The Best Wood for Smoking Ribs: A Simple Guide to Follow

When it comes to backyard parties or simple family/friends gathering, smoky ribs are always a big deal to prepare. That is why a lot of people take their time in preparing this dish so it will come out as perfect as they want it to be.

To achieve the best results, using the best electric smoker can help you with that but choosing the best wood for smoking ribs is also as important. Now if you are planning to cook ribs or if there is an event ahead that you want to prepare for then you need to know how to prepare ribs and of course, pick the right kind of wood to use.

In this article we will help you with just that and so if you are interested to know the steps and tips to use when picking up wood, all you have to do is read this article.


The Best Wood for Smoking Ribs: A Simple Guide to Follow

Best Wood for Smoking Ribs and Meats

The most common type of wood used when smoking meats are usually types of heavy wood. However, there are times when the heat and smoke from these woods become too much especially when you picked the wrong one. This could ruin the meat’s taste and texture as well as its juiciness. And so in order to avoid these instances, you must know that best kind of wood to use when smoking meats.

Understand also that there are plenty of states all over America that practice different styles of cooking ribs or BBQs. Some may use the famous hickory, mesquite, grapevine wood etc. while others may use their local flora woods or whatever type of wood is available to use. If you are interested to smoking ribs on your own but don’t know what kind of wood to get then these options can help you with that:

1. Hickory

Is the most popular type of wood used in smoking ribs or BBQ. They are usually found and used in the Southern and Midwestern parts of the states. They are known for their strong flavor that adds taste to the meat you are smoking but if this wood is used too much the meat could come out bitter.

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2. Oak

The most popular type of oak is the red oak as this is used mainly for smoking ribs and other heavy meats. It comes out strong but it does not overpower the taste of the meat as well as its texture. This is considered to be the choice of wood if you are going to cooking lamb or beef.

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3. Mesquite

It is known for being naturally oily which makes it easier to burn. It also emits a unique flavor that you will love on your smoked ribs. While this may be a good choice for smoking meats, it might not be the best one for long barbecues.

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4. Grapevine

It is a good choice if you are going to smoke beef, fish and poultry. It gives out a nice and delicate flavor that you will love but the only downside to this is that it emits an odorous smoke.


5. Apple

It is an excellent choice if you want to have mild and sweet flavor incorporated to your smoked rib or other heavy meats. It’s a good choice to use for BBQ pork, poultry and the most favored wood in smoking ham.

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6. Cherry

It is best for BBQs, beef and pork. They often give your smoked meats that vibrant color similar to mahogany when used and is a great combination with oak, pecan and hickory especially when you are cooking smoked ribs.

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7. Pecan

It is a wood that belongs to the variety of hickory and is a good choice if you are going to do long barbecues. This wood usually burns slowly and often gives out a delicate flavor to the meat. It may also be pungent and is a good choice to mix with other types of wood. The only thing you need to remember is that you should use pecan in moderation so the meat you are smoking does not acquire its pungent smell.

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Woods like ash, alder, pear, plum and maple are also good options for smoking ribs and meats. You can also make use of herb woods like basil, thyme and rosemary which are also used in smoking meats and poultry.

Woods to Avoid When Smoking Meats

While there are plenty of options to take, you must avoid some type of wood when smoking meats. These are the following:

  • Elm
  • Cedar
  • Cypress
  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Redwood
  • Spruce
  • Sycamore
  • Poison Oak
  • Eucalyptus

These woods are not only pungent but can also destroy the flavor of the meat you are smoking or cooking. So if you don’t want your smoked ribs to taste awful, better avoid these.

Keep in mind that you should also know how to control flare-ups in case you are smoking meats. You must also know the different types of meats and how long they should be cooked.

Helpful Tips When Using Wood While Smoking Ribs or Meat

Let’s say you have the wood you need. What’s next? Well, besides lighting it up and watch it burn, you need to remember these helpful tips too:

  • As I have mentioned, never ever use woods like pine, cedar, treated wood and others that I have listed. This will not help in achieving the desired taste.
  • Always remove the bark of wood chunks as they can emit acrid taste when burned. This could go to the meat you are cooking.
  • Use a little amount when starting and gradually add wood as you go. This is also done to avoid overpowering the flavor of the meat.
  • Don’t allow the wood to burn a long time. This may produce bad smoke that will ruin the meat’s flavor.
  • Always create a position or pattern when placing the wood. This will allow the wood to burn easily and fast.
  • If you are going to use wood chips, always protect them with a foil pouch with small holes.
  • Wood chunks are great to use because you don’t have to replace them as often.
  • You can have all the smoke you need but you can also minimize it. Remember that less is more.

How to Smoke Ribs Easily

Now that you know what kind of wood to get, how do you smoke ribs anyway? While you already know what the best wood for smoking ribs are, you must also master the art of smoking ribs too. This way you can say that you are indeed ready. Here’s how.

First of all, you need to preheat your smoker according to the setting you want. Fill up the water pan as well as the box where you need to put wood or wood chips. As your smoker preheats, you need to prepare the ribs. If you already brined the ribs the night before or if you have marinated it with your secret sauce then all is good. However if you don’t have an idea on what to do then the first thing that you need to do is to remove the membrane from the inside of the ribs and add the spices and seasoning that you have. Make sure that you cover the entire rack of ribs with the seasoning so the flavors are distributed evenly.

Smoke the ribs right on the racks and let your smoker do the cooking for at least three hours. If you don’t know what temperature to set the ribs, place it at 225 degrees F.

Once you are done, remove the ribs from the smoker and place it in an aluminum foil. Wrap the ribs tightly and create a small pocket. With a little bit of apple juice, beer or wine, pour it on the packet so that the flavors are enhanced while the ribs are being smoked again. Place it in the smoker for another two to three hours.

The total smoking time for ribs is around 6 hours. Once the meat becomes tender or if the meat easily falls off the bones then the ribs are perfect for eating.

The Best Wood Chips to Use When Smoking Ribs

If you don’t have wood chunks, you can always use wood chips in smoking ribs. Here are some of the best wood chips to use when you do that:

  1. Hickory – is a popular wood for smoking ribs and is excellent when paired with other wood chips.
  2. Mesquite – is also the choice of wood for smoking ribs. This give out a milder smoky taste compared to hickory that you will surely love. However it can also be bitter so it is best to use it with other lighter woods.
  3. Apple, Cherry, Pecan and Maple – are types of light wood that emits a sweet and mild flavor that is perfect for smoking ribs.
Final Thoughts

Now that you know what the best wood for smoking ribs and meats are, go ahead and pick your choice. Always be open to experimentation as combining two kinds of wood can create something unique and wonderful taste for the meats you are cooking. Check also the availability of the wood you would like to use around your area. This way you know where to get them and you don’t run out of stock. Happy cooking and enjoy those ribs!



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