It is one of the most delicious cuts of beef that we are going to talk about today- The brisket. In particular, we are going to talk about the best wood for smoking brisket. The reason I am writing about the best wood for smoking brisket is that, even though brisket is naturally delicious on its own, due to the high-fat content of the brisket, smoking is one of the best options to cook brisket because it amps up the tenderness and enhances the flavour, making it mouth-wateringly delicious.
Mastering a perfect mouthwatering smoked brisket will depend on many factors, one of them being the type of wood you use to smoke a brisket. Here we review the best wood for smoking brisket. We are going to cover the smoking woods that will make you the cook hero of your family and friends. The types of wood covered here will take your BBQed brisket to the next level. Use these woods to highlight the uniqueness of your BBQ beef brisket, rendering it soft and tender, while infusing the perfect smoky flavour without overwhelming its natural characteristics flavours.
So, without any further ado, let’s start.
Top 6 Picks of Best Wood for Smoking Brisket
1. Oak Wood (The Best Wood for Smoking Brisket)
Our Recommendation: Western Premium BBQ Products Post Oak BBQ Cooking Chunks
If you want to know what works best, follow what the pros use!
- Oak is one of the best choices of wood used by some pros in top competition barbecue teams and pitmasters at restaurants. The people that earn their living from smoking the best meats. This is because Oak is a slow-burning hardwood, releases high energy and packs a lot of assertive but pleasing flavour to permeate your beef cut. Since beef brisket is usually a large and very tough cut of meat, it takes hours and hours of slow, steady heat to smoke this cut effectively. Therefore, a slow-burning, energy-dense and assertive flavour hardwood like Oak is sure to give you enough heat and flavoured smoke which can sustain the long hours of smoking.
Oak wood is stronger than Cherry or apple but lighter than Mesquite. Oak smoking wood is also versatile and blends well with sweeter woods, which makes it a perfect choice and suitable for smoking different types of meat like beef (especially brisket), lamb, pork, poultry, sausage and game meat. This hardwood also burns cleanly, producing a consistent smoke flavour that will not overpower the natural flavour of your beef brisket.
Our recommended Oak wood for smoking brisket is Western Premium Oak smoker Wood chunks. You can use these oak smoking wood for smoking wood in various types of smokers.
- The chunks are cut into compact 2-3-inch sizes each, which can easily fill in any smoker or charcoal grill. The wood chunks are 100% natural. They do not contain any harmful/unsafe additives that could affect health. The wood chunks produce intense smoke and give a distinct bold flavour profile which will make your brisket tastefully delicious. They are delivered in a 15 L.B. and this quantity will take you a long way.
Some tips when using Oakwood to smoke a brisket
Tip: When using Oak wood alone to smoke brisket, slow and steady (8-12 hours) technique is used by great pitmasters like Aaron Franklin, the most famous brisket cooks in Texas.
However, if you want to cook your brisket quickly (2-3) hours like what Myron Mixon does, you need a more powerful and intense smoke flavour from the smoking wood. Myron Achieves this by using a combination of Oak and Hickory.
2. Hickory Wood (Another Best Wood for Smoking Brisket)
Our Recommendation: Oklahoma Joe’s Wood Smoker Chunks, 8 Lb, Hickory
There is a general consensus among pitmasters that the two best kinds of wood for smoking brisket are Hickory and Oak, or a combination of the two. According to some of the top competition barbecue teams, these two kinds of wood are the most appropriate and excellent choice for smoking brisket barbecue. They produce distinctive smoke flavours that enhance the resonant beefy flavour of brisket, making it amazingly delicious.
- Hickory infuses a stronger smoky, bacon-like flavour, which is stronger than Oak but does not burn as clean as Oak. The wood burns for hours, which makes it suitable for the slow-steady long hours needed for a good smoked brisket. It also pairs well with other woods such as Oak and fruit woods like apple wood.
