Best Wood for Smoking Fish

Smoked fish dishes.

Smoking fish is not a modern or new way of cooking fish, for humans have been smoking fish since ancient times. Early humans, however, used to smoke fish to preserve it. Yet, at present, there’s no need to preserve fish via the smoking process; for now, it is easier to preserve fish by refrigeration. Modern humans still smoke fish to add a unique flavor and taste to the fish they would like to consume. 

Smoking fish, of course, render a mouthwatering and smoky flavor to the fish that you and your guests will surely love. Besides, the wood chips you use for smoking provide the fish with this smoky flavor. Moreover, you can use a specialized grill to smoke fish or create your smoker using your backyard grill with a smoker box and wood chips.

How to Choose Wood Chips for Smoking Fish

Not all wood chips deliver the same flavor and taste to the meat. Thus, you should carefully choose your wood chips, and you should shy away from certain types of wood. This is because some wood types carry resins that leave enough residue on the smoker. 

These residues can create an unpleasantly thick smoke that can be toxic or harmful to your meat. Thus, it will be best to stick to wood chips that you can purchase from stores. Stick to woods that contain no toxic resins to keep the smoking process safe.

On the other hand, the types of fish you can smoke have no limitations. You can smoke fattier varieties of fish, and these types of fish can absorb more flavor from the smoke. Moreover, they are not prone to drying out during the cooking process. Besides, you can use a good saltwater brine on the fish before you smoke it. This brine will keep your fish from drying out during the smoking process. 

You can also smoke smaller pieces of fish and fish fillets. Yet, smoking a whole fish will be far more impressive to your guests than smoking smaller fish or fillets. Additionally, bigger fish can retain more moisture because of their thick skin. So, you need not worry much about drying your fish quickly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood Chips for Smoking Fish

When choosing wood chips for smoking fish, your choice would usually depend on the smoker or grill set up. You can select those wood chips that do not overwhelm or overpower fish taste and flavor. You can choose alder, for example, because it is not overwhelming. You can also select maple, which does not overwhelm and offers a bit of sweetness to the fish. 

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Salmon

You can also opt for sweet and milder woods like the apple and pecan. These two kinds of wood likewise provide a fruity flavor to your fish. Moreover, you can also go for whiskey barrel chips which usually come from oak trees. Oakwood chips, of course, provide fish with a distinctively unique flavor. 

It will be good to note that the distinctive smoky flavor of smoked fish originates from the slow-burning wood chips over a long period. It will be best to soak wood chips in water overnight before you use them for cooking. This precooking saturation of wood chips allows for the slow-burning of wood to produce more smoke than fire or flame. With more smoke, the fish gets a smoky flavor. You can use a large bucketful of water and drench the chips overnight.

Best Woods for Smoking Fish

You don’t need to gather wood chips from the forest or thicket to have wood for smoking fish. Nowadays, you can buy wood chips that are ready to use. Below is a quick list of the most popular wood chip products in the market today:

Mr. Bar B Q 05012X Wood Chips (Apple)

If you are looking for something from Continental Europe, specifically from Spain, you should consider Mr. Bar-B-Q 05042BC. It boasts of one-hundred percent whiskey barrels. Since these chips come from whiskey barrels, they can impart a smoky whisky flavor to your fish. 

You’ll notice that the taste it imparts is akin to the gourmet flavor. You can use these chips in your Kamado, Big Green Egg, or any other smoker, including your gas grill equipped with a smoker box. Moreover, you will receive these chips in a resealable bag, allowing you to take out only the amount of chips you would use at the moment. 


  • It offers quality wood chips that are whisky flavored. 


  • The flavor can be mild, so you need to handle it well.

Cameron’s Alder Wood Chips

Cameron’s Alder Wood Chips work well with gas grills, smoker boxes, and charcoal grills. These wood chips are made of one-hundred percent raw timber that is precisely cut. These chunks are also kiln-dried. 

The Alder Smoker Wood would easily ignite to deliver an excellent smoky flavor. These wood chunks complement perfectly various meats like seafood, pork, and poultry. Moreover, these wood chunks are from the United States. Each chip is about 260 cu. in.


