Best Wood for Smoking Chicken

Best Wood for Smoking Chicken

The primal allure of fire has long been entwined with our culinary rituals, beckoning us to gather and savor the fruits of nature's bounty. Picture the enticing scent of wood wafting through the air, intertwining with the rich aroma of chicken as it sizzles and turns golden over an open flame. 

That unmistakable scent — the very essence of smoking wood marrying the tender flavors of poultry — is an experience as old as time, yet each moment feels profoundly personal and novel. As the smoke curls upwards, it carries with it the promise of a meal crafted not just with ingredients but with passion and precision. 

Let's embark on this sensory journey together and discover the wood that will ignite not just flames but also memories that linger long after the last bite.

Why Does the Type of Wood Matter When Smoking Chicken?

In the art of culinary alchemy, the firewood chosen is not merely a means to an end but a vital ingredient. With a plethora of tree species gracing our planet, each possesses a distinct organic makeup. Upon combustion, these compounds metamorphose into both heat and a unique smoky essence.

Each timber, marked by its singular grain and origin, unveils an aroma during the sacred act of smoking. This essence delves deep into the chicken, imbuing it with a nuanced dimension that transforms the meal into a sensory sojourn. It’s a gentle nod to our ancestral gatherings around the fire, the timeless art of cooking in the embrace of nature, and our visceral bond with the earth.

The wood's selection serves as a defining element in the flavor outcome. The inherent subtlety of chicken presents an opportunity for the nuances of the chosen wood to truly shine. Whereas robust meats like steak and pork can boldly complement the intense profiles of woods like oak or hickory, chicken thrives best with a milder, more delicate wood aroma. 

It's all about ensuring the wood's smoke accentuates the chicken's flavors without overpowering them. Thus, pairing chicken with the right wood is essential to crafting a meal that is both aromatic and flavorful, echoing the essence of outdoor cooking and nature's finest offerings.

Which Wood Is Best for Chicken?

Choosing the right wood for smoking chicken is like selecting the perfect seasoning, enriching the dish with flavors that can elevate it from the ordinary to the extraordinary.


Applewood, often the go-to for poultry aficionados, releases a mild, sweet, and slightly fruity aroma that truly complements the subtleties of chicken. This essence, when lovingly introduced to the poultry, creates a sensory experience reminiscent of warm, cherished gatherings. 

To unlock the full potential of apple wood, it's helpful to start with a brined or marinated chicken. Ensuring a consistent temperature during the smoking process allows the gentle scent of the apple wood to permeate the meat, subtly enhancing the chicken's inherent flavors.

Cherry Wood

Venturing into the realm of cherry wood introduces a flavor profile that embodies sophistication. Its subtly sweet aroma marries perfectly with the tender fibers of the chicken, offering an experience that feels both opulent and comforting. 

When smoking with cherry wood, a dry rub on the chicken allows the wood's unique flavors to take center stage. It's crucial to maintain a steady, medium heat, letting the chicken absorb the distinct aromatic richness that cherry wood brings to the table.

Pecan Wood

Drawing inspiration from the South, pecan wood weaves a tale of tradition and rich flavors. With its underlying nutty sweetness and hints of earthy undertones, pecan wood introduces the chicken to a dance of flavors, echoing shared feasts and the gentle warmth of fireside conversations. 

For an optimal culinary experience with pecan wood, begin with a chicken that has been marinated or brined, ensuring the meat's juiciness plays in tandem with the wood's sweet undertones. As the chicken smokes, maintaining a steady medium heat allows the delightful aromas of pecan wood to envelop the meat, fusing every bite with a balance of smokiness and succulence.

What Should You Look For in High-Quality Cooking Wood?

Delving into the world of smoked culinary delights necessitates a discerning choice of wood. After all, it's the heart of the experience. 

We know that the flavor each firewood imparts is crucial — an overpowering wood might overshadow the meat's inherent taste, while something too subtle may barely leave a mark. Finding that perfect balance is key to elevating the culinary experience.

Immerse yourself in the evocative allure of aroma, a silent siren that weaves its magic into every culinary endeavor. The wood's scent, as it melds with the air, not only affects the overall flavor of the finished meat but also paints an atmosphere rich in nostalgia and warmth, anchoring us to memories of shared moments around the fire's embrace and the timeless tradition of outdoor feasts.

