Wood chips for smoking lard: which one is better to use and how much to smoke to get a tasty product

The main advantages of smoked delicacies are considered to be the delicate taste and special aroma of such dishes. The decisive role in the acquisition of such qualities by the prepared product is played by smoke, which acts as a source of heat. The gastronomic characteristics of ready-made dishes are greatly influenced by the type of wood used, regardless of the form in which it is presented (chips, shavings, sawdust).

General rules for choosing wood chips used for smoking

Whether you choose wood chips from a store or prefer to make your own, the following basic guidelines will come in handy:

  • carefully inspect the wood, it should not contain traces of mold, rot, traces of wood-boring insects and pests;
  • the presence of bark on wood chips is unacceptable, it is a source of release of resins that spoil the taste of products, and also contaminate the walls of the smoking apparatus;
  • The influence of woodchip moisture is great. If it is overdried, the likelihood of it catching fire will increase, and an open flame during smoking is unacceptable. Conversely, wood that is too wet does not smolder well, emitting more steam than smoke, and the difference between a boiled and smoked product, you see, is great. The optimal humidity level is 70%;
  • use wood chips of approximately the same size (2-4 cm in length).

The composition of the smoke depends entirely on the physicochemical properties, structure and size of the wood used. It is believed that the optimal temperature for smoldering and the release of aromatic substances from wood chips is in the range of 300-400°C. These are the conditions that are created when it is placed on a metal surface heated from below by an open fire. The temperature of the smoke itself is much lower, and as it rises, it has time to cool even further. For proper smoking, the smoke must have a temperature of about 60-110°C with the hot method and no more than 30°C with the cold method, which is achieved by changing the length of the path from the smoke generator to the products.

Chips are made from deciduous or fruit trees or berry bushes. To make the aroma of smoke more expressive, juniper berries, bay leaves, nettles, sage leaves or onion peels are often mixed into the wood chips. However, for many home-grown and even professional cooks, the imagination is not limited to this - an excellent result is ensured by the addition of anise seeds, the unique aroma of allspice and cumin.

How do wood chips affect the color of the finished product?

Not everyone knows that the color of smoked meat, which makes the dish more appetizing, depends on the choice of wood type for wood chips.

Let's look at the basic rules for choosing wood chips in order to get the desired color when smoking. The more intense it is, the more it will be associated with the great taste of the prepared delicacy.

So, here are recommendations for selecting wood chips for purchasing meat or fish of the desired shade:

  • if you want to get a product with a uniform golden-yellow color, use beech, linden or maple chips;

  • lemon color provides smoke from acacia;
  • a beautiful yellow-brown color can be obtained using alder or oak chips;
  • The pear will give the smoked product an interesting reddish tint.

However, for certain products, the color will be determined by their chemical composition along with the wood chips used. In particular, the fattier the meat or fish, the more intense the color will be, plus they will acquire a pronounced shine of the shell. If the product is wet, its final color will have a grayish tint. Oxygen promotes intense coloring, so in an area where the air flow is stronger, the pieces will color more actively.

The positive effect of smoking, in addition to imparting a characteristic taste and aroma, is the strengthening of the surface of the product, accompanied by the formation of an appetizing shell with a characteristic color, from light, almost yellow, to dark brown.

The influence of wood type on taste and aroma

When hot smoke interacts with a product, penetrating its surface structure, the very aroma and taste of smokedness is formed, which cannot be confused with any other.

Note that the organoleptic characteristics of the finished dish also depend on the size of the chips: the smaller it is, the more aromatic substances are present in the smoke. The same can be said about the freshness of the workpieces: the more seasoned the wood chips, the more tender the final product will be - this should be taken into account by those who prefer to prepare sawdust and wood chips themselves.

Those who have used maple chips at least once know well that they imbue smoked foods with a characteristic sweetish aroma. Alder wood chips are considered a universal fuel - the aroma of its smoke combines with almost any product. The use of fermented tea leaves and dry branches of berry bushes (currants, juniper, raspberries) together with wood chips will add originality to the dish.

To create a rich taste, you can use a mix of alder sawdust and fruit tree chips. Such compositions are ideal for smoking products that have their own odor that needs to be eliminated - for all types of game, from duck to venison, elk or bear.

The oak fraction is characterized by increased heat transfer; such wood chips smolder for a long time, practically without reducing the intensity.

It is also important to know which wood chips are best not to smoke with. Birch shavings should be used with caution, as they can impart a subtle and unpleasant tar smell to the dish. An important rule: birch chips should not contain bark, and in any case it should be mixed with sawdust of other species.

