Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

Smoked pork ribs

It is one of the most popular BBQ recipes, and smoked ribs are a staple. Nothing more delectable and flavorsome than a good slab of smoked ribs can satisfy your need for ribs. The most important thing to remember when you are in charge of the kitchen is to utilize the right sort of wood to get the most satisfactory outcomes every time you cook!

A bad taste and even ruined ribs might result from cooking them with incorrect wood. In this article, we will provide you with a thorough overview of the finest woods for smoking ribs and which woods to try and prevent when smoking ribs.

Things To Consider of Choosing Best Woods to Smoke Ribs

When choosing your wood, be careful on choosing anything soft or hard. Choosing the incorrect wood for the ribs might affect the flavor and texture of the food. My own experience has taught me to avoid making this mistake in the future. Random woods from the field behind my home was my choice. As a result of my lousy wood choices, the meat tasted horrible. Traditionally used wood for ribs include hickory, oak, and mesquite, which are excellent for cooking swine ribs. If you are looking for a sweet and fruity taste combination for your pork, you can not go wrong with cherry, pecan, apple, or maple chips!

There are several processes involved in BBQ smoking, as well as a variety of factors that you may adjust to customize the smoky meats to your tastes. Despite this, there is much room for mistakes, especially when selecting the precisely right wood for the endeavor. You will be able to blend your meats with some very great and delicious tastes if you do things correctly. If you get it wrong, you might wind up with some odd taste profiles and a ruined texture, so make sure you do it right the first time.

What Are the Best Types of Wood to Use for Smoking Rib?

Ribs are often smoked with heavy woods because of their strong taste, making them a popular choice for barbecue. Your geographic location may also influence your choice of wood.

1) Hickory

Hickory is a perfect option for ribs or any flavorful meats for that matter. Typically found in the southern and western United States, hickory is a common tree. Hickory flavor has been compared to bacon by some people because of the savory and sweet flavors it imparts to food.

With hickory, you should know that the smoke it makes is powerful. However, you must be very cautious while smoking ribs not to use too much wood. Otherwise, you may end up with nasty ribs due to overheating it. The quantity of hickory that works best for your ribs will come to you with practice, and practice makes perfect!

This versatile wood may be used alone or in combination with other kinds of wood, making it a helpful stockpile product. Mixing hickory with apple or cherry wood, for example, is particularly trendy these days.

2) Oak

Now that we’re in the concept of more classic smoke woods, oak is a top contender for those seeking solid tastes and more profound, richer coloration affiliated with smoking, although at a milder intensity. Known for imparting a mellow, delicious woody taste to meats while also imparting a beautiful golden sheen, this wonderfully adaptable wood is a favorite option for BBQ novices and connoisseurs alike!

To get the most out of your experimentation, you may use this wood as the foundation for a more nuanced, layered taste. Oak is an excellent alternative if you need a long-burning fire with high temperatures. You may either cook it low to slow or increase the heat a little for a different kind of ribs.

Also Read:  Should You Soak Wood Chips Before Smoking?

3) Mesquite

When it comes to smoking, mesquite is the most combustible wood available. It also has an earthiness flavor that is perfect for BBQ and pork ribs you utilize wrongly. You will undoubtedly experience the unpleasant and nasty flavor you didn’t desire. However, if you exploit the smokey taste of your ribs correctly, you may attain perfection in terms of taste.

Remember that a little makes a huge difference with mesquite, so use sparingly! Begin with care and gradually increase the amount of wood you use until you reach the required balance for your first attempt. Using mesquite will give your food a rich smokey taste because of its oily nature and high heat. If you want to mellow the flavor, try combining it with lighter wood.

4) Pecan

Considering pecan came from the hickory family, it has a set of characteristics with the wood that bears their names. However, even though pecan is solid woods, it is a good compromise in levels of taste intensity, falling somewhere between hickory or fruitwood. If you overdo it with the pecans, you can end up with a bitter taste in your mouth. It is one of the most incredible woods to use in rib grilling with its distinctive flavor. Always remember you should not overuse it while using it!

5) Apple

As a fruitwood, it provides a bit milder side, with a delicately sweetest taste that syncs pretty well with ribs and other meats. Several people find that the apple smoke taste does not entirely stand up like other woods when they are starting to bite their smoky ribs, but honestly, they produce a distinct and nuanced flavor profile. Apple is a slow-burning wood, so the smoke will take some time to permeate your ribs thoroughly. You must smoke these ribs for at least an hour or two to absorb apples thoroughly!

If you have apple woods on hand, you will utilize it for cooking anything from chicken to pork to game birds to lamb and seafood. A multi-purpose wood is also a fantastic option for blending using hickory or other hardwoods.

6) Cherry

Similar to apple, cherry seems to be another perfect fruitwood for smoking ribs, and also its taste is mellow and sweet. Honestly, I agree Cherry is a fantastic wood for ribs by itself. However, you can produce really rich and nuanced flavors by mixing cherry with other woods like pecan, oaks, and hickory.

When it comes to cherry, one of the fascinating facts is that it will provide your ribs with a deep and rich mahogany-colored finish, similar to what you see from restaurants. Using cherry woods to start smoking your ribs and executing the procedure properly can make you seem a professional in front of your relatives, friends, and family!

What Effect Does Wood Have on the Flavor of Smoked Ribs?

