Planning on smoking ribs and looking for the best wood? Right here, you’ll find everything you need!
As the ribs approach your tongue, you’d like the smoke to hit you right in the face. My favorite smoky foods are smoked bacon, smoky whiskey, and smoky beer. Smoking requires different types of wood, as regular wood or coal can’t provide the exact smoke for the desired taste and texture.
The wood you use to smoke your ribs is what makes or breaks your dinner.
We’re going to share our favorites with you!
What are smoking woods?
Smoking is mostly grilling or BBQ. The main purpose of smoking is to change the texture, color, tenderness, and taste of the food being prepared.
To properly do the smoking, one must have the essential materials like a grill or fryer, burner, coal or wood, etc. The smoke produced by burning coal or wood does the whole job.
But coal can’t be as precise as wood in giving a good look and taste. That is why wood is the only choice for smoking meat, fish, or vegetables.
Many trees make wood eligible for use in cooking. The most popular ones are Maple, Oak, Peach, Mesquite, Mulberry, and many more. But among them, Mesquite, Hickory, and Oak can produce heat and smoke to cook a dish. These are the most common woods for smoking.
The smoke flavor on ribs: why do we need it?
Ribs are most people’s favorite meat because of their mild flavor, lower fat, and availability, and they are easy to cook also. Rubs and sauces make ribs even more delicious – there’s a reason for that! Smoke is another flavoring tool you can use. A good smoke can impart anything from mild smoky flavor to intensely smoky flavor, and it can also make your ribs look spectacular.
Smoking ribs: What Should You Look For?
There are lots of wood sold specially for smoking pork and beef ribs. But are they worth shots to try? First, you have to know which kind of wood is for smoking. Then, you can pick a reliable manufacturer to use their wood. So, without further delay, let’s dig into the search for quality smoking wood.
If you prefer the pork ribs to have their actual taste, then hickory is the only option. The kind is mainly used to give a huge amount of heat and make the meat as soft as possible. The catchy part of hickory is it adds an exotic flavor that easily blends with the spices you put on the meat. That is why people can’t find any other taste besides the meat that the smoke has enhanced.
Apart from adding flavor, pecan wood can give rib steaks a new and mouth-watering aroma. These days, most chefs prefer to use this one because pecan has a convincing burning period and features even heat distribution. But there’s a catch. The extra amount of pecan used in smoking surely makes the ribs’ actual flavor vanish. Nobody likes grills without any meaty flavor. So, the user has to be careful while using this one.
Now, we are talking about the type that can cover up and change the whole complexion of a dish. Mesquite wood produces strong smoke with an intense aroma that can cover any raw meat smell or taste. People who want only to enhance the meaty flavor should not try this wood for smoking because mesquite smoke can go inside the deepest fiber of the meat with a bone. These chips and chunks can create high temperatures that melt thicker tenders and fats. For this reason, Mesquite is the type that we prefer most.
Best Wood for Smoking Ribs: Top Pick for You
Weber 17148 Hickory Wood Chunks
Hickory wood is an excellent choice to have in your grill or smoker. This product has been a great addition to personal use. There are many perks to having this product available while starting your barbeque event and cooking the food.
Works with Any Cooking methods
This type of wood is excellent for kindling and works fine to burn throughout the cookout. Many like cooking outside for smoking or grilling methods that include fresh and open air. This product will work great with beef, pork, or red meat.
The subtle rich sweet wood flavor
Hickory wood is generally known to have a subtle flavor incorporated into grilled food. Specific flavor helps with the smoky taste of the food even after the cooking is done.
The aroma even feels delicious as you take each bite. That is great value for money.
Big chunks and quality control
When you use this product to prepare your grill or smoker, you may find a good amount of wood chunks. In many cases, customers stay dissatisfied because they expect big wood chunks and instead receive broken pieces.
With Weber’s quality control, you will not have to worry about experiencing that problem. You will receive good quality big wood chunks that will work great.
- Great for kindling the fire
- The sumptuous aroma from the burning wood
- Big wood chunks that last long
- It provides a good amount of smoke
- Value for money
- Sometimes splinters are found on the sides where the wood has been split
- In some cases, the size of the chunks is not consistent in the entire bag
Oklahoma Joe’s Mesquite Wood Smoker Chips
Mesquite wood has proved to be a suitable wood type for outdoor grilling and smoking cookouts. This type of wood, when kindled, spreads a rich yet earthy aroma. It infuses into the meat, and the dish turns out to have a long-lasting smoky flavor.