Tip: Hickory produces a smoky flavour stronger than Oak, but not as strong as Mesquite. Try not to go overboard when using Hickory to smoke a brisket. This is because, if you use too much of it, it could overpower the briskets beef flavour with a very defined bitter taste. Use less of it, or even better, dilute it with some applewood.
Our recommended brand for hickory wood is Oklahoma Joe’s Wood Smoker Chunks, 8 lb, Hickory.
- These wood chunks give a long last burn in the cooker and infuse a great taste into your beef brisket
- They are made of all-natural hickory wood, with no harmful additives.
- You can use these smoking wood chunks with smokers and charcoal grills to smoke and add flavour to brisket, meats, poultry, vegetables and fish.
3- Mesquite Wood: Another Best Wood For Smoking Brisket (Especially Among Texas Style Brisket Aficionados)
Our Recommendation: Camerons Products Mesquite Smoking Wood Chunks
- Among pitmasters and top competition barbecue teams, there is some love shown for Mesquite as one of their best wood for smoking brisket. This is because Mesquite smoking wood packs a very intense earthy, almost spicy flavour, a scent and taste characteristics of authentic Texas smoked briskets.
Due to the strong flavour, you only have to use a little amount of Mesquite when smoking your cut of brisket. If you use too much, it can get too powerful easily overwhelm the natural flavours of your brisket, which is worse than no smoke at all. You can consider toning down Mesquite’s strong flavour a bit by blending/mixing it with some milder wood like apple.
- Another advantage of mixing Mesquite with a milder wood is that Mesquite burns through so fast and you would need a good amount of it when cooking a particularly large cut. This could expose the brisket to a lot of mesquite flavour which could make the brisket bitter. But when you mix with another wood, you get a tastier beef brisket but still with that distinctive mesquite flavour and taste which is loved by fans of Texas barbecue.
The recommended mesquite wood brand to use for smoking a brisket cut is Camerons products Mesquite smoking wood chunks.
- This is because this wood chunks ignite quickly and combust 100% producing smoke and infusing their delicate smoky flavour to the brisket. The wood chunks also work great with many types of smokers/grills, including charcoal grills, gas grills, smoker boxes, and even indoor smokers.
- They are 100% natural with no harmful additives.
The 10-pound bag of these would chunks you will receive will take you a long way.
4- Pecan Wood
Best Pecan Wood for Smoking Brisket: Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips
Though very few sing praises for Pecan, this wood can be an excellent choice for smoking brisket. It is unique from the other three brisket smoking woods above (Oak, Hickory and Mesquite) because it is rich and more subtle, produces a not so strong, but rather a sweet and nutty flavour that works with the rich taste of beef brisket. It does not pose the risk of overpowering your beef brisket to make it bitter.
- Pecan wood burns cool, which makes it ideal for very low heat smoking used for briskets. That is why we also widely preferred for smoking chicken and smoking turkey.
Tip: If you don’t want your brisket to be overly sweet, just blend the Pecan with a little maple or oakwood.
- The pecan wood brand we recommend for smoking a brisket is Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips. We already recommended this wood for smoking turkey and chicken. Weber wood is always durable and cut into sizes that fit well in the grill or smoker.
5- Maple Wood. (Gives Excellent Results Too)
Best Maple Wood for Smoking Brisket: J.C.’S Smoking Wood Chunks
Due to the mildly smoky, somewhat sweet flavour of maple, you could think that it is only good for poultry, vegetables and ham. But I dare you to try it on your brisket. You will be a lifetime convert, just like the many smokehouses in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Door County in Wisconsin. The wood imparts a light smoky and sweet taste which leads to a subtle enhancement of the natural flavour of beef brisket without ever overwhelming it with its aromas.
Like Oak, maple wood gives excellent results when used for smoking brisket. The wood is also forgiving (Thanks to its mild flavour), meaning it is hard to overdo. This makes maple wood suitable for newcomers to brisket smoking as it allows you to experiment with various smoking times, little caution and fear of over smoking.
To enhance your brisket with competition-like Sweet and savoury aromas and flavours, you can mix maple with Cherry and Hickory- Excellent results.