Smoking ribs is typically done over coals or gas, with the attractive electrical pellet smoker thrown in for good measure. Several smoking processes provide us with the heat as well as control that are necessary for a cooked to perfection rack of ribs to be prepared. Although they are less expensive than woods, they do not have the same taste, aroma, and soothing as wood when smoked.

You will never get anything close to the same taste whenever you use charcoal since charcoal creates very little smoke once it is burned. The taste of our smoky ribs is affected by the wood used in their cooking endeavor. Over 100 distinct compounds are released whenever wood is burned. Minimal levels of organic syringol or guaiacol provide a smokey smell and flavor when you associate yourself with wood burning.

Also Read:  How Long Does It Take to Smoke Ribs?

You can add wood pellets, and the smoke that rises from the pellets in your smoker is what gives your ribs their distinctive taste on their outer finish. It is crucial to highlight that every kind of wood has its own distinct taste, which may differ significantly within a single variation. It depends on location in which the wood was cultivated.

What Kind of Wood Should You Avoid Using When Smoking Ribs?

Several of the woods that complement well with ribs have a natural sweetness and provide a mild smoke. All of them are made of hardwoods, as you would expect. On the other hand, you should avoid softwoods at all costs since they are vicious and may seriously damage your meats, if not wholly spoil them. Woods such as pines and cedars are examples of this. In addition, avoid using any type of briquette since they are often inexpensive and were not intended for smoking in the first place.

Choosing the sort of wood to use for smoking your ribs might be a difficult decision since each one is unique. The most popular method of smoking ribs is to use hardwoods. You should avoid using softwoods in your ribs smoking endeavor. Due to the sheer hazardous compounds, including tars in the smoke produced by this kind of wood, may permeate the rib. Just imagine ribs being smoked over a huge piece of pinewood! 

It would be best if you avoided these woods at all costs:

  • Cedar Wood
  • Fir Wood
  • Poison oak Wood
  • Cypress Wood
  • Spruce Wood
  • Pine Wood
  • Elm Wood
  • Sycamore Wood
  • Eucalyptus Wood
  • Redwood Wood
  • Hemlock Wood
  • Unknown Scrap Wood
  • Wood that has been painted or stained
  • Wood that has been chemically treated
  • Green Wood

You should avoid using certain kinds of wood. Your ribs will have a bitter aftertaste due to the intense odor, and you’ll also get unwell as a result of it. When it concerns smoking salmon, you may use a cedar plank even if it is on the list of ingredients. There is no smoking in this recipe; the cedar serves just as a vessel for cooking. Consider your options carefully before selecting the finest wood to smoke ribs. You will do well with the ribs!

Hickory or Mesquite Ribs: Which Is Better?

For ribs, any of these options would be excellent selections. It is often used in Southern Barbeques because hickory has a richer and more distinctive meaty taste than other types of wood. In contrast, mesquite offers a strong, and earthy taste that is ideal for ribs smoking, owing to the pronounced smoky flavor that it produces. Mesquite has a strong taste and may dominate the ribs’ flavors, so be aware of this before using it. Mesquite might be an option, but it is essential to use just a little quantity at a time.

The choice between hickory and mesquite for ribs comes down to personal taste. The use of mesquite seems to burn quickly, but the use of hickory is likely to burn more slowly. However, making it simpler to smoke your meats when you choose to use mesquite. If you want your ribs to have a strong flavor, you may utilize mesquite wood for cooking them. You may wish your ribs have a meaty and somewhat nutty taste, and then you can use hickory wood for the smoking process.

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Fish

Does It Make Sense to Soak Wood Chips Before Smoking Ribs?

Soaking wood chips has become a hot topic, but I usually strive to find the time to do so. Science shows that chips with a higher percentage of water will be more incredible to release their flavor and burn lengthier when smoked. Make an effort to immerse your chips for at least 30 minutes. Remove any extra liquid with a paper towel before transferring it to your pouch for smoking.

What Do You Prefer: Chips, Chunks, or Pellets?

Depending on the sort of smokers you are having, this phase is all up to you. If you are dealing with a classic offset smoker, chunks are currently the preferred option, while chips are excellent for an electric smoker. Pellets are perfect for smoking ribs on a grill. Kamado grills and charcoal smokers allow you to utilize chunks and chips in close collaboration with charcoal!

Smoking Ribs: How Much Wood Do You Need?

For smoked ribs, the amount of pieces required varies depending on the kind of smoker used. Wood is used as a major source of heat in certain homes, but in others, it isn’t. Two to four pieces of wood will probably be adequate while smoking your meal if your smoker is not entirely reliant on the usage of wood. Furthermore, if you utilize a different form of wood, like wood chunks, you will have to increase the amount of liquid in your smoker by about ten to twelve oz.

If you want to figure out how much wood you will need, you will also want to take into consideration the size of the pieces you will be working with. Larger bits of wood will be required for a longer-lasting fire since they will burn for a more extended period of time than smaller pieces. Cooking for a large number of people over an extended length of time may need replenishing the wood pieces.


If you are going to smoke ribs, any of these woods would be wonderful choices. When it comes to ribs, picking the suitable wood or mix of woods is the most crucial factor to consider since it will determine how flavorful and aromatic the ribs will be. As soon as you have a clear understanding of the flavors that each type of wood provides to the table, you can begin trying out various woods in varying combinations to explore the distinctive mixtures that suit your palate the most. Each type of wood has its own features and capabilities, which you may use to your advantage to produce mouthwatering ribs each time!

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