Chicken is one of the favourite meats to smoke. Though choosing the best wood for smoking chicken is not that hard, it can be challenging for others. Don’t let a bad choice of wood spoil your chicken BBQ. In this article, we list the best Woods for smoking chicken so that you become the cookout hero your friends and family deserve. You will discover the barbecue world’s most beloved smoking woods such as Apple wood, post oak, hickory, Cherry wood, maple wood and more.
So, let’s start.
The Best Wood For Smoking Chicken – Top Rated Reviews
#1: Apple wood: Excellent wood for smoking chicken
Recommended Apple wood: Weber Apple wood chips
When it comes to smoking any part of the chicken, a lot of people prefer to use woods from fruit trees, among which, one of the most beloved and popular is applewood. Apple wood chip, when used for smoking chicken infuse delicious sweet and fruity flavour into the chicken, which makes it taste amazingly delicious. Chicken has a delicate flavour. Hence, the subtly delicate flavour profile of applewood makes it perfect for matching with a good chicken BBQ rub.
Our recommended apple wood chips for smoking chicken is Weber. Weber is a household brand that supplies superior products. It is the same case with these wood chips. The apple wood chips are carefully prepared from natural apple fruitwood, to bring a light and refreshing feel to your plate by adding a delicate hint of sweet apple to your smoked chicken.
The amount of wood chips in the pack is sufficient to last you for the best part of the BBQ season and make your grilling tastier and more exciting.
#2: Oak Wood: Preferred best wood for smoking chicken in European countries
Our recommended oak wood: Western Premium Post Oak BBQ Cooking Chunks
We recommended oak wood as an excellent choice for smoking turkey. Well, it is also a great choice for smoking chicken. This wood is respected and popular because it gives the chicken a rich smoke flavour and a distinct, rich reddish tint to white meats such as chicken and turkey, which makes it look amazing on the dinner table. While oak wood’s flavour is stronger than that of Maple, cherry, apple, and peach wood, it is still lighter than other woods like hickory, acacia, black walnut, etc. Hence, it is neither mild nor too strong. Just in between. This makes Oakwood a perfect fit for the delicate flavour profile of chicken, imparting the perfect subtle balanced flavour of smoky and mild.
Our recommended best oak wood for smoking chicken is Western Premium Post Oak BBQ Cooking Chunks. The wood chunks work perfectly on charcoal grills, open fires, and large smokers to deliver a robust and distinct flavour to every part of the chicken you will smoke.
These are all-natural wood chunks, made from heat-treated real post oak hardwood, with no added pesticides or other dangerous chemicals added.
The chunks are cut into 4″ blocks, small enough to fit easily into any smoker or grill size.
These wood chunks are also dense, burn slowly (the whole packet would burn for 20-30 minutes) and gives off thick smoke, thus can be used a single heat source in the smoker/grill, if you so desire.
Use these wood chunks to take your chicken grilling/BBQing to the next level. Also great for smoking brisket
TIP: Mixing Oak with apple rocks.
# 3: Cherry Wood; As Popular as Applewood
Our recommended cherry wood for smoking chicken: Western Premium BBQ Products Cherry BBQ Cooking Chunks
Like the other woods from fruit trees, cherry also contributes a slightly sweet, fruity smoke flavor that will be great for your chicken. This is in addition to painting your chicken with a mouthwatering beautiful reddish skin colour. The mild flavours from the smoke of cherry wood are a perfect match for the delicate flavours of the chicken. There is no risk that the wood smokes will overpower the flavours of your chicken.
But if you might want something unique, stronger and with a touch of added smokiness, you can mix cherry wood with other deeper, more earthy types of hardwood such as hickory wood.
Our recommended cherry wood chips for smoking chicken come from Western Premium BBQ Products. The quality of these wood chunks is very good. The wood chips are made entirely of natural heat-treated hardwood. The wood is aged yet not rotted and old and has a beautifully rich flavour, which makes it ideal for chicken. In addition, wood chunks are cut into fist sizes which allows for long burn times and easy fill into grill, or smoker.
#4: Tabasco Wood Smoker Chips: Lighter Than Hickory, But Stronger Than Apple Wood
With a great/high rating and many raving positive reviews for these wood smoker chips, we were prompted to research more about them. Here they are, on our list of best wood for smoking chicken. This is because they did not disappoint us. They lived up to the hype. The chips give a delicious, mild, but very smokey oak flavor with a hint of whiskey to the chicken.
