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Best Wood for Smoking Ribs [9 Options That’ll Make You So Hungry!]

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Smoking ribs is a delicate balance between science and an art form. The best wood for smoking ribs creates the perfect formula to give succulent smoked ribs a deep, intense flavor. The choice of wood is just as critical as getting the best cut of meat, rub mix, and spritz spray.

Choose wisely – because the wood you use to cook dinner makes or breaks your lovingly smoked rack of ribs.

If you’re investing the money in a good quality cut of meat – or even better, eating some of your home-grown pork or beef? Then it pays to also invest in the best wood you can afford. If you’re lucky? You might have the perfect wood for smoking ribs growing on your homestead!

But, which wood is best for smoking ribs?

We’re about to share some of our favorites!

Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

The best types of wood for smoking ribs are oak, mesquite, and hickory, all of which add an intense smokey flavor. These can get mixed with fruit woods such as pecan, cherry, apple, and maple. Such sweet and savory flavors help give yummy and fruity flavor notes to smoked ribs.

If you want strong flavor, choose mesquite wood for smoking ribs. If you want a long-lasting fuel with a gentle flavor? Then hickory is our favorite. If you want a sweet taste for your savory meats? Then try mixing in maple, apple, and or peach wood chunks!

soaking mesquite wood chips for smoking bbq meats
We love flavorful mesquite wood chips for smoking ribs, steaks, and roasts on our gas and smoke combo grill. Mesquite chips are some of the best for smoking beef ribs and poultry – and it provides a strong flavor. But – others say that hickory chips are better for authentic bbq ribs. Others prefer seasoned oak. Which do you think is best?

Top Pick – Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

So, what if you want to buy just one pack of wood for smoking ribs? Is there a one size fits all solution here?

Yes, there is! If you can’t choose the perfect wood for smoking ribs, then a variety pack will mean you get the best of both worlds – the intense smokey flavor of mesquite and hickory, with the light fruity undertones of applewood smoke.

Our top pick for the best wood for smoking ribs is a bag of Traeger Grills Signature Blend 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets.

This mix of hickory, cherry, and maple will perfectly complement (nearly) any food you want to smoke – beef, pork, poultry, fish, and even vegetables.

The pellets are 100% hardwood, with no cheap fillers or additives that will taint your food. They burn evenly and contain the best moisture levels to maintain a perfect burn-to-smoke ratio.

And as it is all combined in one handy bag, you don’t need to store several types of wood to create the perfect smoky blend!

Read More – Pit Barrel Cooker Versus Weber Smokey Mountain!

Top 3 Best Wood for Smoking Pork Ribs

If you’re new to smoking on the grill, the choice of wood can be overwhelming. How do you know what works well with which types of food? And should you buy logs, pellets, or sawdust?

Don’t worry! It’s not as complicated as you think! All you need to do is follow some rudimentarily basic rules, making sure that the smoke will complement rather than overpower the flavor of the food.

Pork ribs are punchy enough to stand up to bold wood smoke flavors. They also pair well with sweeter fruitwoods. The ability to mix and match gives you great options when choosing the best wood for smoking pork ribs!

1. Zorestar Oak and Apple Smoker Wood Chunks

Many people find the intense barbeque flavor of hickory too overpowering for pork ribs, and oak makes a great alternative. These wood chunks consist of a mix of apple and oak, giving a sweet woody flavor to food with a subtle smokiness.

The wood is well seasoned and burns slowly, giving off a clean smoke without any bitter or harsh flavor notes. It will also add a characteristic dark color to your smoked meat.

The apple and oak wood chunks are around two to three inches. It’s a good mix of fruity flavor and hardwood. The small size of the wood chunks also makes it easy for you to throw them in your smoker. The bag weighs around 15 pounds – give or take 10%.

2. Western Premium BBQ Products Pecan Smoking Chips

Not many people realize that pecan and hickory are related! Pecan makes a great alternative to hickory as it gives the same classic smoked barbeque flavor. But it’s less intense and slightly sweeter.

We find that pecan works well for pork ribs – but it’s also perfect for turkey, duck, chicken, and poultry. It adds a mouth-watering nutty flavor to your ribs.

