Oak wood is a hardwood and as such, it offers a density and lack of moisture not found in softwoods. That density and dryness are what makes it sought after for construction. Because it is so dense and dry, it is also perfect for smoking meats. The fact that it has less resin allows it to produce a cleaner, dryer smoke when compared to softwoods like pine wood. Pine and other softwoods can cause creosote to build up on meat, giving it a bad taste. In addition, the smoke from softwoods may contain carcinogens.
Oak is one of the main woods used in various regional barbecue styles including barbecue from the Carolinas, Kentucky, and California.
Oak wood provides a smoky flavor and a longer burn time, perfect for meats that need a little extra time in the smoker. These chips work with all types of smokers and smoker boxes.
Table of Contents
- Which tree do oak wood chips come from?
- Oak wood chip flavor—how does it affect the taste of foods? How is it unique?
- Which foods does the oak wood smoke flavor complement best?
- How do red and white oak wood chips differ?
- How do you use oak wood smoking chips?
- Must-read related posts
Which tree do oak wood chips come from?
Oak wood chips for smoking can be made using any of the different oak species available. There are more than 600 different species of oak in the world. Red and white oaks are among the popular, easy-to-find options. White oak trees can be found throughout North America and Europe, but red oaks are native to the US. The flavor red oak wood gives is said to be among the more robust of the oak varieties.
Oak wood chip flavor—how does it affect the taste of foods? How is it unique?
The flavor of oak wood chips varies between a medium and a strong smoky flavor. It offers a more neutral, less distinctive smoke flavor when compared to woods like hickory and mesquite.
Both hickory and mesquite are easily identified and differentiated from each other. Oak wood smoke is simply smoky. It is also said to have less of an aftertaste when compared to other smoking woods.
Which foods does the oak wood smoke flavor complement best?
Like hickory, the smoke from oak wood chips is considered better for stronger tasting meats like pork and lamb; however, it is versatile enough to be used on poultry and fish as well. Post oak is sometimes used in Texas for smoking brisket. Because oak is very hard and can burn for a long time, chunks of it are often used with larger cuts of meat that will be on the smoker for several hours.
The fact that oak does not have the strong, identifiable notes that other smoking woods produce means that it is ideal for mixing with those other woods. Blending it with mesquite can tone down that wood’s overpowering notes.
How do red and white oak wood chips differ?
Wood chips are not ideal for very long smoking times since chips burn up quickly no matter what type of wood is being used. However, you should still be able to get a longer burning time with white oak wood chips as opposed to red since it is the harder of the two woods. Use white oak chips for dark meat chicken and burgers, which both require moderately long cooking times.
Red oak wood chips can be used on items that will cook very quickly like chicken breast and fish.
How do you use oak wood smoking chips?
As with any smoking wood, you can simply place the oak wood chips in a smoker box or throw them on coals that are at the right temperature and covered with ash. Soaking oak chips is optional and most barbecue experts believe that it offers no benefit.
Must-read related posts
- Smoker Wood Chips Guide: Learn all about other types of wood chips and how best to use them.
- Smoker Pellets Vs. Wood Chips – How Do They Compare? Two ways to smoke your foods. How are they similar and different?
- Five Ingredients That Add Smoky Flavor To Your Food: There are ways to add smokiness without the literal smoke!