Naturally Grown Trees’ wood
A key perk is that this product is an all-natural premium quality wood. It adds an exotic vibe to the dish you want to prepare. The lingering hint of mesquite wood makes the meat taste amazing and smells delicious. Strong earthy flavor.
Strong earthy flavor
Mesquite wood is famous as a great addition while cooking red meat. Mesquite wood can slowly help cook the dark type of meat to perfection. This wood, when burnt, starts to spread a great aroma and infuses it into the meat.
Usage in multiple types of cooking instruments
Different kinds of instruments can use in this product. The wood is excellent for any type of grill. The electric, charcoal, or gas grills can use this product. The wood will still do its job in providing a good kindle and burn.
- Long-lasting kindle and burn
- Versatile in cooking instrument usage
- Quality grade wood chunks
- May contain splinters
- The weight may differentiate while choosing bags
- The smoke can get intense
Camerons Mesquite Smoking Chips
This product is also made of mesquite wood type. The difference is that these are wood shavings and chippers. You must not expect big wood chunks in this product.
This product works well for small cookouts but suffers in long-term cooking. Slow-cooked smoker dishes are hard to achieve with this product. It works better for cooking burger patties or hot dog grills.
The Budget Option for Consecutive Events
During the summer season, small barbeque parties are trendy. This product can be used during those events. The value for money will work out for you, even if you are on a budget.
The burn-to-smoke ratio is good with this product. It will help you have consistent success with all those events, and you can enjoy good food.
The flavor of the southwest
The shavings and chippers do not leave out the authentic flavor it has promised. You can recognize the burly yet comforting flavor of the southwest throughout the cook.
Even though these are not chunks, they still are part of mesquite wood. The intensity of the aroma may seem low, but they infuse into the food, providing a subtle yet earthy taste.
Usage under stovetop
You can use this woodchipper and shavings product under stovetop cooking. This means, that with proper ventilation, you can also attempt good enough stovetop cooking. The smoke will not feel suffocating since the wood will not produce an intense amount of smoke.
- Goes well with fish or poultry cooking
- Infusion of low-intensity wood flavor into small amounts of red meat
- Provides a delicate yet smoky flavor
- Good for kindling
- It cannot be used in a big batch of meat cookout
- The heat does not reach too high for a quick grill
- More than the average amount of shavings needed for a proper cook
Traeger Grills PEL305 Mesquite Pellets
Pellets are a variety of woodchippers used for grilled and smoked cooking. The difference is that these pellets are of precise cuts. The product provides a clean burn. The ash production rate of these pellets is low. This product is made of Mesquite, but you can also get variations of different wood types.
Pairs well with all kinds of food
Mesquite pellets work great with beef cuts. Any portion of the meat cut you would want to grill, these pellets can help you cook. When you use these pellets, beef or pork tastes even more delicious with a smoky aroma.
This product pairs amazingly well with seafood, poultry, or red meat. The burnt wood mixes well with the seafood, meat, or poultry and perfectly cooks it. You can stay patient and enjoy the process because it is an experience you would not want to miss.
Low ash production
Many types of wood create a lot of ash after cooking. That is always inconvenient for those who love grilling and having barbecues. But if you use this product, the low ash production will surely surprise you.
Since the pellets are all-natural and premium quality, the ash production does not smear around, and you can easily clean up after the cookout. After that, you can enjoy the meal without worrying about the ash getting everywhere, especially during stovetop cooking.
- Robust wood-powered flavor
- Balanced and dependable hardwood burn
- Provides a clean burn with minimal ash production
- Do not endure slow cooking
- Requires a large number of pellets to maintain temperature
- May rarely include different types of wood in a small amount
Weber 17137 Pecan Wood Chunks
Pecan wood chunks are different from the type of wood generally used for grilling or smoking. Most grillers prefer mesquite to pecan. But pecan wood has a different flavor, and it infuses nicely with the food making it taste a little different. This particular product works well not only for seafood but poultry as well.
Handy in Slow Cooking
This wood is not the type to get brunt within minutes. It takes hours for this wood to turn into ashes. We think there is no better option in the market than this for slow cooking.
If the next party’s menu is steamed meat or beef steaks, this product might be the right option for cooking.
The rich and sweet flavor
Pecan wood chunks provide a good amount of rich and sweet flavor. The food gets infused with a good amount of pecan wood smoke, and it feels different when tasted. The sweetness is not overwhelming or too intense.
That makes this product perfect for dishes with a little sweetness from burnt wood. The flavor adds earthiness to the food and makes it feel like comfort food, even though it is grilled and smoked.
