Since the dawn of our species, men and women have been gathering around flames fueled by wood to cook their meals. Scientists have proven this primordial connection is what makes cooking with wood so satisfying.
Okay, maybe it’s not scientifically proven.
Still, you can’t deny the excitement and joy generated by the tantalizing aroma and gentle crackling sound. It makes our mouths water just thinking about it!
But for cooking with wood to be most enjoyable, you need to use the best wood the right way. Otherwise, you risk sour and undercooked creations.
That’s what this guide is all about. In it, you will learn why kiln-dried hardwood is the best cooking wood and how to use it the right way in your smoker, BBQ grill or pizza oven. We’ll also provide some expert tips for ordering cooking wood for your home or restaurant.
And if you need some quality wood for cooking, you can learn more about the products we sell in the Chicago region on our cooking wood page.
Table of Contents
Looking for a particular cooking wood topic? You can jump to the section you want below:
- Identifying the Best Cooking Wood
- Why Kiln-Dried Cooking Wood is Essential
- Reasons to Choose Hardwood Over Softwood
- The Best Hardwood Species for Cooking
- Cooking Wood Sizes—Everything You Need to Know
- The Different Uses for Cooking Wood—An Introduction
- Grilling Wood Best Practices
- BBQ Wood Best Practices
- Smoking Wood Best Practices
- Pizza Oven Wood Best Practices
- Where to Find the Best Cooking Wood
- How to Order Cooking Wood for Your Home or Restaurant
- Identifying the Best Restaurant Firewood
- Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 1: Identifying the Best Cooking Wood
Like any aspiring wood-fired chef, you want to cook with the best ingredients. So, your grocery list must include gourmet-quality meats, cheeses, bread and cooking wood.
Yes, you heard that last part right. The wood you cook over is just as important as the food you cook, if not more so. The best wood-fired chefs understand this, which is why they don’t let just any old logs enter their grills, smokers or ovens.
Instead, they are much more particular about the wood they use. It must exceed certain standards for it to be considered gourmet-quality wood.
Here are the qualities they value most when using wood for cooking:
- Low Moisture Content – The best cooking wood contains less than 20% moisture. Anything higher than that, and the wood doesn’t perform nearly as well.
- No Insects, Mold, Pesticides or Fungus – These unwelcome guests often invade firewood. But when making the finest cuisine, chefs hold their cooking wood to a higher standard.
- High Density – The denser the wood, the hotter and more powerful the flames for more thorough cooking.
- Minimal Sap and Resin – Wood species that contain too much sap and resin often make the food taste sour.
- Properly Sized – The best wood-fired chefs strategically size their wood to produce the exact amount of heat they need.
The thought of meeting these exacting standards may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! The good news is you can exceed these requirements by purchasing wood with the following qualities:
- Heat-treated and kiln-dried
- Hardwood species
- Optimally sized to fit in your smoker, grill or pizza oven
In the next four chapters, we’ll discuss the importance of each of these qualities and how to ensure your wood checks off all the boxes.
Chapter 2: Why Kiln-Dried Cooking Wood is Essential
Cooking with wood is only worth it if you enjoy the entire process. Sure, the delicious result is great, but can you really enjoy it if you wore yourself out struggling with the wood to get there?
No, you want wood that makes the whole cooking process as easy and stress-free as possible. That’s why you need heat-treated and kiln-dried cooking wood.
This type of wood fulfills two of the requirements we listed in chapter one:
- Low moisture content
- No insects, mold, pesticides or fungus
Let’s take a closer look at how kiln-dried wood is consistently this good:
How Heat-Treating and Kiln-Drying Works
The production technique for this wood ensures it will always be of the highest quality since it’s a controlled process. Here’s how it works:
- Workers place split wood in a massive kiln.
- The kiln heats the wood at a high temperature for an extended amount of time.
- The wood then dries quickly inside the kiln.
- Workers remove the wood from the kiln and check to ensure it contains less than 20% moisture.
For this heat-treating and kiln-drying process to be successful, the kiln must heat the wood to at least 140°F for at least one hour. This amount of prolonged exposure is enough to kill off all insects, mold, pesticides and fungus lurking in the wood.
