8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket – Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

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Last updatedLast updated: July 29, 2021
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When you’ve got a large group of people coming for dinner, brisket Trusted Source Brisket - Wikipedia Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef primal cuts, though the definition of the cut differs internationally. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. en.wikipedia.org is an excellent option to serve. It is easy to make, can be prepared hours ahead of time, and comes out tasting delicious. While there are many ways to cook brisket, one of the better ones is by smoking it. Yet, how do you know what is the best wood for smoking brisket? When you add wood chips to your smoker, you are able to create different layers of flavor. Perhaps you want a smoky texture, or maybe a sweeter taste? Knowing ahead of times how specific woods will interact with your meat is important. Read on to find out what are the best wood pellets for smoking brisket.

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

What wood sizes are there?

When we talk about wood for smoking purposes, there is actually quite a bit of terminology to understand. While wood flavor is important, it’s also necessary to start with the size of wood. This will determine how long the wood will last before needing to be replaced, as well as how much it will cost.

Wood chips

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

Wood chips, as you can expect from their name, are small chips of wood. They look like wood shavings or scraps. Readily available, wood chips are great for smaller smokers, such as gas and electric ones. Wood chips are easy to load and their bags come in many different sizes.

The problem with wood chips is that, due to their small size, they burn a lot faster than larger options. As a result, you need to really monitor your wood chip level and if you are smoking something for a long time, you will need to replace them; otherwise, they won’t produce enough heat or flavor.

For those that are unsure of how to start using wood chips, check out this handy guide.

Unfortunately, if you have a larger size of brisket, it is not recommended to use wood chips. Large briskets can take hours, if not most of the day to fully smoke. You don’t want to worry about an uneven cook or flavor profile because your wood chips keep running out.

If you’re not sure which flavor of wood chips to try, there are many brands, such as Wester Premium Wood, that allow you to purchase a bundle pack so you can experiment at home.

Wood pellets

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

Some people become confused with wood pellets, and for good reason. While they are made from natural wood, mainly sawdust, they go through an artificial process where the sawdust is heavily compacted into pellet form.

The great thing about wood pellets is they offer the same natural flavors of wood chips. Another benefit is they last for longer than wood chips, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them mid-smoke.

However, because of their size, they don’t always work in smoker boxes on electric or gas smokers. If you have a pellet smoker, this is the option to use. Wood pellets come in large bags, like the 20-pound bag from Traeger Pellets, so you don’t have to constantly run to the store to stock up on more.

You can use wood pellets for smoking a brisket. They will last a while and give you a great, smoky taste.

Wood chunks

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

When you purchase wood chunks, expect them to be about the size of your fist. However, there may be smaller pieces in the bag, due to being knocked around or breaking off.

Wood chinks are great when used in combination with charcoal. They last for quite a long time, longer than both wood chips and wood pellets.

Wood chunks, such as those from Weber, come in many different flavors, such as apple, pecan, cheery, hickory, and mesquite.

If you have a large-sized brisket, wood chunks are a great option as they burn for a long time and produce a consistent smoky flavor.

Logs

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

While not used as often as wood chips or wood chunks, logs are an option for smoking your brisket. The main thing to be aware of is that logs are large, so you need a smoker that can accommodate them, such as these grill excellent options.

An advantage of using logs to smoke your brisket is that they are a great heat source, in addition to providing a smoky flavor. If you have an offset smoker, logs are a great choice.

Their long burn time and depth of flavor make logs a great choice for large-sized briskets.

Other sizes

In addition to these common types of wood, you make come across sawdust and disks. Sawdust is good only for smaller, portable smokers and produces a lot of dust. It is not recommended for larger cuts of meat, such as brisket.

Disks are similar to pellets, in that they are formed from compressed sawdust. However, they come in the shape of puck-like disks, and are larger than pellets. Wood disks are good for electric smokers and while convenient, they will produce a lot of smoke.

Which type of wood is best for smoking brisket?

Now that you know what size of wood to choose for your brisket, it’s time to understand what is the best wood for smoking a beef brisket.

Oak

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

Perhaps one of the best woods for smoking brisket, oak has a lovely smokey flavor. And, as an added benefit, it is easy to use in a smoker.

The main reason that so many choose oak when smoking their brisket is that it has a very long burn time. Large cuts of meat, such as brisket, can be smoked for the entire day. Essentially, you want to be able to leave that meat alone while you carry on with other tasks, only stopping periodically to check on the process. The long burn time of oak wood allows you to do jus this.

