Oak Wood for Smoking [BBQ Smoke Guide]


Oakwood is one of the barbecue world’s classic smoking woods thanks to its efficient burn rate and earthy aroma. Discover how to use oakwood in your smoker today.

oak smoking wood chunks

Oakwood is one of the most popular woods when it’s time to fire up the smoker. Everyone from experienced pitmasters to newbies to the trade swears by the versatility of this type of wood. Whether you buy it in pellet, chip, or chunk form, it’s always good to have some oak wood on hand.

However, is oak wood good for every type of meat, or are there certain situations where you’re better off using something else? Here is your definitive guide to working with oak wood while smoking meat.

oak smoking wood chunks

What is Oak Wood?

Oakwood is a type of hardwood, meaning that it is very strong and durable. In fact, oak’s durability has given it an almost mythical reputation. It comes from the oak tree, which is native all across the northern hemisphere.

Oakwood chunks usually are light brown in color and very hard.

Oak Wood Characteristics

One of the most impressive characteristics of oak wood is its longevity. Oakwood can burn for long periods, making it a great choice for cuts of meat that require a low, slow cooking method.

When it burns, oak wood gives off an earthy, smokey flavor. While it is stronger than fruit trees or maple, it is not nearly as overpowering as hickory or mesquite wood. The aroma of oak wood is similar—a moderately smokey smell.

Oakwood turns food a mahogany brown color. Its smoke burns darker than smoke from other types of wood, such as peach or apple, giving more depth of color to the meats you are smoking.

oak smoking wood chunks

How To Use Oak Wood

Oakwood is one of the more versatile smoking woods. You can use it no matter your smoker setup because you can find it in chunks, split log, pellet, and chip form. It’s common and relatively affordable, making it easier to source than some specialty woods such as peach.

When deciding what format to buy your wood in, you need to think about the design of your smoker. Certain smokers only accept certain types of fuel. For example, split logs work best for offset smokers.

Another factor determining the type of wood you should buy is the cut you are smoking. Bigger cuts such as brisket need longer to cook, so you should buy chunks or logs, which burn slower. Chips and pellets tend to release smoke quickly, making them a better choice for smaller cuts of meat.

Finally, you can also buy oak wood planks. Many people use oak wood planks to smoke more delicate foods, such as salmon and cheese, in an oven or across a domed grill.

Best Meats to Smoke Using Oak Wood

Oak wood’s versatility means that it is a good choice for almost any cut of meat, but certain types go better with it than others.

Oakwood is one of the best choices for smoking lamb. Lamb has a grassy, almost gamey flavor, and the smokiness of oak helps enhance that flavor without making it overpoweringly bitter.

Oak is a great choice for smoking large cuts of beef such as brisket because it can burn steadily for several hours.

However, that doesn’t mean that oak only works with more flavorful cuts of meat. Compared to other hardwoods such as hickory, its relative mildness makes it a good choice for delicate meats, including sausages and poultry.

No matter why you’re breaking out the smoker, oak wood is a great fuel source to have on hand thanks to its versatility, durability, and great flavor.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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