Best wood for smoking goose | Mild choices to make this meat shine

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  December 21, 2021

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If smoking poultry is your thing, you must try smoked goose.

Whether you’ve got some wild goose breasts or you prefer the taste of domestic goose breast, you’ll be pleased with the smoked flavors of this meat.

In fact, one of the tastiest meats is smoked goose breast – it has a bit of fattiness to it which makes it tender and juicy, and it’s a great alternative to chicken or turkey. Cold smoke with wood chips for the most delicious smoked goose.

Now that you’re curious about smoking goose meat, you’re probably wondering which wood works best?

Best wood for smoking goose | Mild choices to make this meat shine

The best woods for smoking goose is beech, birchwood, alder, oak, or milder fruit wood like apple or cherry. If you want to make goose jerky, fruit woods like apple and cherry are great smoke woods. Don’t be afraid to blend smoking woods and create a subtle smoky aroma for this type of poultry!

Most people prefer a light smoky aroma for poultry and that’s why lighter smoke woods, fruitwoods, and wood blends are best for smoked goose.

Best woods for smoked goose meat & jerky

One of the most sought-after geese for smoking is Canadian geese because of their bold, dark meat-like flavor.

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How to buy a bbq smoker video

But, the most popular smoked goose is the commercially farmed geese you can get at specialty stores or butcher’s shops.

Some people prefer to smoke the whole bird while some prefer the taste of smoked goose breast more.

Jerky is a great option too and the good news is, it’s easy to do with the right wood flavor.

When smoked correctly, goose meat tastes like a combination of regular poultry with the flavor of prime rib.

But, the secret for the tastiest smoked goose is to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 145 – 190 degrees max and not to overcook the bird.

Then, another important factor is the wood you choose for your smoked meat. Here are the best options which pair well and give the best flavor.

Your choice of wood for smoking will depend on your personal preference, but wood blends work well and fruit woods like cherry are ideal if you want a mild, sweet, and fruity smoke profile but also want to add that gorgeous mahogany color to the meat skin.

Apple

  • Intensity: mild
  • Flavors: sweet, fruity, delicate

It’s hard to find wood more versatile than apple. Not only does it have a sweet and fruity flavor that complements most meats, but it is also subtle enough to allow the real flavors of the goose to steal the show.

Applewood adds a sweet and fruity taste to your meat and it’s the perfect lighter wood for blending with stronger flavored smokey woods like oak, hickory, and pecan.

If you like your meat more on the sweet and fruity side as opposed to earthy, I recommend mixing apple and cherry wood chips or chunks together to make the goose taste sweeter.

Just ask professional smokers and the majority will tell you to use apple for smoked goose and wild geese smoker recipes.

That’s because you can’t go wrong with this fruitwood since it doesn’t overpower the meat’s natural taste and it can make any strong hardwood milder and sweeter.

The Mr. Bar-B-Q Wood Smoker Chips are great when you want to smoke all kinds of birds so make sure you have them on hand.

Here’s a full guide on how you use wood chips for smoking

Cherry

  • Intensity: mild
  • Flavors: fruity, sweet, subtle smokiness

As one of the most popular smoking woods for poultry and goose, cherry is a delicate fruity wood that adds a subtle yet noticeable flavor and that nice reddish-brown color to the smoked goose breast.

The mahogany-colored skin from the burning cherry wood chips or pellets is very sought after for both smoked goose breasts and whole goose.

When the skin on breasts has that dark color, it makes the smoked bird look much more appetizing.

Cherry is a versatile fruitwood that is suitable for almost any kind of smoked meat. Since the flavor is light, slightly sweet, and fruity, it’s not overpowering for the meat and you can taste the distinct flavor of the goose.

Cherry wood is one of the best mixing woods to create unique smoke flavor profiles. Combine cherry with some oak, mesquite, or hickory wood chips if you want earthy flavored smoked goose.

Cherry wood is affordable and you can get Oklahoma Joe’s Cherry Wood Smoker Chips on Amazon.

Beechwood

  • Intensity: mild to medium
  • Flavors: slightly nutty, slightly smoky

Beech has a pleasant but mild taste and it’s one of the best subtle smoking woods for delicate meats like fish and poultry.

