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Smoking with wood is what gives barbecue its unique flavor. While there are many different types of woods that can be used to produce different flavors, pecan wood has a sweet and nutty flavor that suits poultry particularly well. You don’t need to stop there however, as beef, pork, and nuts can all benefit from the smoky flavors of pecan wood.

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What Is Pecan Wood?

Pecan wood is a type of hickory wood that is known for its rich, buttery, edible nuts. Pecan wood is a hardwood that is great for building furniture but is also chopped into chunks and chips for smoking meat. The flavor of pecan wood is stronger than other fruit woods, but mild flavor than hickory and mesquite. Learn how to smoke with mesquite wood in our guide here.

What Are the Characteristics of Pecan Wood?

Pecan wood has a sweet, nutty, and rich flavor, similar to hickory, which is great for poultry. Pecan wood is also strong enough to stand up to beef, pork, and game meats as well. The smoke wood comes in both chips and chunks, with the difference being that chips burn faster than chunks. If you are cooking chicken pieces for a short amount of time, you can use wood chips, but if you are cooking brisket and anticipate a cooking time of an hour or more, go with using wood chunks.

How to Smoke With Pecan Wood

When smoking with pecan wood, first decide if you’re using chips or chunks. Chips smoke quickly and are easy to work with, but if you’re cooking a larger piece of meat low and slow, then chunks are the way to go. To slow down the burn of the wood, soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes and 30 minutes for chunks before placing them over hot coals.

  • Charcoal grill: If you’re using a charcoal grill, heat coals with a charcoal starter. Then, pour the coals into your grill and place wood directly onto the hot coals. For longer smokes, set up a fuse burn with charcoal and wood chips or chunks.
  • Gas or electric grill: For a gas or electric grill, place wood chips or chunks in a foil pack or smokebox and place over direct heat. Once the wood begins smoking, move them to the cooler side of the grill and add your food.
  • Smoker grills (offset barrel smokers, horizontal smokers, or pipe smokers): Allow the most control over the smoking process. These grills are made for low temperatures, gentle cooking that will leave your ribs falling off the bone. Begin by lighting coals in a starter, open the intake and chimney baffles, and add the hot coals into the firebox. Add wood chips or chunks to the coals. Learn more about cooking with smokers in our guide here.

7 Foods to Smoke With Pecan Wood

  1. Smoked chicken: Whole chicken smoked over low heat with pecan wood results in flavorful, tender meat that can be served with barbecue sauce.
  2. Smoked turkey: For a show-stopping Thanksgiving dinner, try smoking a whole turkey with pecan wood to give it a sweet flavor.
  3. Smoked bbq brisket: Brisket is one of the eight main (or primal) cuts of beef. Over the course of a 12-hour cook, the fat will render and connective tissue will break down, making brisket an optimal choice for extended smoking. Find our comprehensive guide to smoking brisket here.
  4. Smoke Spare ribs: Cooking spare ribs falls between pork butt and brisket in terms of difficulty. They spend the least amount of time in the smoker and will cook at a consistent temperature throughout. However, because they’re a comparatively thin cut of meat, there isn’t as much margin for error. Spare ribs also need a certain amount of trimming during prep—more than pork butt, but not as much as brisket. Find our smoked ribs recipe here.
  5. Smoked ham: The ultimate holiday ham is coated in a spice rub, smoked over low heat, then brushed with brown sugar and maple glaze.
  6. Smoked Pork butt: Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is a cut from the upper portion of a pig’s front shoulder. It’s a relatively inexpensive and forgiving hunk of meat that you’ll most often see served as pulled pork in barbecue restaurants. The muscle has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down through slow cooking, but it’s also extremely fatty, so it’s less prone to drying out, even at higher temperatures. The relatively forgiving nature of the cut and consistent cooking temperature makes this a great cook for beginners or anyone who wants to practice their fire-maintenance skills. Find our smoked pork butt recipe here.
  7. Smoked nuts: Crunchy salted nuts take naturally to smoke flavor. Season the nuts with a spice mixture and olive oil, and smoke in a baking pan for 30 minutes.