Best wood for smoking goat | Use these 5 for the tastiest results

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  December 15, 2021

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If you’re looking for new foods to smoke, goat is a surprisingly tasty lean meat. It’s ideal for smoking and it’s similar to smoking game meat or pork.

Now, you’re probably wondering what kind of wood do you have to use to smoke goat meat.

Best wood for smoking goat | Use these 5 for the tastiest results

The best wood for smoking goat meat and jerky is hardwood with an intense flavor like acacia or mesquite. These woods are from the same family but acacia has a less powerful smoke flavor than mesquite which gives the goat meat a bold, smoky aroma.

For the most part, goat is similar in nature to smoking pork. Expect to spend a fair amount of time and always employ professional smoking equipment.

Best woods for smoking goat

Goat is lean meat that is ideal for smoking.

The best woods for this type of meat are hardwoods with a stronger flavor like mesquite and acacia.

Acacia

If you love intense smokey aromas but still want to taste the distinct flavor of goat, the best wood for smoking is acacia. It has a slightly spicy aroma with a medium smoke flavor.

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Acacia is a tree from the same family as mesquite and though their flavors are similar, it’s far less intense than mesquite.

This type of wood burns very hotly and you don’t need to add a large quantity of acacia when smoking meat.

Acacia has been used to smoke red meat, game, venison, and beef. Some people also use it to smoke vegetables because it adds a lot of flavors (check out my favorite smoked vegetable recipes here)

But it works well with goat because it adds a spicy smokiness without a bitter aftertaste.

I recommend using acacia chunks or wood chips to smoke but they are hard to get a hold of. If you have chunks, you can then chop them into small pieces.

Mesquite

Wondering which wood gives the strongest smoky flavor?

Mesquite is hands down the best wood for smoked goat if you’re looking for a lot of smokiness and a strong taste.

It’s definitely the type of wood if you’re looking for an additional flavor that is going to impart the meat with a bit of bitterness too.

But, compared to most hardwoods, it’s the most flavorful so you can tone down the dry rub and other seasonings.

I would describe the wood smoke flavor as earthy, smokey, and intense and especially great for smoking goat jerky.

Mesquite wood chips like these from Mr. Bar-B-Q are widely available and very popular for smoking all kinds of red meats and game meats.

Since this wood imparts a very strong smoke, it’s best to use it sparingly so as not to overpower the delicate flavors of the goat meat.

If you use too much, you can end up with a pungent and bitter aftertaste.

Here’s a tip: let the mesquite burn for approximately one or two hours before you start to smoke meat.

Then, place the goat meat in the smoker and add more wood chips once you’re about halfway through the smoke or when you’re running low.

Pecan

I know some of you like to use mild woods regardless of what type of meat you’re smoking.

Pecan is the best wood for smoking if you don’t want the wood flavor to overpower the goat meat.

Or, perhaps, you’ll be using the smoked meat for barbacoa and stew where you’re combining it with other ingredients. Then, you might be satisfied with the mild flavor of pecan.

Pecan is still a hardwood, so it’s by no means a mild wood like apple, pear, and other fruitwoods.

But, it imparts the meat with a light fruity flavor, a bit of nuttiness, and just the right amount of smoke aroma for red meat.

Since pecan wood has a less intense taste, it’s a great all-around smoke wood for all kinds of meat, including goat. I like to use the Western Premium Pecan Chips for their versatility and quality.

Hickory wood

Hickory is one of those strong smoke woods that is great on its own or when you combine it with fruit woods like apple.

Goat meat tastes delicious when smoked with hickory and combined with a few applewood chips which impart a fruity and sweet taste.

Hickory’s flavor profile is milder than mesquite but stronger and earthier than fruitwoods and hardwoods like alder. The hickory flavor is similar to that of smoked bacon.

This wood also adds a nice dark black color to the meat so it really looks like Texas-style smoked meat.

Hickory smoke is somewhere in the middle when it comes to flavor intensity and it’s great for the low and slow smoking method because it’s not too strong and so it gives the perfect amount of smokiness.