This hardwood has a mild smoke profile and it works well on its own or as a blending wood with apple, cherry, pecan, or maple.

When you make smoked goose with beechwood chips, you’ll taste a lightly nutty aroma but still have a similar smokiness as with alder or oak.

In terms of the flavor, people describe it as halfway between the bacony flavor of hickory and the lighter alder wood.

Usually, beech is more commonly used as smoking wood in Europe for traditional smoked meat recipes like ham and sausages but it works well for smoking goose breast and jerky.

Alder wood

  • Intensity: mild to medium
  • Flavors: neutral, slightly sweet, slightly musky & earthy

You might already know alder is a popular wood for smoking all kinds of meat, especially poultry. While it’s great for light chicken meat, it’s also recommended for more flavorful birds like geese.

Alder wood is actually quite mild with a subtle and delicate wood smoke profile. It has a bit of a neutral taste which makes it suitable for smoking so many foods.

In terms of taste, you’ll notice it gives the meat a light sweetness, but it’s not tart at all like some fruitwoods.

The balanced flavor of sweetness mixed with a bit of musky earthiness makes it strong enough to give the goose that sough-after BBQ smoke flavor but it doesn’t overpower it.

Alder is also a good blending wood with apple and cherry because it makes the sweetness a bit more earthy and resembles the taste of stronger woods without being that strong.

Fill up the smoker with Smokehouse alder wood chips when you’re prepping to cook goose breasts.

Oak

  • Intensity: medium
  • Flavors: traditional smokiness, earthy

Oak and especially red oak is one of the most popular traditional smokey barbeque woods because it gives that earthy, savory smoke flavor.

Since goose has a slightly beefy taste, the stronger earthiness of oak really makes the smoked goose super flavorful.

Oak is stronger than a fruitwood like apple, cherry, peach, or pear wood but it’s still not nearly as intense as mesquite or hickory.

It gives the perfect amount of smokiness without overpowering the bird.

Oakwood is ideal for cooking smoked goose breast. When smoking with oak, the temperature is slightly increased and this makes the fatty goose breast a nice plum and succulent texture.

Combined with the smoky aroma from the oak chips or chunks, the dish tastes amazing.

You can blend oak with any fruit woods to impart the meat with some subtle sweetness.

Like cherry, oak also gives the smoked goose skin a nice brownish and mahogany hue.

You can get a 2 lb bag of Cameron’s oak smoker chips on Amazon.

Pecan wood

  • Intensity: mild
  • Flavors: sweet, nutty, slightly bacony like hickory

Since the pecan tree is part of the hickory family, the smoke profiles are a bit similar.

The wood is ideal for long and slow smoking but it works for geese too. It burns cool but imparts poultry with a lighter hickory-like flavor.

Pecan imparts goose with a mild, delicate but aromatic flavor. It has a hint of nuttiness to it and a light sweetness. It’s not going to overpower the food with a smokey aroma as hickory or mesquite can, but it’s stronger than apple.

The secret to smoking with pecan though is to use fewer wood chips or else it can give the meat, especially tender cuts like goose breasts a slightly pungent taste.

Pecan wood chips are very popular and widely available throughout the USA.

Maple

  • Intensity: mild
  • Flavors: mildly smoky, slightly sweet

Maple is fantastic for smoked poultry and a great mild wood for smoked goose. Some people say it’s a bit too mellow but you can definitely taste the smoke profile.

This wood is more on the sweet side than smoky, but it’s still perfect for goose breast because it doesn’t overpower the delicate white meat.

If you like your meat very smoky and earthy, you can use maple as a blending wood with mesquite or oak. But, if you want a sweeter, mellower flavor, I recommend combining it with some apple or cherry wood.

Since maple is a good wood for all birds and ham, it also works when you want to cook a delicious but subtly smoky goose jerky.

Try the Western Premium BBQ Products Maple BBQ Smoking Chips.

Mesquite wood

  • Intensity: strong
  • Flavors: earthy, intense smokiness, bold

If you want to smoke goose breasts or make jerky and like strong smokey flavors, mesquite wood chips are ideal. Mesquite smoke has a distinct powerful earthy taste.

