Smoking wood is the key to adding a smoky flavor to any meat. Nevertheless, not all smoking woods taste alike or complement every cut of meat. Wood choice greatly affects a meat’s flavor.
Flavoring options are numerous. Smoking or grilling with woods such as Hickory and Mesquite adds distinctive flavors to meat. In the world of smoking woods, Hickory is the king. On the other hand, Mesquite is said to be the strongest of them all.
Would you like to know which one is better? Also, which is better for what kind of food? Let us explore the differences between two of the most used woods for smoking, Hickory vs. Mesquite.
What type of woods are Hickory and Mesquite?
Generally, Hickory is a medium-thick wood. Hickory grows throughout North America as well as parts of South Asia. Hickory wood comes in 18 varieties, 15 of which are native to North America. Other types are from southeast Asia.
In combination with oak, it gives foods a wonderful smoked flavor. The distinctive taste of Hickory makes it a popular choice for blending with oak; some consider it too strong.
Mesquite is a type of wood found only in a few areas of North America and South America. Other countries with a great deal of it include Argentina, Chile, India, Puerto Rico, and Australia. Approximately 40 species of this tree grow worldwide.
Trees like Mesquite add nitrogen to the soil, which is great for the environment. High nitrogen content in wood causes a spark to burn faster than Hickory. Additionally, it burns quicker than other woods on the market.
What does Mesquite taste like?
The flavor of mesquite wood is distinctive and easily recognizable. Bitter, sharp, and strong flavors accompany an earthy string taste. BBQ made with Mesquite, a slow-burning hardwood, is famous in Southwest and Texas cuisine. It is popular for its distinct smoke flavor, from marinades to sauces to potato chips.
We recommend testing the flavor of this wood on a small scale, then adding more as needed until you find your preference.
What Does Mesquite Smoke Taste Like, and what is it good for?
There are a lot of smokers who enjoy the lighter flavor and sweetness of mesquite smoke. A component of wood, lignin, produces smoke when it burns.
Because of its high lignin content, Mesquite is very smokey. The burn of Mesquite produces sparks; you must be careful when using it.
The wood has been criticized for being too bitter or sharp, but it produces a particularly savory flavor when mixed with other smoking woods. Due to its rugged appearance and intense aroma, it is regarded as a serious smoking wood.
What does hickory smoke taste like?
Hickory tastes are similar to bacon. With a bacon touch, it has a savory, hearty flavor. The hickory taste makes pork taste wonderful.
Hickory smoke is highly preferred because of its well-balanced smoke, versatility, and popular choice for smokers. It has a typically salty and bacon-based taste and is considered a medium smokey wood. The taste is particularly compatible with sweet woods such as cherry and apple.
Smoking newbies should stay away from too much Hickory on their first cook, as it can overpower the meat’s taste.
Which is better: Hickory vs. Mesquite
The versatility of Hickory makes it a better smoking wood than Mesquite. Hickory wood is perfect for pairing with many types of meat and for creating smoky flavor profiles when paired with other kinds such as oak.
Whether you are cooking pork or red meat, it is excellent. It also burns cleanly and slowly, making it ideal for a low and slow cooking method. Use a small amount for fish, poultry, and vegetables, or combine it with other fruits.
While Mesquite is best suited for certain kinds of meat, such as a wild game, beef brisket, duck, and lamb, it does not work well with other types of meat.
Mesquite enhances the flavor of the steak. The strong flavor of Mesquite may be too strong for poultry, pork, or fish. Consider using either mesquite liquid or mesquite pellets if you plan to flavor-sensitive meats such as poultry and pork with mesquite flavors.
As previously mentioned, Mesquite burns hot and fast as well. It makes it unsuitable for low-and-slow smoking. Since Mesquite has a strong flavor, it’s best to add it at the beginning or end of the cooking process or mix it with other weaker woods.
Mesquite, however, is better for grilling at high temperatures. Instead of using mesquite wood, you should use mesquite charcoal.
Overall, some people love Mesquite and use it frequently. Many of the traditional barbeque dishes already contain it. Some, however, do not enjoy the smell. In general, Hickory is more widely accepted than other hardwoods.
Is it possible to mix Hickory and Mesquite?
YES, it is possible to mix Mesquite and Hickory. Combining Hickory and Mesquite creates an unforgettable taste.
It results in a sweeter blend but also a bit more earthy. If you find Mesquite too overwhelming, combining it with Hickory will balance it out.
After trying it out, we were happy with the results. Mixing these two types of wood will require special attention, so you should only attempt it if you have experience. Without the proper knowledge, you may wind up with an unrecognizable taste that you may not enjoy.
Along with your experience, you should also think about the foods you plan on smoking with this mix. If you are cooking lighter meat, use milder wood.
Are they suitable for use with certain types of meat?
Smoking wood is similar to spice. While some wood types add a darker color, others add a lighter tone. They all add a unique touch to every dish, regardless of whether it is good or bad. Smoking wood also enhances meat’s flavor.
The best method of smoking varies from food to food. You must understand which is better for a particular type of food.
Red meats, particularly dark ones
Mesquite comes with a strong flavor that complements these red meats. The Hickory complements dark red meat, such as thighs, drumsticks, and the like. Mesquite is, however, a better accompaniment for these dark red meats.
Bacon and Hickory complement each other well. Most often, Hickory is used for cooking pork. You should start smoking pork and Hickory if you’re new to the process.
It imparts a distinct flavor to pork and gives it a darker color. The hickory flavor penetrates the meat well and makes the meat taste great.
The Mesquite can, however, overpower the pork. Here you can find the best wood for smoking ribs.
Hickory is suitable for beef as well. In fact, it brings out the natural sweetness and flavor of beef. The most advisable recommendation for Mesquite is to use it sparingly. Alternatively, you can mix it with other fruitwoods to balance out the flavor it brings.
Fish and poultry
Additionally, you can use Hickory on fish and poultry. It burns slowly and cleanly, making it ideal for cooking this type of food.
Fish and poultry may be too sensitive to Mesquite, however. Your food can get colorful, and the flavor can overpower poultry and fish.
It’s time to try both Hickory and Mesquite out to see which you prefer.
If you’re smoking meat, we strongly suggest that you take notes on the kind of wood and the kind of meat you’re using. You will then come up with a number of personal smoking guidelines tailored to your needs.
Make sure you only smoke quality wood, free of mold, fungus, and chemical preservatives. Also, avoid over smoking your food. Too much isn’t always better.