Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: August 18, 2022

The Masterclass staff recommends that it is vital to understand how the smoke flavor from your wood contributes to the overall flavor of your meat when trying to achieve the perfect barbeque.

When deciding on the type of wood you will use, the first woods you should consider are found in your area, as this will be readily available and affordable.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Choose a wood that burns for an extended period and gives off delicious flavors.
  • The most popular wood used to smoke brisket is oak, hickory, and mesquite.
  • Mix your strong-flavored woods with a milder flavored wood such as apple, cherry, maple, olive, or pecan.

Choosing the best wood for your dish is hugely dependent on the type of meat you are cooking, its properties, the size of the meat, and the flavor you are trying to achieve.

No wood is better than another as they all have pros and cons. Knowing when to use a sweeter or intense flavor wood is vital and how to create that perfect smokiness.

What Wood Is Best For Smoking Brisket?

A chopped wood log in dark blue background

Before you decide on wood, it is good to understand the meat you are cooking the properties of the different woods and flavors.

All woods are different, some burn faster than others, and all have different tastes.

The type of woods that burn faster is your softer ones, such as pine and redwood; the reason they burn quicker is due to the sap.

Brisket is a large piece of meat covered by a thick layer of fat, and the meat is tough. The fat around it helps tenderize the meat as it is being cooked.

To help tenderize the meat, you have to cook it for an extended period and at a low temperature when cooking this meat.

Due to this, you will need to choose a wood that burns for an extended period. With this thick fat and tough meat, it is also best to use medium flavor meat to help penetrate and flavor it.

What Types Of Wood Are Best To Smoke Brisket?

As discussed above, when choosing your wood, look for one that burns for a long time, such as your hardwoods, and one that has the lovely flavor you want.

Let us look at a few different types you can choose from.

1. Oak Wood

Chopped oak woods close up image

Oakwood is a popular wood explicitly used in Central Texan BBQs; this is typically your white oak known as Post oak.

Aaron Franklin from Masterclass always uses this type of oak wood when making brisket.

The reason for this is because of its affordability, availability, as well as exquisite flavors it gives brisket [1].

Oakwood burns for an extended period making it perfect for this type of meat. It is excellent to smoke meat with; its medium flavor gives it a sweet, vanilla taste.

This wood is great as the primary wood flavoring the meat compared to a secondary flavor.

2. Hickory Wood

Hickory is also a popular wood used for smoking brisket; it burns for a long time and has a much stronger flavor than oak wood.

This wood gives red meat a nutty bacon-like flavoring, don’t use too much of this wood as it can overpower the meat, which you don’t want. It would be best to blend it with milder wood such as apple or cherry wood to prevent it from overpowering your meat.

3. Mesquite Wood

Top view of Mesquite wood chunks

This wood is typically used to produce that authentic Texan flavored brisket. This flavor is more robust than oak and hickory; its flavor is earthier.

Since it is so strong, it is highly recommended to blend it with a mild-flavored wood, such as applewood, so that the brisket is not overpowered.

The downfall to this wood is that it burns pretty quickly, so you will need to add more to the fire as you cook, or you can also blend it with other woods to help maintain the smokiness.

4. Cherry Wood

This wood flavor is more subtle; it gives your meat a fruitier sweet flavor. This wood blends well with hickory.

5. Olive Wood

Olive wood gives off a mild smoky flavor similar to the earthy flavor you get from mesquite. If you want to keep that earthy flavor and use mesquite, then this wood is good to blend it with.

6. Apple Wood

Applewood gives your red meat a delicious sweet fruity flavor; this is commonly blended with hickory or mesquite to help soften the taste. This wood forms a dense smoke which is excellent when penetrating the thick brisket fat and tough meat.

7. Maple Wood

This type of wood brings a more fun festive season flavor to your brisket; it gives it a mild smoky-sweet flavor. This wood also goes well with other meats if you plan to cook other meats with your brisket on the barbeque.

8. Pecan Wood

Pecan wood is not commonly used as it is not for everyone; if you feel adventurous, you can try it. It gives your meat a very sweet, nutty taste; it is best to blend it with another wood to help reduce its sweetness; try pairing it with oak.

What Size Wood To Use When Smoking Brisket?

Wood logs chopped and stacked

Choosing the suitable flavor wood for your brisket and the correct size is essential.

The wood for your brisket needs to burn for a long time, which is why wood chips wouldn’t be a great option as they burn very quickly, which won’t work.

Chunks of wood and split logs are both excellent for smoking your brisket.

Chunks burn for a long time; they are great for large briskets and are usually used in small to medium-sized offset smokers.

Split logs of wood are excellent for large offset smokers and larger briskets.

Related: Why is Brisket Expensive?

Conclusion

Smoking a brisket is a big job as it takes quite a lot of time to cook to tenderize beautifully. It can be a little daunting for your first try as it is an expensive meat you don’t want to mess up.

Choosing the right type of wood or blend of woods is important to produce that lovely flavor that is not too subtle or too strong.

It is best to choose either oak, hickory, or mesquite as your primary woods and blend them with apple, cherry, or maple woods.

Along with choosing the right type of wood, the right type of smoker to use should also be right.


References:

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-select-smoking-woods

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