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What is the best woodchip for BBQ?

When it comes to barbecuing, choosing the right woodchip can make all the difference in enhancing the flavor of your food. The type of woodchip you use can add unique smoky notes and aromas that complement different types of meats and vegetables. Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast or just starting out, understanding the characteristics of various woodchips can help you elevate your grilling game.

Why use woodchips for BBQ?

Woodchips are an essential component of many barbecue recipes as they add complexity and depth to the flavor profile of the grilled food. When heated, these woodchips release aromatic smoke that infuses the meat or vegetables with distinctive flavors. The choice of woodchip will depend on personal preference and the type of food you’re preparing. Different wood varieties impart different flavors, ranging from mild and sweet to strong and bold.

Common types of woodchips

There are several commonly used types of woodchips for BBQ, each with its own distinct flavor characteristics:

  • Hickory: Known for its strong, smoky flavor, hickory woodchips pair well with beef, pork, and poultry. It adds a robust, bacon-like taste to the meat.
  • Mesquite: Mesquite woodchips offer a bold, earthy flavor that works particularly well with red meats like beef and lamb. It creates a rich smokiness that is popular in Texan-style barbecue.
  • Apple: Apple woodchips provide a milder, slightly fruity flavor that complements a variety of meats, including pork, poultry, and fish. It adds a subtle sweetness to the food.
  • Cherry: Cherry woodchips have a sweet and fruity flavor that pairs well with a range of meats, particularly pork, chicken, and salmon. It adds a touch of tanginess to the dishes.
  • Pecan: Pecan woodchips offer a rich and nutty taste that is suitable for most meats, including poultry and pork. It delivers a well-balanced smokiness without overpowering the natural flavors.

Tip: Experimenting with different woodchip varieties will help you discover your own preferred flavor combinations. Don’t be afraid to mix and match to create unique profiles that suit your taste buds.

Choosing the right woodchip

The choice of woodchip ultimately depends on the type of food you plan to grill and the intensity of smoky flavor you desire. Consider the following factors when selecting the best woodchip for your barbecue:

  1. Meat type: Certain woodchip flavors pair better with specific meats. For example, hickory is excellent for beef or pork, while fruitier options like apple and cherry work well with poultry and fish.
  2. Intensity: If you prefer a stronger smoky flavor, opt for woods like mesquite or hickory. For a milder taste, choose fruitwood varieties like apple or cherry.
  3. Duration: Different woodchips burn at different rates. Consider the cooking time required for your dish and select a woodchip that will provide adequate smoke throughout the process.

Expert Tip: Soak the woodchips in water for 30 minutes before using them. This will slow down the burning process, allowing the chips to generate more smoke and ensuring they last longer.

Ultimately, the best woodchip for your BBQ is a matter of personal preference, as different individuals enjoy varying degrees of smokiness in their grilled dishes. By experimenting with different woodchip flavors and combinations, you can discover the perfect match for your taste preferences and create mouthwatering barbecue masterpieces.

What Wood Can You Not BBQ With?

When it comes to barbecuing, choosing the right type of wood for smoking and adding flavor is essential. While there are various types of wood that can enhance the taste of your grilled dishes, there are also some types of wood that you should avoid for BBQ cooking. Here are a few woods that you should not BBQ with:

1. Softwoods

Softwoods like pine, cedar, and spruce should never be used for BBQ cooking. These woods contain high levels of resin, which can result in a bitter taste and potentially harmful fumes when burned. Avoid using softwoods as they can ruin the flavor of your food and pose a health risk.

2. Treated or Painted Woods

Using treated or painted woods for BBQ cooking is a big no-no. Chemicals used in the treatment or paint on these woods can release toxic fumes when exposed to high heat. Stick to using natural, untreated woods to ensure the safety and quality of your grilled dishes.

3. Poisonous Woods

Some woods, such as oleander, yew, and certain fruit tree woods (e.g., apricot, cherry, peach), contain toxins that can be extremely dangerous when used for cooking. Avoid using these types of woods at all costs to prevent any health hazards.

4. Moldy or Rotting Woods

Using moldy or rotting wood for BBQ cooking is not only unpleasant but can also be harmful. Mold and rot can release spores and bacteria, which can contaminate your food and cause illness. Always use dry and clean wood for the best grilling results.

Tip: Remember, using the right type of wood can greatly enhance the flavor of your grilled dishes. Experiment with different types of woods like hickory, mesquite, applewood, or oak to find your favorite smoky flavor.

It’s important to prioritize safety and taste when choosing the right wood for BBQ cooking. Avoid softwoods, treated or painted woods, poisonous woods, and moldy or rotting woods to ensure a delicious and safe grilling experience. Happy barbecuing!

Can you BBQ with moldy wood?

Barbecuing is a beloved pastime for many people, especially during the summer months in the UK. However, one question that often arises is whether it is safe to use moldy wood when grilling. Let’s address this concern and shed light on the potential risks involved.

The dangers of moldy wood

Mold thrives in damp and moist environments, and wood that has been exposed to these conditions can become contaminated. When moldy wood is burned, it releases spores into the air, which can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory issues in susceptible individuals. Therefore, it is generally not recommended to use moldy wood for barbecuing.

