Different types of wood compliment meat when smoked on the grill.

What types of wood go with what can be confusing so I've created a brief guide of wood types, smoke flavors, and their food pairings. To give credit where credit is due for this information, I found a flyer with this information at the local grilling store with the source unknown.

Types of wood – flavor: pairing

  • Alder – delicate, slightly sweet: fish, pork, poultry and light game. Traditionally used in the pacific NW to smoke salmon.
  • Apple – slightly sweet but denser; fruity smoke flavor: Goes with beef, pouty, game birds, ham and salmon.
  • Cherry – slightly sweet, fruity smoke flavor: good with all meats and seafood
  • Cedar – mild and aromatic: used in the NW for smoking salmon
  • Grape Vines – aromatic, similar to fruitwood: good with most meat
  • Hickory – pungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor. This is the most commonly used wood for smoking: great for all smoking but especially on pork and ribs
  • Maple – mildly smoky and sweet: great with pork, poultry, cheese, vegetables, and small game birds
  • Mesquite – strong earthy flavor: while this is great with beef and most vegetables, it goes well with other meat too
  • Oak – heavy smoke flavor: good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game
  • Peachslightly sweet, woodsy flavor: good with most meat
  • Pear – sweet and woodsy flavor: poultry, game birds and pork
  • Pecan – the flavor is milder  and sweeter than hickory: good with most meats
  • Walnut – very heavy smoke flavor hence tends to be used with lighter woods like pecan or apple. It can be bitter used alone: good with red meats and game


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