Smoking meat has been practiced for thousands of years. Nowadays, many enjoy this activity at social gatherings like family reunions and large parties.
Hickory or mesquite may be the obvious choice, but they’re simply the most popular ones. In this article, I’ll discuss the best wood for smoking snack sticks and the different criteria to consider to use to choose the right option for you.
What Kind of Wood Should I Use to Smoke Snack Sticks?
There are numerous kinds of wood you can use for smoking snack sticks. Depending on the type of meat you have and the desired effect, you can find the options that suit you best.
One of the best choices for smoking any meat is hickory. It has a strong and rich smell which reminds many people of bacon. In addition, using hickory wood helps add a sweet aroma to your meat, creating an exceptional taste and smell.
If you want a subtle and mild effect, apple may be the right choice for you. It has a fruity flavor that complements numerous types of meat, especially beef and pork.
However, it can take additional time for the apple flavoring to penetrate the food due to its mild taste.
Like applewood, cherry adds a sweet but mild flavor added to your meat. It’s a great go-to option for any meat you have available.
Cherry adds subtle, reddish color to the meat, especially to pork and poultry.
If you want a fruity but strong flavor, grapevine is an excellent choice. However, it has a much stronger flavor than apple and cherry.
As a result, some people find it a bit overwhelming. One of the best ways to use it is to combine it with other woods to tone down its overpowering flavor.
A popular choice, maple is an excellent choice for those who love a bit of sweetness in their snack sticks. It’s great for poultry, but it can also be used for pork.
Oak is one of the most popular woods for smoking meat. Oak adds a more robust, smoky flavor, but it’s still subtle.
You can easily mix it with cherry and apple to add intensity but still not end up with a strong, pungent flavor. However, if you’re smoking poultry, be extra careful; oak wood tends to overwhelm it.
Since it belongs to the hickory tree family, it’s no surprise pecan wood is on the list. Like hickory, it provides an intense flavor. It burns slowly, though, so make sure you have the time to spare before using this wood.
It can also be a bit pungent and destroy the flavor of the meat. The best way to use pecan is by combining it with other types of wood, such as hickory or oak.
Using walnut wood for smoking, especially black walnut, can be a great option. However, be aware that it isn’t for everyone.
Walnut has a robust, bitter taste. It’s good for meat that has a strong natural flavor, too, like beef or pork. If you want to get a smoother flavor, you can combine it with other woods.
Another option for smoking snack sticks is alder wood. It has a sweet flavor great for milder meat such as poultry, but it’s also excellent for smoking pork.
If you want a robust and intense aroma and a recognizable earthy flavor, mesquite is a must. It’s excellent for smoking red meat.
However, if you don’t have much experience in smoking, mesquite might not be a great choice. It’s one of the hottest burning woods, and it takes time to learn how to use it properly. You can quickly burn your snack sticks if you’re not careful.
Tips for Choosing the Best Wood for Smoking Snack Sticks
Choosing the best wood for smoking snack sticks can be tricky, and there’s no universal choice. The right wood depends on your preferences.
Check out some criteria to keep in mind when choosing the wood.
Amount of Smoke
Fruity wood such as apple and cherry is very smoky but provides a mild aroma. These types of wood are often used in competitions, but they are also great for beginners.
Woods like apple and cherry wood offer a mild, fruity flavor. Walnut and mesquite provide a robust and intense aroma.
If you prefer the strong taste, walnut and mesquite are excellent choices. However, keep in mind that they can be overwhelming and aren’t for everyone.
Wood Chips vs. Chunks
Wood size depends on personal preference.
Wood chips are often used because they’re widely available. However, they burn fast, so it’s recommended to soak them the night before smoking.
In contrast, wood chunks don’t need to be soaked, but they aren’t as widely available.
Type of Meat
Snack sticks can be made of any meat. Some woods are better for smoking specific kinds of meat. This is related to the flavor and intensity you wish to achieve.
What to Avoid When Smoking Snack Sticks
If you want to ensure the best effect and keep yourself and others safe, there are things you should avoid when smoking snack sticks:
Don’t Borrow Wood From People You Don’t Know
There’s no way to guarantee the origin and type of the wood. So, to avoid safety problems and destroying your meat, it’s better not to borrow wood from anyone.
Don’t Use Chemically Treated Wood
Painted and chemically treated wood can have different reactions to fire. So, if you don’t want firefighters joining you, stay away from chemically treated wood.
Avoid Certain Types of Wood
Cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, pine, spruce, or elderberry shouldn’t be used for smoking. They don’t taste good, and you risk ruining your snack sticks with them.
Now that you’re armed with options for the best wood for smoking snack sticks, it’s time to make a choice.
Flavor, smokiness, and meat type are all factors you should keep in mind when tailoring your meat flavor profile. Don’t forget that you can always experiment, too, by combining various types of wood.
Finally, impress your loved ones by creating your signature flavor with your own wood mix.