If you want to get the most out of your cook, you’ll want to choose the best wood for smoking beef. Here is what I have learned after doing some research.
Hardwood is the best choice to smoke heavier and denser meats such as beef and pork. Hardwood has a stronger burn and lasts much longer than softwood which is perfect for a heavy cut as it tends to take more time to cook.
Now the question that arises here is which type of hardwood is best to smoke beef? Read on to learn everything you need to know about hardwood, its types, and which type is best suited to smoke beef?
Red Oak Hardwood is Best for Smoking Beef
Hardwood is the best type of wood for smoking beef because it burns hotter and longer than softwoods. In addition to having a stronger burn, it last longer than softwood and has less resin since softwoods may contain resins and sap. These inclusions will give your beef a more acrid smoke and hinder its pure flavor to come out as it smokes.
There are numerous types of hardwoods belonging to different families, with each having its own type of texture, flavor, and smoking properties. Choosing the best one to smoke the meat completely depends on your taste, but Red Oak tends to be a clear winner for smoking the most popular types of meat for an appetizing flavor:
If you have a barbeque session with friends and want to serve the most delicious meat of their lives, Red Oak should be your clear choice of wood to smoke. It stands out amongst all other hardwoods and oaks due to the amazing, intense burn that cooks the meat well and gives it an aromatic smoky flavor.
The downside of Red Oak could be access. Luckily, there are other types of hardwood available in all areas, that are affordable, and could also work well for smoking beef, in addition to other meats like pork and chicken.
Hickory and Mesquite
Hickory is the widely opted wood when it comes to barbeque because of its ease of access. Hickory is available readily in every area and is highly affordable. The wood is perfect for heavy meats. It has a long-lasting flame and aromatic smoke with a bacon tang that enhances the flavor of the meat.
Hickory is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for a scrumptious flavor:
- Pork Shoulders
Another popular hardwood for smoking meats is mesquite, which has an oily finish and burns red hot. Mesquite is popular for preparing Texas Style BBQ. Mesquite is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for an enhanced flavor:
- For added flavor, while grilling
Mesquite has a strong and intense flavor, so it is recommended to be used for red meat for a strong flavor. However, the wood is strongly advised to be used by an expert because it makes it hard to control the strong flavor and fast burning that comes with using mesquite.
The most versatile and go-to option after hickory is Oak. Similar in terms of taste to apple and hickory, this wood is another top pick for smoking beef and other red meat cuts. This can also be added with other woods like apple or cherry to enhance or balance the flavor.
Oak is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for a delectable flavor:
White post oak, in particular, has been found to give meats a unique flavor when barbequing or smoking any of the meats listed above. This is probably why post oak is so popular in Texas, while other Texas pitmasters swear by the fruit woods.
Apple and Cherry
Apple is a wood with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor and goes well to smoke beef and pork. It can overwhelm soft meats like poultry and fish with its flavor. The wood takes some time to fully liberate its flavor into the meat and burns for a long time. It is the best pick if you are in for a long, slow, and tenderly cooked meat with a mild sweet flavor.
Applewood is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for a delicious flavor:
- Wild Fowl
Cherry wood is an all-rounder in the world of woods that goes well with all kinds of meat. Be it red meat, poultry, or fish, cherry wood aces all. If you are looking to give the meat a perfectly grilled mahogany color with a hint of mild sweetness, Cherry wood is the best pick. However, it is advised to be used by expert pitmasters.
Cherrywood is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for a delightful flavor:
There are two final hardwoods that can work well for smoking meats as long as they are available in your area of the world.
Grapevine Cutting and Pecan
Grapevine cutting wood is a perfect choice for smoking red meat or adding extra flavor while grilling. Grapevine cuttings come in actual vines, precut, and air-dried to fit any grill or smoker right away. This wood adds a delicate and smoky flavor to the meat while giving out a steady supply of smoke for perfect cooking.
Grapevine cutting is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for a succulent flavor:
Pecan wood comes from the hickory family, and similar to hickory, it burns slowly and gives a nice flavor to the meat. That is why it is a smart pick for smoking heavy meats like beef and pork. But the wood tends to give out a strong, pungent smell if used in excess, so it is recommended to use Pecan Wood in moderation.
Pecan is recommended to smoke the following types of meat for an aromatic flavor:
Now that you know all the types of hardwood suitable for smoking or grilling beef, let’s dig deeper into the types of wood that are best to get the most flavor and texture out of the meat.
Shape and Size of Wood
Logs and chunks are the best types of wood suggested for smoking beef. Logs mostly come in 18 inches sizes and are perfect for a large setting that needs a big batch of beef to smoke. Logs take longer to burn and need ample space, mainly suited for large smokers. Following are some benefits of using logs:
- Steady heat
- Lasts longer
- Clean smoke that does not overpower the meat flavor
Chunks are mostly opted for barbeques because of their easy handling. It is convenient to toss in chunks into a grill or smoker than fit in larger pieces. The comparatively are less of a hassle than logs. Chunks are a perfect pick if you want to smoke beef or other heavy meat on the menu. Following are some benefits of using chunks:
- Smaller and accommodative
- Allows a better control over smoke
- Easily available
- Perfect size for domestic grills or smokers
These wood types are highly suitable if you are a meat lover and love that smokey and perfectly seared meat grilled to perfection. Logs and chunks both last for a long time with an even smoke supply so that the flavors are finely blended into the tender meat.
Logs can be a little hard to find locally because they are rarely used domestically, but if you are willing to experiment for your next big event, do not hesitate to approach BBQ restaurants in your area. They source their batch from a vendor and can help you out. Chunks are readily available from any local wood vendor.
You can get chunks sliced up further in any size you desire. If you do not find a local vendor, you can ask a fellow pitmaster about their vendor. You should also opt for old wood that has been chopped some time before because freshly cut wood has resins and sap that could seep in your food while burning and make the taste bitter.
Once you know your taste and the wood that brings out the flavor your tastebuds crave, you can try to mix and balance different families of wood to enhance or get a mixed flavor of sweet yet tangy barbeque. However, experimenting with different woods is only recommended for those pitmasters who know the woods and flavors well.
Now that you have enough information about the best wood to smoke beef, its types, and shapes, we encourage you to get into the pitmaster’s field and experiment—test different woods, shapes, and meats. Mix, balance until you derive out the best combination of wood, shape, and meat.
We hope you got all the information you were looking for regarding woods to smoke beef. Let us know about your smoking experience in the comments below. Do mention what combination of wood and meat came out the best for your taste pallet.