The pecan wood gets heat treated to help prevent mold and rot. They also have other flavors! You can try apple, cherry, peach, hickory, maple, and mesquite. Try a mixture of flavored wood on your spare ribs, baby back ribs, prime ribs, and beef ribs.

3. CookinPellets Perfect Mix Wood Smoker Pellets

The Perfect Mix includes a combination of hickory base wood mixed with cherry, maple, and apple. These fruity woods perfectly offset the intense smokiness of hickory, complementing the barbeque flavor without becoming too overpowering.

It helps upgrade all savory meats – not just ribs. Try them with burgers, sausage, and steak. It comes in a massive 40-pound bag. Perfect for long summer evenings by the grill.

These pellets also contain 100% hardwood. No filler! They have other flavors, too. They have hickory, black cherry, and apple mash. They also have a yummy-sounding mix of mesquite, cherry, and maple.

Read More – Best Gas Grill for Under Five Hundred Bucks! Easy and Cheap BBQ!

Top 3 Best Wood for Smoking Beef Ribs

Beef is more robust meat than pork and can withstand punchy and full-flavored wood smoke such as hickory and mesquite. Stronger woods are also more effective at creating the perfect color change on smoked beef ribs, turning them into a beautiful mahogany color.

1. Bear Mountain Premium All-Natural Hickory Smoker Pellets

The mesquite vs. hickory debate may never get settled, but many people err towards hickory as it is slightly fruitier than mesquite. Don’t underestimate the power of hickory smoke! This punchy wood will still deliver an intense smoky barbeque flavor and color to your beef ribs! It also burns slowly – perfect for a relaxing afternoon by the barbeque smoker.

The pellets themselves are also 100% premium hardwood! No additives, fillers, or flavorings. You can use them for smokers, electric grills, charcoal grills, and outdoor pellet cookers.

They also have other scents – apple, cherry, gourmet blend, mesquite, and oak. And a few others.

2. Pit Boss Mesquite Blend Hardwood Pellets

And for anyone in the mesquite camp, here is a high-quality mesquite blend. It will give massive flavor to beef ribs. It’s perfect for anyone who likes the smokiness to tickle your tastebuds and give them a good old bear hug!

Mesquite burns faster than other fuels. Some grillers love to mix mesquite with hickory, maple, or oak. Mixing helps the mesquite fuel last longer, and the flavor is less intense.

We noticed these BBQ smoking pellets from Pit Boss have stellar reviews. They also have other BBQ styles – including apple blend, cherry hardwood, fruitwood blend, oak blend, whiskey barrel blend, plus more.

3. Midwest Barrel Company Bourbon Barrel BBQ Smoking Wood Chunks

If you’re in the mood for trying something a bit different, these Kentuckian wood chunks are made from genuine bourbon barrels, used to store and age bourbon whiskey! Your food gets infused with a delicious smokey flavor, and you’ll get a fabulous tang of bourbon. Delicious!

We love the vintage feel of these bourbon barrels. The barrels get hand cut – so they get extra points for ingenuity. We also love how they come in hefty wood chunks. You get a 20-pound bucket stuffed with one to four-inch blocks. Perfect for serious grilling – and serious BBQ smoking! The one to four-inch wood chunks also fit most grills and smokers.

ribs chicken sausages hanging in bbq smoker
Who says you can only smoke ribs? Not us! We love to cram our smokers with plenty of organic chicken, beef ribs, and flavorful Italian sausage. Make sure to cook your fresh beef ribs to at least 145 degrees. We recommend 150 or 160 to be safe!

Best Wood for Smoking Ribs – FAQs

When it comes to debating about maple vs. oak vs. hickory – well, this isn’t our first barbeque!

So we made this list of the most vital FAQs for smoking ribs with the best wood.

We hope these answers help you!

What Wood is Best for Smoking Ribs?

We’re not picky! But – we love hickory, oak, apple, peach, maple, and mesquite. There are too many to choose from – and each fuel introduces a slightly different flavor. These days, since the cost of wood chips and ribs is increasing, we try not to stress too much about how we smoke ribs. We’re thankful that we have ribs to smoke in the first place!