However, the best cooking wood producers go beyond these minimum requirements to ensure the wood is in the best possible condition for burning. For example, at Lumberjacks, we leave our wood in the kiln for 48 hours at over 260°F. We’ve found these amounts are optimal for getting the wood below 20% moisture every time.
Why Kiln-Dried Cooking Wood is the Best
This cooking wood production method is vastly superior to the standard way of drying wood. The regular technique is called seasoning and involves leaving the wood outside until it’s dry enough to burn.
The main problem with seasoning is it takes multiple months to dry the wood. And even after all that time, the wood rarely comes out below the 20% moisture threshold for optimal performance. Instead, it usually ends up in the 20-30% range.
As a result, seasoned cooking wood is more difficult to light than kiln-dried wood. It also doesn’t burn as hot and typically fizzles out more quickly. And worst of all, the excess moisture can create a lot of dirty smoke, making your food taste sour. In contrast, kiln-dried cooking wood produces minimal clean smoke for the ideal subtle, smoky taste.
All of this, and we didn’t even mention that seasoning does nothing to purify the wood from bugs, mold and fungus.
So, clearly, kiln-dried cooking wood is the best option for an optimal cooking experience.
Chapter 3: Reasons to Choose Hardwood Over Softwood
Another factor that directly influences how your cooking wood will perform is the species you use.
Wood aficionados group all wood species into two main categories: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood trees are those that lose their leaves in the summer. These include oaks, hickories and maples. Softwood trees are evergreen trees like pines, spruces and cedars.
Hardwood species are superior for cooking wood because they’re generally denser and contain less sap and resin than softwood species.
Higher-density hardwood gives the fire more substance to burn. As a result, the wood produces high heat for a prolonged amount of time. Meanwhile, low-density softwood species produce underwhelming heat and fizzle quickly.
The high sap and resin content of softwood also makes it liable to produce a lot of smoke. And while a lot of smoke may sound good for smoking a brisket, this isn’t the type of smoke you want in your smoker! Instead, the smoke from the sap and resin produces an unpleasant flavor. In contrast, most hardwood species create a moderate quantity of clean smoke for the right amount of subtle flavor (especially if the wood is kiln-dried).
Of course, there are many different types of hardwood available for cooking, some of them better than others. So, next, we’ll review the best of the best hardwood species for cooking.
Chapter 4: The Best Hardwood Species for Cooking
Many hardwood species will enhance the taste of your food while also providing the high heat necessary for thorough cooking. But obviously, you can’t use all of them at the same time. Nor would you want to because it probably wouldn’t taste too good!
Instead, you must choose wisely to select the species that will perfectly complement the food you’re cooking. This is a safer bet with some types of hardwood than others.
For example, mesquite is a hardwood that produces an incredibly potent flavor, which is ideal for barbequing dark meat. However, because its smoke is so powerful, it’s easy to overdo it with mesquite. So, you may want to avoid this type of wood at first if you’re just getting started with wood-fired cooking.
This begs the question: Which hardwood species are best for novice wood-fired chefs? We’ve put together a list of a few reliable woods that we recommend trying:
Oak is the most versatile and beloved cooking wood of all. It produces a ton of heat—averaging around 29 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) per cord—without overpowering the flavor of what it cooks. Instead, its smoke adds a moderate amount of subtle, smoky flavor for that classic wood-fired taste.
The best thing about oak is you can cook just about anything with it, including pizza, seafood, vegetables and virtually all meats. So, if you’re looking for the safest wood for your first time smoking meat or wood-firing pizza, we recommend trying oak.
A more flavorful cooking wood than oak is hickory. Like oak, it generates an awesome heat output of 28 million BTUs per cord. However, the taste it creates is much more noticeable and potent. People often say hickory smoke has a hearty and savory flavor, similar to bacon. Because of this, hickory is one of the most popular choices for smoking or grilling meat.
Since it’s more flavorful than oak, hickory can be a bit more challenging to use. The powerful smoke it produces can overpower the food you’re cooking if you use too much. So, remember that a little goes a long way when it comes to hickory. You may want to consider mixing it with a more neutrally flavored wood like oak to balance it out.
