Best wood for smoking London broil for right flavor and aroma [5 top choices]

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  February 26, 2022

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Smoked London broil beef steak is undoubtedly one of the tastiest meat cuts to enjoy.

Although London broil is usually cooked in the oven or grilled outdoors, there’s no reason you can’t give it a delicious smokey taste in the smoker.

But the key to the best beef is to use a flavored smoke wood that doesn’t take away from the dry rub and the marinade.

You want the London broil to have just the right amount of wood smoke aroma.

Best wood for smoking London broil for right flavor and aroma [5 top choices]

Trust me, a good earthy smoke wood will make this inexpensive cut of beef taste amazing.

The best woods for smoked London broil are strong, bold, and earthy flavors such as oak, hickory, and mesquite. These woods impart a rich classic BBQ flavor to the beef. Milder woods like pecan or fruit woods work too but their flavors are mellow in comparison.

A London broil roast is not as flavourful as many of the pricier cuts, such as rib-eye and New York strip.

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It is moderate-lean in its body but can be extremely delicious when marinated and smoked. The marinade tenderizes the meat and gives the meat a very nice flavor.

Let’s look at all the woods you can use for smoking meat labeled as ‘London broil’.

Best wood to smoke London broil

When it comes to the best smoking wood choices for this type of beef you need to use woods that stand out.

The classic smoking woods for this beef cut include strong mesquite, hickory, and savory oak wood.

The medium smoky option is the nutty and sweet pecan.

For those who prefer fruity sweet aromas and don’t like the strong smokiness, a fruitwood like apple is fail-proof.

Oak

  • intensity: medium to strong
  • flavors: earthy, bold, savory, traditionally smoky taste

Oak is the go-to smoking hardwood for beef, especially top round steak. Therefore, it’s the tastiest smoking wood for London broil too!

This cut of beef has tough, dense muscle fibers and connective tissue so it can take heavy wood smoke.

The oak wood is ideal for people who like the robust smoky aroma of strong smoking woods.

Oak is commonly used to smoke red meat and wild game because it imparts the meat with a strong earthy and savory smoke.

The oak wood chips have a bold, rich, earthy, and savory smokey flavor associated with Southern-style BBQ. Although this wood has a bold smoke profile, it’s not as strong or pungent as mesquite.

Don’t be afraid to mix oak with other smoking woods. It goes well with hickory wood which combines the earthy oak smoke with a bacon-like flavor.

If you want to combine earthy smoke with sweet and fruity aromas, blend oak with apple or cherry wood chips.

Overall, if you want to be on the safe side, and don’t feel like experimenting, oak wood is great for smoking because it’s versatile, doesn’t overpower the London broil’s natural meaty taste.

It will give the beef a pleasant earthy and savory smoky aroma.

A small amount of Camerons premium oak wood chips goes a long way because it burns a clean thin blue smoke.

Hickory

  • intensity: strong
  • flavors: savory, bacon-like, earthy, hearty

Dark meat like London broil definitely pairs well with a meaty, hearty, and bacon-flavored smoke wood like hickory.

In fact, for out-of-this-world smoked London broil, hickory wood chips are an excellent choice.

I highly recommend hickory wood chips if you enjoy the taste of bacony smoky and earthy wood smoke.

This wood is very well-rounded and though it’s powerful, it doesn’t overpower the lean cut of beef at all, only enhancing its taste.

The smokiness is most often associated with Southern BBQ recipes from the best pitmasters.

Since beef has a strong enough flavor on its own, it pairs well with bold meaty smoke from hickory wood chunks.

Some might even say that the smoked London broil takes on a slightly spicy aroma too which can be a bit pungent.

As long as you don’t use too much hickory wood though, you don’t have to worry about any bitter flavors.

For a sweeter taste, blend the hickory wood with cherry which also gives the smoked London broil a nice dark reddish exterior color.

MacLean’s Outdoor Hickory Wood BBQ Smoking Chips give the beef a medium-strong bacony flavor and the chips burn clean so even beginners can smoke with them.

Pecan

  • intensity: mild to medium
  • flavors: nutty and slightly sweet

The strong meaty taste of beef pairs nicely with a nutty and sweet smoke wood. The combination of earthy, sweet, and nutty flavors takes the smoked London broil to the next level.

Once it comes out of the smoker, your top round steak will have a nutty aroma that distracts from the chewy muscle fibers of the meat.