The mesquite wood chips are recommended for those who like the intense wood smoke aroma with lighter meats. Since goose is a fatty meat, the combination of light poultry and strong wood works well in this instance.

I highly recommend trying mesquite when you’re cooking goose jerky.

You make a brine or marinade for the goose breast and add brown sugar and black pepper, some garlic powder, and even condiments like juniper berries or chili flakes.

But, the fact that you’re adding brown sugar, adds this delicate sweetness to the meat. Therefore, the sweet smoky sugar aroma blended with the strong earthiness of the wood is a delicious combo.

You can add wood chips from fruitwood to tone down the intensity of this wood.

Cameron’s mesquite wood chips burn very well and are very affordable.

Other woods you can use to smoke goose

There are plenty of other woods you can use to smoke goose. However, the ones I’ve listed above are the most popular and tastiest.

Here are some notable varieties you can try if you’re feeling adventurous:

  • Mulberry: this fruitwood gives food a mild smoke flavor with a fruity, sweet, and tangy aftertaste.
  • Almond: try this mild wood if you like the taste of nutty smoke
  • Citrus trees like lemon, orange, and grapefruit are good for poultry. They give goose breasts a fruity, subtly smoky, and tangy flavor.
  • Hickory: this is strong wood and gives the meat intense bacon, earthy, and smoky aroma which might be too overpowering for most people. But, if you love strong BBQ, you can use it for goose.

What woods to avoid when smoking goose

The rule of thumb with smoke woods is that you should never use softwoods like conifers and trees with resin and a lot of sap like pine, fir, cedar, spruce, cypress, etc.

When burned for smoking, these woods create toxic wood smoke which can make you ill when ingested.

Next, avoid using green wood that hasn’t been seasoned because not only will it not burn properly but it makes the meat taste bitter and frankly, it’s awful!

Don’t use treated wood and lumber either, stick to the tried and tested smoking woods. Chemicals on treated wood are dangerous for your health and make you sick.

When it comes to goose specifically, you should avoid using combinations of hardwoods like mesquite, oak, and walnut together. These are too intense and will overpower the delicate goose meat.

But separately, they can work, and they are delicious when combined with light fruitwoods.

Avoid woods like cottonwood which is too mild for goose and even when mixed with hickory, just doesn’t add much flavor-wise.

Also, skip chokecherry even if you find it in your area because it gives the worst bitter smoke.

How long do you need to smoke goose?

It depends if you’re just smoking goose breast or the whole bird and whether it’s a domestic farm-raised goose or wild goose.

But the goal is not to overcook the goose, so it should reach an internal temperature of 145 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generally, goose breasts take 1 hour to smoke with an indirect method or 2 – 2.5 hours in your smoker.

Since goose breast is fatty on the top part, place it so that all the fat drips down and keeps your meat juicy and moist.

When you buy commercially raised geese from farms, these are usually very high in fat. It’s best to use the low and slow method for smoking it.

So, if you’re cooking the whole goose, you want that beautiful dark skin, and it takes about 30 minutes per pound.

Smoking wild goose breasts or whole Canada goose takes about 4 hours to smoke at higher temperatures of 225 – 300 F.

For goose jerky, brine the goose meat overnight with juniper berries, brown sugar, soy sauce, and kosher salt. Pat dry but not too much, to keep the meat moist.

Then, smoke for about 3 hours in an electric, charcoal, gas, or pellet smoker at 180 degrees.

Takeaway

You just can’t go wrong with using the classic mild woods when smoking poultry like geese.

Apple and cherry or a combination of both will work amazingly because they infuse the rich beef-like aroma of the goose with lots of delicate sweetness.

But, if you’re a fan of Southern-style or Texas-style barbecue, use oak, maple, alder, hickory, or even mesquite to get a deep, bold, smoky aroma that is sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters.

Just wait until your family starts savoring goose – they’ll beg you to smoke this meat more often!

Also check out my roundup of the Best Woods for Smoking Turkey + Amazing Smoked Turkey Recipes

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.