Even more undesirable is the use of coniferous wood to produce smoke, since they contain a high concentration of resins, and the resin fraction, giving the product a beautiful dark brown tint, makes the dish bitter. Well, you will have to work hard to get rid of a decent layer of soot on the walls of your smokehouse...

Properties of sawdust of different types of wood

Each type of wood has its own individual properties and characteristics. Depending on which wood chips are chosen for smoking a particular product, the taste and color of the finished delicacy depends. The choice of sawdust should be taken as seriously as possible in order to get truly tasty, aromatic and healthy home-made smoked meats.

Alder chips

Alder chips are considered the most common.
It is suitable for cooking both meat and fish, cheese and other smoked meats. All dishes prepared using wood chips from this type of wood turn out incredibly aromatic. They have an attractive appearance, which is expressed in a rich dark brown color. The smoke from alder is quite soft, although at first glance it may seem completely different. It is worth noting that despite the versatility of this wood chips, many experts recommend using it primarily for smoking fish. Due to this, finished smoked meats receive a fairly mild taste and tart aroma, and the rich color will not leave any person indifferent. It is worth noting that poultry, pork, game and vegetables smoked with alder chips are also very tasty.


Beech sawdust allows you to obtain, in the opinion of most experts, a classic smoky aroma.
It is worth noting that beech smoke is very soft and is considered universal. It can be used for smoking a wide variety of products at home - brisket, poultry, sausage, cheese, game and others. Using beech chips you can significantly improve the taste of products. Delicacies prepared using this type of wood are not only very tasty, but also have an attractive golden hue. At the same time, the most pronounced smoked aroma is present. Quite often, experts use a mixture of beech and alder chips. As a result, delicacies receive an original, slightly sour taste and a rather tart aroma. If you consider yourself a real gourmet, then beech wood chips are the most correct solution, regardless of what kind of smoked meats you are going to cook.

Ash chips

Ash chips are not used as often as alder and beech. At the same time, many undeservedly do not pay attention to it at all. It is worth noting that ash wood chips are ideal for smoking poultry and fish at home, because they allow you to obtain smoked products with the most intense taste and aroma. If you add a little alder or beech to the wood chips of this tree, you can also achieve an attractive appearance.


Birch chips have a high density and strength. It is practically not used for smoking, since its bark contains a fairly large amount of resin and free sugars. This type of wood can only be used in small quantities, mixed with other sawdust. In this case, the entire bark must first be completely removed. Otherwise, the finished smoked meats will have an unpleasant bitter taste and a color and aroma that is far from ideal.

Fruit sawdust

Sawdust from fruit trees deserves special attention, as it makes it possible to obtain incredibly tasty and aromatic smoked meats. Today, several different types of wood are used, each of which has its own advantages and properties. Sawdust from fruit trees can also be mixed with hardwood to obtain a more original taste and smell from the finished smoked meats.

Pear chips

Pear chips contain a huge amount of sugars and special aromatic resins, which can give the finished smoked products an incredibly delicate and at the same time pleasant aroma.

Due to the fact that pear does not have sufficient sharpness of taste and smell, wood chips from this wood cannot be used for smoking poultry, fatty meats, and fish. At the same time, it is an ideal option for smoking lean meats and fish. Particularly tasty are types of fish such as capelin, red mullet and anchovy. If you mix pear sawdust with other types of wood chips, then the resulting mixture can be used to prepare fattier meat and fish.

Apple tree

Apple trees are often used to prepare smoked meats at home, because the wood has a mild and slightly sweet aroma. Apple wood chips are ideal for cooking pork, fish and poultry.

The huge advantage of this wood is that it produces rich and fairly thick smoke. The finished delicacies will have a delicate, distinct fruity aroma. At the same time, it will not be so intrusive as to distract from the product itself or change the taste of homemade smoked meats. Many people also like the fact that apple sawdust can give finished dishes a beautiful golden hue, which makes them visually attractive.


Cherry chips have a fairly rich and bright taste, which is typical of most fruit trees.

Real gourmets use this type of wood to prepare smoked meats at home because it is able to give finished dishes a very original bitter taste, which at the same time is very pleasant and barely noticeable. Another advantage of using cherry chips for preparing homemade delicacies is that it allows you to obtain products with a beautiful dark golden hue.

As a rule, cherry chips are used to prepare products that have a neutral taste. Most often, experts recommend cooking poultry, cheese or vegetables using cherry sawdust.