We understand you may be hearing about them for the first time. So, were we, when we stumbled upon these smoker wood chips on Amazon? Watch this great video on Tabasco wood smoker chips.
Tabasco smoker wood chips are made by the McIlhenny, a family-owned company located in Louisiana USA. The TABASCO wood chips are made from white oak barrels used to age American Whiskey and Tabasco pepper sauce.
- They are one of the best wood chips for smoking chicken because the wood chips add a great unique smoky flavor to the bird meat. These spicy wood chips impart a delicious, mild, but very smokey oak flavor with a hint of whiskey, which is stronger than apple wood but lighter than hickory.
- The chips work well with electric grill, gas grill, charcoal grills, water smokers, or any personal smoker box or an aluminium foil pocket. These wood chips can also be used with infrared grills, whereby you can add wood chips directly to the grate.
- These wood chips burn quickly to bring the heat to your smoked chicken and infuse your chicken with delicious flavours to make it deliciously tasty.
This wood is a perfect match for smoking whole chicken, chicken breasts, drumsticks, thighs, wings, ham and any other cuts from a whole chicken.
#5 Maplewood: A go-to for chicken fans who love a slightly stronger sweet taste than apple wood.
Our recommended maple wood for smoking chicken: Cameron’s Smoking Wood Chips
Maple wood goes well with chicken as it gives it a light layer of sweet flavour, which is slightly stronger than that from apple woods, but without the risk of overwhelming the natural flavours of the chicken.
This makes maple wood an excellent wood of choice for the chicken lovers who prefer something stronger than Applewood’s’ flavours but not heavy like pecan wood or hickory.
Our recommended best maple wood for smoking chicken is Camerons smoking wood chips. These wood smoker shavings are made from pure natural maple hardwood. They have no added dangerous chemicals; hence, you are assured of a chemical-free, healthier, cleaner-burning fire and smoke going to your poultry meat.
Being the leader in smoke cooking technology and great innovative grilling products, all Cameron smoking wood chips are known for igniting quickly and combusting completely to create and infuse a delicate smoked flavor into your chicken.
Besides the chicken, these smoking wood chips also pair well with seafood, pork, vegetables, and cheeses.
#6: Hickory: Favored best wood for smoking chicken in the Southern states
Our recommended hickory wood chips brand: Weber Stephen Products 17143 Hickory Wood Chips
Why is hickory one of the chicken BBQing lover’s wood of choice for smoking chicken?
This is because of several reasons. The major reason being that Hickory has a distinct, rich subtly sweet smoky flavour that is robust and very forward and goes well with chicken, turkey, pork (especially bacon) and beef. In addition, hickory is one of the most widely and easily available smoking woods, which makes it a great starter wood if you’re new to smoking.
It is classified as a strong flavour wood, though not as strong as other earthy woods like mesquite. If too much of hickory wood is used at once to smoke chicken, it can be too heavy for the chicken. The wood’s flavour can easily overwhelm the natural flavours of your chicken. Hence proceed with caution, ensuring that you don’t use too much.
TIP: If you want to achieve rocking results when using hickory to smoke chicken, I recommend that you mix hickory wood with some fruit wood such as a little apple or cherry. This is because hickory’s nutty smell mixes well with fruitwood when used for smoking chicken, turkey or any other bird/ poultry.
We recommend Weber Stephen Products 17143 Hickory Wood Chips because these wood chips give incredibly delicious sweet smoky flavours to your chicken. The wood chips are mainly designed for outdoor use.
The quantity of wood chips in the bag is sufficient to last you long, especially if you use a smoker box.
#7: Pecan wood
Best pecan wood for smoking chicken: Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips
People bag on pecan, and I understand them. Not everyone loves strong nutty flavours. But not everyone likes sweet flavours either. You could be one of those. To you, I ask you to try out pecan for smoking your chicken. You won’t be let down. Pecan wood gives the bird an incredibly subtle and pleasant savour of wood smoke loved by many people.
Tip: For an authentic, savoury touch, you can try mixing pecan with apple, pecan with mesquite, pecan with cherry wood. These combos work great on chicken. You can’t go wrong.
Our recommended pecan wood for smoking chicken is Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips. These wood chips are durable and cut into sizes that fit well in the grill or smoker for outdoor enjoyment. Besides poultry (e.g. turkey and chicken), you can also use Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips to grill, barbecue, smoke beef, lamb, pork and fish.
