The Best Woods for Smoking Chicken on Ceramic Smoker
To make delicious smoked chicken, you must choose the right wood. It’s a flavor that can easily overpower and lose its poultry flavor, but if you want the best flavor, you’ll want to add smoke. So check out this guide to the best woods for smoking chicken on ceramic smoker.
In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn which woods are best for smoking chicken and why. We’ve had a brief look at our top 6 types, plus we’ve reached out to grill experts and stars to find out what ingredients they use in smokers and why.
Ready for your chicken for a smoker but not sure which wood to choose? It’s an important decision, and we’ll help you with our list of the best woods for the job.
If your only experience cooking chicken is roasting a few breasts, you’re missing out. Of course, they don’t have any problems. But they can’t compare to the deliciousness of whole smoked chicken, the dark skin and the heavenly flavor of smoke in every bite.
The smoke can really penetrate the tender chicken. Combined with the compact size and correspondingly short smoking time, it’s the secret to backyard cooking glory.
However, if you choose the wrong wood for your smoker, you can undo the whole thing.
If you’ve never experienced the disappointment of over-smoked chicken, consider yourself blessed. It’s like eating what you find in the bushes. (Of course, this is just a guess) But by using the right type of wood, you can greatly help you get the right chances.
First, though, let’s answer an important question.
Why Add Smoke At All?
Why smoke your chicken? Why add whipped cream to hot cocoa? Why put BBQ sauce on your ribs?
Because it’s so delicious, that’s why! Smoked chicken is unique.
Not only that, it looks delicious too. Smoked chicken can change the color of the skin – how much and what shade depends on the wood. But, done right, it’s incredibly appetizing.
The chicken flavor is delicate - Don't overpower it
Have you ever had regular chicken breast? To say it tastes mild, well, put it mildly.
tasty? certainly. Sensational? Do not. So, we enhance our chicken meals with sauces, seasonings, chicken jerky spice rubs, dips, and more.
However, we didn’t want to completely overwhelm the natural flavors of the chicken. (Wings are nothing more than a vehicle for sauces and dry rubs, in my opinion.) We want to complement the chicken with mild smoky and fruity or nutty flavors and avoid masking it entirely.
Avoid smoky hardwoods that might be used for beef, such as mesquite, oak, and walnut.
In the next section, we’ll list and discuss some smoked chicken ideals.
The preferred smoking wood for mild, complementary flavors
Here’s your go-to list for smoking wood that goes well with the mild chicken flavor.
This classic smoked wood gives chicken a very earthy, old-fashioned flavor, with a medium smoky flavor with a hint of bacon-like sweetness.
Go easy on the wood as it can be overused. Nail it down, though, and you’ll forever be known as the God of BBQ.
Unsurprisingly, the source of the waffle’s best friend adds sweetness to the chicken and mild smoky flavor.
Maple is a delicate and flavorful wood that is popular with the masses—a forgiving for first-time smokers who are afraid to overpower their poultry.
Apple’s fruitiness is more reserved than some fruit woods, so it’s ideal when you have other flavors to add or enhance apple juice or cider.
Give it time to sink in and you’ll be well rewarded.
Delicious and beautiful – cherry wood has it all!
It’s a rich smoke with a beautiful fruity aroma that will turn your chicken skin into gorgeous mahogany. You might want to take selfies with it.
Does anyone like the taste of Southern BBQ? Well, yes – everyone does it!
Peaches give your chicken a slightly sweet and fruity, pale golden finish.
Another favorite from the South, pecans have a bit more smoky flavor than fruit trees, but still have a noticeable sweetness.
No one would mistake it for oak, but it’s a great option for anyone who likes to crank up the smoke a little.
You can mix woods!
Part of the fun of smoking is experimenting with different woods. When you’re confident in your technique, why not try mixing woods for a custom flavor?
Many smokers like to add stronger woods such as oak to their fruit trees for extra smoke to complement the sweetness.
Chicken is fun to play with because it’s not expensive and doesn’t take as long to smoke as some meats. Mix it with your favorite flavors until you find your signature style.
What the Experts Use
We know a lot about smoking and grilling here. However, we still love to see what the big names in the BBQ world are up to.
Let’s find out what some of the big names are burning in their smokers.
Everyone loves good beer can chicken, and Malcolm is no exception. The wood he chose for this foam recipe was cherry because of its amazing color and flavor. He also likes apples and a mix of fruit wood and other stronger woods.
The star of The Smoke Project chooses pecans for his horseradish-smoked roast chicken. He used just a few pieces to enhance the flavor and Southern flavor of this flavor-packed recipe. In another version, he opted for pecan – a bold wood for bold recipes.
Hey what did the woman behind the grill put in her smoker? She tells her readers that any fruit tree is a good choice, but apples in particular work very well. The logical choice since she rubbed a whole smoked chicken with her brown sugar sweetness.
The BBQ Wizard of Canada chose whiskey oak for his whiskey barrel smoked chicken thighs, and I think it’s pretty obvious why. This is a great example of pairing a flavoring ingredient (in this case, a long soak in bourbon) with your smoke.
One of the kings of BBQ, Aaron recommends pecans for chicken. He rightly points out that the strong sweetness is too strong for any smoking time of more than a few hours, putting it in the sweet spot of – um – smoking chicken.
Logs, chunks, chips, pellets or dust?
So many wood types – which one should you choose for your chickens? It’s simple; just choose the style that suits your smoker.
The big wood goes into the big smoker. The logs are just right for full-size off-set smokers whose large firebox is far from food. They are also great for cooking on fire pits.
Use these “baby logs” (my term, but help yourself) in your compact offset smoker, kamado or other ceramic cookware, or in your drum, barrel or bullet smoker. Just place the chunks on the charcoal.
If you have an older gas grill and you’re not afraid to mess it up, you can try putting a few on a seasoning stick or a heat deflector for smoking on the grill. I’ve never tried it (until my new grill is older) but I’ve seen others try it.
Real wood, sharpened and chopped into thin slices, the shards ignite easily and will smolder normally for a long time.
You’ll see wood chips are mostly used on electric and gas smokers, but they can also be used on charcoal.
People with gas grills can also try putting them in a foil pack over the grate to add some smoke.
A small amount of leftover wood and binder is compressed into smoking wood pellets—they look a lot like rabbit food—for pellet smokers, as Traeger is famously known.
Gas grills can also use them in metal smoke boxes to pick up some of the smoke on a propane or natural gas grill.
At the bottom of the flavor wood size scale is this powdered stuff. It catches fire easily, so it is suitable for electric smokers without an open flame. It is also used in hand-held smokers (aka bongs) to bring smoke to food.
You’ll find many of the same woods are great for other foods as well. So don’t be afraid to buy something that sounds appealing – you don’t have to use it all for the chicken.
Smoking food is a bit like a mad scientist, really. You can mix them up and create custom combinations to suit your personal preferences.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules; if you want to smoke your chicken with a little mesquite or oak, go for it! Just follow the key rules of cooking: start small and build up. You can add more flavor if you need it, but it’s really hard to take it away when you go too far.
Thanks for reading and be sure to share it with your family and friends. Have fun pumping your dick!