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You can own a black belt in the barbecue world only if you know how to smoke a brisket perfectly using the best wood for smoking brisket. Cooking juicy and tender meat by infusing a smoke flavor that doesn’t overpower the meat’s flavor requires years of practice.
Besides the cooking skills, there is one more integral thing that can make or break your brisket – the type of wood you use to smoke meat. The aroma and infused flavor essentially depend on the type of wood you use to smoke a brisket.
Wondering which is the best wood for smoking different cuts of beef? Read along to find out.
Best Wood for Smoking Brisket
Whether you own a pellet smoker or an electric smoker, the type of wood used in both the smokers remains the same. All you need to do is focus on the kind of wood, its aroma, and the resultant smoky flavor.
Oak offers a medium flavor that is stronger than apple or cherry yet lighter than mesquite or hickory. It burns extremely hot, allowing you to smoke brisket at a higher temperature ranging from 250F to 300F degrees.
If you want to infuse a bacon-like or nutty flavor in your brisket, hickory is one of the best wood pellets for smoking. However, it’s tricky to use hickory to smoke a brisket because over-smoking brisket can taste bitter.
A pro tip: Adding sweet sauce or sugar makes a great pair with hickory.
Mesquite is one of the best woods for smoking brisket because of its earthy flavor. It burns quickly, just like oak because it’s essentially oily wood. However, it may become powerful like hickory, resulting in a bitter flavored brisket.
Using mesquite wood allows you to cook authentic Texas-style smoked brisket for your friends and family. You must rub some salt and rubber on the brisket before smoking on the mesquite hardwood to enhance beef’s natural flavor.
If you want to enjoy tender meat slices with a mild, nutty, and sweet flavor, go for pecan wood chips. You can also combine pecan with other hardwood to enhance the flavor. Nonetheless, rub the brisket with a pinch of cayenne pepper for just a hint of spice.
You’ll expect nothing less than a sweet, mild flavor from applewood. However, smoking brisket on applewood takes several hours, so you need to be patient during the cooking process.
Just like apple, cherry infuses a fruity and sweet flavor in your brisket. The best way to use cherry wood is to combine it with hickory to complement flavors and aroma.
Maple infuses a subtle yet sweet and mild smoke in your favorite piece of meat.
Tips for Smoking Brisket in Pellet Grill
Once you have decided on one of the above wood chips, follow these tips to cook tender and moist brisket:
Soaking Wood Chips
Before using the wood chips for smoking brisket in an electric smoker or pellet smoker, you should soak wood chips in water for 12 to 24 hours and no less than that. Later, you can drain the water before placing the wood chips in the hopper.
Why soak? This way, wood chips don’t catch the flames when you place them on hot charcoal. Conversely, soaked wood chips enhance the smoke and steam intensity inside the smoker.
On the other hand, you don’t need to soak free hardwood logs because they already contain enough moisture to produce smoke and steam.
Don’t Over Smoke
Don’t think that more smoke will make your brisket flavorful; instead, it will make meat bitter and harsh. That’s why you shouldn’t leave the brisket in the smoker for longer than required.
Combination of Different Best Woods
As discussed earlier, different woods have their distinct taste and aroma. Therefore, it’s wise to combine various hardwoods which complement one another to increase the rich flavor of the brisket.
Let the Brisket Rest
Many people commit this common mistake of serving the brisket right away after the smoking is complete. Instead, you must place the brisket on a shelf for 20 to 30 minutes.
After the resting time, you can cut the brisket in even, thin slices using Mercury Culinary Edge slicer, which is one of the best knives for slicing brisket.
How to Select the Wood Size?
A rule of thumb is that the wood size depends on the brisket size and the type of smoker you own. Read the following guide to understand commonly used wood sizes:
As the name suggests, wood chips are essentially wood scraps and thin shavings of ¼ inch thickness. They are commonly used in electric and gas smokers. Since they are relatively thin and smaller in size, they burn extremely fast.
A word of advice: You shouldn’t use wood chips to smoke large-sized briskets.
Wood chunks have a size similar to our fist, around four inches or so. They are used in combination with charcoal in offset smokers. After ignition, wood chunks can last for an extended time, making them perfect to smoke large briskets.
Wood logs can be quite long, up to 18 inches, and are suitable for large offset grills. You can also use them as a direct heating source to smoke your ten pounds brisket. However, due to their large size, they require more time to burn down.
Grounding wood into a coarse powder yields sawdust, ideal for handheld smokers and stovetops. Since the wood is grounded, sawdust provides instant smoke; however, you can’t use it as a heat source, nor should you soak it in water before using it.
Compressing sawdust forms flat disks, ideal for electric smokers to produce smoke quickly. But, again, don’t soak them as the water will disintegrate the disks.
Pellet wood is one of the most widely used fuels in pellet smokers. You can find different types of wood pellets available in the market. Moreover, you don’t need to soak pellets in water before using them because they are also formed by compressing sawdust.
How to Choose the Right Wood for Smoking Meat
You must keep in mind the meat and wood combination before smoking a brisket. Oak and hickory are the most commonly used wood to smoke a brisket. Later, you can combine these hardwoods with mild flavors to customize the brisket flavor.
So, what type of wood are you going to use to smoke a brisket?