Whereas oak and hickory are great choices for a smoky flavor, cherry is for those of us who like a little fruity sweetness with our smoke.
Cherry comes harvested from cherry trees and has the same pinkish-reddish hue as the fruit it produces. The wood burns with a moderate amount of heat at about 20 million BTUs per cord and adds a hint of cherry taste and color to whatever it cooks.
We recommend trying cherry with a variety of different meats, especially turkey, ham, lamb and wild game. You also can’t go wrong adding some cherry to your pizza oven for a smoky sweet pie!
Apple is another hardwood that produces smoke with a hint of fruity flavor. It has a higher heat output than cherry at 27 million BTUs per cord and is an excellent choice for smoking pork, poultry, cheese and ribs. Apple also mixes well with oak or hickory for a mix of smoky and sweet flavors.
One final hardwood we love is sugar maple wood. Like cherry and apple, sugar maple produces a subtly sweet flavor, but instead of fruit, the smoke tastes faintly of maple syrup!
Sugar maple goes great with a variety of meats, vegetables and cheeses. It also mixes well with any of the other types of wood listed above.
Here at Lumberjacks, we sell kiln-dried oak, hickory, cherry and apple cooking wood. We don’t have sugar maple, but our friends at Hot Box Cooking Wood do! So, we recommend checking out their selection here.
Chapter 5: Cooking Wood Sizes—Everything You Need to Know
Don’t overlook size when it comes to selecting the best cooking wood. Choosing the wrong size can make the cooking experience a lot more difficult and a lot less enjoyable. Don’t believe us? Just wait until you try cramming logs that are too big into your smoker and have to go find your axe to make them fit!
So, how do you avoid this cruel and unusual fate? The key is to acquaint yourself with the different sizes of cooking wood available and the best uses for each.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common sizes and what you need to know about them.
The largest type of cooking wood is logs that measure between 12-24 inches in length. Most firewood sellers will standardize the length of their cooking wood at somewhere within this range. For example, at Lumberjacks, our full-size logs are always 16 inches long.
Logs of this length are ideal for large offset smokers, grills, fire pits and backyard pizza ovens. Full-size kiln-dried hardwood logs produce the ideal amount of heat and smoke to cook food in these bigger appliances.
Of course, not everyone has a large smoker, grill or pizza oven. Many wood-fired chefs prefer smaller offset smokers, wood-fired grills and portable pizza ovens for their lower price and compact convenience. In this case, extra-split wood is a much better fit than full-size logs.
Extra-split wood has been cut down to a compact 6-8-inch length and 1-2-inch diameter. Logs of this size slide right into the smaller openings of compact wood-fueled cookers and provide the right amount of heat and smokiness for effective cooking.
Looking for tiny wood for your tiny oven? Our friends at Hot Box Cooking Wood have you covered! You can view their full selection of extra-split cooking wood here.
Another popular type of cooking wood is wood chunks. These compact cubes of wood typically measure between 1-4-inches in diameter and are optimal for charcoal grills, kamado-style smokers and charcoal-fired pizza ovens.
Wood chunks are a good choice if you want to add smokiness to your smoker or grill. However, they aren’t as ideal as full-size logs or extra-split wood for adding heat.
Pellets, Sawdust and Wood Chips
You’ve probably heard of pellets, sawdust and wood chips as alternative wood fuel sources for smokers and grills. While these options are appealing for their high availability and low price, we recommend avoiding them for a couple of reasons.
First, these smaller forms of cooking wood may light up and smoke quickly, but they rarely provide the long-term smoke and heat you need for effective cooking. For example, if you’re looking to smoke a huge pork shoulder for more than four hours, full-size or extra-split wood will give you the thorough cooking and richer flavor you’re looking for. Pellets, sawdust and wood chips can’t match solid pieces of dense hardwood.
Chapter 6: The Different Uses of Cooking Wood—An Introduction
Now that you understand what makes good cooking wood, you can start using it! The question is, which type of wood-fired cooking will you try? Let’s explore some options.