Can be used to grill fish and poultry meat as well
This pecan wood chunk product can be used to grill fish and poultry meat. The wood burns slowly and allows the smoke to enter the food; slowly infusing the food and creating a mixed aroma is something to note. The product helps with keeping an even temperature throughout the cooking process. This is a significant addition to the grill or smoked cooking process.
- Good smoky flavor for meat infusion
- Clean burn
- A mixture of wood chunks and chips
- Great for kindling and slow burn
- May rarely include nails within the chunks; maintain caution
- May include bark and medium-sized chips
- It May contain splinters and wood shavings
Smoak Firewood Maple Wood Logs
Firewood logs can be of any wood. The brand can contain the type of wood you would want to use. In this case, the wood type is maple. Maple wood generally burns well and has a good kindling effect. There is an estimate of the wood logs being 8-inch pieces. This provides a visual of how bibber this product is from other smoking logs.
This product can also be versatile in fireplaces or to create a bonfire. But for grilling and smoking food, this works perfectly.
USDA-certified and pest free
This product is certified by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). If you are concerned about verifying the product, this certification is all you need to eliminate that doubt.
This product is pest-free and inspected before being distributed.
Longer-lasting burn and flavor infusion
The one thing that grillers look for in premium quality wood is that the wood will last longer and burn well. This maple-based product provides a good and clean burn.
The burn duration range stays medium, which is good for an active cookout. Whether you are smoking or grilling the food, this product can work fine. The wood is prepared that way so that the kindling is faster and the burn is slow.
The sweet maple firewood flavor provides a rich experience to notice the smoky infusion of wood. Maple wood already spreads a great aroma when burnt. When you burn it to smoke your fish or meat, the flavor and aroma mix with the food and become even more impressive.
- Cut and made from mini logs
- Competition grade quality
- Organic and no chemicals infused
- Pre-dried and readied for premium usage
- May need a considerable amount to keep consistent heat
- The burnt wood turns into lump charcoal that may leave a mess for cleanup
- It May contain splinters in some bags due to chopping
Choose the Right Type of Smoking Wood
You can’t pick any wood to smoke your dish. Some drawbacks of general wood pieces might make the food inedible. Before shopping for the upcoming BBQ party, you should know about the shapes and types of smoking wood.
Nowadays, it is rare to find someone using logs for smoking food. Wood logs provide maximum heat and cook lots of food at once. Wood logs alone can be the object to take the fire without any coal.
Using only wood logs for smoking is not a good idea. You can use small chips or chunks on top of burning logs to bring out the essential smoke with the right aroma. Logs can create the necessary heat more than the smoke to cook.
Wood chips are the thinner version of wood chunks. People use them for mostly additional flavor rather than having smoke and heat. Chips usually burn quite easily. That’s why chips should be used with some other wood or for finishing the cooking.
Wood chunks are three to four times larger in size than chips. These pieces can feature precise burning and heating for quite some time. As they don’t get burnt so easily, anyone can use them for making beef steaks or other slow-cooking stuff.
The type of wood pellets is not specifically wood cutting. Manufacturers produce pellets from timber wastes, tree peels, sawdust, etc. These waste things go through a drying process together and become small pellets after getting compressed.
We think pellets can’t work alone too. They can be used as a perfect fueling option for getting the right amount of smoke and heat. But if someone is looking for aromatic smoke, chips or chunks are also needed.
Don’t Use These Options for Smoking Ribs
- Any wood polished with chemical or paint
- Wood partly eaten by bugs
- Wood attacked by fungus or mold
How to Smoke Ribs
To get perfect smoked ribs, preparing the ribs for smoking is very important. If it is not done properly, then you won’t get the absolute taste. This is the trickiest and must-do part for smoking perfectly tender and moist ribs. To do that-
- You must carefully remove the membrane (wearing rubber gloves is suggested). There is a very thin silver skin layer on the ribs. Remove it before seasoning. This won’t take much effort and takes only 7 minutes to 10 minutes to remove. But to soak the seasoning rubs perfectly will be helpful later on.
- Pat the rib very dry using a paper towel, or else the seasoning will not be set properly.
Then if you want to smoke ribs that will be super tender and perfectly cooked? Here is the method.
Step 1: Remove the membrane from the ribs and coat with yellow mustard and dry rub of your preference. Doing this step a night before smoking is highly recommended.
Step 2: Set the smoker to preheat at the temperature of 225 degrees F.
Step 3: Now, place the prepared ribs on the smoker and smoke for 3 hours exactly.