  • These wood chunks are natural and kiln-dried.
  • They ignite quickly.
  • They are not overpowering. 


  • You may get some wood chunks with bark.
Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

Western Pecan BBQ Smoking Chips-Pecan

If you are looking for a wood chip product with no binding agent, you should check out the Western Pecan BBQ Smoking Chips-Pecan. These wood chips offer quality wood chips that are kiln-dried for preventing mold, rot, and pests. 

The sizes of these chips vary, ranging from smaller chips to larger chunks. Moreover, these pecan wood chips can add that extra exquisite sweetness to your fish without overwhelming its flavor. 


  • It doesn’t come with fillers. 
  • It is kiln-dried for preventing rot and pests. 


  • The wood chip sizes are inconsistent.

Mr Bar B Q 05012X Apple Wood Chips

Mr. Bar B Q 05012X is made from one-hundred percent hardwood. These chips don’t contain added chemicals. Moreover, they are all-natural. They also deliver a fruity and smoky flavor that renders your smoked fish a delicious smoky flavor that is fruity likewise. 

You can use these chips with any smoker or grills. These chips are perfect for smoking beef, poultry, pork, beef, veggies, ribs, lamb, and other meat. Furthermore, you will get around 1.6 pounds of chips in each bag of these chips. This amount is enough for multiple cooking.


  • When used in a gas smoker, they last longer and deliver better results.
  • They offer a wonderful aroma.


  • Getting smoke from these chips takes longer.

The Most Recommended Fish for Smoking

Having known the most recommended wood chips for smoking fish, I think it’s time for you to learn the most recommended fish for smoking. Below is a rundown of the most recommended fish to smoke:


Salmon, of course, is one of the best fish to smoke. It offers a higher fat content, and it stays moist during the smoking process. Salmon, however, comes in different varieties. You can check out the Coho salmon, one of the well-known varieties of salmon for smoking, if you want a delicious fish to smoke.

Black Cod

The black cod is also referred to as sablefish. If you want an alternative to sea bass, you should consider the black cod. Black cod is likewise referred to as butterfish. This is because it has a buttery flavor. Moreover, it has a high content of oil. This makes it a perfect choice for smoking.


Another excellent fish to smoke is the mackerel. It offers a rich flavor. Like the black cod, it also comes with a high oil content to stay moisturized during the smoking process. This fish is also well-known for cold smoking.


Another excellent fish option for smoking is the sturgeon. The sturgeon features a leaner form and firm texture. Moreover, it is like poultry meat. Yet, one way to enjoy eating sturgeon is by smoking it. 

Also Read:  Guide on Cooking Fish on a Griddle 


The bluefish is a strong-flavored fish that you will enjoy best when freshly smoked. It features a firm texture and has edible skin. It will be best to smoke this fish with its skin on to enable it to retain moisture. Its skin is also excellent for eating. 


The rockfish features a delicate texture and a mild and sweet flavor. It is also a bit nutty. It features a leaner fish that is perfect for smoking.


Trout is a popular fish that comes with a mild flavor. It also features a delicate texture. It is a healthy option for home smokers. The trout retains its moisture during the smoking process, and it is delicious and tasty. 


Another great fish to smoke is tuna. It features a firm texture that comes with a flexible flavor. It complements various flavors as well. As such, the wood chips you would use to smoke it would complement it well. Moreover, smoking is one of the best ways to preserve tuna worldwide.


Smoking fish is like a work of art. You need to get the right ingredients and conditions to achieve the best smoking results. You need to choose a suitable wood and know the aftereffects of the wood on the flavor of the fish. Otherwise, you will only ruin the taste of the fish instead of enhancing it if you don’t know the aftereffect of the wood. 

You also need to know the right fish to smoke. You can’t just smoke any fish without knowing whether it has enough moisture to last the smoking process. Moreover, you need to maintain a consistent low smoking temperature to achieve the best result. Knowing the most recommended wood chips for smoking fish and the best fish to smoke can keep you on the right track in producing the best result.

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