Wood Chips for Barbequing Flavor

by AEA on August 24, 2010

Take barbequing to the next level by adding different flavors with different woods. Most people, including myself, tend to grill food to save time, both in the actual cooking time and easier cleanup. However you might want to plan a little more time and treat your guests to something a little different. Why not? A party means good times and good food.

True barbequing will use wood smoke to help flavor the meat and vegetables. The smoky flavors will vary depending upon the wood and the type of grill. There are many different woods you can use; some examples are alder, apple, apricot, birch, cedar, cherry, grape, hickory, lemon, maple, mesquite, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, pecan, plum and white oak. Most woods can be used, except for the treated lumber used in constriction.

Mesquite and hickory are common wood chips and along with oak, are very good general purpose wood chips for barbequing. Any of the hardwoods work well since they will burn slower and fruit woods provide excellent flavors.


Some woods seem to go with different meats better than others. Hickory is good with chicken, applewood for pork and mesquite adds a great flavor to beef and game. Vary the type of wood to change the flavor! Some woods like mesquite and pecan will provide a stronger flavor then most fruit woods. A wood chart, thanks to Sams Smoker, can help with knowing the different wood characteristics for barbequing. It is best to slow cook the meat since it usually takes at least 30 minutes to get a minimal smoky flavor.

Using only wood chips to grill is not recommended since they will burn unevenly and quickly. When using a charcoal grill, soak the wood chips in water and beer for 30 to 60 minutes, drain off liquid and then add wood chips directly to the hot charcoal. The soaking will make the chips smolder and keep them from burning too quickly. If using a gas grill, either use a partially filled metal tray next to the meat, wrap the chips in heavy duty foil with a few holes on top or some grills have a built-in smoker box for wood chips. You may need to heat the gas grill on high until there is plenty of smoke, then turn the grill down and keep the grill lid closed for the best results when cooking.

Should you always clean you grill after or before grilling meat? According to Barbeque Myths, it doesn’t really matter as long as it is cleaned prior to grilling. So try something different for your next backyard barbeque with some smoky flavors.

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