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Different Types of Wood Chips and Which Wood Chips to Use for BBQ Grill

Updated on July 10, 2011
Grilled steak photo: Another Pint Please @flickr
Grilled steak photo: Another Pint Please @flickr

About Using Wood Chips to Grill

You can use wood chips in a charcoal grill, gas grill, or a smoker. There are several types of wood chips to use for grilling. Each different type of wood chip produces a unique flavor. Some woods are more suitable for certain meats than others.

I don't think anyone would argue against the fact that meats cooked on a grill with added wood chips are many times better than grilling meat the traditional way. Below is a guide to the different types of wood chips and the meats that go well with each of them.

Different Typs of Wood Chips and Complementary Meats

Alder wood chips have a light, sweet taste. Alder grows in the Pacific Northwest. It enhances the flavor of seafood, especially fish. It is very popular for salmon and trout especially.

Apple wood chips have a unique, sweet, fruity flavor. Apple wood chips go perfectly with pork of all kinds. It also is a great choice when grilling chicken and fish, especially grilled salmon.

Cherry wood delivers a fruity flavor similar to apple wood chips, but it is stronger and less sweet. Cherry wood goes with about any grilling meat, including some you may not think of such as lamb, duck, and wild game. Chicken grilled with cherry wood is excellent.

Hickory wood chips are a very popular choice to use when grilling. It is used in many barbeque grilling recipes. Hickory is a very robust smoking wood, so use it sparingly. Hickory is perfect with pork as well as with chicken.

Mesquite wood and Texas go together. Mesquite is a common type of wood chips to use when grilling. But be careful with this one. Mesquite wood is probably the strongest wood of them all. It can easily overpower grilled food. It is an obvious choice for southwestern type meals, like quesadillas. Mesquite is a good choice for grilling beef.

Oak wood chips are another popular type of grilling wood chips. One reason is that it is compatible with most any type of food, including but not limited to beef, chicken, and seafood. It's more robust than wood chips from fruit trees, but not as potent as mesquite or hickory wood. Oak is a great choice to use if you want to experiment with mixing different types of wood chips together during grilling.

Peach wood chips may not be easy to find in some places, but here in the Peach State, sometimes I can score some. I really like to grill with peach wood. It is very subtle and light, but sweet and somewhat fruity. It's subtle enough that it can be successfully combined with other types of wood chips. I like to use peach wood chips with pork meats the best.

Pecan wood chips go great with any type of grilled poultry. It's light and sweet, with a nutty flavor.

How to Grill Lamb Chops Video

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