Step 4: During these 3 hours, squirt with apple juice 6 times. This mandatory step (every 30 minutes) will keep ribs moist.
Step 5: After removing the ribs from the smoker, place them on tin foil. Also, drizzle apple juice and BBQ mixture.
Step 6: Must seal finely, so there is no chance of leakage.
Step 7: Then again, place ribs on the smoker for 2 hours.
Step 8: At last, brush with the special BBQ sauce mixture and keep smoking for 1 hour.
That’s how within 6 hours, you will get your desired tender, tasty smoked ribs.
Tips for Smoking Ribs
The basics of smoking ribs are almost the same everywhere. Some facts change depending on what you are cooking. But apart from those, there are some points that most of us always forget while we cook. In this part of the article, let’s look at those points.
- Preheat the smoker or grill for at least 45 minutes before putting the rib on top of the fire.
- Make sure the place where you are doing BBQ is roomy and has enough ventilation.
- When you see the temperature rising more than needed, sprinkle water on the fire.
- Don’t add kerosene or oil to ignite the flame while the ribs are smoked. Otherwise, the meat will have a bad smell.
- Chicken and mutton get cooked quickly. So, no need for chicken or mutton items to be on the smoking grills for a long time.
- It will help if you don’t stop brushing the ribs with oil every 5 to 10 minutes while smoking.
Tips for Your Woods- Bringing Out the Maximum Output
You must remember a few facts while using the wood chips or pellets you bought for smoking. Here is the summary of those facts.
- There is some difference between using wood chips and chucks. Chunks smoke more, whereas chips burn quickly and make less smoke.
- Using Hickory wood or Pecan wood is recommended, as they collaborate much with ribs. Using these sweet quality woods enriches the flavor of your smoked rib.
- If any of them is not found, then use whiskey or cherry wood. They help in flavoring too.
- Place the wood chips or chunks carefully at the bottom rack of your smoker. If there is no holder, use a metal can or tin foil. This is called indirect heating.
How to Change the Flavor of Previously Cooked Smoked Ribs
Smoked ribs are delicious and a popular dish among summer barbeque lovers. But what do you do after the BBQ party and you have a ton of leftover ribs?
If you want to change the flavor of already cooked ribs, in other words- deconstruct them; there are some ways you can achieve that and enjoy the smoked ribs the next day. Here are some ways that will help you in that process:
Reheat with Barbeque sauce
Using Barbecue sauce and other ingredients, you can instantly deconstruct the previously cooked ribs and enjoy them the next day. The method is quite simple to initiate.
You can reheat the leftover smoked ribs by brushing the barbeque sauce on the ribs. Preheat the oven to 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on how much you want to cook the ribs again), and leave it for 6-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix barbeque sauce with some dried oregano flakes, and adjust the salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients with the BBQ sauce thoroughly. Brush the mixture on the smoked ribs and set it aside till the oven fully preheats.
After preheating the oven, cover the ribs in aluminum foils and cook them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. You can enjoy these ribs with a baguette and freshly chopped cilantro or cucumbers as side items.
Re-grilling on the smoker with an open lid
You can opt to grill the ribs again with the leftover BBQ sauce mixture or some store-bought sweet rib sauce if you want. This time, the difference is that you will be grilling the ribs with an open lid.
Smoking ribs have their work cut out in the name itself. If you need to smoke something to cook it, you will need to contain the smoke within the cooking device (smoker) for the ingredient to cook properly. Re-grilling the ribs would mean you would grill the already cooked ribs.
This is very easy to achieve. All you need to do is get the grill started first. You must brush the choice of sauce on top of the smoked ribs and start grilling. It will take about 5-7 minutes for the ribs to be ready. Serve with coleslaw and bread. You can use the sauce as a dip or condiment if you would like that.
Turning it into sliders
A creative solution to enjoy previously cooked smoked ribs is to strip the meat off them and make sliders. That can be a great addition to dinner, lunchtime appetizer, or entrée.
You can buy some dinner rolls or use the ones you already have at home. To start, you must cut the dinner rolls into halves, add just a tiny amount of butter, and toast the buns in a pan. This will give the bread a delicious crunch that will feel fresh and add a fresh element to the dish.
Strip the meat off the ribs into a bowl. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste. You can add julienned onions, sliced and diced tomatoes, a small amount of diced cucumbers, add your choice of sauce (BBQ sauce or sweet rib sauce) and mix well with the rib meat.
Sautee the mix on a pan of high-medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Take it off the stove. Use tongs to make the sliders. Add some parmesan on the top of the meat before you close it with the top bun of the slider. The dish will be ready to enjoy. You can serve it with refreshing drinks and beverages.
