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Top 5 Best Woods For Smoking Fish (Review)

by Lianne Jones May 25, 2022

Top 5 Best Woods For Smoking Fish

Smoking fish has become a very common practice in some parts of Asia. The main reason behind this is that smoked fish tastes better than fresh ones.

In this article, I'll share my top five favorite types of wood to smoke fish.

Fish is a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. If you want to enjoy the benefits of smoked fish, then you should choose the right type of wood to smoke them.

There are several types of woods that are suitable for smoking fish. Some of these include hickory, mesquite, oak, maple, cherry, apple, and pecan. Each of these woods has its own unique flavor profile.

In this article, we are going to go through everything you need to know about which five types of wood are best for smoking fish and everything else you need to know on the topic. So, let's get started!

Five Of The Best Types Of Wood To Smoke Fish

The following list shows the five best varieties of wood that you can use to smoke fish. They can all be used interchangeably without any problems.


Hickory is one of the most popular types of wood available today. It is also known as sweet gum.

This is what gives hickory wood its characteristic deep, rich flavor. You would typically find hickory wood in barbecue grills because it burns well and adds lots of flavor to food while cooking.


Mesquite is another popular variety of wood that you should consider using when smoking fish.

Its distinctive flavor makes it ideal to cook many types of meat. However, if you want to smoke fish, then you need to make sure that you don't over smoke it.


Oak is the third wood on our list of the best types to smoke fish. It produces a milder flavor than hickory and mesquite. It has a slightly sweet taste, which makes it perfect for meats like chicken and pork.


Maple is yet another good option for smoking fish. Its light flavor goes perfectly with seafood dishes. It is a versatile wood that can be used in both charcoal grills and gas grills.


Cherry wood has been around since ancient times. Today, it is still widely used in Asian kitchens. It is especially useful for cooking meat because it imparts a strong aroma to the finished product.

What Do You Need To Know About Using Different Types Of Wood?

If you're planning to start smoking your fish, then you need some basic information about how to do so.

There are three important things to keep in mind. First, you need to choose the right kind of wood that will give you the desired results.

Secondly, you must ensure that you use enough heat to properly smoke your fish.

Lastly, you need to know how long to smoke your fish before serving it. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors.

1) Choose The Right Type Of Wood

Selecting the right type of wood is very essential because they have different characteristics.

As we mentioned earlier, there are various kinds of woods that are suitable to smoke fish. Before getting started, you need to decide between two options.

You can either buy a pre-made smoker box or build your own. When selecting a smoker box, you need to consider the size and thickness of the wood chips that come inside.

If you opt for building your own smoker, then you should always make sure that you select the proper sized firebox. Otherwise, you could end up having a hard time controlling the temperature.

2) Control The Temperature

You must control the amount of heat that gets transferred from the fuel source to the firebox. In order to achieve this, you need to adjust the vents on top of the firebox.

You can open them more or less depending on the amount of airflow that you desire. Also, you can adjust the draft by changing the placement of the chimney.

3) Plan Your Cooking Time

When making smoked fish, you always need to plan ahead. This means that you should allow yourself enough time to prepare the ingredients before starting to smoke the fish.

Once you've decided on the type of wood that you'll be using, you should set aside enough time to let the wood smolder until it reaches the correct level of smoke.

4) Serve Your Smoked Fish Immediately After Smoking

Once you've reached the desired level of smoke, you should serve your fish immediately after smoking. This is because it takes only minutes for the smoke to completely dissipate.

Therefore, if you wait too long, the fish may lose its freshness. However, if you cook the fish slowly over low heat, then you won't risk losing any of the flavors.

Pros And Cons Of Our Top Wood Picks

Hickory Wood

Hickory is one of the most common types of wood that people use when smoking their food. Because it contains plenty of essential nutrients, it's great for making healthy foods like cheese, sausage, and even desserts.

Moreover, hickory wood also imparts a rich flavor to the food that it smokes. That said, hickory wood has a short shelf life since it's highly susceptible to moisture damage.

Mesquite Wood

It has a slightly sweet aroma that complements many foods such as seafood, ribs, and poultry.

Mesquite wood is also easy to work with. This means that you don't have to worry about handling it carefully.

Oak Wood

Oak wood has a strong flavor that compliments many dishes such as beef, chicken, pork, etc. Its unique flavor makes it ideal for smoking meat. It's also quite versatile since it works well with both moist and dry foods.