Why you should avoid using moldy wood

Using moldy wood for your barbecue can have several negative consequences:

  1. Risk of food contamination: Mold on the wood can transfer to the food, leading to potential foodborne illnesses.
  2. Unpleasant taste: Burning moldy wood can impart an unpleasant flavor to your grilled food, compromising the taste.
  3. Health concerns: Inhaling mold spores can be harmful to individuals with allergies or respiratory conditions.

Safe alternatives for grilling

If you discover that your barbecue wood has mold, it is best to discard it and opt for a safer alternative. Here are some options:

  • Hardwood: Choose hardwood varieties like oak, hickory, or applewood, which are known for providing great flavor.
  • Charcoal: Charcoal briquettes are a popular choice for barbecuing and are readily available.
  • Wood pellets: Wood pellets specifically designed for grills can be an excellent option, offering consistent heat and flavor.

What Wood is Not Safe to Cook Over?

Cooking over an open fire or on a barbecue can be an enjoyable and tasty way to prepare food. However, not all types of wood are safe to cook over. Certain woods contain toxins or chemicals that can be released when burned, posing health risks. It’s essential to know which woods to avoid when cooking to ensure the safety and flavor of your food.

Avoid Softwoods

Softwoods, such as pine, fir, spruce, and cedar, should be avoided when cooking over a fire. These woods contain high levels of sap and resin, which can release harmful chemicals and create an unpleasant taste in the food. Additionally, softwoods tend to burn quickly and can produce excessive smoke, making them unsuitable for cooking.

Opt for Hardwoods

Hardwoods are generally considered safe for cooking as they burn cleaner and provide a more consistent heat source. Woods like oak, hickory, maple, cherry, and apple are commonly used for cooking due to their mild and pleasant flavors. They also produce less soot and smoke compared to softwoods, ensuring a healthier cooking environment.

Beware of Treated or Painted Wood

When cooking over an open fire, it is crucial to avoid using treated or painted wood. These types of wood may contain chemicals, like arsenic or lead, which can be hazardous when heated. Always ensure that the wood you use for cooking is untreated, free from paint or varnish, and sourced from a reputable supplier.

Did you know? Some fruitwood varieties, such as cherry or apple, can enhance the flavor of your grilled food, providing a subtle sweetness.

List of Safe Wood for Cooking

Type of Wood Flavor Profile Recommended for
Oak Mild and smoky Beef, pork, poultry
Hickory Strong and bacon-like Pork, beef, poultry
Maple Sweet and delicate Poultry, fish, vegetables
Cherry Mild and fruity Pork, poultry, game
Apple Light and sweet Poultry, pork, vegetables

What Wood is Safe for BBQ?

The Importance of Choosing the Right Wood

When it comes to barbecuing, choosing the right wood can greatly enhance the flavor of your food. Different types of wood impart distinct flavors, so it’s essential to select wood that complements the dish you’re cooking. However, not all wood is safe for BBQ.

Safe BBQ Wood Options

To ensure a safe and delicious grilling experience, opt for hardwoods that are free from chemicals or additives. Here are some popular choices of safe BBQ woods:

  1. Oak: This versatile, mild-flavored wood is a popular choice for many BBQ enthusiasts. It burns slowly and evenly, making it ideal for long cooks.
  2. Hickory: Known for its strong, smoky flavor, hickory is a go-to wood for barbecue. Use it sparingly, as it can easily overpower lighter meats and fish.
  3. Apple: Applewood provides a slightly sweet and fruity aroma, making it a great choice for pork, poultry, and even seafood.
  4. Mesquite: Commonly used in Texas-style BBQ, mesquite offers a bold and earthy flavor. Use it sparingly or mix with other woods, as it can be overpowering.
  5. Cherry: Cherrywood adds a hint of sweetness to your BBQ, enhancing the flavors of both poultry and pork.

Unsafe Wood for BBQ

While it’s important to know which wood is safe to use, it’s equally crucial to be aware of woods that should be avoided. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, and spruce, contain resins that can produce toxic smoke when burned. Stay away from wood that has been treated, painted, or stained with chemicals.

Remember, the key to great BBQ lies not only in the choice of wood but also in the control of your fire, temperature, and cooking technique.


Using moldy wood for BBQing is not advisable due to potential health risks and adverse effects on the taste of your food. It is always better to prioritize safety and opt for clean and suitable alternatives for an enjoyable grilling experience.

Remember to regularly inspect your wood for any signs of mold and store it in a dry place to prevent contamination. By taking these precautions, you can ensure a safe and delicious barbecue every time.

When it comes to cooking over an open fire or on a barbecue, choosing the right wood is essential for both safety and flavor. Avoid using softwoods like pine and cedar, which can release harmful toxins and create an unpleasant taste. Instead, opt for hardwoods such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, or apple, which burn cleaner and provide a milder, more desirable flavor. Remember to stay away from treated or painted wood, as they may contain hazardous chemicals. By selecting the right wood, you can ensure a safe and delicious outdoor cooking experience.

Choosing the right wood for your BBQ is essential for achieving exceptional flavor. Stick to safe hardwood options like oak, hickory, apple, mesquite, and cherry. Avoid using softwoods or any wood that has been treated with chemicals. Experiment with different combinations and find the perfect wood to take your BBQ to the next level!