What Is Your Preferred Wood For Smoking Peppers?

tsheets(5)August 8, 2012

I've been thinking about this lately....

From what I understand, Chipotle is made with pecan wood. But, I'm not so much worried about mimicking Chipotle, just something that goes good / interesting.

For meats, I'm not a big fan of mesquite. But, have used Apple and Hickory quite a bit for pork.

I want to smoke, dry, and powder a variety of peppers for chili seasoning, paprika, dry rubs, etc...

What types of wood have you used and how were the results?

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homefry319(5b NE)

I prefer making my chipotles with hickory or apple woods,

Ive got a ton of Alama paprika Im going to smoke with hickory too(first time) we'll see how it comes out, Ill let you know after the weekend, Ill be picking them tomorrow night

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Gotta second the Apple wood. Cherry is great as well. I found some "whiskey barrel" chips that I will try this year.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:38PM
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I like pecan but it's not readily available in my area so I do most of my smokes with hickory. Hickory is great for most things smoked.

Really, any fruit wood works well and adds flavour nuances to the end product.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:57PM
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I've been doing some googling and it sounds like a lot of smoked paprika is smoked using Oak. I even saw a reference to a specific type of Oak (one that I had never heard of, either). So, maybe not all Oaks are created equal??? haha!

I saw some of those whiskey barrel chips on amazon. I also saw some Oak wine barrel chips. They actually got good reviews!! They have everything on amazon! Oak, Hickory, Pecan, Adler (has anyone here used that??), Maple, Cherry, Apple, you name it! Just trying to decide which one(s) to try. :-)

@Bill - I love hickory for pork butts or those big thick chops! How much smoke do you put on them with hickory? It seems like it would be easy to overdo it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Nix the Alder. I used a Hickory and Alder blend to smoke some Poblano pods and the Alder really seemed out of place. I think Alder is best used for fish.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Awesome, thanks, Bill! I had never heard of using it.

I think I'm going to try Oak and Pecan. I have used most others and those two sound pretty popular, but, I've never seen them locally. Gotta love the Internet!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:42PM
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I seem to always go back to Hickory and oak.
Oak for the heat source and hickory for sweetness...

Mesquite is for grilling,not smoking.Very strong flavour.

I cold smoke everything.

I hear Pecan is about like oak in flavor,maybe a little milder but I learned through trial and error.
Only time I tried it,it had a dry taste.
Don't know if that makes sense if you haven't tasted it.

Use whatever works in your smoker.
Hard to say what wood to use.

A LOT depends on the smoker you use.

Mine are basically air tight/modified for a long cold smoke.
Water smokers etc. straight out of the box are a LOT different.
NONE are air tight and most need a welders modification and some things you can do yourself.
Rope your doors,baffle your fire box etc.
Air tight is where it's at along with the way the air flow is.
Heat rises.you need it to raise but have to go down to exit your smoker.
Makes for an even heat distribution on all your racks and at both ends of the smoker.

Gas smokers are different than electric or wood.
I've used most commercial smokers around and they all have their quirks.
You can get away with a stronger tasting wood in a faster hot smoke but end up with a bitter taste if the smoke is long and cool.

Oak and Pecan,depending on your smoke are very similar.Pecan I think is slightly less strong. than oak.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Thanks, smoke!

My smoker is one of the upright water smokers. I have run it without water before, but left the pan in place for a heat shield. I'm sure that's bad for the pan, but I don't do it often. I could also use a foil pack on the gas grill, I've done that before too. Not really my preference, but, for quick jobs it works ok.

