5 Best Woods for Smoking a Delicious Brisket

Wood influence on smoking brisket

Brisket tastes the best when it is smoked. Don’t you agree?  All the great seasoning along with the smoky flavor – Yes, please! Another pivotal element that contributes to smoked brisket’s mouth-watering flavor is the wood. While your brisket cooks for a long time on the wood, all its flavors are enhanced, therefore you must know best wood for smoking brisket.

Different types of wood bring in their distinct touch of flavor to your smoked brisket. Always try to cook the right amount of meat for your family and friends. In guidance for amount of brisket, I have written an article about how much brisket per person you need.

If my endless BBQ sessions have taught me anything, the best wood for smoking brisket are: Oak, hickory, mesquite, pecan and applewood.

I’m sure that many of you want to master the art of making a perfect smoked brisket. Picking the right type of wood is the first step. It doesn’t matter if you are using the offset stick smoker or the pellet grill. The best wood for smoking brisket applies to all equipment.

Best wood for smoking brisket

1. Oak

Oak is one of my favorite wood for smoking brisket. It gives the perfect amount of smokiness that goes all too well with the meat. Moreover, it is easy to use it on a BBQ smoker.

The time oak takes to burn is pretty long. So, you don’t have to constantly look after it. Oakwood flavor subtly comes across when you bite into your smoked brisket. It gives the perfect medium smoky taste. Not very overpowering and not undermined either.

Oak is also the best wood for smoking brisket if you are a beginner and new to the game. It burns for a longer duration, giving you enough time to control it.

While the flavor of oak is mild, it is also known for its high burning temperatures. So, if you like to smoke your brisket over very hot wood, oak is the right one for you. Oak is a popular choice for smoking various kinds of protein and vegetables. You can also toss in some veggies to get a smoked vegetable side dish.

Oak is also the best wood for smoking brisket if you are a beginner and new to the game. It burns for a longer duration, giving you enough time to control it.

Oak comes in different species. I would recommend White Oak as the best type of wood for smoked brisket. White Oak is harder when compared to other types of hardwood. Additionally, it burns for a longer duration. It works best if you prefer to smoke your brisket for a longer time.

Pro tip: You could always use oak with other wood types if you would like a more intense flavor.

Oak best traits:

  • Gives a medium smoky flavor
  • Long heating duration
  • Great for beginners


2.    Hickory

Hickory is definitely in the best wood for smoking brisket list. It brings a rich and strong, smoky flavor to your brisket. Additionally, Hickory has a strong aroma, which is a bonus! It gives a meat flavor that is very similar to bacon.

Brisket goes well with hickory. The thick meaty layers of a brisket absorb the strong flavors of hickory amazingly well. It also adds a nutty taste to your smoked brisket.

…remember not to smoke your brisket for a long duration on hickory. This is because the excess smoke from hickory can turn your brisket bitter!

Compared to oak, hickory burns quicker . This makes your cooking time shorter. You can always go for hickory wood if you fail to find any other wood and you will never go wrong with this wood for smoking not just a brisket, mostly any cut of meat.

You need to, however, remember not to smoke your brisket for a long duration on hickory. This is because the excess smoke from hickory can turn your brisket bitter. It can also get too overpowering and undermine the meat flavor.

It is quite easy to tone down the overpowering flavor by using less amount of hickory. Another trick is to dilute it with some pieces of applewood. If you like to have your smoked brisket with some sweet sauce or sugar, hickory would be the right choice.

Hickory best traits:

  • Rich smoky flavor
  • Nutty taste
  • Burns faster

3.    Mesquite

Mesquite is another wood renowned for its strong flavor. I love the spicy flavor it brings to smoked brisket. It is the most preferred wood for smoking brisket in the traditional Texas-style.

If you love the classic salt along with pepper rub, then mesquite is the best wood for smoking brisket. It effectively enhances the original brisket flavor. Additionally, it brings along an earthy flavor.

It also burns quickly, making it easier for you. The sooner you get to eat your smoked brisket, the better, isn’t it? However, make sure to add an adequate amount of mesquite. It is especially required when you are smoking a large portion of brisket.

Mesquite can get overpowering, like hickory, if smoked for too long. It is a kind of pungent wood. It, however, adds in some intense flavor.

It is also the most favorite wood for smoking brisket in Texas. This is owed to mesquite’s unique, powerful flavor.

You may, at times, not wish to have all the intense flavors of mesquite. In such a case, I recommend adding another type of wood that is softer. Applewood works best to tone it down.

Mesquite best traits:

  • Intense flavor
  • Burns quickly
  • Earthy flavor


4.    Pecan

If you prefer mild flavors, Pecan is the best wood for smoking brisket. It brings about a gentle, nutty flavor. Pecan may be lighter when compared to oak or hickory. It is, however, stronger than other types of fruitwood.

Pecan appeals to the softer palate. People who prefer relish, mild flavours will definitely find pecan to be their number one choice. Suited perfectly for family-outdoor picnics. – children especially like the fruity flavors that pecan brings out.