There are four main ways to use wood for cooking:
- Making wood-fired pizzas
Some of these methods are more challenging than others. Grilling is probably the easiest and most widely practiced form of wood-fired cooking. Barbecuing and smoking are also popular but require more skill and determination to get right. Meanwhile, creating wood-fired pizzas is a growing hobby, as many high-quality portable pizza ovens have recently become available to the public.
Let’s define each of these methods to give you a better idea of what they entail.
Grilling: Cooking Quickly Over High Heat
Of all the wood-fired cooking methods, grilling is the most straightforward. It involves cooking food directly above hot flames for a short period of time. The typical temperature to shoot for when grilling is above 200°F, and the timeframe usually ranges from 20 minutes to an hour at most, depending on what you’re grilling.
Grilling is the best choice for small pieces of meat, like burgers, chicken breasts, sausages or steaks, as well as fruits and vegetables. Grill lovers swear by the technique for how juicy and flavorful it makes meat when done right.
Barbecuing: Indirect Cooking with Extended Moderate Heat
Many people use the terms barbecuing and grilling interchangeably, but these techniques aren’t the same. The main difference between grilling and barbecuing is that grilling involves cooking meat directly over the heat source, while barbecuing requires placing the meat adjacent to the flames.
This technique is ideal for bigger cuts of meat like pork shoulders, beef briskets and ribs. You couldn’t quickly grill these large slabs of meat because they wouldn’t cook all the way through. Instead, the meat needs to be exposed to indirect heat for several hours to cook all the way through. Typically, this requires temperatures below 200°F, depending on what you’re cooking.
People love barbecuing with wood because of the smokiness and soft texture it gives to the meat when done properly.
Smoking: Long-Term Exposure to Flavorful Smoke
Smoking is the most challenging form of wood-fired cooking and arguably the most rewarding. Like barbecuing, it involves slowly cooking the meat away from the heat source. However, smoking differs from barbecuing because it requires more time and precision to achieve that perfect smoky flavor.
If done right, smoking with wood generates some of the smokiest and most succulent meat possible. The key is to keep a close eye on the temperature in your smoker and ensure the meat stays moist. We’ll discuss how to do this in more detail below.
Making Wood-Fired Pizzas: Rotating for Crispy, Delicious Results
Cooking in a wood-fired pizza oven is a fun way to make restaurant-quality pizza in the comfort of your own backyard. Flames generated by kiln-dried cooking wood imbue the pizza with a crispness and smoky-sweet flavor that you can’t achieve with a conventional oven. The key is to rotate your pie frequently in the oven for even cooking and not let it get too close to the wood. We will discuss these best practices below.
Chapter 7: Grilling Wood Best Practices
So, you want to try your hand at wood-fired grilling. Great! We’re here to help with some best practices to get you started.
Successful grilling with wood begins with the right equipment. We’ve already established that you need properly sized kiln-dried hardwood to cook with, but it’s also essential to have the right grill.
Most standard charcoal grills work for cooking with wood. However, if you’re serious about becoming a grill master, we recommend getting a grill specifically designed for wood-fired cooking, such as a Santa Maria Grill.
Santa Maria Grills are especially great for cooking with wood because they come with an adjustable grill surface. By turning a crank, you can raise or lower the surface to control the distance of the food you’re grilling from the flames.
That brings us to the most important best practice for using grilling wood: controlling the heat. Since it involves cooking directly above flames, grilling comes with a high risk of burning your meat. So, we recommend taking the following precautions to avoid this:
- Build your fire on one side of the grill and leave the other side empty. This cool side of the grill will be a spot you can move your meat if you’re concerned it’s getting too hot too quickly.
- Don’t start grilling too soon after creating your fire. Instead, let the wood burn down a little so that the fire won’t consume the meat when you start grilling.
Once you have a good fire going, you can start grilling your meat. Be sure to rotate it frequently for even cooking and use a meat thermometer to check that the meat is fully cooked.
Chapter 8: BBQ Wood Best Practices
Barbecuing a large piece of meat like a pork butt or brisket may seem daunting. But don’t let it overwhelm you! You can get the delicious results you’re looking for by using great BBQ wood and following these best practices.
First, make sure you’re using the ideal type of grill or smoker for barbecuing. You can barbecue on most standard charcoal grills, but there must be enough space in the grill for the meat to sit away from the flame. So, smaller grills might not be ideal for barbecuing.