A special feature of this type of sawdust is its incredible smell. Very often, experienced smokers can mix cherry wood chips with other types. Products of this type are ideal for cooking over coals or in the open air, for simultaneous smoking of different products.

On a note! Experts do not recommend using cherry sawdust for smoking fish, because the finished dish can end up with a very strange taste.

In order to obtain a wide variety of flavors that will appeal to any gourmet, cherry chips can be mixed with alder, beech or oak sawdust. By adding a small amount of cherries, the finished smoked meats will have a rich and original aroma and a light tint in taste.

Product and wood chip compatibility table

It is very important to choose the right wood chips for preparing a particular product at home. Below is a table of compatibility of various products with different types of wood chips. It is advisable to adhere to these recommendations, which were developed taking into account a huge number of factors that can affect the taste, aroma and appearance of finished smoked meats.

Subtleties of using wood chips for cooking fish

The answer to the question of which sawdust or wood chips are most suitable for smoking fish is quite specific: the ideal candidate is alder, in second place is juniper, and if they cannot be obtained, then pear, rowan or apple tree.

Alder shavings are considered a classic option; in addition to giving the dish a unique aroma, it will color the carcass golden. Adding dry spices to the wood chips - nut shells (almonds, walnuts) or rosemary - will help to uniquely smell smoked fish.

You can use grape seeds to add a spicy aroma to the dish. Sea fish will turn out tastier if you use hornbeam branches or cherry leaves as an additive to the wood chips. Using acacia branches will add a little spice to the fish.

You should not smoke seafood on willow or poplar sawdust, as they will practically not change the aroma and taste of smoked meat.

How to properly prepare sawdust

The main task at the stage of preparing wood chips for the smoking process is to normalize the moisture content. Many people, especially if they have just recently started smoking food at home, wonder if it is necessary to pre-soak the sawdust?

Doubts may arise as a result of the fact that too high a moisture content in the wood chips can negatively affect the taste of the finished product and make it too bitter. This is why many people do not pre-moisten the wood chips and use them exclusively in dry form. But this is also not correct, because if the sawdust is dry, then as a result the smoked meats may turn out to be too hard, dry and fibrous. In order to measure the moisture content of wood chips, you can use a special device.

If a person prepares smoked meats exclusively for himself, then there is no point in buying this device. It is enough to follow a simple algorithm for preparing sawdust and then they will have the required moisture content.

First, the selected wood chips must be placed in water for four hours. This time will be enough for the wood to be completely saturated with water. In this situation, its humidity will reach 100%. Next, the wood chips are placed in a bowl with small holes to allow excess liquid to drain out. This step will take approximately 15 minutes. Regular weights must then be used to determine the weight of the wood. The result obtained is multiplied by 0.8. This result indicates the mass of chips with the required moisture content. If it is too high, then you should leave the wood for a while longer so that it dries out a little.

Effect of humidity

Humidity plays a very important role, because the taste of the finished smoked meats will depend on it. If the smokehouse contains too little water vapor, the resulting delicacies will be too tough and dry. A fairly high humidity level also negatively affects the taste characteristics of the product. Smoked products have a bitter aftertaste.

For hot smoking, the ideal indicator is humidity in the range of 50-55%. In the case of cold smoking, the humidity indicator should be slightly higher - 60-65%.

What wood chips should you use to smoke meat?

Here everything is not so simple, because meat can be very different. Alder, beech, as well as deciduous trees such as aspen or ash are considered universal species.

It is better to cook the bird on fruit shavings - apple, cherry, apricot, they will give the dish a slightly sweet taste and a subtle and very pleasant aroma. It is also better to smoke pork on sawdust from an apple tree, then the meat will retain its delicate structure and get an appetizing golden crust. Beech chips are suitable for lamb, chicken and turkey, and blackcurrant branches go well with lamb and beef. To smoke rabbit meat, it is better to use plums with the addition of juniper.

Which tree species to choose

The taste of the finished product depends on many factors, including sawdust or rock chips. Therefore it is better to use:

  • deciduous trees (apple, pear, cherry, plum);
  • alder chips.

Beech chips can add a good flavor to any smoked product, but if you smoke lard using such material, its taste and aroma will turn out unpleasant.

Under no circumstances should coniferous wood material be placed in the firebox. Because of such fruits, the finished product will be bitter.

The material for smoking can be either wet or dry, the main thing is that the firewood for smoking lard is hardwood.