Our top pick of best maple wood for smoking brisket is J.C.’s Smoking Wood Chunks.
- These wood chunks ignite easily in the smoker or grill and impart excellent flavours.
- The wood chunks are 100% all-natural, made using original hardwoods (with no additives or preservatives), that have been cut and seasoned before packaging.
- They produce a smoke that is not too strong or overpowering, and the bag could last you good hours of smoking brisket.
6- Apple Wood
Best Apple Smoking Wood: Western Premium BBQ Products Apple BBQ Cooking Chunks
Apple is a fruitwood which generates heavy smoke that imparts a mildly sweet, fruity flavour to brisket meat. Being a fruitwood, it is classified as light flavoured wood, not as strong as Pecan, Mesquite, Oak or Hickory. You can use it as a single source or pair with another strong wood for a mixture of sweetness and boldness in flavours.
Our recommended brand of apple wood for smoking brisket is Western Premium BBQ Products Apple BBQ Cooking Chunks.
- Western premium in a household name for the Barbecue lovers. They put out the best of the best, and these wood chunks are no exception.
- These particular wood chunks are made from real apple wood, which has been heat-treated to eliminate and prevent pests, mould, and rot.
- They are cut into large-sized wood chunks, perfectly suited for charcoal, gas, or electric grills, as well as personal and larger smokers.
You can use these wood chunks to smoke anything from Braised Brisket to Beef Sirloin or Filets, Salmon or Trout, or Pork Loin.
What About Sizes of Wood for Smoking Brisket?
Choosing the right size and style of wood to use in your smoker, grill or charcoal stove will greatly help in making the best brisket BBQ, which is neither under nor over smoked. For that reason, I decided to include this section on wood sizes, from which you could choose to smoke a brisket. Wood sizes for smoking come in four shapes/sizes. These include whole logs of wood, wood chunks, woods chips to wood pellets.
Wood Pellets. When to use them?
These are the smallest. Wood pellets are just compacted sawdust. Wood pellets burn out quickly, hence require frequent replenishing. For brisket which requires slow and long hours of cooking, wood pellets may not be the right choice of fuel for your electric smoker, gas grill or in a smoker box. You will only choose to use wood pellets if you are using/packing purpose-built pellet grills and smokers.
Wood Chips. When to use them?
Wood chips, on the other hand, are small easy-to-burn shavings of flavour wood. Wood chips work great for smoking in electric smokers that don’t use an open flame, gas grills, smoker boxes charcoal grills as well as homemade foil smoking packs. Chips are easy to handle, feed into the smoker and are available in a variety of flavours you could think of. However, I would consider them as a last resort because they have a short burn life compared to chunks. Chose wood chips if you are planning on smoking for a few minutes to a few hours, or if you just want to use them for infusing flavour, not as the single heat source. Wood chips are a good choice for small to medium-sized briskets.
Wood Chunks. When to use them?
Wood chunks are hefty pieces of solid wood, 3-4 inches in size. They burn longer and provide more smoke than wood chips. Wood chunks also mix well with charcoal. Choose these if you are going to smoke your meat for longer hours as you will only likely need a few pieces for a full smoke. They work perfectly in charcoal grills, electric smokers, smoker boxes etc. You can use them as a single heat/fuel source or add a position a few chunks on your charcoal pile for flavour purposes. Like wood chips, wood chunks can also be readily purchased in bags of different flavours.
Whole wood Logs
It is also possible to have entire wood logs for smoking brisket. Unfortunately, most smokers are not large enough to accommodates whole wood logs or have the capacity needed to burn the logs at once. Therefore, wood logs are suited for large offset smokers, giant outdoor grills and pits. However, though flavour wood logs exist, unlike flavoured wood chips and chunks, flavoured wood logs aren’t easy to find for purchase.
Choosing Wood for Smoking Brisket – Dos and Don’ts for A Great Tasting Brisket
- Don’t use wood that has been treated with dangerous chemical pesticides, stained or painted.
