Best Wood for Smoking Brisket: Heavy and Light Woods

There’s nothing like a good old brisket to show off to your friends and family during gatherings but in order to get the best brisket in town, you must also have the use the right kind of wood to use when smoking it. While there are plenty of woods to use in smoking briskets, your demographic location as well as other factors will help determine what kind of wood you should be using.

For example in Texas, this state mainly use mesquite to smoke briskets and other types of meat while in this may not be the same for those who are in Alabama or Oklahoma. Now if you want to know the best wood for smoking brisket then it is best that you get to know the different kinds of wood out there first.

Why Briskets are Awesome

The term “brisket” comes from an Old Norse language that means cartilage or refers to one. In order to cook the best briskets in town, it is important that you know what it is and why the texture is important to achieve. This is because briskets are mainly parts of the pectorals of a cow or also known as the muscles that support the body of the cow.

Because of that, it is important that this is cooked finely so that it comes out tender. In addition to the pectoral meats, briskets can also have parts of the ribs, cartilage and sternum of the cow.

To cook brisket, you need to make sure that they are cooked slowly and the meat should always stay moist. Although it is common to marinate the meat before cooking, it is always a good idea to cook the meat not in a pan but with wood or charcoal. This method of cooking ensures you that the meat is being cooked and smoked slowly to perfection.

In order to keep the brisket moist, it must be baste all throughout the cooking process. This way the meat texture becomes tender and the collagen fibers begin to gelatinize. So it doesn’t matter if you have cooked it a long time just as it is cooked slowly and under controlled temperature. That is why this meat is often the favorite among meat lovers.

Choosing the Best Wood for Smoking Brisket

Cooking brisket can be done any time of the year and not just during summer or special occasions. After all, there are no laws that say you can’t cook brisket any time you feel like it, right? As long as you have the right smoker and recipe, by all means cook your brisket! However, there is one thing that you need to remember when you are cooking brisket and that is the type of wood you should use when you do so. How do you choose the right wood to use for a brisket anyway?

First of all, it is important that you know the different kinds of wood used in smoking meats. This will give you a better hand at how they can affect the taste of the brisket. Second, always ask for suggestions from friends or family who are veterans in smoking meats.

They can tell you a few tips to use when smoking meats and the type of wood you should use in doing so. Lastly, check the supply of wood around your area and see if there are good woods available for you to use. That being said, I have listed the popular types of wood used in smoking briskets. I highly recommend that you experiment and try combining one or two types of wood so you can figure out what works best for you.

Types of Barbecue Wood You Can Use

As I have mentioned, different wood means different flavors and that is why it is important that you are able to identify, experiment and find the best wood for smoking brisket. Only then can you say that you have the best smoky flavored brisket in town. Here are some of the best woods that you can try.

  • Apple – this wood is perhaps one of the best for smoking meats as it produces fruity and sweet taste. It’s also perfect for poultry meats like chicken or turkey and of course ham.
  • Alder – it is one of the most preferred wood by hundreds of smokers out there especially if you are going to smoke salmon or any type of fish. It will certainly bring out the taste that you want.
  • Cherry – just like apple, this wood also produces sweet and fruity flavors to your meats. It has a mild aroma that is a good choice for fish, ham or poultry.
  • Hickory – one of the most popular type of wood used in smoking meats, this can also be unfavorable to some as it tends to be a bit pungent to some people. That is why it is important that you know how to use hickory wood while smoking briskets. It is dubbed to be excellent to use on ribs as well as other red meats. It can also be used to poultry cuts but it’s best to stick to your red meats.
  • Maple – another favorite among users is maple wood. This one produces a sweet and light taste which is great for chicken, turkey and other poultry meats. It’s also a good choice for smoking hams.
  • Mesquite – one of the best and popular woods used, mesquite is one of those woods that can produce a distinct flavor in your meat. However it is important that you know how to use this wood as this can be overpowering at times. It is not recommended for larger cuts as it requires longer smoking time but if done correctly, this could be a good type of wood. It is also recommended to be paired with other lighter woods for an even taste.
  • Oak – if you want to smoke larger portions of meat, oak is a good choice to get. It may require longer smoking period but it is not as overpowering as mesquite. It’s a good choice for brisket too.
  • Pecan – another wood that gives out fruity flavor once used, this may burn easily and cooler among other barbecue woods. It is somewhat similar to hickory but it is mainly used for briskets and pork roast. It can also be used in poultry and fish.

Yes, there are plenty of woods to use for smoking brisket but you must also experiment with it so you can figure out the flavor that you like best.

Basic Rules for Using Wood in Smoking Meat

There is a rule of thumb for using wood when smoking meats. Understand that there are heavy woods and light woods to choose from. Heavy wood like hickory, oak, maple and mesquite are great for beef like brisket and pork while lighter woods like alder, apple, oak and the rest of fruit or nut-bearing woods are great for fish and poultry.

However, the best flavor comes when you start adding small portions of light wood to the heavy ones in order to add flavor to your brisket. Same goes to poultry meats when smoking.

Final Thoughts

A good and delicious brisket is something that melts in your mouth and yet has texture. It should be moist not dry and must have the best flavor! If you can achieve this then you are doing it right and if not then you need more practice. If you are a first timer then don’t worry, there’s plenty of room to grow and more time to experiment.

So don’t be disheartened if you haven’t figured it out just yet. What’s important is that you know what kind of wood to use and what can you mix it with.

If you really are in doubt then always seek for tips. You can always go to barbecue sites that offer help to those who are new to smoking meats. Ask the experts and see what they can advise you when it comes to smoking the perfect brisket. Watch video tutorials too; this could give you plenty of insight on what to do. You might even learn how to slay the best barbecue sauce or marinade for your brisket!

All in all, learning how to cook/smoke a brisket is not an overnight skill. It’s something that we get to learn as the day goes by. Leaning about the best wood for smoking brisket is as important as choosing the right recipe for your brisket so it takes time to learn everything.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done it yet, there’s always a first time for everything. What’s important is you know what to do and how to do it. In the long run you will be an expert on this field so while there’s room to grow, grab the chance and learn from it. We hope that you find this article helpful.

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