That's a good tip on the mesquite, too! Thanks! I have a bag sitting in the garage that I avoid and it just sits. I could give it to the GF to use on the charcoal grill. :-)

Thanks for the insight into the Oak and Pecan as well! I really had no idea what to expect. Just shootin in the dark! haha!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:24PM
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homefry319(5b NE)

You could try using a soldering iron and a tin can to get more of the "cold" smoke effect

I have an upright water smoker too(in the market for a new smoker actually) I actually will use the water bath then put a cast iron pan above that to help protect even more from the heat, negative it takes up that second rack

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:35PM
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The upright is just the one I used for whatever the pic is of at the time.
It was heavily modified and in general I prefere my New Brunsfeld barrel smoker,before they were bought out and are pretty much crap now.
All my smokers were modified before I even used them the first time.
Start with looking for making them air tight then heat flow in the chamber.
I have a couple different smokers. Depending on the mods. each has their own purpose.

I really don't like verticle smokers in general though they can be ok but need too much attention during the smoke.
Even after mods.
Though I use the one I have-after it got torched to make it a little more efficient

When you want a better dry heat from a water smoker like an upright or bullet smoker.
Try filling the water pan with sand or fine pomice.
I like Pomice because the grease smokes better than when it drips on sand.More air space or something I'd guess.
Plus,smoker Pomice can be put over a gas grill for extra flavour.
It gets smoked + it has the grease from other stuff too.
Makes a gas grill almost as good as a wood grill with wood chunks.

It also helps keep a more even Dry heat.

Airtight is the key to any smoker in general,then comes moisture content and heat.
To control moisture and heat you need to control air flow.

Too many people think a smoker is just a smoke producing oven.
Most of the cooking show comps. on tv are not my idea of smoked foods.

My idea of sexy smoked goods has nothing to do with looks.
It has 99% to do with taste and tenderness.
Smoke rings are a given if you have good taste and the right tenderness a smoke ring is going to be there.

Burnt ends are great but not if they are because your smoker has a hot spot that causes the burnt ends.

Burnt ends are supposed to be cause by a long cold smoke and the ends get burnt because they are the thinner pieces of the meat.

Sexy is a cold smoked product swimming in a shallow pool of finishing sauce stacked a mile high on my plate.

These shows forgot where smoked food came from.

How could you possibly smoke a brisket in a day.
From raw meat.

It takes a day + after being rubbed down and blended out in the fridge before being smoked just to get in the ball park.

Let alone a 7 - 10 lb chunk of pork or beef that needs a week after being rubbed down to smoke into being the kind of stuff that is real smoked meat.

What is this wrapped in tin foil crap to steam the meat?
Apple juice added before wrapping it up.

Only reason for that is Hot smoking,cutting corners.
Not real smoked meat in my opinion.

Get 2 identicle chunks of meat.

Use the same rubs and sauces.
Cold smoke one after letting the rub blend a while in the fridge a few days and smoke the other like they do on the TV shows.
Use the same mops and finishing sauces for both.
See which one is OK or good and which one is pure heaven.

I have no doubt that if the TV experts were put against most guys that smoke stuff for their families and friends along with a lot of mom and pop places,the pros would loose big time if put up against each other.

Smoking meat isn't rocket science.

They started doing it a LONG time ago to preserve meats.

The guys who invented smoking meat probably weren't all that intelligent by modern standards.
But I bet they put out a lot better product than these TV experts who want to see a pretty stack of crap stuff on a bed of parsley in a foam box.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 1:01AM
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Smoke, Do you have a copy of this?

Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking, And Curing

Here is one on Ebay:


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:06PM
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I do not like the flavor of hickory and use mesquite instead for making chipotles, but I grill the chilies instead of smoking them. I have a smoker but did not know that it could be used for smoking chilies, since it uses steam. I just came back from my parents' house in Texas where I was clearing away dead pecan wood - I didn't know that it could be used for smoking or grilling.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 5:10PM
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publickman, if you're not fond of hickory you may not like pecan, they're very similar.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 5:17PM
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I am the opposite. I don't care for mesquite, but will try mixing it in with the charcoal and cook directly over it rather than smoke with it. I much prefer Hickory for meat, but, have never tried it on peppers.

I am thinking Pecan sounds promising, but, think I'm going to give Oak a shot first.