- Don’t use green wood (wood that has been recently cut). This is because this type of wood has not had an opportunity to season or dry out.
- Don’t use softwoods for smoking brisket.
- Don’t use mouldy or fungus infested woods (specifically old wood).
- Do experiment with different types and combinations of wood for different flavour profiles.
FAQ About Brisket Smoking Using Wood
What Wood Does Franklin Use for Brisket?
For his brisket, Aaron Franklin prefers to use very dry wood, more specifically Post Oak that’s been cured for 9-12 month. This has made him one of the most influential and best pitmasters in Texas and the U.S. You can see this from the long lines forming early for brisket, pulled pork & other smoked meats at his lunch-only “cult” Austin joint Franklin Barbecue.
Can You Use Apple Wood to Smoke Brisket?
Yes, you can use apple wood to smoke a brisket. Apple wood will impart your brisket with a mildly sweet, fruity flavour. Applewood can be used as a single source to smoke a brisket or paired with another strong wood for a mixture of sweetness and boldness in flavours. Aside from brisket, apple wood also pairs well with poultry, pork, and game meats.
Is Pecan Wood Good For Smoking Brisket?
Pecan wood can be an excellent choice for smoking brisket because of its rich and more subtle, sweet and nutty flavour that works with the rich taste of beef brisket. Pecan burns cool, which makes it ideal for very low heat smoking used for briskets and does not pose a great risk of overpowering the natural flavours of the meat.
Can You Smoke A Brisket Too Long?
You cannot smoke a brisket indefinitely. There is a time when you will have to stop smoking the brisket; otherwise, the heat will get way too high. Then your brisket will turn from delicious to an inedible junk of jerky. Even worse, it could cause a major grease fire.
So, the question is how long to smoke a brisket per pound? The answer to this will depend on the technique you use, as well as the smoking wood chosen. Just prepare in advance and give yourself time.
Two methods are employed by pitmasters.
- Some pitmasters, such as Aaron Franklin use the slow and steady technique to smoke their brisket. In this technique, the meat is cooked for 8-12 hours under slow constant heat. The general rule here is to plan on between 30 and 60 minutes per pound at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire process from trimming, injection, seasoning, and cooking will take between 18 and 20 hours. Give yourself enough time. You can smoke 16 pounds of beef brisket using post oak wood.
Others prefer to cook the brisket quickly (2-3) hours like what Myron Mixon does. For this technique, you need a more powerful and intense smoke flavour. For example, a combination of Oak and Hickory.
Give yourself enough time.
Do You Flip A Brisket While Smoking?
I recommend to flip and rotate your brisket occasionally (or at least once) during smoking. Flipping the brisket while smoking has advantages. For starters, it helps to even out the exposure of the meat to heat. Letting the brisket sit in one position without flipping during the whole smoking period causes part of it to dry out. This is because airflow inside any smoker is uneven.
How Many Chunks of Wood Does It Take to Smoke A Brisket?
It depends. Are you using wood chunks alone as a heat source? Or you are using charcoal, gas or electricity as the main source – Thereby just adding wood for flavour. If you are just adding wood for flavour (not as the main heat source), then you only need to use a few chucks. For example, 4-6 chunks, 2/3 hickory, and then 1/3 apple or Cherry is what it would take to smoke a brisket when using majority charcoal. I must point out though that you never stop experimenting and looking for ways to do it better.
What Wood Should You Not Smoke With?
Some woods you need to avoid smoking with are woods from trees that contain high levels of sap and terpenes. Such woods include forests from conifers such as pine, redwood, fir, spruce, cypress, or cedar. You should not smoke with these woods. Saps and terpenes can make people sick. The compounds can also result in a funny taste and can make people sick if used to smoke meat.
I hope that with this article, you have gained useful insights on what wood to chose for smoking brisket. We have outlined the 6 best kinds of wood to smoke a brisket. We also answered some questions in our FAQ section. Plus, gave you a few dos and don’ts when making your wood choice. If you like the article, please do share with others.
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