Though mild, pecan burns well, almost like the other hardwoods. It may take longer to cook with pecan wood. If you prefer cooking your smoked brisket for about an hour or two, I recommend using Pecan wood chunks.

If you would like a sweet flavor with a touch of spiciness, I recommend adding a little cayenne or red pepper. Mix it in your rub. It gives your smoked brisket the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

You can also combine it with other types of woods with stronger flavors. Oak is the best choice of wood to add. It ensures that your smoked brisket does not turn too sweet.

Pecan best traits:

  • Sweet flavor
  • Gentle on the palate
  • Burns well


5.    Applewood

Alright, while applewood might sound not the best choice, let me stop you right there.  I have already mentioned applewood quite a few times earlier – for a reason.  Not just being accompanying wood, applewood can bring a really great influence in taste to your brisket.

Applewood brings along its distinct fruity flavor – it adds a sweet and soft flavor to your smoked brisket. It often emits denser smoke. It easily infuses the tougher layers of your brisket with gentle flavors.

It may seem that applewood might bring about much fruity flavor. However, I assure you that its fruity flavor is rather subtle, it is not overwhelming at all. Moreover, applewood is available at the most affordable prices when compared to other types of wood.

Applewood is also the best wood for smoking brisket when it is mixed with other types of woods. It acts as a significant diluter to stronger woods such as mesquite and hickory. This effectively balances the flavors and gives you the perfect smoked brisket.

Applewood best traits:

  • Sweet flavor
  • Subtle fruity flavor
  • Effective diluter


Does a form of fuel matter while smoking brisket?

You now know what to look for in the best wood for smoking brisket. While this is essential, there is another factor you need to keep in mind. The size and the form of the wood you use for your smoked brisket also have a huge impact on a smoked brisket flavour.

Well, there is an unwritten rule that the form of the fuel really depends on your smoker measurements and the size of your brisket.

Best forms of wood for smoking brisket

1. Chips

Chips are wood shavings and scraps. These are my preferred form of wood for smoking brisket. I especially recommend chips for charcoal grills. They can also be used for electric smokers.

They come in very small sizes. They usually measure up to an inch in terms of both length and width. These small chips can be up to half an inch in thickness.

The only problem with chips is that they burn very quickly. It is, therefore, best not to use them for larger portions of brisket. Your brisket must be cut into smaller pieces for it to cook well on chips.

Another tip that I would like to give you is to wrap them in foil. It increases the duration of the smoke released from wood chips. Make sure to puncture your foil with holes. These holes let out enough smoke to cook your brisket.


  • Quick production of smoke
  • Convenient to store

2. Chunks

Wood for smoking also comes in small chunks. These usually measure about to your fist size. Chunks are most popularly used with offset charcoal smokers.

They generally come in the size of about four inches. Chunks can also be used with barrel and gas smokers and gas grills. You do not have to soak them up before using them for smoking your brisket. They are very easily available in the market.

Chunks burn for a longer duration. It makes them perfect to smoke large portions of brisket. Also, if you prefer smoking your brisket for a longer time, you can readily choose chunks. It is also great for beginners. They may, however, take a little longer to light up.


  • Burns for longer durations
  • Requires less storage space

3. Logs

I recommend using logs for big offset smokers. They may seem like a task with their large size. However, they can be used as the primary source of heat along with producing smoke. They even diffuse more smoke when compared to other szes of wood.

Logs generally come in the size of about 18 inches in length. Logs work the best for smoking large portions of briskets. They burn for a longer time. If you wish to use logs for both flavor and fuel, pick the right type of wood. It depends on your taste preferences.

They can, however, take a while to light up. It is also difficult to keep logs continuously lit. With the right technique and a good smoker, it can be tamed.


  • Can be used for flavor and fuel
  • Burns for longer durations

4. Pellets

Wood Pellets are the compressed form of sawdust. They almost look like chicken feed. Pellets can be from different types of wood. So, make sure to choose your best wood for smoking brisket.

They work best with pellet smokers. Additionally, you can use pellets with smoke generators and smoking boxes that are placed under the grate.

Pellets quickly produce smoke. It makes it easier to smoke a brisket. You can do this in a shorter time. Moreover, you do not have to soak them before use. They tend to disintegrate quicker. So, it is best to avoid that step.


  • Emits smoke quickly
  • Easy to use

Final Thoughts

To make the perfect, delicious smoked brisket, you need to consider the type of wood you use. Each type adds its distinct flavor to your brisket. The best wood for smoking brisket depends entirely on your tastes, your smoker, and the size of the brisket. Oak, hickory, mesquite, pecan, and applewood are my preferred wood for smoking brisket.

Now that you know all my secrets for choosing the best wood for smoking brisket. It is your turn. Go ahead, choose the right wood for you, and make yourself the best-smoked brisket.


Lousiana Grills



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