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Best Wood For Smoking Brisket? (Explained)

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The whole goal of smoking meats is…well…to give them a smoky flavor of course!

Different woods have different qualities, and each can flavor your brisket differently than the next.

However, there are many woods to choose from, and if you’re a beginner, selecting the proper wood might be a daunting task.

The truth is that there isn’t a clear correct answer, because what tastes great to you may not taste good to someone else.

However, professional smokers have been able to share their insights on what they feel is the greatest, and what can help you out in the beginning, thanks to endless trial and error over the decades.

Best Woods to Smoke Brisket- Woods You May Know


Let’s get this ball rolling with a heavy hitter.

Oak is widely considered as the most popular sort of wood for smoking. 

It has a medium smoky profile that matches well with and perfectly balances basically any type of meat.

This is considered as the gold standard for authentic Texas BBQ. Furthermore, oak burns slowly, making it an ideal wood for beginners. 


Hickory is another popular choice among smokers, and for good reason…bacon.

Hickory produces robust, rich, and savoury flavours that are similar to bacon.

The flavor of hickory is much stronger than that of oak, however, because they burn at similar rates, some smokers will mix them in the smoker for a more unique smoky flavor. 

However, hickory produces significantly more smoke, which can actually contribute to the colour and texture of the bark.

Keep in mind that because hickory smokes so much more intensely, it’s easier to “over smoke” the meat, which might result in a bitter flavor.


 The most powerful flavor notes are produced by mesquite.

It has a robust flavour profile with earthy characteristics.

This wood requires practise to use because its flavour can quickly overwhelm other flavours if not used correctly.

Mesquite isn’t typically used to “smoke meat,” as odd as that may sound.

Rather, before cooking, it is often burned down into hot embers and utilised as a heat source. 

Best Woods to Smoke Brisket- Woods You May Not Know


Applewood is excellent for smokers looking to develop a more distinct flavor.

While smoking, it emits an almost sweet aroma and adds a light and fruity flavor to meat.

Although applewood can be used on its own, many smokers choose to combine it with other woods such as hickory or oak to provide an extra smoky bite.

Because of its sweeter flavor, it pairs the best with poultry and pork.


Maplewood offers sweeter notes with a mild smokiness.

Some smokers claim that it can give meat a subtle sweetness similar to maple syrup.

There’s no mistaking Maplewood when you’re smoking it, its fragrance is a dead giveaway.

However, some people believe that maple has a too mild flavor profile and does not provide enough punch for full briskets or pork shoulders.

As a result, some individuals will combine maple with other woods, such as oak, to add a layer of smokiness and to help balance out the flavor. 


If you want a sweeter taste to complement your brisket, cherrywood is the way to go.

It pairs excellently with almost every smoked meat. 

Cherry has a stronger flavor than applewood, but it still adds sweet and delicate undertones to the brisket.

Some people like to combine cherry with oak or hickory, although unlike applewood, it may be used effectively as a stand-alone wood. 

What to Avoid

Always avoid using softwoods for smoking briskets, regardless of whatever option you choose from the options listed above.

The term “softwood” refers to wood with more air deposits trapped within its cellular structure.

This causes the wood to burn quickly, which is problematic when smoking brisket.

Brisket can take up to 12 hours to properly smoke, so be sure your wood is capable of burning at a sufficient rate.

Examples of softwoods include:

  • Redwood
  • Cypress 
  • Fir
  • Spruce
  • Pine

In addition, before using, examine the wood for fungus growth.

This can contaminate the meat with potentially hazardous bacteria.

Similarly, make certain that the wood you’re using hasn’t been treated or stained with any chemicals.

Understanding Different Wood Sizes

When smoking, there are several different sizes of wood to choose from, which are mostly determined by the type of smoker used and the cut of meat being smoked.

If you’re smoking brisket, for example, you should avoid using chips (wood shavings/woodchips).

Chips burn fast, which is undesirable for a large brisket cooked at “low and slow” temps.

Since chips typically require an additional heat source, they are usually used in electric or gas smokers. 

Wood chunks or logs are the greatest option for briskets.

They will burn considerably more slowly and will continue for hours once completely ignited.

Another advantage is that logs can provide enough heat to be used as a stand-alone heating source.

You’ve probably heard the term “pellets” before.

These are small, compressed balls of saw dust made from regularly used timbers that have been repurposed for pellet grills/smokers.

Despite the fact that pellets are technically “processed,” they do not include any additional chemicals and burn completely clean.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the finest type of wood for smoking brisket is a question of personal preference and taste.

While we can give you with the most often used woods, you will discover what you genuinely like after much experimentation with different types of wood. 

Remember the following: 

• Different woods can be blended to create a totally unique flavor.

• Depending on the type of smoker you’re using and the meat you’re cooking, you’ll need different sizes of wood. 

• Always avoid “softwoods,” as they burn much too quickly to adequately smoke a brisket.