It sounds like you're talking about an upright water smoker. That's what I have too. I just won't put the water in it, but leave the pan in place. The hard part is keeping the temps down as I'm trying to dry them, not cook them. :-) I'm envisioning about 8-10 briquets and a handful of well soaked wood chips.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:44PM
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michelliot(z7 ny)

Here's a list you can ponder from the smoke ring forum. Enjoy......

ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. A very hot burning wood.

ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.

APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.

ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

BIRCH - Medium-hard Wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry Wood is the best Wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.

COTTONWOOD - It is a softer Wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don't use green cottoNWOOD for smoking.

CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.

GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

HICKORY - Most commonly used Wood for smoking--the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.

MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning.

MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.

OAK - Heavy smoke flavor--the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.

SWEET FRUIT woods - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.

WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Thanks for that great reference michelliot!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Some of the best powders I have tried ( wayright and cmpman1974) have been with applewood. Note to self go buy some applewood. I had some powder made from cherrywood that was amazing as well. But like smoke said the key is low temps for long times to get a nice smokey flavored powder. I have yet to achieve that with my mediocre gas/grill smoker.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:23PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

From 2012, another interesting one.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 4:20AM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Here's a copy/paste that seems to back-up most of the opinions in michelliot's list posted above:

Woods for smoking:

Acacia is similar to mesquite but not as strong. This wood burns very hot and should be used in small amounts or for limited amounts of time.

Alder has a light flavor that works well with fish and poultry. Indigenous to the northwestern United States, it is the traditional wood for smoking Salmon.

Almond give a nutty, sweet flavor that is good with all meats. Almond is similar to Pecan.

Apple is very mild in flavor and gives food a sweetness. This is good with poultry and pork. Apple will discolor chicken skin (turns in dark brown).

Apricot is great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.

Ash has a light, unique flavor. This wood burns fast.

Black Walnut has a heavy flavor that should probably be mixed with other wood because of the bitter taste it can impart.

Birch has a similar flavor to maple. This wood is good with pork and poultry.

Cherry has a sweet, mild flavor that goes great with virtually everything. This is one of the most popular woods for smoking.

Chokecherry has a bitter flavor and should only be used in small amounts for short period of times.

Citrus woods like lemon or orange have a moderate smoke that gives a light fruity flavor that is more mild than apple or cherry.

Cottonwood is very mild in flavor and should be used with stronger flavored woods. Avoid green wood.

Crabapple is very similar to apple wood and can be used interchangeably.

Fruit, like apple, apricot or cherry, fruit wood gives off a sweet, mild flavor that is good with poultry or ham.

Grapefruit is a mild wood that produces a good, smoky flavor. A good wood for any meat.

Grapevines make a lot of tart smoke and gives a fruity but sometimes heavy flavor. Use it sparingly with poultry or lamb.

Hickory adds a strong flavor to meats, so be careful not to use to excessively. It’s good with beef and lamb.

Lemon is a mild wood that produces a good, smoky flavor. A good wood for any meat.

Lilac produces a good supply of mild, sweet smoke. A popular wood for smoked cheese, but also good for poultry and pork.

Maple, like fruit wood gives a sweet flavor that is excellent with poultry and ham.

Mesquite has been very popular of late and is good for grilling, but since it burns hot and fast, it's not recommended for long barbecues. Mesquite is probably the strongest flavored wood; hence its popularity with restaurant grills that cook meat for a very short time.

Mulberry is sweet and very similar to apple.

Nectarine is great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.

Oak is strong but not overpowering and is a very good wood for beef or lamb. Oak is probably the most versatile of the hard woods.

Orange is a mild wood that produces a good, smoky flavor. A good wood for any meat.

Peach is great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.

Pear is similar to apple and produces a sweet, mild flavor.

Pecan burns cool and provides a delicate flavor. It’s a much subtler version of hickory.

Plum is great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.

Walnut has a heavy, smoky flavor and should be mixed with milder flavored woods.

