If you are into smoking meats, you know the challenge of cultivating a delicious, smoked flavor, without overwhelming the taste buds, and maintaining/accentuating the natural tastes of the meat.
The best way to do this is by using the right wood for your smoke. There are many types of woods that can be used for smoking, but there are some that work better than others.
The most common woods used in barbecuing today are hickory, oak, mesquite, pecan, cherry, apple, maple, etc.
We have taken a look at a large set of woods, so that we can write a review for nearly all the wood you will find on the market.
We've listed the top five best woods for smoking brisket - so if you want to stick to the tried and true woods, or if you want to go beyond these traditional woods, here are five other options that will give your smoked meat an extra kick.
Brisket is one of our favorite meats to smoke. It takes a while, but it tastes great, so we reckon that it is definitely a tradeoff that is worth all the time it takes!
To truly honor a good brisket, you should use your best quality wood and cook it slowly - a typical brisket is around 20 pounds, so embarking on smoking a brisket is committing to one of the longest smokes you will ever do.
And when we say a long smoke, we mean it - you will need to smoke each pound of meat for between 30 and 60 minutes, so a standard brisket could take an entire day to cook.
With this in mind, you'll need to plan ahead when smoking a brisket, so you can get it on the table in time.
One of the most important things to plan before you put your brisket in the smoker is what kind of wood you are going to use.
As there are many types of wood used for smoking meats, the amount of options you have can feel a bit overwhelming.
In addition to choosing your perfect wood, there is a lot of prep work that goes into a brisket - injecting, seasoning, and trimming are needed to prepare the meat correctly.
The wood chips should also be soaked in water before use. Though it might be tempting, don't skip any of these steps, a proper setup is essential to get the most out of your smoke.
If you have gone through this entire lengthy process, the last thing that you will want to do is choose the wrong wood, and get a subpar smoked brisket.
Thankfully for you, we have taken some of the guesswork out of the whole endeavor. Some woods are more suitable than others - and we have covered our top picks in this article - so read on for the tastiest brisket!
These smoking chips, made by Jack Daniel's, are the remnants of (you guessed it) the okay whiskey barrels that are used to make everyone's favorite boozy beverage.
These chips are made from the staves of the barrels, which are then dried and cut up into small pieces. They are designed to be placed directly over the heat source of a grill or smoker, where they create a smoky flavor that permeates the food being cooked.
We love using these oak barrel chips as they impart a light and caramelized sweet taste to foods, which can also be found in Jack Daniel's whiskey.
They are really popular not only for this sweetness, but also because they add a complexity of taste to your food, and give it a distinct nutty flavor, which we think is absolutely delectable for a good brisket.
Applewood chunks are great for smoking briskets, so long as you pair them up with some sort of primary wood, such as mesquite or oak.
We find that applewood adds a slight tanginess to the meat, whilst also bringing out the full range of more robust meaty flavors that are more traditional for a brisket.
Applewood is tricky to light, especially when soaked for the recommended 30 minutes, but once lit, the wood chips burn pretty slowly, so you don’t need to watch it closely.
It produces great smoke flavor, and you don’t have to worry about burning up too much charcoal.
All the chips that Weber makes are decently sized, meaning that they are large enough to last in your BBQ or smoker for a while, whilst also being thin enough to fall through the grate of your BBQ and onto the hot charcoal.
With a meat such as brisket, which needs a really long smoking period, having a chunky chip is really useful, as you don't have to be quite as vigilant with it.
Mesquite is a very strong smoking wood, which, when used in your barbecue, can give a really intense smoky flavor to your food - so only use these smoking chunks if you (and everyone you will be feeding the brisket to) really enjoys those kinds of tastes.
Aside from the smoky flavor, mesquite will impart your meat with a bold, earthy flavor, which will really take the high note in your brisket.
Camerons Outdoor BBQ Mesquite Chunks are kiln dried. This helps them achieve a cleaner smokiness, and not as much popping from your smoker during the process - this is a major feature of these wood chunks, as it makes the smoking process safer for your brisket as well as yourself.
As they are kiln dried, they have a low moisture content, and this reduced moisture leads to quicker ignition. This is what you should be aiming for when you start your mammoth brisket smoking sessions.
Hickory is a great choice for smoking a beefy brisket - it is a particularly tough wood, with one of its primary uses being for the construction of handles for axes, spades, and other hard wearing pieces of gardening equipment.
So, when you smoke these logs, they burn slow and hot, which is great for the tastiness of your brisket. The result is a deliciously smoked beef brisket.
Big Green Egg manufactures quite large chunks of wood, with reviewers saying that one chunk can last for about an hour, so you don't constantly have to be checking on your brisket during the smoking process.
The pieces of wood are a little larger than chunks and chips, but so long as you factor this into your planning, it should be fine.
The wood burns very slowly, making it perfect for long smoking sessions. Hickory burns hot, allowing it to cook as well as smoke, while also giving off a strong flavor to your food.
If you want to go all out when it comes to smoking your brisket, then pecan is the way to go. It has a milder taste than hickory, and is much more versatile when it comes to cooking.
You can use it for roasting, baking, or even frying up some delicious pecan pie!
The sweet and nutty notes are two flavors that pair really nicely with pecan, and these chips are made from real pecans trees, making them taste super authentic and natural.
They are also kiln dried, meaning they won't get soggy if left sitting around for a few days.
The flavors of pecan wood pair really well with heavy meats like beef and lamb, as well as being great with lighter options, such as poultry, fish and veggies.
There are a few considerations for you to take into account when you are smoking a brisket. Here are some factors that we think you should keep in mind (& our advice on them).
Oak is a reliable favorite for brisket smoking. This is because it burns really hot - which is ideal for a large chunk of meat, such as a brisket.
The smoke that oak produces is not only hot, but also of moderate flavor potency, so you can be sure that everyone at your dinner table will really enjoy the meat - not just you.
Pecan is a really sweet wood for smoking. It gives off a very light smokiness, but the sweetness makes it perfect for dishes where you might want something with a caramelized, sugary tone.
We suggest that you pair up pecan chips with a wood that produces more potent smokiness, for a really full bodied and well rounded dish.
Hickory is another popular choice for smoking briskets. It's a bit stronger than oak, but still mild enough to allow the meat to cook through without drying out.
Hickory gives your meat a nutty, neatly bacon-like taste, so if you think that you would enjoy that, this is the wood for you!
Mesquite is an excellent wood for smoking meat. It gives off a strong smoke flavor and aroma, so briskets that are smoked with mesquite wood are always very tasty (sometimes a little too tasty, for those that aren't as keen on a strong smoke flavor than us).
Apple wood and cherry wood smoke is good for beef because it gives the meat a contrasting fruity flavor - however, we would suggest that you use fruit woods by combining them with a more brisk, full bodied wood, such as oak or hickory.
In conclusion, we think that regardless of the taste you want for the finished product, there is an ideal wood out there for you to use to smoke your brisket.
You could even try mixing multiple wood chips together, depending on how much you prefer one over the other.
If you're looking for a new type of wood to try, then we've given a whole bunch of suggestions for you here. We hope that you find what you're looking for! Happy smoking!
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