But, choosing the correct wood for smoking ribs is a bit of a big deal – there is nothing worse than seeing your carefully marinaded ribs going to waste because your smoke is too harsh and bitter! So – stick to the main staples for rib smoking. You can’t go wrong with hickory and oak. If you want a lighter flavor, go with peach, apple, or maple.

What is the Best Wood to Smoke Ribs?

Oak and maple are two of our favorites for pork or beef ribs. We also like mesquite – but sometimes, the flavor is too strong. Whatever type of wood you choose for smoking ribs, some characteristics get considered to be pretty much essential.

The wood should be 100% natural, with no additives or flavor enhancers. And as we’re all about saving the planet around here, you should make sure that your wood for smoking comes from a sustainable source.

You also need to decide if you want pellets, wood chips, or sawdust. Most types of wood are available in all three forms, so this does not need to influence your choice of wood. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks.

Pellets burn hotter and more slowly, making it easier to control the temperature of your smoker. They produce consistent smoke with very little ash. Cheaper pellet brands may get packed with lower-quality wood, which can taint your food with unpleasant flavors.

Wood chips give an intense burst of natural smokiness to food. They burn faster than the alternatives, but the burn rate can get slowed by soaking them in water first. Wood chips are trickier regarding temperature regulation. But it’s worth the effort if you can muster some patience.

Sawdust produces a nice, even smoke but offers less heat than chips or pellets. You will need to top up sawdust often during the cooking process.

Is Hickory or Mesquite Better for Ribs?

Hickory Vs. Mesquite – which is better for ribs? Every wood smoking enthusiast will have their take on this, and it does come down to personal preference!

Hickory and mesquite are the heavyweights of the smoking world, adding a strong and punchy flavor to smoked meats. Some homesteaders adore the intense smokiness of ribs smoked in these strong hardwoods, while others find it too overpowering and off-putting.

It is hard to describe the difference between the two kinds of wood, but mesquite is probably slightly more potent, with a flavor reminiscent of Southern barbeques. Hickory is more earthy and gives a yummy taste to smoked ribs. Hickory also burns longer than mesquite. (Mesquite has a reputation for burning fast.)

In short, neither is better than the other, and you could combine the two for an incredible taste sensation!

Is Apple Wood Good for Smoking Ribs?

Yes. For sure! You’ll see many people smoking ribs in heavyweight woods like mesquite or hickory, but what happens if you switch to applewood chips?

Fruitwood chips such as an apple are sometimes the best match for pork ribs. They give a sweet, fruity flavor to smoked pork, which can be a refreshing change from the intense smokiness of hickory-smoked ribs. You can also mix fruitwood fuel with mesquite, hickory, or oak for an excellent blend. Try a mix on your next batch of ribs. You might fall in love.

What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Pork?

We think a light fruity wood complements pork ribs the best. Many people find hickory and mesquite a bit too overpowering for pork and prefer to pair this savory meat with milder flavors such as pecan, apple, or cherry wood.

Alternatively, you can try a mix of rich and subtle flavors by mixing a blend of wood chips. A combination of oak, peach, and pecan is a popular favorite and will do amazing things to your smoked pork!

What is the Best Wood Pellet for Ribs?

When smoking ribs, you should always use 100% food-grade hardwood pellets free from fillers, additives, and flavorings. Hickory grill pellets will give a classic barbeque flavor. Or, for a lighter, fruity tang, try using cherry or applewood pellets instead.

texas bbq charcoal offset smoker backyard bbq cooking
We love cooking ribs, turkey, ham, beer can chicken, brisket, and salmon with smokers! But – you can smoke plenty of fresh veggies too. Try smoking fresh garden tomatoeszucchinipotatoescorn, or nuts. You can also throw your favorite garden veggies on your best gas grill – but it’s not the same as smoked.


We love firing the BBQ smoker with yummy ribs, poultry, and sausages. It makes the day go by much faster – and we swear working on the homestead is less stressful with a bountiful stack of ribs waiting for us!

We hope you found the best wood for smoking ribs in our guide.

If you have more questions about the best fuel and wood for smoking ribs? Don’t hesitate to ask!

We’re always hovering around by the BBQ smoker and love discussing grilling with fellow homesteaders.

Thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

Read More – How to Make a Primitive Backyard Smoker! Perfect for Off-Grid Survival!

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