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If you’ve never smoked pork before, you might find the task a little daunting. There are so many different types of wood to choose from for your smoker and an endless pit of internet resources and advice available to both emerging and experienced cooks.
The issue with pork is that it’s a very particular kind of meat. Creating a well-smoked pork shoulder, loin, or ribs may take a while to master. It's a subtle art that requires patience and time to get right. That said, choosing the right kind of wood is key to the process.
That’s why we’re taking you through the pork-smoking process, outlining the options for your chip tray and highlighting our personal favorites.
First thing’s first: before you even think about smoking the pork, you’ve got to find the right piece of meat. Whether you're looking for a pork shoulder, pork chops, trying to make pork sandwiches, or smoking pork ribs, here are some general rules to follow:
Here are our picks for the top varieties of wood pellets can use when smoking a piece of pork.
Not only is applewood deliciously flavored, but it can also be used for the widest variety of meal options to create a plethora of pork dishes.
If you’re looking into cooking a pork shoulder that you’re hoping to serve as a pulled pork sandwich or to make up the components of another tasty dish, applewood is a great option. It’s also great for pork ribs and pork loin.
No matter what cut of pork you’re using for your meal, apple wood won’t do you wrong. The flavor is mild but subtly sweet and fruity.
Cherry Wood is a bit of an unorthodox pick for smokers but believe us when we say it works perfectly for many different kinds of meats — especially for pork if you want to spice things up a bit. Cherry Wood is usually combined with oak or hickory to give it that extra something — the flavor is light, delicate, and sweet.
Hickory wood is incredibly versatile and can be used to smoke many kinds of meats — pork, especially. It’s great for large cuts of pork like pork shoulders and is best when combined with sweeter woods, for example, apple or cherry. That said, it also stands strongly on its own. The only important thing to note is that too much hickory may not be a good idea. It can turn your meat a tad bitter which is why we recommend you partner it with one of the sweeter wood flavors.
Hickory flavors are savory (and a little bacony!).
Pecan Wood is another great option for all cuts of pork. Just like the apple and cedar woods, it’s it has a milder flavor but if you want to really get the most out of the pecan wood, we recommend pairing it with something more citrusy like orange or cherry wood. Pecan wood is great for pork ribs and chops and a great way to add a smoky flavor to anything bacon-wrapped.
For those of you that aren’t a big fan of the stronger smoky woods like oak and hickory, pecan wood is a great alternative.
Now that we’re talking about citrusy flavors, you just can’t go wrong with pairing a pork cut with orange wood. The best thing about this kind of wood is that the fruity, citrus flavor is never overwhelming; it’s a perfect tangy complement to your ham, roast, or loin. Orangewood is great to pair with stronger wood like example oak or hickory.
Peachwood is also citrusy, but in a different way. It has less of a tang to it than something like orange wood would - it’s lighter and a little more delicate. Peachwood works very well with ham. Pear Wood is much the same.