consider some of these woods if you like your pork ribs with a mellower smokiness. They certainly have a pleasant flavour, but it's not as potent as flavours from mesquite, hickory, or oak.

Apple of my ribs

Apple is a fantastic choice if you're searching for a mildly fruity and sweet flavour. You've probably encountered applewood-smoked bacon or other items. If you liked these, consider Applewood for your subsequent rib smoking.

Cherry on top

For two reasons, cherry wood makes an excellent smoking wood. Its delicate sweetness will impart taste without overpowering the meat, and it will also aid in the ribs' development of a stunning, deep red colour.

Pecan pie, anyone? Oh sorry, ribs

Check out pecan if you're seeking a wood that falls somewhere between fruitwood and the more potent aromas. Its sweetness is comparable to that of apple or cherry wood. Pecan adds a moderate nuttiness as well. Similarly, it adds a little more flavour without overpowering the ribs.

Can’t we all get Wood a’ long? Best wood blends for rib smoking

Being inventive, modifying recipes, and making things your own are some of the best aspects of smoking and preparing barbeque.

You have the freedom to mix and match the flavour profiles and meat cuts to suit your personal preferences. Although we typically associate that with rubs and sauces, you can also accomplish that with wood.

Pairing a stronger-flavoured wood, like hickory or oak, with a sweeter fruit wood, like apple or cherry, is a superb method to achieve this.

If using an offset smoker, start with the wood that has the strongest taste and end with the fruit wood of your choosing. It will ensure that you don't consume an excessive amount of bitter smoke before completing with sweet smoke.

Mixing wood with cherries or apples is one of the best combos. Beautiful deep crimson hue, flavorful smoke, and a touch of sweetness are all present.

The nicest thing of it all is that you may alter it whatever you choose. Find out what you and your family like doing the most by experimenting. Just make sure you have plenty of wood on hand so you won't run out at a bad time!

Using chunks, chips, or pellets of wood to smoke ribs

Wood chunks, chips, pellets, logs, and splits will all have been visible to you. Which is appropriate for your particular grill?

Wood chunks

Use wood pieces if you have a charcoal grill or smoker and wish to smoke ribs.

These burn sufficiently enough to provide aromatic wood smoke. Clean burning wood chunks produce wonderful smoke that will flavour your ribs.

Chips might be used as well, but you would need to replace them because they burn out too quickly.

The majority of techniques involve combining unlit charcoal with wood bits before sprinkling hot coals on top.

Wood chips

You must use wood chips if your smoker is powered by propane or electricity. They will be in a smoker box above the heating element in those types of smokers. Chips are perfect for quick smoke bursts due to their small size.

If that's all you have, you may also cook them on a gas or charcoal grill. Simply fold two layers of aluminium foil over the top of a huge handful of chips and make a few tiny holes with a knife's tip. You will get more savoury smoke if you place the bundle over the flames.

There is no advantage to pre-soaking your wood chips, despite what some people advise.

The Log in your eye

Old-school barbeque and offset smokers conjure up images of wood logs being loaded into the firebox. They are perfect if you only want to use wood for cooking. New logs will burn cleanly because of the fresh coals they produce, which continue to give heat as they burn.

Make absolutely sure your firebox can hold the wood logs you plan to use for smoking. Sometimes log splits that will fit more easily in smokers meant for personal use can be found (or you can split the logs yourself).

Pelle-tonne to run that grill

It goes without saying that you'll be using wood pellets to smoke your ribs if you own a pellet barbecue made by Traeger, Pit Boss, Z Grills, Camp Chef, or another manufacturer. Pellets are available in a variety of tastes and mixes, just like other forms of wood.

Pellets are made from sawdust without the use of synthetic binders by pellet makers. Sawdust is compressed by the producer into a pencil-sized cylinder, which is then divided into pellets that are about an inch long.

For added flavour when smoking your ribs, you can also utilise pellets in the smoker tubes. They can be placed on a gas barbecue, a charcoal grill, or even a pellet grill.

I need my wood! Where can I get smoking wood?

You need to locate the wood to purchase now that you have a general concept of the type and size of wood you want to use to smoke your ribs. Find your neighbourhood BBQ establishment and ask the pitmaster where you may acquire local wood that is suitable for smoking. They'll be aware of where to go.

You can take a truly hands-on approach and chop your own wood if the trees in your yard have been correctly recognised. However, in order for the wood to burn effectively, it must be allowed to season. If you're air-drying it outside, this typically takes 6 to 18 months. For optimal results, keep it off the ground and protected from the elements.

Ribs shouldn't be smoked with recently chopped wood. Your meat will taste bitter because of the tarry smoke produced by the resins and sap. This means that if you intend to cut your own wood, you must plan ahead.

I've noticed that as backyard barbeque has become more popular, nearby grocery stores stock wood pieces and wood chips. To discover a wider variety of wood and wood pellets, you can also visit hardware stores and big-box retailers.

Furthermore, Amazon will always have a wide selection and never disappoint. If you're feeling daunted by the options, we recommend Weber and Western Premium BBQ Products, both of which have a wide variety of tastes. Depending on the type of smoker or grill you use, always keep a couple of bags of their wood chunks or chips on hand.

Concluding thoughts

You should be aware of the many flavours and effects your choice of wood can have on the meat while smoking ribs.

Your ribs will taste more strongly of smoky smoke if you use woods like hickory, mesquite, and oak. Your ribs will taste sweeter and more subdued if you cook them with cherry, apple, or pecan wood. It all depends on your particular preferences, but oak and cherry are a terrific mix for ribs.

Bro, do you have a pellet grill? We have a few choices that are specially designed for those barbecues. Check out these hot and fast-smoked baby back ribs if you want something to cook faster. In this post, you’ll see how to cook smoked pork ribs on a pellet barbecue in two different ways.

Read this explanation of how to smoke competition-style pork ribs if you think your ribs are pretty dang delicious and want to try contesting in barbecuelympics.

What kind of wood do you prefer to use to smoke ribs?

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Top Products