Each wood offers a distinct scent and flavors when burned. So, you should carefully choose and pair the wood you use. Finding the ideal kind of wood, particularly when smoking a large piece of meat like brisket can be tricky.
In this article, I will feature a few of the best wood products that smoked brisket fans love to work with, too. I’ll also go over the various sizes of wood you should use depending on the type of smoker you have. As well as a few tips to consider in choosing your wood.
Brisket has a high-fat content and is particularly rough in its raw state. This sizeable chunk of meat requires countless hours of slow, continuous heat to break down the connective tissue.
To penetrate the meat, the wood you smoke it with must be flavorful. So, you need to make sure you’re using the right kind of wood, considering the time commitment required to smoke a 12 to a 20-pound chunk of meat.
But the thing is, each smoking wood offer distinct flavors. Some woods may work better than other varieties depending on the ingredients. So, what is the best wood for smoking brisket? Well, tag along as we find out.
Why Smoke Brisket with Wood?
It’s still absolutely feasible to cook a brisket without using any smoke. But since smoking takes so long, using those hours infusing it with the flavorful smoke from woods would be great.
Smoke is so delicate and lights that it does not permeate deeply into your brisket. So, you will need to smoke the meat for an extended period of time in order for the smoky goodness to permeate each bite rather than only the surface. That’s also how you create that nice, stunning bark on the outside.
Also, smoke is completely natural and has no calories or carbohydrates. And you may mix and match your wood to enjoy various flavor profiles. It’s a simple approach to expanding your cooking skills.
The Best Woods for Smoking Brisket
While there are lots of different woods to choose from, I’ll narrow those options down to seven kinds of wood that many smokers consider to be most suited for smoking brisket. Keep reading to find out more.
Mild Smoky Flavor:
Maple – Western BBQ Smoking Maple Chips
Maple wood offers a very mild smokiness and sweet flavor. This wood is popular among novice smokers. Because of the mild flavor, it will be tough to overdo your brisket. So, you may experiment with different smoking durations without concern about overdoing it.
Although some may consider it to be too delicate for brisket, I think it’s a great option for enhancing the inherent taste of the meat. The Western BBQ Smoking Maple Chips is an excellent all-arounder that also works well with smoking chicken and pork chops.
Grab your bag of maple wood chips here.
Pecan – Weber 17137 Pecan Wood Chunks
Pecan wood has a nice savory flavor with a sweet, rich, and slightly nutty flavor. The blend of flavorings it has complements brisket perfectly. If you like your meat sweeter and want to serve it with mostly sweet sides dishes and condiments, smoking it with the Weber 17137 Pecan Wood Chunks could be a fantastic option.
When smoking with pecan wood, you would have to strive to make your brisket overly bitter. And if you’re concerned it’ll be too sweet, you can simply add some oak or maple to the mix.
I personally like a more smokey fragrance. And if you’re like me, you may mix pecan with a more conventional smoking wood such as oak. This mix reduces the sweetness and creates a unique, fascinating blend of tastes and scents that will make you crave.
Grab your bag of maple wood chunks here.
Apple wood adds a pleasantly sweet, fruity flavor to brisket. It’s a favorite for smoking milder meats such as chicken and turkey. When it comes to brisket, it’s excellent in keeping as much of the brisket’s inherent flavor as possible.
Keep in mind though, that apple put out heavy smokes, but not as intense as pecan wood. The dense smoke also makes it easier to penetrate deep into the meat. This means you may use it alone or in combination with other wood to add some fruity sweetness to a stronger smokey flavor.
If you’re used to the traditional smoked brisket, the flavor you get from apple wood could be an exciting shift that will provide you with a newer, more subtle flavor.
Apple wood products like the WESTERN 28065 Apple Flavored Smoking Chips could also be a great option if you smoke using more traditional woods like oak. Including the chips in the mix can help to lessen the strong smoky flavor and introduce a bit more sweetness into the meat.
Grabe your bag of apple wood chips here.
Cherry – Weber 17142 Cherry Chunks
Cherry wood is a wonderful choice for add a hint of sweetness and subtle smokiness to your brisket. If you enjoy delicate flavors, the Weber 17142 Cherry Chunks could be a great wood for you.
However, if you like your brisket stronger, you may combine cherry with oak or maple. This blend will intensify the smokiness while not fully offsetting the sweetness of the fruit.
Smoking with cherry can also help brown the bark of your brisket. And you know, a darker brisket looks more delicious and perfect for presentation. Cherry smoke frequently lends a hint of a dark red hue to the exterior of the meat. It’s actually a wood that is frequently used to provide color as well as a mild flavor.
Grab your bag of cherry wood chunks here.
Medium Smoky Flavor to Strong Smoky Flavor:
Oak wood is one of the best and most common smoking woods. It’s very good for smoking Texas brisket. The Jack Daniel’s 01749 Smoking Oak Chips could be a great choice if you want a medium-intensity smoke flavor for your brisket. And because it gives a moderately intense, smoky flavor to the meat, oak is also a crowd favorite.
One of the good reasons why oak is ideal for smoking brisket is due to its long-burning quality. This makes oak wood ideal for long smoking sessions. It’s a highly versatile option, allowing you to smoke your brisket quickly, or low and slow without any fuss.
Also, if you want a richer, layered flavor profile, you may blend oak with stronger-flavored woods like mesquite or hickory. Just keep them in small quantities, though. Overall, oak could be great for both novices and enthusiasts, or if you just like experimenting with flavors.
Grab your bag of oak wood chips here.
Hickory is a classic and frequently accessible wood for smoking brisket. It’s a smoking staple that offers a rich flavor profile that’s robust and delicious — but not as intense as mesquite. This wood produces a pungent smoke that permeates the meat nicely. Providing the wood’s typical smoky, pungent, and faintly nutty flavor.
