A Guide to Smoking Woods for BBQ in Australia

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A Guide to Smoking Woods for BBQ in Australia

When it comes to barbecuing, charcoal is your main source of heat.

However, to infuse that rich, smoky flavour into your food, adding a few chunks of dry wood onto the coals is essential. But with so many types of wood available, how do you choose the right one?

The flavours and aromas produced by different smoking woods can be quite distinct and sometimes hard to describe. The type of wood product you use—chunks, chips, or dust—also impacts the flavour. Here’s a rundown of some well-known and lesser-known smoking woods, listed in order of preference, to help you elevate your barbecuing game.

Fruit Tree Woods

Cherry Wood

Cherry wood imparts a darker, sweeter flavour compared to apple wood, making it a versatile choice for smoking. It pairs wonderfully with game, fowl, red meat, and spicy pork. Always a favourite, cherry wood also gives your food a beautiful reddish-brown colour. Whether in blocks or chips, it’s a must-have for any BBQ enthusiast.

Apple Wood

Apple wood is the lightest of the smoking woods, popular for adding a mild, sweet smoke that complements light-coloured poultry and pork dishes. It’s also often used to balance the bitterness of traditional oak. Keep some apple wood on hand to ensure you can always add a touch of sweet, fruity flavour to your barbecue.

Hickory

Hickory is a classic choice, known for its strong, bacon-like flavour. It’s ideal for smoking robust meats like pork shoulders and ribs. However, use it sparingly as its intense smoke can easily overpower the food.

Mesquite

Mesquite burns hot and fast, producing a strong, earthy flavour. It’s perfect for grilling steaks or any quick-cooking meat. Be cautious with the amount, as mesquite’s boldness can become too dominant.

Oak

Oak is a traditional favourite, particularly for smoking beef and lamb. Its smoke is strong but not overwhelming, providing a balanced flavour. It works well mixed with lighter woods like apple to soften its impact.

Pecan

Pecan wood offers a mild, nutty flavour that’s excellent for poultry and pork. It burns cooler and slower than many other hardwoods, making it ideal for longer smoking sessions.

Maple

Maple wood adds a subtle, sweet smoke flavour that’s fantastic for pork, poultry, and even cheese. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a gentler smoke that won’t overpower your dishes.

Aldergrills Cherry Wood Chunks
Aldergrills Apple Wood Chunks
Aldergrills Hickory Wood Chunks
Aldergrills Mesquite Wood Chunks
Aldergrills Oak Wood Chunks
Aldergrills Pecan Wood Chunks

Traditional Australian Smoking Woods

Australia boasts a variety of native woods that can add unique flavours to your barbecuing repertoire. These traditional Australian species are not only locally sourced but also provide distinct tastes that can enhance your BBQ dishes.

Australian Native Woods

Ironbark

Ironbark is a hardwood that burns slowly and steadily, producing a mild, slightly sweet smoke. It’s a versatile choice that pairs well with a range of meats, from beef and lamb to pork and poultry. The steady burn time makes it ideal for long smoking sessions.

Red Gum

Red Gum offers a strong, rich smoke flavour, making it perfect for robust meats like beef and game. It burns hot and provides a consistent heat, making it a favourite for those looking to achieve a deep, smoky flavour.

Tea Tree

Tea Tree wood produces a clean, aromatic smoke with a slightly herbal note. It’s excellent for poultry, pork, and even vegetables. The subtlety of Tea Tree smoke ensures it enhances rather than overpowers the natural flavours of the food.

Paperbark

Paperbark is a unique choice, often used for wrapping fish and seafood before smoking. It imparts a subtle, earthy flavour that complements the delicate taste of seafood. It can also be used to add a light smoke to chicken and vegetables.

Mallee

Mallee roots are known for their intense, long-lasting heat and distinct, slightly sweet smoke flavour. They are particularly good for red meats and game, offering a robust smoking experience that penetrates deeply into the meat.

Wattle

Wattle wood provides a mild, slightly sweet smoke that’s suitable for lighter meats and fish. Its gentle flavour makes it a good choice for those who prefer a more understated smokiness in their barbecue.

Using Australian Woods in Your BBQ

Experimenting with traditional Australian woods can add a unique dimension to your barbecuing. Whether you’re aiming for the robust flavour of Red Gum or the subtle smokiness of Paperbark, these native species offer a range of options to suit different meats and cooking styles. Combining these with more conventional smoking woods can also create interesting flavour profiles, giving you endless possibilities for your next BBQ.

Join the Conversation

Have you tried using traditional Australian smoking woods in your barbecue? What are your favourite combinations? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

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