There are 4 types of wood that are widely used to smoke food, and depending on your choice the flavor delivered to your food will be completely different. So here we will cover the types, their characteristics, pros and cons to help you decide on the best choice for you.
The beginning of food smoking was always using wood logs to smoke while cooking with wood. Almost a natural process as people had only this option to cook in the past, the smoke flavor was added to the recipes, but this is not the ideal wood for smoking meat as it will always burn down to ash.
Started as the next step to food smoking, with the processed wood logs after removing the bark (that adds a bad taste to your recipe). Wood Chips burn fast, especially compared to wood pellets, and are ideal for short bursts of smoke or to be kept at a smolder if you want extended periods of smoke to come off of them. They do not burn particularly hot and won’t have much of an effect on cooking temperature if any at all. Wood chips also impart a bolder, more bitter-tasting smoke than the other options listed here.
Are capsule-sized pellets that are essentially compressed pellets of hardwood sawdust. Pellet grills cook food by feeding these wood pellets from a hopper, down through an auger, then into a firepit which ignites the pellets.
The heat and smoke from the ignited wood pellets are then distributed around the cooking chamber by a fan. They are not good for wet conditions, so you’ll be grilling with wood after all. The pellets can deteriorate if they get wet.
Pellets are used on pellet smokers and pellet grills, they are commonly powered by electricity or propane, using the wood pellets for fuel and smoke in the process. Known for delivering a mild and subtle flavor, not reaching strong notes that the other options on this guide can.
While pellet-powered equipment can reach temperatures over 500°F (260°C) it will cook evenly but won’t be able to sear like a regular grill as there is no direct heat applied to the meat. So you can find pitmasters that will prefer other smoking methods, and finish preparations on a regular grill when needed.
Wood Sawdust is another raw material used for smoking. It burns more slowly than wood chips, but faster than wood pellets. Sawdust is largely used for hot or cold smoking, showing the best results producing a nice, even smoke. You will find that they need to be replenished fairly often, and yes, the best option to deliver clean smoke and not allow it to burn down to ash.
Allowing you to burn it at consistent temperatures and for controlled periods of time, you will be able to create perfect, consistent results every time.
Now that you know your options better, you can make an informed decision for the results you want to reach. You can find smokers in the market that will offer all the types of wood covered here, make sure you know the other features on each smoker, and what delivers the best, most consistent results.
Don’t forget to check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.