best wood for smoking ribs

The Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

Let’s play a little trivia: What are the essentials of every amazing BBQ gathering? Meat? – Sure, but not necessarily (after all, even vegans can enjoy barbeque); Great company? – Yup; Proper grill? – No doubt. But you know what else is equally important? – Choosing a proper wood.

Wood is something that can make or break your entire BBQ experience, and you need to make sure that the type of wood you go with would be great for a specific dish you go with. The right choice of wood, in this case, is elementary because if you choose the wrong one, it would not only fail to imbibe the woody, smoked flavor in your meat. It may also produce dense pollution smog, which would blur your vision and cause immense discomfort. The best wood for smoking ribs comes from the deciduous trees that shed leaves every year. It is also very important for the timber to be properly dried. So any moisture in the wood can lead to the production of too much fume again, plus it also burns down really quickly. 

It’s really hard to imagine a barbeque party (or any for that matter) without savory and juicy ribs. However, when you want to make your meat even better, you need to find some of the best wood for smoking ribs. So let’s find out how to do it and what are our options.

Does The Flavor of Smoke Affect the Taste of the Ribs? 

When we bbq ribs, the meat is exposed to the fume by burning. That is why just freshly cooked food has that amazing smokey smell since it’s infused with that smoke from the grill. Now, when you’re using only coal it will emit very little smoke since it’s mainly composed of carbon. However, when you add wood to the smoker it will generate more smoke to generate, which in turn will make your ribs flavourful. 

There are several types of trees, and each of those trees yields a distinct type of wood that has its own unique flavor. However out of all these, which wood is best to use for ribs smoking?

The Best Types of Woods to Choose From

 Four varieties that are most common for smoking BBQ are:

  • Chips: Many people use wood chips for smoking ribs because they burn faster and generate a lot of heat. Chips are generally used along with charcoal.
  • Logs: Logs are among the most commonly used wood for smoking ribs. They produce enough heat and fume to give your ribs the flavor needed. They are capable of burning for at least 40 mins in a well-insulated firebox. 
  • Chunks: Chunks are used on a bed of charcoal that burns while the chunks give out fume. They work best with smaller smokers like ceramic cookers. 
  • Pellets: While some people claim that wood pellets are toxic, however, it all depends on how you handle it. Moreover, a lot of people love pellets because of the convenience and the great burning they provide.

Best Wood for Smoking Ribs


It is considered the best wood for smoking pork ribs as it adds a strong flavor to your BBQ meat. However, be careful of adding too much of it, since it can turn your ribs bitter.


Oak is considered the best wood for smoking beef ribs. They also work well for lamb too. And the great thing about the oak wood is that it adds an amazing and strong flavor to your food, while also not interfering with the actual taste of the meat.


Being naturally oily, it burns easily and emits a distinct flavor. However, since mesquite burns rather quickly it might not be the best wood for smoking ribs if you plan to do of for a long time.


This is the best wood for smoking ribs of chicken, but it also works great for fish too. While it adds amazing taste, the Grapevine sometimes gives out a foul odor while it burns.


It is the best wood for ribs if you are looking for a subtle and sweet flavor in your BBQ. This type is perfect for chicken and pork.


Using cherry wood chips for smoking ribs will give your meat a gentle mahogany-like hue along with a mild flavor. Cherry wood is best for all types of meats, especially beef, pork, and even venison.


Pecan is a good wood for smoking ribs since it gives them a slightly sweeter taste. Hence it’s best to use this type of wood when you smoke chicken, pork, and beef. However, do keep in mind that it’s best to mix this type of wood with the other one since a lot of pecan wood might make your food rather pungent.


A maple is a great option if you want a soft, woody flavor in your pork or beef ribs.

Wood You Should Avoid for Smoking Ribs

Besides knowing about the best wood to smoke ribs, you also need to know about which types of meat you need to avoid. That is because they can hamper the taste of meat and make it completely inedible.

Thus, you need to avoid:

  • Elm
  • Fir
  • Redwood
  • Pine
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Sycamore
  • Poison Oak

Tips For Using Wood for Smoking Ribs


  • Make sure to remove the bark of the chunks before you use them.
  • Even the best wood for ribs can ruin your meal if you add too much of it. So better to add just a little, and slowly add more if needed.
  • Minimize fume for the best results.
  • Replace the timber once it has burnt out.

Timber Meat Compatibility

Type of Meat Type of Timber Suitable for Smoking
Brisket Oak, mesquite, and hickory
Turkey Apple and oak
Chicken  Anything except mesquite and hickory
Fish  Pecan, maple, and alder 
Pork  Hickory and mesquite

Our Closing Statement 

Either you choose an open-air venue or the best smoker under 500, selecting the right kind of timber is crucial. It does more than just generate heat to cook your meat. Your selection of the type will determine the taste, smell, and entire look of it. 

And that’s pretty much all there is to know about the best wood for smoking ribs! As you see, there are so many options to choose from, and the type of wood you choose heavily depends on what type of meat you have. Thus, consider what type of meat you have and choose according to wood. And overall – keep in mind that hardwood trees make the best timber for smoking since they grow slowly and thus become rather thick.

So have a great time enjoying your BBQ, and don’t forget to let us know which type of wood you used and how much you liked it! Or perhaps you know some type of woods that you would recommend for ribs? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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