You can also use the rib meat, and mix it with some diced cucumbers, tomatoes, salt, and pepper adjusted, small amounts of BBQ, or sweet rib sauce- it will make a great side dish as a salad. These are creative ways to change the flavor of previously cooked smoked ribs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to soak the wood?
Many people who enjoy cooking smoked ribs at home disagree on this issue. It is not a necessity to soak your wood before you start smoking the ribs. Soaking the woods results in a 24-hour preparation before you start the fire for the smoker; a lot of smoke is produced, yet the temperature stays low. If you want a thoroughly cooked and properly cooked smoked ribs dish, you should not soak the woods for grilling beforehand.
2. Can I use multiple types of wood?
You can use multiple types of wood to start the grill fire. The impact only varies so that the dominant or more flammable wood light is on fire first. The other mixtures follow and slowly create a good enough grill fire for you to smoke the ribs.
You can add or leave out the types of wood you would not want to mess with the internal temperature of the ribs. Sometimes the taste and flavor of a good grill depend on the type of wood you choose.
The grilling wood types are necessary because they also partake in the umami flavor of the smoked ribs. So, the top-recommended types of woods are cherry, pecan, alder, mesquite, or hickory.
3. Best place to buy ribs for smoking.
You can get a variety of ribs that you intend to cook by smoking them. Any supermarket or a store specializing in different cuts of meat is an excellent start to buying ribs.
There are also dedicated butcher shops where you can get your meat for grilling and smoking. Depending on your budget and needs, you can pick the easiest and most convenient place. There are many types of meat available for purchase. As far as meat is concerned, you can choose chicken, beef, mutton, pork, lamb, etc.
Make sure that you get fresh meat. That way, your smoked ribs will taste fresh and be packed with taste bursts.
4. How often do you add wood to a smoker?
A widespread issue to be discussed is the frequency at which woodchippers should be added to the smoker. Generally, the average duration of the woodchippers lasting in the smoker is 4-5 hours.
You can check in between and decide how much smoke you want or the temperature you aim for—the style of the ribs you want to smoke. If the recipe falls under the average duration, you can safely add woodchippers to the smoker in 4–5-hour intervals.
5. How much wood to use in a smoker?
Different types of wood call for a different amount to be used. Some woods burn faster, and some types burn slowly but provide good enough heat. For example, if you use mesquite or cherry woodchippers, which catch fire and burn faster, you can use a more significant amount of wood.
That will also depend on how long you plan to smoke your rib and whether the vent will be off or open.
So, there are some issues you have to look into when deciding to smoke ribs with particular woodchippers. Generally, 3-4 fistfuls of woodchippers are enough to start the fire. You can keep adjusting the chippers until the ribs reach a certain desired temperature.
6. What is the ideal temperature to smoke ribs?
The ideal temperature to cook meat while smoking is to keep a medium internal temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit (107-122 degrees Celsius).
If you maintain this heat and set a certain amount of time so the ribs can slow cook into a delicious dish, you will be able to enjoy the taste of a wood grill smoked rib fully. This will work whether you use an electric smoker or a traditional one.
7. How does wood affects the flavor of smoked ribs?
Usually, we use wood chunks or logs for smoking beef or other ribs that can create dense smoke. Such smoke can go through any dense layer of meat. Whenever quality wood smoke enters a layer, it first reacts with the meaty taste.
While the taste changes, burning wood provides a balanced range of heat everywhere in the meat. It melts the fats inside the ribs and makes bones release themselves from the meat. The meat layer becomes softer and gains an outer texture depending on the heat you have given.
Besides, every wood type carries a different scent and flavor. Whenever wood heat or smoke reacts to food, it leaves that flavor and fragrance inside the food. This is how the wood for smoking ribs can change food taste.
Smoking or grilling indeed takes lots of time and energy. You need to be patient if you are willing to prepare ribs and steaks for the camping or backyard BBQ party you will have next.
Like picking the perfect menu with suitable dishes, purchasing quality wood for BBQ is also essential. No matter how skilled you handle grills or smokers, you can never prepare tasty red meat without burning good wood pieces.
Whether you try to build a fire properly or burn wood, every effort will be in vain if the fire cannot create smoke. Thus, we hope you understand the importance of picking the right wood type and taking your cooking to another level.
Choosing the right wood will make your ribs tender, and flavorful, and will prevent them from becoming bitter. My recommendation is to use hickory, pecan, or cherry wood.