Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: July 23, 2021
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Did you know that the type of wood you choose will influence the flavor, aroma, and texture of your smoked chicken? For instance, peach and apple impart a sweet fruity aroma, pecan produces a nutty flavor, and cherry adds rich coloring to your meat. To choose the best wood to smoke chicken, you will also need to factor in the degree of fat content and density of the specific cut you are preparing.
We researched various kinds of wood with a varied burn rate that generates a decent amount of smoke, last long and are easily available. It is important to confirm availability since some types of wood are limited to specific geographic locations. In this article, you will find the best wood to smoke chicken. There is a variety of different types that come in form of pellets, chips or chunks to add different flavor notes so you can acquire whatever is more preferable for your smoker. We have included packages of varied sizes and weight to match your individual needs.
Our Editor’s Choice is a blend of cherry, beech, and pecan that generate a light flavor that is ideal for a large variety of dishes. The pellets feature a larger diameter that results in a longer burn time with moderate smoke output and less ash that makes cleanup easy.
Green Mountain Grills Premium Fruitwood Pellets also boasts of low moisture content. It is made from 100% kiln-dried sawdust weighing 28 pounds.
Blended wood chips for smoking chicken brings out the best qualities of each kind of the included woods for versatile use. They complement beef, pork, fish, and vegetables, too. Buyers also report using this fruit wood blend for burgers, game birds, and even pizzas with favorable results.
These pellets have also received wide praise for high heat capability. They burn hotter, longer, and cleaner than some pricier wood pellets.
The product ships fast, and the customer support staff are ready to respond to any queries promptly.
Why did it make our list?
There are numerous glowing reviews with high ratings by users, which is a testament of their confidence in these pellets as the best wood to smoke chicken wings. It is moderately priced, considering the size, blend, efficient burn rate, and low maintenance.
What is not ideal about it?
The only minor drawback, which shouldn’t be a deal breaker, is the dust in the bag.
These chunks are considered the best wood to smoke chicken wings if we go by the multiple positive reviews by verified buyers on Amazon. Camerons Products Cherry Smoking Wood Chunks
It offers one of the most versatile smoky flavors as well as size options. The chunks are available in apple, oak, hickory, alder, maple, pecan, mesquite, and of course, cherry flavor. You can acquire them in packages of 5, 10, or a larger size of 20 pounds for ready replacement. Cherry imparts a sweet delicate flavor to seafood and vegetables. To maximize flavor, the manufacturer recommends soaking them beforehand for 20 minutes before adding them on hot coals.
The chunks have the hardness that is noticeable in kiln-dried wood. The box combines large and small chunks. Since chunks tend to be larger than wood chips, you will need to confirm that you have a suitable smoker that can accommodate them. Due to their larger size compared to wood chips, you will need to confirm that you have a suitable smoker to feed them without clogging.
Barbecue enthusiasts prefer cherry when smoking pork because of the resultant overtone.
The main complaint regarding this model is the chunk size. Some customers find the quality wanting; they describe the package as consisting of mainly chips and splinters with a bit of chunks, contrary to the advertised chunks. This may result in them burning quickly.
What stands out?
They last long without prior soaking, and there are plenty of flavor and size options. The cherry smoke generates a sweet aroma that will not overwhelm the food’s flavor.
What cons did we manage to find?
The package is too pricey for its size. Moreover, there were some issues of discovering more chips in the bag rather than chunks.
The first thing that will strike you about Ol’ Hick Cooking Pellets is their large package, which holds 40 pounds of pellets. The pellets are sourced from 100% Appalachian hickory wood.
This is one of the few brands that impart flavor to dishes even when cooking at high temperatures, which reduces the amount of smoke produced. They also generate less ash than other comparable options. This translates to minimal maintenance, providing the best wood to smoke chicken wings.
Hickory is commonly associated with bacon. The barbecue wood is one of the best-known ones because of its impressive capability to release unique flavor to food. It is considered a mid-range option with moderate smoke, and it has a slower burn rate than milder options like cherry wood.
Hickory flavor is suitable for chicken, seafood, pork, and beef, whether barbecued, smoked, roasted, grilled, braised, or baked.
Why are we impressed?
We like the large size that will last through several cookout sessions. Although it is costly compared to the other wood chips and pellets for smoking chicken that we have reviewed in this article, the price is justified by its longevity, low maintenance, and compatibility with a wide variety of smoked dishes.
What negatives must you be aware of?
