what wood do you use in an offset smoker?

Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 08:32 pm

Smoking in offset smoker is carried out by using charcoal for heat production and wood for imparting flavor. Every type of wood has its  specific flavor .

It can be overwhelming for beginners to choose best wood to use in offset smoker.

In this article we are going to explain everything thing you need to know about using wood in offset smoker. Let’s get started.

what wood do you use in an offset smoker

Woods in offset smoker are used for generating smoke which is used for the cooking of meat ,so its important to select the wood carefully to get your desired flavor.

The Flavor of a wood doesn’t depends mainly on the wood type rather it depends on where it grows.

Different parts of soil have different nutrients so the wood grown in  different places have different flavors.

It means that a hickory tree and apple tree will have considerably similar flavor if they grow side by side.

Although the type of wood affects the texture of wood chunks. The best wood used for smoking should have been dried at least 6 months before use .

The wood can be examined whether it’s dried or not by looking at the center of it’s ends . If there are cracks in center then it means wood has been dried.

Although wood should be dried before use ,it should also have enough moisture to avoid rapid burning.

The rapid burning can overshoot the temperature . The burning of wood also depends on the texture of wood.

There are three main types of woods that are usually used for smoking.

Soft woods 

Soft woods have delicate texture and burn too quickly. They are generally avoided during smoking because they have a high resin content which can affect the taste of meat of when exposed to heat.

In addition it is affects the smoker build because it becomes difficult to clean The most common soft woods used in smoking are pine and cedar.

Although cedar is often not recommended to use for smoking for longer time. You can use softwood in combination with other types of woods for better flavor.


Hardwood are tougher in texture and burn slowly for longer time. They are usually preferred when planning for cold smoking.

They are the most common type of woods used in smoking because they burn slowly. They are also used in combination with other wood types to impart desired flavor to meat while smoking slowly.

There are different types of hardwood that are used for smoking different kind of meat. Hickory and oak are most common hardwood used in smoking.

Hickory is commonly used for smoking pork while oak is used for smoking beef. Moreover maple is used to smoke vegetables .

Fruit woods

Fruit woods are a delicate types of woods that are used to impart specific flavors to meat. They have a sweet flavor and burn quickly.

Apple and cherry are the most common fruit woods used in smoking. Fruit woods can be used  as an alternative to other soft woods .

Do you need to add wood in offset smoker?

Offset Smoker uses woods in combination with charcoal to produce a consistent supply of heat and smoke.

Charcoal is prelit to heat up the smoker to desired temperature and then woods are placed over it to start producing smoke.

Wood contains a mixture of gases trapped in its structure. When wood chunks are exposed to fire , the flammable gases are burnt and nonflammable gases leave the wood in form of smoke.

These gases imparts different flavors and enhance the taste of meat by generating smoke ring.

The most important gases that take part in the smoking of meat are syringol,guiacol and nitric oxide.

All of these gases are present in traces in wood structure but are enough to enhance the taste of meat. syringol gives the smoker it’s mouth watering aroma.

While guiacol has the function to give the traditional smoky flavor to meat. The nitric oxide is responsible for the production of smoke ring on the surface of meat.

It reacts with myoglobin present in meat surface and produces Pink color known as smoke ring.

Woods play a crucial role in the smoking of meat and therefore required to smoke meat.

Charcoal is also burnt wood but it can’t produce smoke. Although wood is not the main heat source so it is required in Less amount than charcoal.

Best woods to use in offset smoker

Now that we have discussed the most common wood types used for smoking ,its time to let you know the most common woods used in smoking.


Apple is most common fruit wood in smoking delicate foods. It imparts light sweet to food if not over-smoked.

It can be used to smoke anything ranging from sausage to tough meat but most commonly it is used to smoke pork and beef.


Hickory is most common wood used for smoking around the globe . It is a hardwood and can last for longer time.

It has a strong smoky flavor than oak. It produces intense smoke than fruit woods. It is usually used to smoke beef and pork for longer time.


Alder is softest hardwood used for producing smoke in offset smoker. It imparts  light sweet flavor if smoked properly.

It burns for shorter time and produces a consistent stream of smoke. It is usually used to smoke soft foods like seafood.

Cherry woods

Cherry wood is a type of fruit wood that is used for short time to impart flavor. It is soft in texture and burns quickly than hardwood.

It can also be used for smoking together meat like beef and pork but you need to add woods too often to keep the smoke coming.

Maple woods 

Maple woods are soft and delicate woods that are used in combination with some hardwood to impart sweet flavor to meat.

It imparts a mild sweet flavor on if ignited properly. Sugar maple is the most commonly used maple wood in smoking.


Mesquite is local hardwood that is has an Intense smoky flavor. It can burn slowly for longer time but it should be used only when you need a strong smoky flavor.

Usually it is avoided in smoking due to burning hot and fast that can overshoot the temperature. But it can be used to form coal.


Pecan is good enough wood used for smoking that can impart a mild hickory flavor .

it can burn quickly so it is only used for short term smoking and generally avoided during cold smoking. It can impart a strong sweet flavor if not over-smoked.


Oak is another popular type of hardwood used in smoking along with hickory due to its tougher texture.

It can burn for longer time like hickory but it has less intense flavor than hickory. It burn slowly and gives a consistent supply of smoke. It is usually used to smoke pork.

Precautions for using wood in offset smoker

  • You should avoid using woods on which mold has been developed. These can produce toxins when exposed to heat. These toxins can contaminate the food and make it inedible.
  • You should also avoid using softwood for smoking ,these can produce smoke but can be bad for meat flavor. The softwoods usually have resins in them that can affect the smoke being produced.
  • You should avoid using woods that have been painted in past. The paint can contain any heat resistant chemicals or other toxins that can affect the taste of food.
  • If you notice the woods are producing a lot of smoke then it’s a bad sign. It means that your woods are too moist and not burning properly. You should consider opening the firebox and replacing any wet wood logs.

how much wood does an offset smoker use

The woods in offset smoker depends on how longer do you want to smoke. Short term smoking requires less woods while cold smoking requires a large amount of wood chunks.

Usually two to four bags of woods chunks can be enough to last for several hours.

The amount of woods also depends on what type of woods you are using. The hardwood last longer than softwood so are required in less amount.

Moreover the temperature can also affect the amount of wood used. Higher temperature burns more woods in less time.

can you use wood chunks in an offset smoker

Wood chunks are usually used in offset smoker for smoking for longer time. These burns slower and produce smoke for longer time.

If you are planning for longer time smoking then you can with chunks but if you are smoking for short time then its better to prefer woods chips over chunks .

Tips for using wood in an offset smoker

  • While using woods in offset smoker you should be careful about the size of chunks. If you are smoking for longer time then use wood chunks alternatively you can use wood chips if smoking for shorter time.
  • While adding wood in offset smoker, you should control airflow inside the smoker. The airflow is directly proportional to amount of oxygen available for combustion. If airflow is increased, the woods can burn too quickly
  • You should consider modifying your smoker with an accurate thermometer to stay informed of the temperature inside the smoker without opening the lid. 
  • The burning of wood inside the firebox results in production of ash, you should consider cleaning up your smoker regularly to avoid build up of ash.
  • If some of the woods are left unused at the end of smoking, then you should consider storing them outside to dry them effectively.


The wood type to use in offset smoker depends on your personal taste. You can decide what is best is for you by testing your smoker with soft and delicate food like fish or sausage.

The taste of food depends on the place where wood has grown. Alternatively you can go with a combination of woods to get best flavor.

Jakob miller