Another reason why oak is so popular is because it has a subtle smokiness to it. While there are definitely those that love a thicker smoky flavor, oak is nice if you are just starting out on your smoker journey. Furthermore, if you have a lot of people over, the subtlety of oak means that everyone will enjoy it.

Hickory

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

When it comes to smoking brisket, many there choose to go for the distinct taste of hickory wood. What really makes hickory stand out is its earthy, nutty flavor. It pairs really well with brisket, and many people will use hickory to give their beef a bit more depth of flavor.

If you’re not sure what hickory-smoked beef tastes like, think a mix of the subtlety of oak and the brashness of mesquite. It’s a nice middle ground for those that want more flavor but are still a bit hesitant about trying something new.

The key with hickory wood is to not use as much. Be sure to pair it with another heat source, such as charcoal, and not add more fresh wood during the smoking process.

Mesquite

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

Brisket in Texas is a barbecue staple and there’s a good chance you’ll taste the distinct flavor of mesquite. Bold and smoky, mesquite will allow you to experience the full potential of your meat.

While mesquite is popular for its flavor, it is actually not the best type of wood for smoking a large-sized brisket. This is because it can burn quite fast, so you will have to replace your wood as the day progresses.

There is a work-around to this, however. Many people combine mesquite with a different wood, such as apple. This evens out the burn time and also cuts the strong flavor a bit. The sweetness of apple and the strength of mesquite create a really nice profile.

Pecan

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

While it is quite unique in flavor, pecan wood is another Southern favorite. Pecan wood has a robust, sweet taste to it that pairs nicely with smoked brisket.

The biggest downside to pecan wood is that sometimes it can be harder to find than other more popular flavors. However, most online retailers will be able to provide you with some options.

Again, if you are hesitant about using pecan wood for the first time, you can always pair it with the subtle flavor of oak wood for a nice combination.

Maple

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

Beginner smokers often flock to maple wood as it is easy to sue and has a nice burn time. The flavor, while a bit smoky, does not overwhelm the meat, so it is also a good choice for those new to the smoking process.

One of the best advantages of maple wood is that, while it pairs great with brisket, it also goes nicely with other meat, especially pork and poultry. Therefore, you can purchase a large, bulk bag of maple wood chips and know that you won’t be wasting them once you move on to cooking different types of meats.

Furthermore, maple wood is commonly used to smoke fish, so you have yet another food that will benefit from this type of wood.

Apple

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

When you use apple wood, you will instantly be transported to a realm of sweet and fruity. This is a wonderful wood if you want your brisket to take on a unique, crisp flavor profile.

Apple wood also has a good burn time so is great for larger cuts of meat like brisket. If you are worried about your meat tasting too sweet, apple wood is a good companion to smokier words, such as oak.

When you burn apple wood, you will get quite a dense amount of smoke, so just be prepared for this. However, the smoke is very good at infusing itself into the meat, which is why apple wood is so popular.

Olive

When people think about types of wood for smoking purposes, olive is not often on their list. However, if you want a unique taste, you should definitely give it a go.

Olive wood has a smoky taste to it and is actually quite similar to mesquite. However, whereas mesquite is quite overwhelming, olive wood is more subtle. Therefore, if you want the flavor of mesquite but in not so bold of a manner, olive wood is a great alternative.

Cherry

Yet another fruit-flavored wood, cherry has a sweet taste to it. It has a decent burn time and can be used both on its own and paired with another type of wood.

8 Best Woods for Smoking Brisket - Give Your Meat a Perfect Flavor!

If you want to balance the sweetness of cherry wood, a good companion is hickory. Together, the two woods will infuse your brisket with a delectable mixture of sweet and smoky.

Final thoughts

Smoked brisket is the perfect centerpiece for any barbecue. You can prepare the meat ahead, leave it to smoke and become flavorful, and once done, feed many, many people. Smoking brisket may seem a bit complicated but once you understand the fundamentals, you will soon become a pro. Start by deciding on the size of wood you will use. For a larger brisket, consider wood chunks as they have a larger burn time. Then, it’s time to pick your flavor. Oak is a solid, popular choice but if you want a tangier, smokier taste, opt for woods like hickory or mesquite. As well, you can add some sweetness to your meat by using apple or pecan wood. When it comes time to deciding what is the best wood for smoking brisket, think about what you want your meat to taste like and go from there.

References

1.
Brisket - Wikipedia
Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef primal cuts, though the definition of the cut differs internationally. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals.
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