A more ideal option is a larger offset smoker or BBQ grill. These types will give your meat the space it needs to breathe in that sweet wood smoke as it slowly cooks.
Whatever grill or smoker you choose, make sure it has a thermometer on it so that you can monitor the temperature as you barbecue. It’s crucial to maintain a consistent moderate heat within your grill or smoker so that you don’t heat the meat too fast and ruin it. So, check the temperature regularly and add more wood when it starts to get too low.
Another important best practice is to keep the lid of your grill or smoker closed as much as possible. If you open it too much, the smoke from the wood will escape and you’ll lose flavor while drying out your meat. But by patiently letting the smoke do its thing for multiple hours, you’ll achieve the awesome BBQ flavor you’re looking for!
Chapter 9: Smoking Wood Best Practices
The challenge of smoking meat with wood is like juggling. You must keep several balls in the air throughout the process to achieve applause-worthy results. The main balls to focus on catching are:
- Temperature consistency
- Smoke production
- Meat moisture
- Time management
Here’s how to effectively manage all of these as you smoke your meat:
The temperature of your smoker needs to stay consistently low from start to finish. So, make sure you have a reliable thermometer to keep an eye on how warm things are getting in there.
Start a fire with your wood in your smoke box and let its temperature reach the ideal level before adding your meat. As the meat smokes, keep an eye on the temperature and add a log once it starts to dip too low. The key is to keep it at an ideal range the whole time.
It’s also important to regularly add new wood and stir the coals with a poker to keep generating smoke in your smoker. The meat must be surrounded by moving smoke to suck in the flavor.
Periodically check on the meat to ensure it’s not getting too dry. Ways to combat this include marinating the meat beforehand, spraying it with water during and keeping your smoker’s water tray filled.
How long you should smoke your meat will depend on what type of meat you’re smoking. Some meats only take a few hours, while others require a day or more. The key is patience, consistency and persistence throughout the cooking time. Remember, smoking meat is a marathon, not a sprint.
Chapter 10: Pizza Oven Wood Best Practices
Making a great wood-fired pizza is easy with quality pizza oven wood and the right pizza oven. If you don’t have an oven yet, we recommend checking out some of the amazing models available from top brands like Ooni, Bertello, Alfa, Cru, Gozney Roccbox or Solo Stove.
Once you have your oven and have put together the pie you’d like to cook, the next step is to get a fire going. Make sure the oven’s chimney is uncovered and the vent is open before you start the fire.
If you have a full-sized oven, we recommend lighting 4-6 pieces of wood in the front and center of your oven and then moving them to the back. Smaller ovens have a tray in the back where you can add a few pieces of extra-split wood and light them.
Once the fire is lit, you will have to wait for the oven to get hot enough to add your pizza. Most ovens come with a built-in thermometer to do this, but you should also have another thermometer to double-check the temperature, just in case.
Once your oven is ready, slide your pizza into the oven and position it so that it’s about 6 inches away from the fire. Anything closer than this, and you risk burning your pie. You will then need to monitor your pizza and rotate it a little bit every 20-30 seconds for even cooking.
The length of time it takes to fully cook your pizza will depend on its size and thickness. A good indicator that it’s been cooked thoroughly is when the crust has a dark golden-brown color.
Chapter 11: Where to Find the Best Cooking Wood
It’s great to know what makes good wood fuel and the best practices for cooking with wood. But what good is all this knowledge if you can’t get the quality cooking wood you need?
Unfortunately, many firewood suppliers will try to scam you with subpar products. So, you must be vigilant and do your research to find where to buy quality cooking wood.
As a reminder, the good stuff we’re referring to is kiln-dried hardwood that has been split to an ideal size for your pizza oven, grill or smoker.
One obvious way to identify these companies is by asking them point blank about their firewood production process. You could also ask if you can come and watch them produce their wood. The most trustworthy companies will have no problem with you peeking under the hood.
But beyond investigating the company, we also recommend seeing what previous customers thought of its wood. You can do this in a couple of ways. One is to read reviews the company has received on sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp. Pay especially close attention to the way these customers describe how the wood performed. If the testimonials seem mostly positive, then you probably have a dependable cooking wood supplier on your hands.
