Wood chunks are a great way to add flavor to your food when cooking on a smoker or grill. Many people believe that wood chunks are essential for smoking meat, as they give the meat a unique flavor that can be altered based on the type of wood you choose. While wood chunks are not required for smoking, they can certainly enhance the flavor of your food.
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Wood Chunks For Smoking
Wood Chunks come in a variety of sizes but are typically up to 4 inches in size, about the size of a fist. They’re best used in smaller offset smokers, ceramic smokers like the Big Green Egg, and barrel smokers.
Wood chunks are a great choice for large cuts of meat that require a long smoking time because they last longer than wood chips or pellets.
Wood chunks can be used as the main fuel source in your smoker, or they can be used as a source of smoke flavor where charcoal is the main fuel source. The type of wood chunks you choose for smoking will determine the amount of smoke and the flavor profile of said smoke. You can create as much smoke as you want, depending on how many chunks you use.
The Best Wood Chunks
Though there are many brands that sell wood chunks for smoking, we find the most trusted source for wood chunks to be Weber, Oklahoma Joe’s, and Char-Broil.
Weber Wood Chunks are available in Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Mesquite, and Pecan
Oklahoma Joe’s Wood Chunks are available in Apple, Hickory, and Mesquite.
Charbroil Wood Chunks are available in Hickory, Cherry, and Mesquite
Things to consider when buying wood for smoking
There are a few things you must consider when buying smoking wood, most importantly, the wood type and size. The type of wood you choose will play an important role in the finished product of what you’re smoking. Some types of wood deliver an earthy or spicy smoke profile, while others are sweeter and less intense.
Furthermore, you must decide if wood chunks are the right choice for you, or if you should consider different sizes of wood fuel like wood chips, logs, or pellets. We’ll go over these factors in the following sections.
BBQ Hero Tip: experiment with different types of wood. By combining varying flavor profiles, you can get a mix that can enhance the final product.
Different Wood Chunk Flavors
We love how versatile wood chunks can be due to there being so many different types of wood to choose from. You’ll have the opportunity to experiment with different smoke flavors and decide for yourself which variety you like best with different types of meat.
Do you like a stronger smokey flavor, or will a medium smoky flavor satisfy your taste buds? Are you looking for a fruity flavor, or would you like to experiment with a nutty pecan flavor? Whatever wood flavor you go for, you need to know your preferences and the kind of flavors you should expect from a particular wood type.
Here’s a rundown of the top wood chunks for smoking.
Oak Wood Chunks
Oak is one of the most popular smoking wood chunk varieties because of its medium earthy smoke profile and long burn time. This makes it a great wood for beginners and professional pitmasters on virtually any type of meat. Oak is less intense than hickory and this subtle flavor makes it easy to combine with other popular woods to create a unique and desirable flavor that can easily please your guests.
Mesquite Wood Chunks
If you want to give your brisket a Texan smoking touch, mesquite is a perfect wood type for you. Mesquite is a strong-flavored wood that burns hot and fast, producing a lot of smoke. The intense, bold smokey flavor that mesquite wood produces is ideal for most red and dark meats, delivering a flavor punch that is unmatchable. Try mixing mesquite with a mild flavored wood on your next cook for the best outcome.
Hickory Wood Chunks
Hickory is another popular wood chunk variety, known for its intense, almost spicy flavor that is great with beef and pork. It’s more intense than fruit woods and packs a powerful punch. On their own, hickory wood chunks may become overpowering, so it’s recommended to combine them with other mild wood flavors to dilute their impact.
Cherry Wood Chunks
Cherry Wood provides a medium profile with a slightly sweet flavor. Cherry wood is a great option for smoking brisket, giving it a dark, almost red tint to the surface. Some BBQ lovers may find cherry wood not powerful enough, in that case, it’s recommended to combine it with maple or oak wood chunks to enhance the smokiness without masking the fruity undertones.
Apple Wood Chunks
Applewood is a mild, sweet, and fruity wood that is typically a crowd favorite. Though the smoke flavor is not as strong as other wood chunks for smoking, it does give beautiful natural flavors to your meat. We love this wood flavor on brisket, but it is also delicious with pork, poultry, and fish. Apple wood chunks also work well as a diluter for stronger flavored wood chunks.
