There’s nothing as rewarding as smoking a brisket in the open-air. The fresh air intermingles with the aroma of cooking meat to lift your spirit and tantalize your stomach with the promise of the tender meat to come. To get the best experience though, perhaps even more important than picking the juiciest piece of brisket, is picking the best wood for smoking brisket.
Do you want your brisket to taste of smoke and spices? Or do you prefer a mild and sweet taste? Or maybe a balance of the two?
Different types of wood will greatly affect the taste of your brisket — picking the right type can make all the difference in the world.
Best Kinds of Wood for Smoking Brisket
Whether you’re a veteran pitmaster or a novice looking to try smoking meat for the first time, this article will guide you to the best type of wood for your taste.
A classic choice for smoking, Western Premium Oak is preferred by many veteran pitmasters but shines in particular as a beginner’s best friend.
As far as wood goes, oak is as sturdy as they come. Western Premium Oak has a long burning time which makes it ideal for beginners afraid of over-smoking their meat.
The flavor is also strong enough to give you a distinct smoky touch without being too overpowering. So, it’s a definite crowd-pleaser.
Since the chunks are 570 cubic inches large, you’ll only need to use a couple at a time. So, it’s an extremely affordable choice with good quality.
- Slow burning time
- Smoky flavor that’s not too intense
- Good quality and a good price
- Slow to ignite
Hickory pellets from Traeger are a recommended choice for those who prefer a strong smoky flavor.
Hickory has a distinct nutty flavor that imbues the meat with an edgy taste that’s just perfect for those who like a strong seasoned flavor to their meat.
Be careful though, the hickory’s quick burn time makes it quite easy to over smoke and end up with bitter-tasting meat. If you are splurging for some premium quality wagyu beef you don’t want this to happen
The good news is that hickory has a quick ignition time, so it’ll cook the meat quickly. The bad news is that it’s unsuitable for long barbeque sessions.
- Strong nutty flavor
- Cooks the meat quickly
- Completely natural wood without additives
- The pellets burn too quickly
- Do not work with electric grills
If you’re a fan of strong flavors, those mesquite pellets from Traeger should be the perfect choice for you.
Mesquite is particularly perfect with brisket since the thick cut of meat absorbs the smoke quite well. The result is a piece of meat deliciously seasoned through and through.
Unless you like thick smoke, it’s a good idea to pair mesquite with fruitwood like apple, maple, or peach to give it a milder taste. This means an infinite amount of tasty possibilities for your taste buds.
The high price of the bag and the quick burn time of the mesquite makes it a bit of an expensive choice. However, the pellets from Traeger were found to provide steady smoke for hours. So, if you like the flavor, it’s worth the extra dollars.
- Strong spicy flavor
- Pairs well with other types of wood
- Works exceptionally well with brisket
- Provide steady smoke for a long time
- Burns out quickly
- Expensive compared to other products
Maple is another kind of wood that is recommended for beginners. As a fruitwood, it has a milder taste than our previous mentions.
Cameron’s maple wood comes in chips of 260 cubic inches, which are ideal for any kind of smoker.
Similar to oak, maple has a long burning time. So you don’t need to worry about over smoking and you don’t need much of it either.
Unlike oak, however, maple is a fruitwood, which means that the flavor it imparts will be mild and sweet. This is the perfect kind of wood for those who are not sure if they’d like a smokier flavor and want to try something mild instead.
The bag is affordable and strong enough to handle the wear and tear of delivery and storage.
- Work with any kind of smoker
- Slow burn time
- Affordable price
- Strong bag
- Only small 2 lbs bags available
Apple was mentioned before as a diluter for stronger kinds of wood like mesquite and hickory, but it’s also a worthy smoking wood in its own right.
Being a fruitwood, it’s well-known for its clean smoke, which is good for you and the environment. Its mild flavor also means that it can pair nicely with different kinds of meat, poultry, and even fish.
Applewood can be a bit more expensive than our previous mentions, but it’s a good bargain since it has a long burn time.
The dense chunks from Camerons mean that you can rely on them for a long day of smoking without worrying about them running out.
- Rich and sweet flavor
- Low burning time
- Works with different kinds of meat
- Comes in big chunks
- Expensive choice
- It can come in a bag or a box, both not reusable
Best Sizes of Wood
Now that we’ve talked about the best wood for smoking brisket that you can use, we can discuss the different sizes, namely pellets, chips, and chunks. And if you are not familiar with the process of smoking meat, then you can read up on how to use wood chips here
Being essentially compacted sawdust makes pellets the equivalent of little flavor grenades. They give off a lot of smoke fairly quickly, but they also burn out just as rapidly.
Chips are easy to handle. They’re recommended if you have an electric smoker or a charcoal grill, but they don’t last much longer than pellets. So, if you’re going to use chips, make sure to have the brisket cut into smaller pieces to get evenly cooked.
The chips’ older cousins. They can seem a bit heavier on the wallet, but they’re a good investment. Chunks take longer to burn, and you only need a couple of pieces to get good smoke going. They’re particularly recommended for charcoal grills.
Smoking is a great way to unwind after a tough week. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with family and friends, having the brisket taste exactly how you like is pivotal to enjoying the whole experience.