Since it puts out smoke quite heavily, you should watch out for how much you put into your grill or smoker. Make sure you don’t overdo the brisket. Otherwise, you’ll get a bitter-tasting brisket. It is also a good idea to cut hickory with something milder if you want a more subdued hickory flavor.
The BEAR MOUNTAIN Premium BBQ WOODS Hickory Hardwood Pellets offers a distinct flavor and fragrance that is popular among barbecue fans. The wood’s unique smokey scent adds a bacon-like taste to the meat. All in all, hickory is a good contender for smoking brisket if you use it with caution.
Grabe your bag of hickory wood pellets here.
Mesquite – Weber 17150 Mesquite Wood Chunks
Mesquite, a staple of Texas-style barbecue, is another crowd favorite for smoking brisket. This wood gives the meat a rich and distinct taste. Mesquite is a fast-burning wood that creates heavy smoke and a strong, distinct flavor.
The Weber 17150 Mesquite Wood Chunks offers a heavy smoke with aromatic essence. This very distinct smoky flavor permeates the meat and gives a flavor that bites into the cut.
But the thing about mesquite wood is that it burns quickly. So, make sure you have enough wood on ready to complete the cooking process. As easily as it burns, the distinctive scent and strong flavor make it a tough wood to deal with.
So, if you sit the meat over it for too long or use too much wood, the intense taste will dominate your meat. Which in turn, will offset the natural flavor of the brisket. You can keep this from happening by adding a secondary and milder wood to soften the flavor.
Grab your bag of mesquite wood chunks here.
A Few Tips In Choosing Your Woods
Whatever wood combo you use, consider these tips to achieve a delicious and flavorful brisket:
- If you can, avoid using softwoods and wood green woods that’s been freshly cut and haven’t had time to weather or dry out.
- Avoid using stained or treated wood.
- Never use moldy or fungus-infected wood.
- Look at various types and combinations to get unique flavor profiles.
- Maintain a consistent temperature.
- Ensure a clean, blueish smoke.
- Do not over-smoke — this can leave your brisket tasting bitter.
Wood Sizes for Smoking Brisket
Wood sizes matter. It is important to select the perfect size and kind of wood for your smoker or grill, otherwise, you risk under or over smoking your brisket.
Wood chips are easy-to-burn aromatic wood made out of wood scraps and shavings. They are ideal if you have an electric smoker that doesn’t use an open flame as a source of heat.
These woods are also suitable for smoking on gas grills in smoker boxes, or on a brazier-style charcoal grill that doesn’t have enough space for chunks. Wood chips come in every flavor imaginable. And they’re also quite simple to use.
Wood chunks are frequently combined with charcoal and can endure for several hours. These heavy chunks of solid wood are ideal for smoking on a charcoal barbecue. Chunks are perfect for smoking big slices of meat, and they’re a staple for smoked brisket.
You’ll probably need only two or three pieces for a good smoke, but you may always add more as necessary. Given their larger size, packed flavor wood chunks are widely available.
Wood pellets are excellent for a pellet smoker. They also work well with electric smokers or in a smoker box on a gas grill.
The drawback is that these woods are prone to burning out fast because they’re just compressed sawdust. Also, you’ll need to replace them regularly for longer smokes without the auto-feed auger seen on purpose-built pellet grills and smokers.
Logs are common for the most traditional smoking experience. But since many smokers and grills don’t have adequate space for logs, these are often the realm of an offset smoker. Those with fireboxes have the capacity to burn many logs in one go.
Best Wood for Smoking Brisket FAQs
What wood is used for Texas brisket?
Mesquite is the best wood for smoking brisket and is a crowd favorite. It is a staple of Texas-style barbecue, giving the meat a unique and powerful taste. Mesquite is a fast-burning wood with a strong, distinctive taste.
How does wood enhance the flavor of brisket?
Starting with the basics, smoking brisket is a straightforward process. The wood you use for smoking brisket works by releasing smoke. Which the meat lies in for a considerable time while cooking. The meat absorbs the flavor of the wood smoke in the process, which enhances the taste of the brisket.
Is pecan wood good for brisket?
Pecan wood is one of the best woods for smoking brisket. It gives the meat a milder flavor and it’s sweeter than most other typical smoking woods. Pecan wood is a smoker-friendly wood that you can use alone or in combination with other woods.
Is mesquite good for brisket?
Mesquite wood is ideal for smoking dark meats that can withstand its powerful taste. Such meats include Texas-style brisket, lamb, and wild game meat. As well as duck and Tex-Mex barbacoa. You may also consider grilling steaks, veggies, and tasty dishes over mesquite coals.
Are apple wood chips good for smoking brisket?
Apple wood, like its fruit, lends a delicious and sweet fruity flavor to your brisket. It’s common in this sense, and you can use it for smoking ham and poultry, too!
Is cherry wood good for brisket?
Smoking with cherry wood may help deepen the bark of your brisket, which in my opinion, makes the dish look more delicious. This wood lends a subtle flavor and a hint of dark red color to the exterior of the meat.
Which is better: hickory or mesquite?
Compared to mesquite, hickory is more versatile. It works well with pork ribs and all red meats. You can only use it for select types of meat, including wild game, beef brisket, duck, and lamb. The smoke flavor of mesquite may be too strong for chicken and fish. Too much hickory wood might overpower their natural flavor.
Smoking brisket is a passion project. And achieving the perfect flavor with the help of a good smoking wood will provide a delicious brisket that’s easy to enjoy. Given the amount of effort you need to give to get it right, you’ll enjoy smoking brisket more once you’ve mastered the process.
I hope you find this article helpful in finding the best wood for smoking brisket and don’t forget to explore different wood options to get the flavor your palate craves. Good luck, and enjoy your brisket!