Maple Wood Chunks
Maple wood produces a subtle, mild, and sweet flavor, and is a nice secondary wood to add to oak or apple wood chunks. Maple is a good choice for cooking chicken, turkey, or pork, enhancing the meat’s natural flavors while adding a sweet smoky profile.
Pecan Wood Chunks
Pecan is similar to hickory with a nutty pecan flavor that will add a sweet and rich flavor profile to your brisket, turkey, or other smoked meats. It pairs nicely with fruit woods. To protect your meat from getting too sweet, use oak wood with pecan.
Peach Wood Chunks
Peach wood is a little harder to come by, but if you can get your hands on it, you won’t be disappointed. This wood infuses a sweet, fruity flavor, that is delicious when grilling pork or poultry.
Different Wood Sizes
Now that you understand the type of wood flavors that might work for your smoking needs, let’s talk about the different sizes the smoking wood comes in. There are typically four wood sizes to choose from; wood chips, wood chunks, logs, and pellets.
Wood chunks are a great option for larger charcoal grills and offset smokers. They’re great for large cuts of meat because they have a long burn time and don’t need to be restocked often.
Wood chips are often referred to as scraps or wood shavings. They’re relatively small, usually measuring around 1/4 inch thick and up to 1 inch in diameter. Wood chips are ideal for small cuts of meat in smaller gas or electric smokers. Wood chips will typically burn quicker than wood chunks, so you will have to pay close attention and add more wood as necessary.
Logs are best used for very large offset smokers and bigger cookers. Logs are a great fuel source that delivers both adequate heat and smokey flavor to your meat and last a very long time, perfect for large cuts of meat that have long smoke times. Ensure your smoker has enough space to handle logs before you purchase them.
Wood Pellets are made of compressed sawdust and are primarily used in pellet smokers. They’re small and convenient, creating adequate smoke very quickly. Because they’re small in size, they burn quickly and will need to be restocked quite often.
Things To Avoid When Buying Wood Chunks
- Green Wood: When choosing wood, don’t spend your money on green wood. This is an unseasoned wood that has been freshly cut. Greenwood has a lot of sap and moisture that prevents the wood from burning evenly. Moreover, the humidity may sometimes add a particularly unpleasant flavor to your meat.
- Soft Wood: Woods such as redwood, spruce, and cedar are softwoods. You should avoid these because they may contain terpenes and sap, making eaters sick. Additionally, you should avoid wood from sycamore, eucalyptus, and elm in your BBQ. Stick to the hardwood species that are trusted among BBQ experts.
- Treated Wood: Treated, stained, and painted wood is a no-go. A chemically treated wood may add dangerous chemicals to your meat that could make you sick. Additionally, painted wood may make your meat taste bitter.
- Moldy Wood: Avoid old and moldy wood as well. Old orchards usually include wood, often sprayed with products such as fertilizers and pesticides. Similarly, wood with fungus or mold can pose a threat to your health and may also ruin the overall taste of your food.
BBQ Hero Tip: Avoid over-smoking as it might make your meat bitter and unhealthy to eat.
Wood Chunk FAQs
What are wood chunks used for?
Wood chunks are used in smokers or grills to deliver smoke to the food, creating a delicious smoky flavor to anything you cook. They can be used on their own, or in addition to charcoal to create a smoky environment in your smoker or grill.
Are wood chunks or wood chips better for smoking?
Deciding on whether to use wood chips or wood chunks for smoking depends on the type of grill you’re using, and the size of meat you’re smoking. Wood chunks are typically the best option because they last longer and do not need to restocked as often as wood chips.
Should I soak the wood chunks before using them?
To soak or not to soak, is the ultimate question. Though there is much debate on this topic, we believe that soaking your wood chunks is not necessary prior to smoking. Though you might see more smoke initially when using soaked wood chunks, this is most likely steam rising from the water in the wood. Unless you soak your wood for days or even weeks prior to smoking, you will not notice much of a difference.
What type of wood gives the smokiest flavor?
If you’re looking for the ultimate smoky flavor, hickory is your best bet.