Because of its mildly sweet aroma, pecan smoking wood is one of the most popular wood chip choices in the barbecue world. Learn how to use it, as well as our top picks for the best wood that you can to smoke with pecan wood chips on your party.
If you enjoy BBQ, one of the most important decisions you’ll make when smoking your next meal is which type of wood to use. We’re frequently asked what the best smoking woods are, and pecan is undoubtedly one of our favorites.
Pecan is a mild fruitwood with a delightfully sweet aroma that doesn’t overpower the show’s main attraction: your meat. It goes well with a variety of meats, such as chicken and pork ribs.
Let’s go over everything you need to know about this amazing smoking wood, as well as our suggestions for how to use it and where to get it.
What is Pecan Wood?
Pecan is a versatile hickory species native to North America’s southern regions, as well as Mexico. It has characteristics that are similar to those found in other types of hardwoods used for grilling. It differs from oak and maple in that it is not as dense. This means that the pecan flavor will shine through without being overpowering in your dishes.
Pecan wood chips are more difficult to come by than other fruitwoods such as apple or cherry, but the effort is well worth it.
Pecan has the advantage of allowing you to smoke your meat hot and long without overpowering it. Its delicate fruity and nutty aromas make it an excellent choice for smoking chicken, turkey, and most fish.
Best Meats to Smoke with Pecan Wood
Pecan’s rich and nutty flavor means it’s better suited to some meats over others. Here are some of our favorite foods to pair it with.
- Pork butt
This is a good place to start if you’re new to grilling. Because there’s so much fat and connective tissue to break down, smoked pork butt (also known as Boston Butt) is a favorite cut of meat for low and slow cooking. It’s a forgiving cut for beginners, and its high fat content is ideal for smoked pulled pork. Pecan will add sweetness to the flavor profile in any way you serve it, but you may need to use another strong hardwood like oak or hickory to help it along.
Pecan wood chips is a delicious complement to chicken, especially when blended with applewood or a touch of hickory. Barbecue smoked chicken is incredibly tender, providing the perfect canvas on which pecan to do its work. Even in lean cuts like chicken breast, a handful of pecan chips in the mix can do wonders by adding a touch of flavor without too much smoke or bitterness.
- Beef brisket
This cut of beef is the king of barbecue joints. Cook it slowly and low for a long time to create a succulent masterpiece that can be sliced thin or left in large pieces depending on your preference. Pecan wood chips provides great depth in smoked brisket, especially when mixed with oak.
This classic holiday meat can easily dry out when smoked, but with a little bit of help from a good brine and wood it can come out delicious and tender.
- Pork spare ribs
Pork ribs naturally pair with sweet fruitwoods. Pecan wood chips is the perfect companion to meaty and fatty short rib cuts. Try out smoked St Louis-style ribs to see just why.
Should I Soak My Wood Chips?
In a nutshell, no. There’s some heated debate about this, but I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t do much and, in fact, can obstruct your smoke’s progress.
Soaking chips for an hour before smoking, according to proponents, can help ensure more even smoke distribution.
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My argument is that even when soaked for hours, pecan wood chips don’t absorb much water. What it absorbs instead are steams, not smokes, so the effect you’re looking for isn’t achieved. In fact, adding water vapor or steam to your smoker’s coals (if you’re using a charcoal smoker) can cool them, causing temperature fluctuations.