Popular Woods Used for Grilling and Barbecuing include the following:
Alder - Within the states situated in the northwest part of the U.S. where smoked salmon is common, alder is a popular choice for grilling and smoking. Alder is also used for other species of fish, for poultry, small game birds, and pork, providing a subtle, sweet flavor to the meat.
Apple - Apple provides a sweet, fruity flavor to most meats, poultry, and small game birds but is especially good for smoking ham. The wood is dense and very hard in texture.
Blackberry - Much like the woods provided from fruit trees, the small diameter trunks of the Blackberry bush provides a slightly sweet and delicate flavor for grilling poultry and other meats, such as small game birds like grouse, pheasant, partridge, and quail.
Beech - Generally readily available, this hardwood provides a flavor similar to oak and several other hardwoods. The wood of the Beechnut produces a mild, somewhat delicate smoked flavor. Since it is a hardwood, it remains longer for smoking before it turns to ash.
Birch - A softer wood, Birch is best used when grilling or smoking cuts of pork and poultry, providing a flavor similar to some varieties of maple.
Cedar - A very common wood used to grill fish, poultry and various meats such as pork and beef. White or Red Cedar are the species most often available, which provide a distinctive natural and aromatic flavoring for a variety of foods. Salmon and other types of fish are often grilled or smoked using Cedar.
Cherry - Cherry is used for all types of meat and like apple, it provides a subtle, sweet, fruity flavor to foods. Cherry can be used to grill and smoke turkey, chicken, small game birds, and pork.
Corncob - Although not considered to be a true wood, it is often used as a smoking chip when grilling foods such as poultry, fish and small game birds. The heart of the cob that holds the kernels is the fuel section of this alternative for wood. It is ground into small granular bits that can be added to a smoking box or it can be combined with other woods such as woods from fruit trees, to impart several flavors. The Corncob provides a sweet flavor that may overpower the food if too much is used to season the food as it cooks. Begin by trying small amounts until the desired flavor is achieved.
Grapevine - Small in size, the chips from matured grape vines provides a flavor that is much like other species of trees bearing fruit. Somewhat sweet and fruity, the grape vine is most often used for cooking poultry, small game birds, pork, and sausage. It is a common wood in areas such as France, Italy, eastern U.S., and western U.S. where grapes are grown and harvested.
Hickory - Hickory is more common in the South, but is popular in many regions. It is used just as often if not more often than oak. Hickory provides a strong smoky bacon flavor and can be used for all types of meat, but is especially good for cuts of pork, wild game, chicken, and ribs.
Maple - Maple provides a mild, smoky and somewhat sweet flavor to foods. It is best used with pork, poultry, small game birds, and is often considered to be a good wood for grilling vegetables.
Mesquite - Mesquite burns very hot and provides a strong flavor to foods. Because of its more intense heat properties, it may burn too hot for some foods. It is the most popular in Texas and the southwest U.S where it is most often used for grilling or smoking cuts of beef. However, it is also a good choice for a variety of other meats and vegetables as well.
Oak - Oak is one of the most often used woods because it is common in many regions of the country. It provides a good flavor without overpowering the food. It is used for all types of meat, poultry and fish.
Peach, Pear or Apricot - Similar to other fruit trees, the wood from a peach, pear or apricot tree provides a slightly sweet and fruity flavor. Chips from these species of fruit trees are most often used for grilling pork or poultry, but also work well with other foods. As an example, small game birds such as grouse, partridge and quail are often grilled or smoked with peach, pear or apricot chips.
Pecan - Pecan is popular in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states. It provides a flavor similar to hickory, but not quite as strong. It can be used with most cuts of meat.
Pimento - A tropical wood taken from the Pimenta dioica plant that is also referred to as Allspice, Jamaican Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, or Newspice. In some regions where this is available, the Pimento wood is used for grilling poultry and fish. This wood adds a natural and somewhat peppery flavor that may also include flavors of several spices combined, such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, similar to the flavors provided when allspice is used as a seasoning to enhance the flavor of various foods. It is a common wood often used in grilling Jamaican foods such as jerk chicken.
Seaweed - Although not often thought of as a type of wood, seaweed is commonly used for smoking shellfish such as clams, crab, lobster, mussles, and shrimp. The seaweed is washed to remove the salt and air or sun-dried before use. It provides a somewhat spicy and natural flavor to the foods being smoked or grilled.
Walnut - Walnut is best used for red meats and strong tasting, heavy game because of the strong and somewhat bitter flavor it provides. It is often mixed with woods with milder flavors in order to provide a more subtle flavor to foods.
Wine or Whiskey Barrels - woods that have been seasoned with aged beverages such as wine or whiskey take on the flavors of these beverages. Most often made from oak, the wood provides a light oakey taste that goes well with beef, poultry, and cheeses that are being grilled or smoked.