We also recommend talking to past customers in person. See if anyone you know has used the company’s cooking wood in the past. You might even find someone who has some of the wood currently and can show you how it performs. If you don’t know anyone who’s used the company’s wood, you can always ask the company for references.
Once you’ve found a company that passes these tests with flying colors, you’ll be ready to order your cooking wood.
Chapter 12: How to Order Cooking Wood for Your Home or Restaurant
Ordering cooking wood can be tricky for a couple of reasons:
- It’s not always clear how much you should order.
- You may not know how to stack and store the wood once you get it.
In this chapter, we’ll help you resolve both of those issues to get you on your way to cooking with wood.
How Much Cooking Wood to Order for Your Home
How much wood should you order for backyard grilling season? To answer this question, we must take a quick detour into understanding firewood measurements.
Like firewood, quantities of cooking wood are typically measured in fractions of cords. A cord of wood measures 4 feet high by 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep, for a total volume of 128 cubic feet. That’s a lot of wood! It’s likely enough to get you through a summer of cooking with wood, depending on how often you break out your smoker or pizza oven.
If you don’t grill very often, then you may want to order a smaller amount of wood. Many companies sell their wood by the face cord, which is one row of wood measuring 4 feet high by 8 feet wide. The depth of this row depends on how long the company cuts its wood, which is typically somewhere between 12-18 inches. Most firewood suppliers let you order quarter- or half-face cords if you need an even smaller amount of wood.
The smallest amount of cooking wood most places offer is a bundle, which usually contains 5-7 pieces of wood. You may want to go this route if you’ll be cooking one time for a small gathering. However, if you know you’ll be cooking out frequently, ordering in bulk will likely be the more economical choice.
How Much Cooking Wood for a Restaurant
Purchasing kiln-dried cooking wood for your restaurant is an excellent decision. It will make all the difference for the taste of your wood-fired creations and help put your restaurant on the map!
But how much cooking wood should restaurant owners purchase? In this case, even a full cord of wood will likely not be enough to keep up with the demands of your customers. So, instead, we recommend finding a company that sells bulk firewood orders by the pallet. This way, you can ensure you’re well-stocked with good wood for when the inevitable dinner rush comes.
Stacking and Storing Your Cooking Wood Order
The best cooking wood suppliers will deliver the wood right to your home or restaurant. But what do you do with all that wood when it arrives? The key is to preserve the wood’s pristine kiln-dried state so that it’s always ready to burn when you need it.
Accomplishing this starts with practicing proper storage techniques. Kiln-dried cooking wood needs room to breathe to maintain its low moisture content. So, be sure to stack it in a spot with plenty of airflow. This can be indoors or outdoors. However, if you choose to store it outdoors, you’ll want a cover to shield it from the rain, such as a loosely fitted tarp or a log store.
You’ll also want to stack the wood loosely so that there is space for airflow between the pieces. Doing this will make it possible for the wood to dry out in case any moisture happens to creep in.
By following these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to cooking wood mastery!
Chapter 13: Identifying the Best Restaurant Firewood
Finding the best restaurant firewood requires a bit of effort. You want to invest in an effective option for which your money will go a long way. Here are some details regarding how to buy what’s best for your business.
Why should I order kiln-dried cooking wood for my restaurant?
As you browse cooking wood, don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Wood-fired cooking won’t make your menu any better if you settle for wood that spreads insects and fungus onto the food.
Even if cheap firewood doesn’t contain any major contaminants, it may still undercook your food. The wrong wood can fizzle out more quickly or be full of resin that makes dishes taste sour.
With our kiln-dried hardwood, you’ll earn more positive press and attract more visitors. The bottom line is that using firewood for the occasional event won’t do you any favors unless you’re willing to do it right.
How can cooking wood bring more flavor to my restaurant’s menu?
Of course, our kiln-dried hardwood can help you keep your birds cooked through without burning your steaks, but the flavor each wood brings makes a noticeable difference. Your patrons won’t have to be sommeliers or food critics to appreciate the smokiness of your new dishes.