Although the manufacturer markets the bag they come in like a thick, tear-resistant one, a number of customers received packages that had broken. This issue is attributed to the large room that allows the bag to rattle around the box and break the heat seal.
Bear Mountain BBQ Apple Wood is an affordable option that comes in a 20-pound pellets package. It is also available in a 40-pound bag.
Buyers can opt for a delicate, earthy, or musky flavor among other choices. The featured aromas are oak, mesquite, apple, cherry, pecan, hickory, maple, and alder. You may use them individually for a distinct aroma or blend them with other flavors. With the exception of oak, which is great for brisket, all the other flavor options are recommended for smoked chicken. The apple flavor is also suitable for pork, vegetables, and seafood.
We like that these wood pellets have low moisture and are 100% natural with no additives or fillers.
Some users recommend breaking up the longer pellets before feeding them through the system to avoid clogging the smoker.
Why is it special?
It has a low price point and ships quickly since it is locally available. Bear Mountain BBQ Apple Wood also generates consistent smoke and heat and provides users with a wide variety of blends to highlight and complement the natural chicken flavor.
What are the flaws?
The pellets produce a large amount of ash, which makes it difficult to clean the smoker. The Company should improve on packaging since a couple of users received bags with torn seams that spilled out the pellets into the box.
Ol’ Hick Jim Beam Cooking Pellets are made by the iconic Kentucky whiskey Company that was established more than two decades ago. Now you can infuse your food with this bourbon flavor from natural oak, which burns cleanly. The pellets are made from authentic oak bourbon barrels and packaged in a thick 20-pound bag that is resistant to tears for safe storage. A pack of two is also available for extended use.
You can use them in any pellet grill. According to reviews by verified buyers, the flavor they produce is great for turkey, pork ribs, steak, and chicken. Owing to their oak construction, they seem to burn longer than expected, which is a plus. The pellets also generate a nice smoke ring.
What are our favorite features?
It is a great way of infusing bourbon flavor into your dishes without additives or an overpowering smell. You can buy the pellets with confidence because they are manufactured by a trusted Company with impressive longevity.
What could be better?
This bourbon aroma is mild compared to the one produced by bourbon wood chips, and most users appreciate the subtle scent. However, several users report not noticing any difference in the flavor. Some buyers are also disappointed there are others who think it has poor transference because they can’t taste that flavor in their chicken.
The available varieties of Weber Apple Wood Chips are apple, whiskey, cherry, and hickory, making it the best wood chips for smoking chicken. The chips come in a plastic bag that holds 3 pounds of chips.
Wood chips burn faster than chunks, so some users recommend soaking them beforehand, although the manufacturer believes it is not necessary. However, you should definitely soak the chips for at least half an hour to reduce the burn rate when slow cooking.
Apple wood produces a mild smoky flavor that is sweet and fruity. Apple is one of the most popular woods for smoking pork, game birds, and poultry. It is also infused in seafood and lamb. The wood lends a mellow flavor that does not overpower the chicken’s natural flavor. Apple is commonly available in any season.
Weber Apple Wood Chips are compatible with all types of grills and smokers, and the advantage of these kiln dried wood chips for smoking chicken is their relatively small size, which mostly fits in an electric smoker feeding system. I say mostly because you will come across few large ones that need to be chopped. The smoke will also be less in a smoker or propane grill than in a charcoal grill, where you add the chips on top of the coals.
Why is it special?
It is affordable and provides great value for money by enhancing your chicken with a mild fruity flavor. The chips work with all grills and smokers, and you can extend their burn time by soaking them.
What are the flaws?
The chips burn fast, and a few of them may need to be broken down to reduce their size.
Before choosing the best wood to smoke chicken wings, breasts, or thighs, you will need to factor in the individual wood qualities and its compatibility with other kinds of dishes for versatile application. We will review these essential features in detail in this section to help you make an informed decision.
What wood type is ideal for BBQing chicken
The best wood chips for smoking chicken and delicate dishes such as seafood are mild. They include apple and cherry, which produce a sweet and subtle fruity flavor. Cherry has the additional benefit of the rosy coloring it adds to chicken and finish. Alder falls in this category as well although its woody flavor is often used for smoked salmon. So does Almond, whose nutty flavor favors chicken and seafood.
For a slightly sweet but stronger flavor that suits fish, chicken, and pork, consider moderate options like pecan and maple but use other seasonings sparingly. Maple generates sweet smoke; Pecan provides a less intense version of the hickory flavor, while olive is a great alternative to mesquite, which suits Mediterranean dishes; Grapevines yield fruity and tart smoke, but they may not be locally available in your area.