If you use dry sawdust to smoke lard, the crust of the finished delicacy will be golden in color, and its taste will be very delicate. And if you take wet wood chips, the aroma of the product will be tart and the color will be red.

The choice of wood chips for smoking products is very important, the initial result depends on it, so pay attention to the following:

  1. Trees for smoking lard must be healthy. If you take diseased wood, the fungus and mold present can get into the food.
  2. Before smoking lard, the bark should be removed from the wood so that the delicacy is not bitter.

To obtain an original taste, add sprigs of the following berries:

Interesting to know! For those who like experiments and refined taste, you can put the berries themselves along with the branches.

Those who are well versed in smoking put wood from different trees in the firebox:

  • alder plus pear;
  • alder and cherry sawdust;
  • alder wood chips for smoking and apple wood.

Advice! If we talk about the compatibility of products and wood chips, then to get really tasty smoked lard, you should start from many factors, including the choice of smokehouse and recipe.

The best sawdust for smoking vegetables and seafood

With alder everything is clear - it is suitable for almost all products. But the choice of wood chips for smoking seafood needs to be approached more selectively. So, for squid, oysters, eel and all crustaceans, except alder, you can use fruit species. Mussels are often cured with the addition of pine needles, but this requires caution and experience.

As for smoking common vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, peppers), the most preferable option here is cherry wood chips or juniper branches, which must be combined with alder, and in its absence, with aspen.

Where to buy alder chips

Residents of middle and northern latitudes can prepare alder chips for smoking on their own, since the presence of alder in such regions is extensive. The plant is very moisture-loving, so you need to look for it near rivers and other bodies of water. Also, some species are found in mixed forests.

This is what alder looks like

Alder is a deciduous species; it can be distinguished by the black cones that are present in its crown. The wood itself is very soft and elastic, so cutting chips of the required size even with a simple ax will not be difficult. The shade of light cut shavings quickly becomes orange, and after a while it acquires a dark brown color.

It is more difficult for those who live in steppe and arid areas, where the availability of alder is limited. But this is not a problem; ready-made wood chips can be bought in tourism and fishing stores. But storing it for a long time leads to shrinkage; before use, it must be slightly moistened. The presence of the appropriate smell of wood will help to recognize the presence of undesirable impurities that unscrupulous manufacturers process wood chips; it is better to refrain from such a product, otherwise the product will be spoiled by toxic smoke when smoked.

We recommend: How to increase the shelf life of smoked halibut

Table of compatibility of wood chips with various products

Product typeWood species
Apple treeCherryPearPlumApricotAlderOakBeech
Chicken, duck, wild chicken species˅˅˅˅+
Goose, turkey+˅˅˅˅+
Domestic venison, wild animals+++˅++
Horse meat, goat meat+++++
Vegetables fruits˅
Rabbit meat˅˅

Desirable breeds are marked with a tick, and well-combined ones are marked with a plus.

Self-production of wood chips

As we have already written, fresh wood is not always suitable for smoking, so it needs to be prepared ahead of time. The best period for this is spring, since the logs at this time have a natural humidity of 70%, which is an ideal indicator for smoking.

It is better not to use overdried raw materials, since the temperature of a hot metal surface may be sufficient to ignite it, and the sawdust will burn almost instantly. But if the heat source is not too intense, then dry wood chips will give the dish a more delicate taste. Fresh sawdust is used when you want to get a brighter shade.

The set of tools for making and preparing wood chips is small: a saw (preferably an electric one, of course), an ax and the logs themselves of the desired type. The bark is removed from them (this is important) and thin, no more than 2 cm thick, plates up to 5 cm long are chopped off with an ax. It is important to select wood chips of approximately the same size so that they do not contain impurities of small sawdust and especially wood dust.

Many people are interested in whether it is necessary to soak wood chips before hot smoking. Experts have differing opinions here, but in general it is desirable that the condition of 70 percent humidity be observed. So if the wood chips are overdried, then you really should soak them for several hours just before smoking. It is also recommended to soak the sawdust in cases where intense heating of the bottom of the smokehouse is expected.

What kind of sawdust or wood chips is best for smoking lard?

Not every product is suitable for smoking, but lard is included in this list. Its popularity is due to both its excellent taste and a large number of beneficial properties. In addition, for the average consumer, lard is considered an affordable product.

Lard and fat have the same organic nature. Solid lard is a type of fatty deposit that plays a huge role in the life of an animal.