Choosing The Best Wood For Smoking Chicken: The Factors to Consider
Flavour and flavour intensity of the smoking wood
The flavour of chicken, just like any other poultry, is very delicate and can easily be overpowered by stronger flavours from the smoking wood you chose. If you are going for a smoked chicken, this, therefore, means that at serving time, its taste and smell will be influenced by the smoking wood chips, chunks or pellets you chose. Based on flavour intensity, we have three categories of woods namely:
Lighter woods: These are the ones most preferred for smoking chicken. Their light flavour profile poses no risk of overpowering the chicken’s flavour. Mild/light flavoured woods include fruit-woods like apple, maple, cherry and alder.
Medium flavoured woods: These are also suitable for smoking chicken especially when used with some caution. They are not heavy/strong, neither as light as elder, maple or apple, which helps them to strike the right balance between taste and flavour. These woods include Pecan, post oak and hickory wood.
Tip: Medium flavoured smoking woods can be mixed with light flavoured smoking woods for a more incredible touch of flavour.
Strong flavoured woods: These have strong flavours which definitely pose a risk of overwhelming the bird’s delicate flavour. Therefore, you need to proceed with extra caution when using these. Examples include mesquite wood.
Tip: To balance out the effect of these woods, it is recommended to mix a little of this strong flavoured wood with lighter wood.
2. Size of the smoking wood
When we are talking of smoking using a real appliance (grill, charcoal stove or smoker box), then the wood for smoking can be in different configurations namely wood chunks, wood chips or wood pellets. It is also possible to have entire wood logs for giant outdoor grills and pits.
Wood chunks are 3-4 inches in size and these 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.
Wood chips, on the other hand, are small shavings. These should be considered 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.
On the other hand, the long small splits (thin wood pieces / Pellets) burn off quickly and evenly and yield consistent smoke which helps your poultry maintain its sweetness and flavour. Chose wood pellets for smoking if you just want to do a light smoke on your chicken.
What type of wood is best for smoking chicken?
If you are new to smoking and you dont want to go wrong, stick to the light flavoured fruit woods such as apple, cherry or maple. These are the best woods for smoking chicken because their light sweet fruity flavour will not overpower the chicken’s delicate flavour.
As you become used to smoking. you can experiment with medium flavoured smoking woods like pecan, post oak and hickory. These woods give a great flavour to chicken, especially when mixed with the light woods.
What are the best wood chips for smoking chicken?
Here is our list of the best wood chips for smoking chicken. You can read the full reviews on this same page.
- Weber Apple wood chips
- Western Premium Post Oak
- Tabasco Wood Smoker Chips
- Cameron’s products maple Smoking Wood Chips
- Weber Stephen Products 17143 Hickory Wood Chips
- Weber Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17136 Pecan Wood Chips
Questions regarding chicken smoking time and temperature
- How long should I smoke a chicken for it to be ready?
- What temperature should smoked chicken be?
- How many minutes per pound do you smoke a chicken?
- How long does it take to smoke a chicken at 225 degrees?
I have lumped all these questions together because the precise answer will depend on temperature. When smoking poultry (chicken, turkey) or any other meat, it is important to keep an eye on the temperature. Smoking low and slow it the key here as it allows enough exposure of the chicken to the wood smoke to infuse the meat with adequate rich smoke flavours. And always try to maintain a consistent temperature (200 and 225°F) within the smoker chamber. Try not to exceed a temperature of 280°F, replenishing the smoking wood chips or chunks as needed.
With that said, to ensure that your chicken is fully cooked, you should smoke it until the centre of the leg reaches 165°F, as registered by and inserted instant-read thermometer inserted. The time it takes for the centre of the chicken to reach that temperature would depend on the amount and thickness of the chicken. Ideally, aim for 45 minutes per pound of smoked chicken. This would mean that it would take about 3 hours to smoke a 4-pound chicken in a smoker maintained at 225 degrees.
4. Do you wrap the chicken in foil when smoking?
You can, however, this is not absolutely necessary to wrap the chicken in foil when smoking. Though, you could wrap and hold it in foil for some time after it has cooked. This helps to make the chicken even more juicy and tender and juicy. However, if you leave the chicken wrapped for too long, it could lose moisture in the process.
The type of wood you use for smoking chicken will have a great impact on its final flavour. The best wood for smoking chicken has been detailed in this post along with some tips and answers to frequently asked questions. However, I would like to point out that besides the type of wood you use, the smoking technique you use and how you use it is also key in determining the final outcome of your smoked chicken. We recommend at lower temperatures for longer time (low and slow) so that the chicken gets enough exposure to wood smoke for flavoured woods to infuse the meat with adequate rich smoke flavours.