The third category features dense woods that are suitable for smoking thicker and larger cuts of game meat. Sometimes, they are blended with milder woods to create a stronger or more subtle flavor depending on the kind of dish. In this group, you will find the well-known Hickory that is widely available and known for its strong, nutty flavor. It is recommended for beef and pork. Oak is also a popular choice for wood chips for smoking chicken because it has a slow burn rate, and its distinctive smoke is complementary to milder wood. Beech shares similar qualities as oak, but its flavor is milder, so you can use it to enhance flavor in delicate dishes like seafood or slow cooked meat.
The three are the major groups of the best wood to smoke chicken wings.
There are woods with stronger flavors that should be used sparingly or paired with lighter flavors to prevent a bitter taste when making Texas barbecue. This kind produces high levels of smoke for large cuts. Among these, the most common is the earthy Mesquite, which is compatible with duck, lamb, and game meat. Then there is the tangy Pimento for fish and poultry, Acacia smoky flavor for beef and vegetables, the notably smoky Walnut, and the dense Manuka, which extends burn time and yields intense smoke that is slightly sweet.
Which woods to avoid
Avoid the high sap content in softwood such as cedar, pine, fir, and cypress, which may impart a weird flavor.
Avoid unseasoned fresh wood or any wood chips for smoking chicken if they have high moisture content because it takes up a lot of energy to produce decent smoke levels and may burn unevenly.
Using wood that has been treated or stained may be hazardous due to emission of chemicals. This also applies to orchards that could still have remnants of pesticides.
Moldy wood may expose you to harmful toxins.
Features to consider when choosing wood for chicken
Below are the key factors that will help you choose the right wood chips, chunks, or pellets for smoking chicken.
The best wood to smoke chicken wings and other parts is available in three different forms; pellets, chips, or chunks. The varied configurations also vary in their sizes to fit a smoker box, charcoal stove, or grill. The right type for you will also be influenced by the type of smoking since some burn at a rate that is too fast for slow cooking.
Pellets may either be made from 100% natural wood or a blend of natural wood and wood smoke flavor. They produce consistent smoke to add a sweet fruity taste to your chicken. At approximately 3 inches in size, chunks are larger than chips, which are small wood shavings. Chips are compatible with electric and gas grills, and they favor a short cooking time of up to 2 hours. On the other hand, chunks last much longer, and they pair well with coals for an extended smoking session.
As mentioned above, chunks and pellets are the go-to options when it comes to smoked chicken because they yield consistent heat. Chips are the smaller than the other two wood configurations, but they are quickly depleted, so you should only use them for cooking delicate parts that would be ready in a few minutes. This makes chips the best wood to smoke chicken wings.
Freshly-cut wood may hold water that is half their weight. This emits plenty of steam and also consumes a lot of energy. For this reason, it is advisable to use dry wood to increase efficiency.
We have featured Weber Apple Wood Chips, which comes in a 3-pound package, providing one of the lightest wood chips for smoking chicken. The heaviest is Ol’ Hick Cooking Pellets, which weigh 40 pounds. You will also find brands that offer multiple size options so you can choose the one that matches the frequency you smoke food.
While chips make the best wood to smoke chicken wings, chunks are preferable for large and thick cuts that need to be exposed to plenty of smoke, and pellets are the best for cold smoking due to their slow burn rate.
Pellets generally have an hourly burn rate of half a pound. This rate varies according to the degree of the smoker’s insulation, the ambient and cooking temperature, the size of the cooking area, and the type of wood used. Good insulation reduces pellet consumption, while higher cooking temperatures increases it. Wood chips for smoking chicken will burn out faster than chunks and pellets, and oak products burn slower than cherry or peach pellets.
Green Mountain Grills Premium Fruitwood Pellets features kiln-dried sawdust with low moisture and ash content, which increases efficiency and speeds up cleanup. The fruitwood blend of pecan, cherry, and beech can be infused in different kinds of chicken parts.
Camerons Products Cherry Smoking Wood Chunks are ideal for mildly sweet and fruity flavor and an overtone in chicken. It is also recommended for seafood and vegetables. There are different sizes and flavors available for separate purchase.
Ol’ Hick Cooking Pellets boast of the world-famous hickory flavor in a large 40-pound bag, making it the best wood chips and pellets for smoking chicken as well as beef and pork. What’s more, high cooking temperatures do not affect its ability to release flavor.