Wood Flavour Guide for Home Smoking

Different varieties of wood chips and dust will produce different flavours when used in a home smoking oven. It’s good to experiment to see which ones you prefer but to help get started, here is a guide to some flavours and the best uses for them. All the woods detailed on this page are available to purchase in our home smoking shop.


A delicate flavour with a hint of sweetness. Alder is famously used in the Pacific Northwest for smoking salmon. Great for all fish and seafood and also for pork, poultry, light meat game birds and vegetables.


Slightly sweeter and fruity, apple is more complex and denser than alder. It is a good all-rounder that is excellent for fish, beef, poultry and pork


Ash burns quickly and therefore produces a light smoked flavour that is quite distinctive. It is great for poultry and seafood.


Beech is a mild to medium wood with a slightly nutty flavour. Another good choice for fish and poultry and also pork, ham and sausages.

Bourbon Oak

Oak soaked in Bourbon produces a light whiskey flavour which is great for red meats, ribs and especially venison.


Cherry is milder than the apple fruit wood but it still has a rich and slightly sweet, fruity flavour. It is a good wood to try for duck breasts, fish, chicken and vegetables.

Douglas Fir

This is a highly aromatic wood but can cause a resin taste.  It is great mixed with a hardwood like oak to enhance flavour and produce extra colour.  Great all rounder for meat, poultry and oily fish.


Hickory has a strong flavour and is probably the most popular smoking wood in the USA. Hickory is not as bitter as other strong flavoured woods like oak. It is a good choice for ribs, pork and oily fish.


Maple is a mild to medium hardwood. It produces a slightly sweet flavour that is great with trout. It is also a very good choice for cheese, poultry, pork and vegetables.


Mesquite has a very strong, earthy flavour with a hint of spice. It produces the flavour of Cajun dishes and is very good with beef. It is also great for oily fish or where a more robust flavour is required. Use sparingly as if you use too much it can result in a bitter taste.


Oak is probably the best known wood and the most common wood used for smoking in the UK. It produces a heavy flavour and is best suited for red meat and game when a stronger flavour is required.


Pecan is similar to hickory but is not as strong. It’s light nutty flavour is ideal for poultry and game birds.

Wood Blends

You can mix any woods together to produce blends and it is great trying your own.

Douglas Fir & Oak

This is a mixture of 1 part douglas fir with 2 parts oak. Douglas fir is a highly aromatic wood but is also slightly resinous which can cause a resin taste on the food. It is great though mixed with a hardwood like oak to enhance flavour and produce extra colour. Great all rounder for meat, poultry and oily fish.