Not only is our selection of apple, cherry, hickory and oak effective for red and white meats, but apart from hickory, these choices are beginner friendly. The densest hardwoods are perfect for meticulous temperature control even among the thickest cuts of the cow, while fruitwoods keep exorbitantly high heat from burning chicken and fish.
Furthermore, woods that cook a certain dish the best often flavor that dish the best. Hickory can bring vague bacon-y notes to steak, and fruity sweetness is often the perfect accompaniment to the driest birds. After all, Americans have been combining turkey with cranberry sauce for hundreds of years.
Chapter 14: Frequently Asked Questions
Before we conclude our guide, we wanted to answer some of the most common questions customers ask us about cooking with wood. We hope you find these insights helpful for your grilling and smoking escapades!
What type of wood is best for cooking?
The best types of cooking wood are kiln-dried hardwood species, such as oak, hickory, cherry, apple or sugar maple. These hardwoods produce hot burns with clean, flavorful smoke for delicious results. All cooking wood should also be kiln-dried because it’s the best process for getting the wood to optimal dryness and purifying it from invasive pests and mold.
Can you use any type of wood to cook?
You can use any type of wood, but that doesn’t mean you should. After all, certain types of wood are bad for cooking. For example, softwood species like pine and cedar produce a lot of dirty smoke that will make your food taste sour. And traditionally seasoned firewood doesn’t burn nearly as well as kiln-dried firewood. You should also avoid cooking with pressure-treated wood because they contain chemicals that will make you sick.
At what temperature does wood start to smoke?
Wood usually starts to smoke between 570-750°F. The exact temperature will depend on what species it is. Fruitwoods like cherry and apple will typically smoke faster than denser hardwoods like hickory and oak.
How often do you add wood chunks to your smoker?
The key to great meat smoking is to keep the temperature consistent. So, you should add wood to your smoker as often as is necessary to maintain the temperature. Sometimes this can be every 60-90 minutes. In other instances, you can go multiple hours before you need to add more wood. What’s most important is to keep an eye on the temperature so that you can add more wood when necessary.
What is the best wood for smoking turkey?
Speaking of whom, kiln-dried cherry wood will infuse your bird with the perfect amount of smokiness and a hint of fruity flavor. Cherry also adds a handsome maroon color to turkey and smells delicious while cooking.
What is the best wood for smoking chicken?
Kiln-dried apple wood produces a mouthwatering sweet smokiness to chicken that simply can’t be beaten. We also recommend hickory if you want a savory barbeque flavor.
What is the best wood for smoking ribs?
Kiln-dried hickory wood supplies a classic Texas barbecue flavor that is perfect for a rack of ribs.
What size of restaurant firewood should I order for my restaurant?
In terms of the precise amounts we offer, we present 50-pound bags of cooking wood to restaurant owners who’re testing the waters with one-time events and full pallets to restaurant owners who’re in it for the long haul.
Again, we recommend our pallets for more regular cooking, but our 50-pound bags can be a more economical choice with lower risks. At the standard length of 16 inches, our kiln-dried cooking wood has been helpful to restaurants across Chicagoland, but please reach out to our sister company if you need something small enough for a pizza oven.
How can I order firewood for restaurants?
Give us a call or fill our online form to get started on an order. After processing what you want, we need 2-3 days to deliver. If you’re close enough, we may be able to deliver your order the same day.
Please provide specific instructions about how to deliver the wood. Should we leave it in the back? If not, where? The more information you provide, the more discreetly and quickly we can drop everything off.
You’re Ready to Get Cooking!
We hope this guide has helped you prepare for and get excited about cooking with wood! Remember, properly sized kiln-dried hardwood is the ideal choice for all your grilling, smoking, barbecuing and wood-fired pizza-making needs!
Looking for a trustworthy cooking wood supplier? At Lumberjacks, we produce full-sized kiln-dried wood in many premium hardwood species, including oak, hickory, apple and cherry. You can order yours today and get it delivered anywhere in the greater Chicago region. You can also visit one of our locations in Woodstock, IL, or Lake in the Hills, IL, to check out our wood for yourself.
Please call (815) 337-1451 or visit our cooking wood page at the link below to place your order!
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in December 2022 and updated in March 2023.