This wood is excellent if you want to smoke goat neck. This meat cut is high in fat and full of bone so when you slow smoke it with hickory, it will have a balcony flavor, similar to pork.

The bone marrow imparts the meat with juiciness and makes it tender.

Check out Mr. Bar-B-Q Wood Smoker Hickory Chips made from 100% hardwood and mix them with Mr. Bar-B-Q’s Applewood chips.

Walnut

For those who love a heavy smoke flavor that’s similar to mesquite, walnut wood chips are a great choice.

That’s because walnut creates a deep, rich, and very strong smoky flavor which pairs nicely with goat, lamb, red meat, and game meat.

Walnut is also good for combining with milder fruit woods, especially cherry or apple. It adds a hint of a sweet aroma to an otherwise powerful earthy smokiness.

It’s best to use walnut sparingly when smoking goat or else the meat can taste too bitter and ruin the natural aromas of the barbecue.

Can you smoke goat?

When smoking meat, people always want to try something new and if you’re wondering if you can smoke goat yes you can, and it’s tasty!

People have been cooking and smoking goat meat for centuries in countries like Mexico and Jamaica where it’s very popular.

Goat is considered lean meat and it is in fact healthier than other red meats. It has fewer fats than beef, lamb, or pork and lots more iron and it’s a good source of protein.

The flavor is similar to game meat but sweeter and it has a delicate flavor.

Goat leg and goat shoulder are popular smoked cuts for dishes like goat barbacoa.

Did you know bison is also a great meat for smoking?

How long should you smoke goat meat?

Smoking meat is a lengthy process but cooking goat is similar to smoking pork with wood chips.

You can compare smoking goat leg or shoulder to smoking pork shoulders so you should smoke this kind of meat for between 7-8 hours.

The cooking time is somewhere in the middle – not as quick as if you smoke fish, but it won’t take as long to smoke as large beef briskets.

It’s best to use an indirect or offset smoker for smoking goat. The ideal temperature range for this meat is between 225 F and 250 F.

You should also add a water pan with some cold water in the firebox because you want the goat meat to be smoked in a humid environment or else it can be too chewy.

Woods to avoid when smoking goat meat

Not all wood is suitable for smoking meat. As you know, some are better for smoking meats like poultry, while others are ideal for salmon and fish.

But, for red meat like goat, you don’t want to use mild smoke wood like fruitwoods on their own because they just don’t provide a strong enough smoke flavor for this meat.

If you’re smoking a cut like goat ribs and other larger cuts, you’ll need a strong wood flavor you can taste.

Toxic woods to avoid

Some types of wood are not appropriate for cooking or smoking. Cooking with any form of wood that hasn’t been confirmed as safe to do so is never allowed because it can be toxic and make you ill!

The following types of wood should never be used for smoking goat or any other meat:

  • Woods with a high sap content are toxic. Cedar, pine, and all the other coniferous trees are bad for smoking because they have lots of sap which causes illness when ingested. Also, it tastes awful and makes the meat taste bad.
  • Sycamore, sweet gums, eucalyptus, and elm are also not suitable for smoking. They make the meat bitter and taste awful. Don’t cook with them at all.
  • Greenwood is also not suitable for smoking goat because it lacks seasoning. Seasoned wood is dried and ready for smoking and grilling. Greenwood with a lot of sap and high moisture content doesn’t burn evenly and creates lots of bad smoke which has an unpleasant taste.

I’ve written a full guide and wood chart for the wood and food combinations, check it out here

Takeaway

As you prepare your smoker for cooking goat meat, you want to use strong-flavored woods which create an earthy, rich smoke.

It’s best to avoid using mild fruity woods like peach, apple, etc unless you combine them with strong mesquite or hickory. When paired, they impart a pleasant sweetness to the meat.

If you’re unfamiliar with smoking goat though, I recommend sticking to the classics like acacia wood and the others on the list.

These are proven to complement the slightly dry texture of the meat and help to balance out the strong game meat taste.

Still looking for a good smoker for meats like goat? I’ve reviewed the best BBQ smokers that work great for smoking meat here

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.