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Pellet Smoker Wood Blends

So, just got a Camp Chef Smoke Pro. Setting it up and doing a burn-in hopefully on Friday, and some pork on Saturday. Since it'll be used regularly for family gatherings (20+ people), I started with three 20lb bags of pellets (camp chef 100% alder, lumber jack 100% cherry, and lumber jack 100% hickory).

2 questions:
1. Do these 3 pellets cover almost all types of meats, and if not, what wood type(s) missing?
2. Any recommended changes to my proposed blends?
Beef: 50% hickory, 25% cherry, 25% alder.
Pork/chicken: 50% cherry, 25% hickory, 25% alder.
Turkey: 50% alder, 25% hickory, 25% cherry.
Fish: 75% alder, 25% cherry.

Any input is appreciated.
Thank you
 

simon1

Self Ignored by Vista
Looks like a good mix to me, but I've never smoked fish or used alder. Last brisket I did I used about 50% mesquite and 50% post oak and it had more of a smoky flavor than straight post oak and SWMBO said it was a bit too smoky for her, but sister-in-law said it was perfect. I thought it was about right. Her late husband grew up in south Texas and had been smoking with mesquite for decades. I usually do beef with straight post oak or about 60% post oak and 40% hickory. For birds I usually use about 70% cherry or apple and maybe 30% post oak.

It's one of those YMMV things depending on what you and the people you are feeding like. And I've never used a pellet smoker, just a side firebox stick burner.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
Contributor
I don't see any reason to use alder with beef. It'll just disappear. Consider substituting oak or pecan. Personally, I love mesquite with beef, but it is a distinct flavor, and some find it too strong. Same with the pork and especially with the chicken, although that may be a matter of your taste.

50% cherry sounds like a lot for just about anything. It can be strong, and it certainly puts a lot of dark color on the meat. I'd probably bring that back down to 25% for pork and maybe a little lower for chicken. Again, I'd look at adding some oak or pecan into that mix. Apple also is great with both pork and chicken, with a milder flavor than cherry, but still very complimentary.

I'd alter that alder/cherry ratio depending on the fish you're smoking. Again, I wouldn't want the cherry to overwhelm the fish. Something rich and oily (like salmon or mackerel) can take more, but whiter fish can get overwhelmed.

Personally, I like oak for my "base" wood. It burns very well and consistently (which still is important for pellet cooker), and it gives a clean smoke flavor. For my offset stick burner, I use about 50% oak for anything and then vary the rest according to what I'm cooking. I'll mix in some combination of pecan, mesquite, and maybe hickory, apple, cherry, or some other fruit wood.

The Lumber Jack hickory, pecan, and mesquite blends fit right in with my style, as they are 50% oak and 50% the other wood. Their oak-hickory-cherry blend also is fantastic.
 
I don't see any reason to use alder with beef. It'll just disappear. Consider substituting oak or pecan. Personally, I love mesquite with beef, but it is a distinct flavor, and some find it too strong. Same with the pork and especially with the chicken, although that may be a matter of your taste.

50% cherry sounds like a lot for just about anything. It can be strong, and it certainly puts a lot of dark color on the meat. I'd probably bring that back down to 25% for pork and maybe a little lower for chicken. Again, I'd look at adding some oak or pecan into that mix. Apple also is great with both pork and chicken, with a milder flavor than cherry, but still very complimentary.

I'd alter that alder/cherry ratio depending on the fish you're smoking. Again, I wouldn't want the cherry to overwhelm the fish. Something rich and oily (like salmon or mackerel) can take more, but whiter fish can get overwhelmed.

Personally, I like oak for my "base" wood. It burns very well and consistently (which still is important for pellet cooker), and it gives a clean smoke flavor. For my offset stick burner, I use about 50% oak for anything and then vary the rest according to what I'm cooking. I'll mix in some combination of pecan, mesquite, and maybe hickory, apple, cherry, or some other fruit wood.

The Lumber Jack hickory, pecan, and mesquite blends fit right in with my style, as they are 50% oak and 50% the other wood. Their oak-hickory-cherry blend also is fantastic.
Thanks so much for the input! I'm very new to this, so feedback is definitely appreciated.

Farm & Fleet stores around here (Illinois, south/western suburbs of Chicago) are running a sale right now on the Lumber Jack pellets (buy 1, get one 50% off on their 20lb bags), so at $15 for 40lbs, I think it's time for me to make a run and stock up (and get some Pecan and Competition blend).

Thanks!
 
Alder is not typically something you'd want to use with beef. Its great for fish though.

A personal favorite of mine for briskets is 50% oak / 50% cherry.

With porkbutts and ribs, my go to is 100% mesquite. The more I use mesquite, the more I like it.

I find this graphic helpful:

 
2-5lb pork shoulders with a 3:1 mix of Lumber Jack Hickory and Cherry. Flavor was excellent. Thanks for the recommendations gents!
 
I've just purchased a Cherry/Rum pellet a mixture of Cherry blended with Oak Rum Aging Barrels, I love Cherry looking forward to trying this, I'm also partial to Lumber Jack- Sweetwood Blend (Maple Beech Cherry)
 
I grew up with chainsaws, axes, wedges & splitting mauls and access to cherry, oak, hickory, walnut, pecan and other hardwoods & have smoked with them all. I currently have the tallest Mesquite tree in town. It grows faster than I can burn it.
IMO, all the other woods do a fine job in smoking ... unless you have Mesquite available.
 
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