Best Woods for Smokers and Fire Pits

Food

by Melanie Rivera

Fire cooked meats, fire cooked pizza and much more are now restaurant staples and people will often pay a higher price for meals cooked in this manner.

So perhaps it makes sense that more and more home chefs - the BBQ warriors who are currently getting ready for another season of creating some great al fresco eating for friends and family - are - or are at least considering - ditching their charcoal briquettes and big BBQ grills for a fire pit and wood instead.

Because indeed, firewood is not just for the fireplace. Cooking with a wood burning stove, or using to a smoker to prepare foods, can lead to some exquisitely tasty home cooked treats, especially during the great summer cookout season.

Fire Pit Cooking

Before you head out to fill up a firewood rack with wood for cooking though you should know that the wood you cook with actually adds a great deal of flavor to whatever you are preparing, and that some species of wood produce better results than others. Here is a breakdown of some of the best firewood for the budding fire pit chef:

Almond

When used for cooking purposes almond produces a delicate, sweet smoky flavor that compliments both white meat and fish. It is also a great fireplace wood as it has the ability to burn long and strong so filling up your log rack with almond wood can serve a dual purpose.

Smoker

Apple

This is possibly the best of the cooking firewoods, but it can be hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some though expect that whatever food you cook with it will have a mild smoky flavor with a sweet tinge that is absolutely amazing. There is a reason that Applewood bacon is so very good, and yes, it's the wood.

Hickory

Hickory is sometimes referred to as the “king of smoking woods” and if you do use a smoker to prepare foods on a regular basis keeping a good supply on hand in your firewood holder is a good move. Foods smoked using hickory has a tangy, bacon like flavor that is robust and delicious, especially when cooking pork and beef dishes.

Mesquite Wood Smoked T-Bone

Mesquite

Mesquite is another firewood that is great for both lighting a roaring fire in the grate and cooking some great food with. Its solid, earthy flavor compliments almost any kind of foodstuff but is especially tasty if you are preparing any kind of red meat, especially a nice juicy steak.

Lilac

If you a seafood fan, fish cooked over lilac wood has a subtle sweet smokiness that is truly very hard to beat. Orange, lemon and (if you can find it) grapefruit woods are all also fabulous for cooking fish, especially white fish like cod.

One final word of warning though. Not all woods should be used for cooking at all, no matter what you intend to prepare. Although great for building a fire to keep you warm on a nippy summer evening pine, fir, redwood - in fact any wood from a conifer tree - are not suitable for cooking use as they not only leave behind a nasty taste but can, in some instances, even prove toxic.