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The wood you choose can affect the flavor of your smoked brisket. While most people think about using wood as a heat source, it’s also important to consider the flavor that the smoke gives to your food.

There are two types of woods: hardwoods and softwoods. Different types of woods have different flavors. The best kind of wood to use depends on what type of meat you want to cook.

Hardwoods: oak, hickory, maple, pecan, cherry, etc. These are available at any grocery store in whole logs or chunks. They give off a smoky flavor with hints of sweetness.

Softwoods: pine, fir, spruce, cedar, cypress, etc. These trees produce less smoke, but they still add a nice touch to your brisket. This is especially true when cooking with charcoal.

The question is, which one should you use? Well, that is the question we intend to answer. So, let us start by looking at these wood types.


Types Of Wood Commonly Used To Smoke Brisket

There are many kinds of woods you can use to smoke a brisket and all of them have their pros and cons. Below are several kinds of wood that are most commonly used to smoke a brisket.

So, let’s dive right in!

If You Want Medium To Strong Flavors

  • Mesquite Wood – This wood will give off quite a strong earthy flavor that will make your meat taste all the better. Mesquite burns fairly quickly, so you have to be careful when you use this wood, but it produces quite a lot of smoke and adds such a good flavor that it is certainly worth the hassle. In fact, if you want to make an authentic Texas smoked brisket, this is the wood you should go with. Just be careful because this wood can overpower your meat very easily.
  • Oak Wood – Oak is a great wood if you are looking for something that gives off a nice mild smoky flavor that will not be too overwhelming. This type of wood burns for quite a long time and is a good choice for those that are new to the smoking world. Oak is commonly used at Central Texas Style Barbecues.
  • Hickory Wood – If you like a strong smoky flavor, hickory might be a good fit for you. This wood gives the meat an almost nutty or bacon flavor that will really transform your brisket into something amazing. The only issue with using hickory is that this wood can produce quite a lot of smoke which gives off a strong flavor and can easily turn meat quite bitter.

If You Want Mild Flavors

  • Olive Wood – This wood will give your brisket a mild smoky flavor that is quite similar to mesquite but with a more mild flavor.
  • Apple Wood – Apple wood will give your brisket a mild, almost sweet, and smoky flavor that is unique and delicious.
  • Maple Wood – Maple wood will add quite a mild yet sweet flavor to your brisket. This is a good choice if you are looking for that added smoky flavor that is not strong enough to overpower your brisket.
  • Cherry Wood – Cherry will give your brisket a mild yet fruity flavor that is just perfect. It also pairs very well with hickory wood.
  • Pecan Wood – If you want your brisket to have a mildly sweet yet nutty flavor, this is the best choice for you. It is however advised that you pair pecan wood with another strong wood so that you do not end up with a brisket that is too sweet.

A Bit About Wood Size

It’s important to know how big your firewood pieces are before you start building a smoker box.

As a rule of thumb, the bigger the piece of wood the stronger the smoke. So, for example, a 2″ x 4″ would be much weaker than a 3′ x 6″.

Best Wood For Smoking Brisket

  • Logs – Logs are best suited to offset smokers this is because the wood can be used for smoke and heat. This is a good choice if you are smoking quite a large brisket.
  • Wood Chunks – If you have smaller chunks of wood that are about fist-sized, you may find that the wood really well in a small offset smoker. Chunks tend to last quite a while and are also well suited to briskets that are quite large.
  • Pellets – Pellets can be used to give off heat and smoke your brisket. Pellets are ideal for pellet grills, obviously. This type of wood will not have toxic chemicals and the smoke it produces is quite clean and adds a subtle woody flavor.
  • Wood Chips – Chips are most often used in gas or electric smokers. They can, however, be used in small coal smokers too if you know what you are doing. The downside is that they burn quite quickly, which makes them unsuited for larger briskets.

Which Wood Should You Pick?

The answer depends on what kind of smoker you are using. If you are using a kettle-style smoker, then it is recommended to stick with oak or mesquite logs.

These woods burn for a long period of time and create a steady stream of smoke. They will keep the temperature down in your pit making sure that your meat stays moist.

If you are using a dome-style smoker, then you should stick with pellets or chips as these types of wood will work much faster than logs.

Pellets or chips burn quicker meaning they raise the temperature in your pit rapidly.

When you fire a pellet or chip-based smoker, you usually need to adjust the heat setting higher than you would normally.

However, once the smoke starts coming out of your smoker, you won’t have to worry about adjusting the heat.

The best wood for smoking brisket depends on what you prefer. If you don’t mind having a little extra smoke in your meat then you may want to try apple or cherry wood.

These woods give off a light fruitier flavor that is just perfect for adding some complexity to your brisket.

However, if you want to get rid of some smoke from your brisket, then it’s recommended that you use hickory or oak.

These two kinds of wood are known for creating a thick smoke cloud that will cover most of your brisket and make it taste fantastic.

Also, when using these woods, the heat will remain low making sure that your meat does not dry out.

In conclusion, the best wood for smoking briskets is whatever type you prefer.

Whether you choose to go with apple or cherry wood, maple or hickory, we recommend keeping it simple by going with one type of wood.

That way you can be sure that you are getting a consistent quality smoke every single time.

A Few Favorites Of Pitmasters

If you are eager to hear more opinions on which wood is best, you may be interested to see what professional pitmasters think is the best wood to smoke a brisket.

So, let’s see what they have to say on the matter:

  • Myron Mixon – This pitmaster liked to use a variety of woods but is very much a lover of the more fruity woods. He believes that it adds a more complex flavor variation. Myron likes to start with hickory as a base and then puts unseasoned fruit woods to add a wonderful sweet fruitiness to the brisket.
  • Aaron Franklin – This pitmaster likes to use oak to smoke his meat. This is largely due to the fact that this type of wood is easy to find and abundant where he lives.
  • Malcolm Reed – This pitmaster likes to use hickory and pecan wood when he smokes a brisket. He likes the slow burn of the wood as well as the sweet and nutty flavor of the pecan wood.

Final Thoughts

It really comes down to personal preference when deciding what type of wood you want to use.

There isn’t one particular type of wood that is considered better than another, so please do what feels right to you and enjoy!

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