Other good woods include: avocado, bay, beech, butternut, carrotwood, chestnut, fig, guava, gum, hackberry, kiawe, madrone, manzita, olive, range, persimmon, pimento, and willow

You can also find other wood products around made from wine and whiskey barrels that impart a very unique flavor. I have a fondness for Jack Daniel whiskey barrel wood.

Woods to AVOID would include: cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, pine, fir, redwood, sassafras, spruce, and sycamore.

Here is a link that might be useful: Original 2 page Article

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:07AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Sjetski, thank you for the post and link, I bookmarked it.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Cherry .Got a killer smoker too.Even dehydrates and cold smokes.HOME MADE

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Chipotle is a completely different process than putting your chiles in a backyard smoker.

You're making smoked chile, not chipotle.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:11AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

WOW it looks great :-) very impressive. Tons of chili and other could smoke. I wish to see the dried pods from that drier.

My friend made this one.

First they tried some meat with unknown woods it ruined their smoky meat :-) bitter and smelly. Then they used paddy husks, that's great they told me.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Nice smoker Caelian!

I'm not a authority on smoking at all. I do know that one wants to use woods that are known for delivering good tasting smoke.

Some woods can emit toxins and/or just bad flavor. Some well known woods for smoking sjetski handled pretty much above.

smokemaster2007... now, he's a smoking genius from what I gather.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:33AM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Going to have to tell my uncle Bill about mulberry wood, he's always hunting for free applewood and certain others, heck he's even offered to chop smaller trees down for people. Mulberry should be a lot easier for him to source, and i'm pretty sure he's never considered it for anything more than his fireplace, if that...

Come to think of it, an elderly neighbor has a good sized mulberry tree that's looking to swallow her fence up, hmmm.


This post was edited by sjetski on Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 12:37

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:34PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Thank you Kevin. I agreed with your point some woods emit toxin.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:12PM
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ka0ttic(CFL 9b)

Nice thread. I'm looking forward to trying some stuff with citrus wood. Plenty of that here in FL and I'm curious to find out what citrus smoked datil or fatalli would be like... mmmmm. Might throw in a little oak too. I've got 6 mos to think about it ;-)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 9:23PM
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While ya'll are smoking your chilies, get an old cake pan and put an inch of Kosher salt in the bottom, spread evenly. Just leave it in there and stir it occasionally. After about four hours it picks up a great smoke flavor. Use it on everything...

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 6:10AM
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I'll give it a shot!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:21PM
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A tip from one in Native "Smoke" country (Texas)
Regardless of your chosen smoking wood there is a term often over looked,green wood and seasoned wood,knowing the true differences is the key to over all smoke quality.
Mesquite is a very good wood when used with experience,that "toxic" flavor most describe is from the "green" and primarily from the bark. Remove the bark on wood that isnt at least a year/season old from cutting and the animal indeed changes spots.

Using Mesquite as a finishing wood works very well over both pecan and oak for very distinct flavors with all meats(even fish,both fresh and saltwater species)
These simple tricks are passed down thru generations and will not be seen on FoodTV.
I cant wait to grow some quality strains and smok'em like we do old school wild game meats.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:40PM
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Good advice. I use a mix of post Oak and Mesquite for my "Q," and it's all dry, and usually looses it's bark when I'm splitting it.
That's what they use over in the BBQ Capitol of the World, Lockhart, Texas, where you'll find Blacks and Kreuz market.
BTW, Blacks has a kick-azz Ghost BBQ sauce they sell there. Not really hot, but with a good flavor.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:29AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I use tulip tree, tulip poplar, the Indiana state tree, because that what we have in our yard. It is a good smoking wood, with a very intensely smoky, but not harsh flavor. We smoke ghost peppers, habanero, ancho, all kinds of peppers. I found it was ok to use online, and have been well pleased.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 6:13PM
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With picking soon in full swing I thought this helpful.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 9:43PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Oak for coals, hickory for smoke.

Note: Chimney-lit charcoal is an acceptable substitute for oak coals if time is a factor. Never use lighter fluids.

Keep it low and slow.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:36PM
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