Everything You Need to Know About Choosing the Best Wood for Smoking Sausage

Smoked sausages are a delicious addition to any meal, thanks to their rich, smoky flavor. This distinct taste is achieved through the process of burning wood chips during smoking, which infuses the meat with its signature aroma.

While making smoked sausages is relatively easy and quick, choosing the right wood is crucial to achieving the best results. 

You may already be familiar with popular woods like hickory, apple, mesquite, oak, cherry, acacia, pecan, and peach, it’s important to know which wood to choose for specific meats to achieve their distinct flavors.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about selecting the best wood for smoking sausage.


Different Types of Wood for Smoking Sausages Based on Meat Varieties

The choice of wood is the first and foremost consideration when it comes to selecting wood for smoking sausages. 

Each wood type has its own unique aroma, some are more pungent, while others are stronger and sweeter. Your sausage will take on the same aroma as the wood used for smoking, so pay attention to the scent.

Using high-quality wood is crucial to producing a truly delicious sausage. There are several types of wood that can be used for smoking sausages, and hickory is a popular option. 

However, the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and taste. If you prefer a robust yet mellow flavor, try using hickory wood in your smoking process. 

It is recommended to avoid using cherry wood if you don’t want your sausage to be too sweet. 

Read the following sections to learn more about each type of wood.

Hickory Wood

Hickory is a beloved hardwood for smoking sausages due to its sweet to strong flavor, reminiscent of bacon. It burns slowly and hot, imparting robust, meaty flavors to foods, and is often used for smoking pig shoulders and ribs.

For smoking sausages with hickory, consider using it for larger portions of meat, such as Texas-style beef briskets, whole chickens or turkeys, and wild game. 

However, note that using too much hickory on smaller pieces of meat or poultry may result in a bitter flavor and cause the meat to burn.

Additionally, hickory is more potent than fruit woods. Hickory isn’t highly resistant to mold or water, so it’s best to avoid using it in damp or humid environments.


If you’re searching for a wood that can enhance the sweetness of your sausages, applewood is an excellent option. 

It can provide that sweet flavor that everyone is talking about, but it’s also mild enough to use on lighter dishes like poultry, fish, and even pork.

Keep in mind that this wood takes several hours to infuse the smoking flavor into the meat, so plan accordingly if you’re preparing for a family or short party. 

Also, since this wood is best suited for lighter meats and poultry, it’s recommended to use small pieces to ensure proper cooking. If you use a large piece, it may take longer to cook thoroughly.

Mesquite Wood

Mesquite wood is produced from small, prickly trees of the pea family called Prosopis. Its strong flavor can overpower meats like chicken, pork shoulder, ribs, and fish with a mild flavor. 

However, it’s a popular smoking wood for barbecue in southwest Texas as it’s slow-burning and perfect for grilling and smoking.

It’s not ideal for all types of meat, such as wild game, beef brisket, duck, and lamb. Using smaller, lighter pieces of meat or chicken is recommended, as larger chunks don’t impart much flavor.


When cooking or smoking beef or lamb, oak wood is the ideal hardwood to use. It is also versatile enough to be used with chicken or pork, providing a rich flavor and light brown color to the meat or poultry.

Oak is excellent for all red meat, providing both heat and flavor, making it an excellent choice.

Despite being a powerful wood, oak does not overpower the flavor and texture of the meat. It is perfect for grilling or smoking large cuts of meat, such as beef or lamb.

Cherry Wood

If you’re looking to give your smoked sausages a sweet and fruity flavor with a reddish hue, cherry wood is a great choice. 

When combined with hickory, it creates a delicious and strong aroma. Cherry wood has a mild and sweet taste that goes well with chicken, small game birds, lamb, pork, and sausages.


Acacia wood, which is related to mesquite, has a milder flavor than its stronger cousin. Due to its lighter taste, acacia is one of the top choices for smoking meat and will produce a light yellowish hue.


Pecan wood is a popular choice among barbecue enthusiasts because it pairs well with various types of meat. 

Its slow-burning nature makes it ideal for long barbecue sessions, and it imparts a subtle flavor to the meat. 

Pecan wood can be used to smoke not only chicken, but also lamb, brisket, ribs, ham, pork loin, and more.

Peach Wood

Peach wood has a light and slightly sweet taste, which is typical of most fruitwood. If you want to add a fruity flavor to your smoked meat, fruitwoods are an excellent choice. 

You can combine peach wood with mesquite or hickory wood to add a savory flavor to your sausages.

Wood Types to Avoid

Softwoods like pine, fir, cedar, Cyprus, sassafras, sycamore, elm, and eucalyptus should be avoided at all costs because they can transfer unpleasant odors and even make you ill. 

Instead, stick to hardwoods when smoking meats to get the best flavor and aroma.

Best Woods For Smoking Summer Sausages

The ideal wood for smoking summer sausage is a mix of hickory and cherry wood chips, as they offer the perfect blend of fruity and robust flavors. However, you can also opt for plain hickory, oak, or mesquite if you prefer a stronger flavor.

When selecting the wood for smoking summer sausage, it’s essential to choose one that you enjoy the smell of. If you find mesquite too overpowering and cherry too mild, hickory might be the best option for you.

Read: What Is Summer Sausage Made From

Best Wood for Smoking Venison Sausage

All of these wood types are great for enhancing the flavor of venison, making them excellent choices for beginners in smoking. 

Combining a stronger wood with fruit, such as apple or cherry, can help bring out its full potential. Additionally, adding a little sugar or sweetener to the strong-flavored venison can improve the overall taste.

Mesquite, being the strongest hardwood in terms of flavor, could be a good option for those who prefer a bolder taste.

Best Woods for Smoking Italian Sausages

Hickory is undoubtedly the top choice when it comes to smoking Italian sausage. A three-hour smoking session with hickory will give the sausage a slightly reddish hue and an internal temperature of 165°F, resulting in a perfect taste. 

However, since hickory has a strong flavor, it should be used in moderation. To tone down the intensity, you can mix it with fruitwoods such as apple or cherry.

In case you don’t have hickory on hand, oak can be used instead, especially if you have leftovers from the previous smoking session. 

Remember that any hardwood tree can be used to smoke Italian sausage, but it is always best to choose one that suits your personal preferences and taste.


Out of all the types of wood mentioned in this article, hickory and cherry are the two safest bets for beginners in smoking sausage. 

Oak can also be added to the list of go-to smoking woods for novices.

If you prefer a bitter or pungent taste, mesquite may be a better option than cherry or other fruit woods that have a sweet flavor. 

You can also experiment by mixing and matching different types of wood to find the perfect combination that your taste buds will enjoy.

In general, it’s advisable to stick to hardwood or medium hardwood and avoid softwood. Ultimately, the choice of wood comes down to personal preference.

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