In addition to its protective function, the sebaceous layer serves as a kind of storage room. It accumulates nutrients that can be used again if necessary. Now it becomes clear how valuable a product lard is, in any form: salted, smoked, boiled and even raw.

How much wood chips are required for smoking?

We have already mentioned the thickness of the layer, but in quantitative terms it depends on several factors: the weight of the products being placed, the size of the pieces and the smokehouse itself, the required smoking duration, which will be different for different products.

The hot method involves using a small amount of sawdust; if it is a compact device, then a few medium handfuls will be enough, and if the chips are not uniform in size, then small pieces should be scattered along the bottom, and large pieces should be piled in the center.

Cold smoking is a long process, so you need a lot more wood chips, adding it as needed during the process.

We hope that after reading this article you can rightfully claim the status of an expert in this matter, but in any case, theoretical knowledge must be strengthened by practice. So it's a small matter...

Which wood chips are best to choose for smoking lard?

Smoked lard can be easily prepared at home. But in order for the delicacy to be truly tasty, it is very important to choose the right wood chips and prepare them for further use.

Subtleties of preparing delicacies

Lard can be processed either cold or hot. Regardless of this, the finished smoked meats are tasty and aromatic. It is worth noting that it is necessary not only to correctly select the most suitable wood chips, but also to prepare the raw materials themselves for further processing.

Preparation and smoking time

Before you begin the process of smoking at home, you need to prepare the lard for smoke treatment. To do this, the raw materials are cut into portions, salted or pickled. Today there are many different recipes and therefore you can choose the most suitable one for each individual case. The cooking time for lard may also vary depending on the smoking method, the size of the pieces of raw material and what kind of smokehouse will be used. Hot smoked lard will cook quite quickly.

You will have to spend much more time on cold smoked products, because the processing will take place with low-temperature smoke.

What kind of wood chips is best to use?

Many factors can affect the taste of finished smoked meats. The type of wood that will be used for smoking is no exception. The ideal option would be to use deciduous or fruit trees. Most often, apple, plum, pear, and alder wood chips are used.

By adding beech chips, you can give the finished raw material a beautiful and rich color. But if you use exclusively beech sawdust, the taste and smell may not be entirely pleasant.

It is very important to choose high-quality wood for smoking. If you prepare sawdust yourself, you should pay attention to some parameters.

  1. For wood chips, you should choose only healthy trees. If the tree is sick, then mold or fungus may get into the finished smoked meats.
  2. Before processing, the bark must be removed from the wood. Otherwise, the finished delicacy may have a bitter aftertaste.

To get aromatic smoked meats with an original taste, you can add a small amount of blackberries, grapes or currants to the prepared wood chips. Some gourmets may use Equalipt.

It is worth noting that alder goes well with cherry, pear and apple. Thanks to such combinations, you can make smoked lard more tasty and aromatic.

Prohibited wood species

Not all wood is suitable for smoking products. You should not use sawdust from coniferous trees, because these materials contain too much resin. Of course, in some European cuisines a small amount of spruce may be added to make the taste more original, but at home it is better to avoid such experiments.

Fuel quantity

It is difficult to say exactly how much sawdust should be used to smoke lard at home. This indicator will depend on what kind of design is used for smoking and what quality the wood chips used are.

In order to prepare hot smoked lard at home, you will need a maximum of two rounds of sawdust per kilogram of raw materials. But in order to maintain the same temperature in the smokehouse all the time, small amounts of wood chips should be added every half hour.

If the duration of smoking semi-finished products at home does not exceed three hours, then you will need from three to six loads of wood chips. For faster treatment with hot smoke – no more than 4 minutes.

If you smoke up to 20 kilograms of lard in a cold smoking design, then you should prepare about a bucket of wood chips in advance. This amount of wood is enough for a day of smoking. Accordingly, the more products are prepared at one time, the more sawdust will be required.

Wood moisture content

The quality of finished smoked meats largely depends on the moisture content of the sawdust.
It is necessary to moisten the wood chips so that they do not ignite during processing. In addition, moisture will give smoked lard a beautiful golden hue, a slightly tart taste and a rich aroma. It is worth noting that not all types of wood need to be moistened. For example, alder or beech chips give smoked meats all the above characteristics and need to be slightly moistened solely to prevent them from catching fire.


To prepare smoked lard at home, it is very important to choose the right sawdust. If necessary, you can combine different types of wood to make the taste of smoked meats more rich and original. Adding additional components, such as berries, will also have a positive effect on the taste of the finished product.

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