However, oak has a tendency to burn easily. So, you need to pay close attention while working with it.

Walnut Wood

Walnut wood has a distinct aroma that complements many dishes including meats, vegetables, poultry, and seafood. It's also quite affordable but requires some experience in order to get the best results.

Maple Wood

Maple Wood is considered an aromatic wood. With its distinctive smell, it complements many foods especially fish, shellfish, and sausages. It also adds a very nice flavor to baked goods.

However, maple wood tends to burn quickly, so you need to keep a watchful eye on it at all times.

Cherry Wood

Cherry Wood is often described as one of the best types of wood that you can use when smoking fish. In addition to being versatile, cherry wood also gives off an incredible smell.

This makes it perfect for cooking food like salmon, chicken, and even steak. On the other hand, cherry wood is highly flammable. This means that you shouldn't leave your smoker unattended while using cherry wood.

What Format Of Wood Is The Best

The format of wood you choose depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve with your smoked food.

The general types of woof you will get are as follows:

  • Wood Logs
  • Wood Chunks
  • Wood Chips
  • Wood Pellets

All these options are great for different purposes. When we talk about logs, they're generally used for baking bread or pizza.

While chunks tend to be used for grilling or roasting meat. And chips are usually used for smoking. Finally, pellets are primarily used for smoking small cuts of meat.

What Are Some Best Woods For Smoking Fish?

In this section, we are going to look at a few of the best products you can use if you want to smoke fish.

These are the products that we have found to be the best value for money. So, without further ado, let us get started!

Camerons Store - Set Of Three Wood Chips

Set Of Three Wood Chips

This product comes with three tubs of different wood types. So for a reasonable price, you can get a tub of mesquite, hickory, and alder wood chips.

The best thing about this product is the fact that you get several types of wood chips in one so you have room for experimentation while also purchasing two of the best types of wood for smoking fish.

MacLean's Store - Wood BBQ Smoking Chips

MacLean's Store - Wood BBQ Smoking Chips

If you are looking for an excellent quality brand that will not only sell you mesquite wood chips but also give you various other wood options this is one of the best products you could go for.

Thousand Oaks Barrel Store - Walnut And Pecan Smoking Chips

Thousand Oaks Barrel Store - Walnut And Pecan Smoking Chips

These chips come from a local company that sources their nuts from California. They also source their walnuts and pecans from farms in Oregon which is why you get a mix of flavors.

You can find them in bulk packs. There are four different kinds of wood that you can buy in these packs. The first pack includes walnut, the second one includes hickory, the third contains oak, and finally, the last pack includes pecan.

WESTERN - Four Pack Of Smoking Wood Chips

WESTERN - Four Pack Of Smoking Wood Chips

This is another brand made by a local company from Texas. You can find them in a single pack. There are four different varieties of wood included in this pack.
They include mesquite, hickory, hickory, and applewood.

These woods are known for their ability to produce a lot of smoke. So, if you are looking for a good amount of smoke then this should be on your list.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we are going to answer some of your most burning questions concerning which woods are best for smoking fish.

What Is The Best Wood To Use To Smoke Salmon?

The best wood to use to smoke salmon is either cherry or maple. Both of these woods create a wonderful smoky flavor. But the cherry wood adds just enough sweetness to make it all the more delicious.

What Wood Gives The Most Flavor?

Applewood gives off a very strong woody aroma. Cherry wood has a sweet scent and a slight hint of vanilla.

Maple wood is sweet as well, but its smell is almost entirely dominated by sap. Mesquite wood is fairly neutral, but it does add a nice flavor to smoked foods.

What Is The Best Wood To Smoke Trout?

Trout is a delicate food item that needs to be handled carefully. It tends to pick up any type of flavor.

Therefore, you need to keep the temperature low and control the smoke. Applewood is ideal because it produces a light smoke and no overpowering aroma.

Is Oak Better Than Other Types Of Wood?

Oak is always a great choice when smoking meats. However, it is less effective when used to smoke seafood.

This is because seafood requires a higher heat setting to maintain a high level of smoke. In addition, it picks up too much of the oak’s flavor.

Final Thoughts

Wood chips are the perfect way to start out with smoking foods. They are easy to use, and they can give you a variety of results depending on what kind of food you choose to smoke.

If you want to try something new you can experiment with different kinds of wood without breaking the bank.

Just remember that the price of the chips will depend on how many you buy, so it’s important to take that into consideration before making a purchase decision.

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