And, of course, the burn rate is a practical aspect that can't be overlooked. A wood that burns too quickly will not provide the sustained, consistent heat required for thorough smoking, while very slow-burning wood might make the process tediously long.

With Cutting Edge Firewood, you are getting the best of it all. Our handpicked pieces undergo a meticulous ultra kiln drying process, ensuring they retain minimal moisture compared to other wood drying methods. This not only guarantees a hotter, more even, and consistent burn but also accentuates a richer, less smoky aroma that tantalizes the senses. 

Our elevated drying process also protects our cooking wood from pests or fungal growth that are commonly attracted to moist or compromised wood, ensuring that the natural flavors remain pure, unspoiled, and intensely aromatic. Our dedication to providing only the finest means that our wood is a cut above the rest. 

How To Perfectly Smoke Chicken

For centuries, the allure of fire has beckoned humanity to its ethereal glow, offering warmth, sustenance, and an unparalleled sense of connection. We hold a profound respect for this ancient communion, and through our commitment to excellence, we aim to enhance the experience of seasoned pitmaster or pitmaster-to-be.

Smoking chicken is an art in itself, one that melds the delicate flavors of poultry with the rich, aromatic profiles of our superior woods. Here's how you can achieve that impeccable smoky allure, with our wood playing a pivotal role in your culinary masterpiece.

Preparation is Key

Before the wood even touches the flame, ensure your chicken has been prepped to perfection. This means choosing fresh, quality meat and marinating or brining it for hours. This not only enhances the flavors but ensures the chicken retains its moisture, allowing our wood's essence to fuse seamlessly.

Get Your Smoker Going

For the most authentic and flavorful smoking experience, we recommend using a wood smoker. Complement this with wood chunks, as these smaller pieces are optimal for achieving a more controlled burn and consistent temperature, which in turn ensures an even infusion of the wood's unique aroma into your meat.

Maintain Temperature Control

Smoking thrives on patience. Aim for a smoker temperature of 225 to 250°F. Our ultra kiln dried process guarantees an even burn, delivering the consistent heat your chicken deserves. The duration depends on the chicken's size and cut, but for a whole chicken, anticipate three to five hours.

Choose the Right Wood

Each of our woods unfurls its flavor story. Whether it's the subtle sweetness of apple, the luxurious depth of cherry, or the rich nuances of pecan, select one that aligns with your culinary vision.

Monitor and Rest

Use a meat thermometer to ensure perfection. Chicken is safe at 165°F, but for smoking, aiming for 170°F for breast meat and 175 to 180°F for thighs ensures optimal tenderness. Observe the chicken's exterior — it should have a golden-brown hue. 

Once smoked the proper doneness, allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes, enabling the juices to settle, ensuring each bite is as flavorful and juicy as the last.

The Bottom Line

Smoking chicken, or any meat for that matter, is more than just a cooking method. It's an experience, a ritual, and a celebration of flavors. Our commitment to providing you with the finest wood means that we're with you at every step, ensuring every bite you take is infused with the rich history of gathering around a fire, the primal allure of the flames, and the unmistakable touch of luxury.

When you embark on a journey with Cutting Edge Firewood, you're not merely lighting a fire; you're igniting a legacy. Our wood, handpicked and prepared with unmatched dedication, is a testament to our belief: The best fires come from the best fire products.


A Material Perspective of Wood, Smoke, and BBQ | ScienceDirect

The Pecan Tree | University of Florida

Moisture Content of 'Seasoned' Firewood | University of Tennessee 

Cooking Meat: Is It Done Yet? | USDA

Chicken Internal Temps: Everything You Need To Know | Thermoworks

About The Author

Leroy Hite

Leroy Hite is the founder and CEO of Cutting Edge Firewood, an ultra-premium firewood and cooking wood company located in Atlanta, Georgia. Leroy's mission is to give people the experience of the perfect fire because some of life’s best memories are made in the warmth of a fire’s glow. He founded Cutting Edge Firewood in 2013 with a goal to provide unmatched quality wood and unparalleled customer service nationwide. The company offers premium kiln-dried firewood, cooking wood, and pizza wood in a wide variety of species and cuts to customers around the country.