Grilling over a wood fire is more challenging than grilling over charcoal. Wood burns hotter than most charcoal and as a consequence, burns faster. Wood also stays in the 'hot coals' stage for a shorter period of time than charcoal.
Most professional grillers and chefs in grill restaurants use wood rather than charcoal as their fuel of choice. There is a reason for this as it is a lot easier to manage a charcoal fire and charcoal is also cheaper than wood. The distinct tang that comes with grilling with a flavorful hardwood, such as Mesquite, cannot be obtained with charcoal.
So what to use?
Well, that depends….what type of cooker are YOU using?
Obviously you must use pellets in a pellet cooker or grill. Most pellet manufacturers use 20% of the “wood flavor” you choose like apple, mesquite, hickory ect. The rest of the wood used to make the pellets is what many call a “filler wood”, most often oak or alder as they are cheap to acquire and find in the regions where most pellets are made.
Ours products are 100% of the wood you choose, that’s 100% of applewood, 100% cherrywood, 100% hickorywood. That’s what you order, that’s what you get.
You can use these in place of wood chips and chunks but I would not suggest this as an effective use of pellets.
If you have a gas grill or stove top smoker or electric smoker, use our chips in a smoker box or in the units’ smoker tray for best results in in those cookers.
If you use charcoal, use our wood chunks along with a good hardwood lump charcoal. You will get outstanding flavor, excellent heat control and a finished product you can be proud of. Your friends and family will love it.
Q: Would someone please tell me what kinds of wood are suitable for grilling?
A: The traditional woods for grilling are: HICKORY, PECAN, OAK and in Texas, MESQUITE.
Here is a list of woods suitable for grilling and smoking:
BBQ List members and other internet sources report that wood from the following trees is suitable for smoking: AVOCADO, BAY, CARROTWOOD, KIAWE, MADRONE, MANZANITA, GUAVA, OLIVE, BEECH, BUTTERNUT, FIG, GUM, CHESTNUT, HACKBERRY, PIMIENTO, PERSIMMON, and WILLOW.
The ornamental varieties of fruit trees (i.e. pear, cherry, apple, etc.) are also suitable for smoking.
Q: Are there any types of wood I should not use for grilling or smoking?
A: Yes. There are many types of wood that are unsuitable or even poisonous when used for grilling.
Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virgiania), CYPRESS, OLEANDER, etc.
There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain chemicals toxic to humans--toxins that can survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you grill and the smoke particles and chemicals that may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood that you are sure is chemical free for grilling.
It is beyond the scope of this FAQ to provide a complete listings of woods that are unsuitable for smoking.
If you have wood but do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR GRILLING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.
BBQ List members report that ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking and grilling, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.
Here are some more woods that you should NOT use for smoking:
Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.
Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.
Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health or the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.
Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat. If you have some good cherry wood (or other good smoking wood) that is old and has a fungus growth and you want to use it, pre-burn it down to coals before you put it into your smoker on grill.