If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Top 5 Best Woods For Smoking Chicken (Review)

by Lianne Jones April 05, 2022

Top 5 Best Woods For Smoking Chicken

Are you looking for the best wood to smoke chicken? If yes, then you should try out these top five woods for smoking chicken.

Wood is an essential ingredient in smoking food. The type of wood you choose depends on the flavor profile you want to achieve.

There are several types of wood that you can use to smoke food. Some of them include hickory, mesquite, applewood, cherry, maple, oak, pecan, and walnut.

You can also use charcoal or gas to smoke food. In this article, we will discuss the top five woods that you can use to cook smoked foods.

We have picked a mix of hardwoods such as oak, maple, and ash. These woods are easy to find, and they do not require much maintenance. They are also affordable.

Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods? 

The first thing you need to know about smoking with wood is whether it's softwood or hardwood.

There are two main differences between hardwoods and softwoods. First, softwoods burn faster than hardwoods. 

Second, hardwoods produce a stronger smoke flavor. This means that you get a deeper smokiness from hardwoods. It takes longer to light up a fire using hardwoods because of their density. But once the fire is lit, you get a strong smoke flavor.

Hardwood burns slowly and hot. Softwoods burn fast and cool. Hickory and maple are the most popular choices when smoking meat. Pecans and alder are the next most popular choices. 

You can also use other hardwoods like oak, ash, and elm. However, if you want a more intense smoky flavor, then you should go for softwoods such as pine and fir.

Softwoods like pine or cedar aren't suitable for smoking food because their resin makes them too flammable. Cherry wood is mild and sweet. It's great for smoking meats. 

Hickory is probably the most common softwood for smoking. It has a smoky, spiced flavor and is great on meat and poultry. Maple is milder and sweeter, and works well with other flavors. Sugar maple is excellent for smoking turkey.  

1. Oak Wood

Oak wood is one of the most popular choices when it comes to smoking meat. It has a rich aroma with a hint of sweetness. 

This makes it perfect for cooking poultry. You can buy oak wood at any local store. However, if you want to get the best quality oak wood, you need to look for a specialty shop.

Oak has a medium smoke flavor that is stronger than apple and cherries, but lighter than hickory and mesquite. It's wonderful on its own, but blends well with apple, cherry or oak woods. 

You will often find that oak is used to smoke all kinds of meat, and it's incredibly popular for chicken and pork. 

Western sell their premium post oak wood chunks, and they are incredibly well-reviewed by smokers around the world. It is not necessary to soak these wood chunks, and they are ideal for all kinds of grills and smokers.

The fact that they are kiln-dried, ensures that they will not rot or mold when you have opened them. 

Chicken smoked over oak wood is delicious. Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 cups of oak wood chips


  • Preheat your oven or smoker to 350 F. 
  • Season your chicken to your choice. Place the chicken inside a roasting pan. Make sure that there is enough space between the bird and the sides of the pan. 
  • Add about two cups of oak wood chips to the bottom of the pan or smoker tray. 
  • Cover the chicken with aluminum foil. Cook the chicken for approximately three hours, and remove the foil after half of the cooking time. 
  • Remove the chicken from the oven after the time period is up. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.

2. Maple Wood

Maple wood is another great choice for smoking meats like chicken. Its sweet aroma gives your food a unique flavor. 

This wood is available at most grocery stores. You just need to make sure that you buy only fresh wood. It doesn't overpower the chicken meat. It's also considered a great wood for smoking fish and seafood. 

You will often find that maple wood is used for smoking fish such as salmon, as well as pork and poultry. 

Cameron's is a trusted brand among smoking enthusiasts. Their wood chips are made from 100% natural hardwoods, without the use of any harmful chemicals. 

They produce a clean smoke that cooks your chicken well. If you're looking for a high-quality wood for smoking chicken, then you should try their maple wood chips.

With Napoleon, you get a two lb bag of wood chips, and they are suitable and safe for grills as well as smokers.

These wood chips give off an amazing smoky flavor, and they are naturally sourced. The wood chips are kiln-dried, so they will stay fresh without rotting or smelling. 

3. Apple Wood

Apple wood is a great wood for smoking chicken because it has a milder taste compared to other woods. It does not overwhelm the meat, and it adds a nice smoky flavor. 

It's also very versatile. You can use it to smoke almost anything. It's especially good for smoking fish, vegetables, and even desserts. 

It is popular to buy apple wood smoke cheese, as apple wood has a unique and mellow flavor to it, and this goes well with creamy cheese. 

You can purchase apple wood in many sizes and shapes. The larger pieces are ideal for smoking large cuts of meat. Smaller pieces work better for small items like chicken breasts.

You can always cut them down to size if needed. Weber sells apple wood in chunks, and you can create a thick flavor with these chunks. 

4. Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is widely used in baking breads and cakes. It imparts a wonderful aroma to food. Ash wood is ideal for smoking fish, pork, beef, and other types of meat.

Cherry is a sweet fruit wood that's perfect for smoking. It gives poultry a gorgeous deep red color. Cherry wood is also very versatile and works well with other woods. It has a deep, mature flavor, and it adds depth to meats.

Weber also sells some great quality cherry hardwood, and it has a mellow and smoky flavor. This flavor is the same in most fruit woods, and you get a pretty big bag of all-natural cherry wood chips with Weber. 

5. Hickory Wood

Hickory wood is highly recommended for smoking meats. It is considered to be one of the strongest woods. It is commonly used in barbecue pits.

Hickory wood is a strong wood used for smoking meat. When smoked, it adds a rich flavor to the meat. However, if too much is added, it could overpower the meat. 

It is ideal for beginners because of its nutty flavor and gentle taste. Use it sparingly, or it may leave a bitter taste on your chicken. Hickory wood chips are used in barbecue cooking, and you should place them in the pellet part of your smoker. 

These all natural hickory wood chips by Mr. Bar-B-Q are smoky and delicious, with absolutely no added chemicals or harmful substances. These wood chips have a full-bodied, smoky aroma, and they are completely natural and pure. 

You also get a 1.6 lb bag of these wood chips, and you can use them with any heat source, including grills and smokers. 

Does Wood Come In Different Shapes And Sizes? 

Smoking chicken is done by using wood or charcoal. Chicken is smoked with the help of heat and smoke. Wood is used to start the fire, and then some kind of fuel is added to make the fire burn hotter and longer. 

Charcoal is made by burning wood, and then adding water to cool it down. In this case, the type of wood doesn't matter because it's just used as fuel.


Wood chips burn hotter than pellets. They're also more expensive. You can use them in small grills and other smoking devices.


Pellets are small pieces of wood used to smoke meat or other foods over an open flame. They're also used to heat water in outdoor pots.


Wood chunks are large pieces of wood that you use when building a fire. You need a lot of them to make a big fire. They are around the size of a small hand. 


Wood logs are large logs of hardwood used in big grills and smokers and produce a long smoking time.

How Do You Smoke Chicken?

The process of smoking chicken is simple. First, you have to preheat your oven or smoker. Then, place the chicken inside the roasting pan. 

Next, add the wood chips or pellets to the bottom of the roasting pan. Finally, cover the chicken with aluminum foil and cook it. 

The time needed depends on how hot your oven or smoker is. If you don't want to wait, you can put the chicken directly onto the grill.

When smoking your chicken, you may also wonder how to keep the chicken moist, since it will be in the smoker for several hours. Aluminum foil helps retain moisture inside your chicken, and it will mean that the meat will not dry out as quickly. 

Additionally, basting is an important step to ensure the chicken stays moist, as it will keep the meat well hydrated and moist.

When you're cooking chicken, make sure you use an oven thermometer to check the internal temperature of your chicken. You want to make sure that your chicken reaches the proper temperature before removing it from the grill. 

If you leave it on the grate too long, you'll end up with dry chicken. Smokers are designed to smoke meat low and slow, so never put the temperature too high in a smoker. 

It will take you around three to four hours to smoke a whole chicken. It is better to cook a chicken slowly at a lower heat, than to overcook it. If you overcook chicken, it will be dry. 

Why Does Smoked Chicken Taste Better?

Chicken tastes better after being smoked. The reason why is that smoke flavors the meat. Smoke contains chemicals called tars which give the meat a delicious flavor. 

You can notice the difference between a smoked chicken vs an unsmoked chicken, and the flavor is astounding. 

Wood used for smoking should be matched to the type of meat being cooked, and all of the above woods are ideal for chicken.

How Do You Know If Your Chicken Is Ready?

If you've ever cooked chicken before, you already know how to tell if the chicken has been properly smoked. To test, cut into the thickest part of the breast and check whether there is any pink color left. If there isn't any, then the chicken is done.

If you haven't cooked chicken before, here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your chicken is fresh.
  2. Don't overcook your chicken.
  3. Keep the chicken covered while cooking.
  4. Use the right amount of wood.
  5. Check the temperature of your oven or smoker.
  6. Cook your chicken at 350 °F.

How To Store Wood For Smoking?

Hickory wood needs to be stored in a dry area away from direct sunlight. It shouldn't be exposed to high temperatures either. 

Store your hickory wood in a sealed container. Avoid storing it near a furnace or stove.

Is Smoking Safe?

Yes! There are no known health risks associated with smoking food. However, it's best to avoid inhaling the smoke. When smoking, keep the door closed and turn on the ventilation system.

Final Thoughts

Smoking is one of the easiest ways to enhance the flavor of foods. In this article we discussed the top five best woods for smoking chicken. 

We also talked about what kind of wood to choose when smoking chicken.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.