Pecan wood is nowhere as intense as mesquite or hickory but delivers a unique smoke flavor profile. It’s a combination of classic BBQ, mild earthiness, strong nutty aroma, and sweetness.

It’s probably the best nut wood to use for smoking beef.

If you want a mild to medium smoke that still delivers a punch, pecan is an excellent wood. It’s bolder than the fruitwoods yet still gives the beef a bit of that sweetness.

One of the reasons why pecan wood is so great for the slow cooking method is that it burns a bit hotter for a longer time than oak, for example.

Therefore, it’s a good option for smoking larger meat cuts like London broil.

Its savory and nutty taste complements the lean meat which absorbs the right amount of smokiness without being easily over-flavored.

The beef is fully marinated with all kinds of herbs and spices and I like that the nutty aromas blend well with all of the seasonings.

The smoked London broil doesn’t have any kind of odd or funny taste and the delicate smoke flavors melt into the meat perfectly.

If you’re looking for a versatile smoke wood that tastes good with all the beef cuts you might smoke, classic pecan wood chips are a must-have in your collection.

For a true BBQ restaurant flavored London broil, try Western Premium BBQ Products Pecan BBQ Smoking Chips.

Mesquite

  • intensity: strong
  • flavors: earthy, savory, very smoky, slightly pungent

When it comes to smoking dark meat like game, beef brisket, or London broil, it’s hard to beat the bold, rich, earthy flavor of mesquite wood chips.

The darker meats can take on the strong powerful smoky aroma of this wood.

If you’ve tasted Texas-style barbecue, you might’ve had mesquite-smoked meat. It has such a bold, savory smoke profile, it’s hard to miss.

Mesquite is often crowned as the king of smoking woods in the USA. It has a flavorful earthy, savory, and slightly musky or pungent smoke.

The thing to note about mesquite wood is that it’s powerful and thus it’s easy to over smoke the meat (which you want to avoid).

Luckily, London broil, and beef in general, can take on the stronger wood smoke without tasting bitter.

Beginners might find smoking with mesquite wood chips a little more challenging because it gives the meat a lot of bold earthy taste and you can go overboard with the smoke.

However, if used in moderation, this is a great smoking wood.

If you own a pellet grill or smoker, you can get the Mr. Bar-B-Q Mesquite Smoking Pellets which burn a clean smoke.

Or, if you’re using another type of smoker, Oklahoma Joe’s Mesquite Wood Smoker Chips don’t take a long time to give your London broil the rich earthy smokiness you want.

Fruit woods: a sweeter smoky option

If you’re a fan of lighter, sweeter smoke flavors, you can’t go wrong with fruitwoods.

I’ve grouped the fruitwood chips into one category because they have similar flavors and they all impart a mild smokey aroma.

The top three fruitwoods for smoking beef are apple, peach, and cherry which all have a similar sweet taste with pleasant fruity notes.

Apple is the most popular smoking wood because it creates a light, mellow sweet, and fruity smoke. You can also go for crab apple for a similar flavor.

Peach is even sweeter than apple and also burns a subtle fruity smoke.

Cherry is still a mild smoke wood but in addition to the sweet and fruity aroma, it adds a dark reddish color to the meat which is perfect for smoked London broil.

You’re not limited to using these three fruitwoods in the smoker though, other suitable options include apricot wood, pear, and even mulberry.

You can cook some amazing London broil even if you use mild fruity wood chips because these don’t overpower the meat’s natural flavors.

Fruit woods are also great to blend with the stronger woods if you want to sweeten them and tone down the strong earthy and musky smoke flavor.

Apple and hickory, or oak and cherry are amazing smoking wood blends. Learn more about wood and food flavor combinations in my full wood for smoking guide.

What woods to avoid

When you put wood chips or wood chunks in the smoker chip tray, you should only use seasoned wood.

Never use softwoods for smoking meat (or any food for that matter). Most softwoods are full of sap, resin, and even toxins which will make you feel very ill.

Coniferous wood, such as pine, redwood, fir, spruce, cypress, or cedar, should be avoided when making smoked London broil.

These trees have a lot of sap and turpenes in them, which gives them a strange taste and can make you ill if you eat the meat.

Elm, eucalyptus, sycamore, and liquid amber can all impart an unpleasant flavor to London broil and should be avoided.

That’s because when they burn, these woods produce a black sooty substance called creosote with is very bitter!

For smoked London broil, you should also avoid very mild smoke woods, unless you only want a light and sweet smoke flavor.

If you’re used to only smoking with apple or other fruitwood, you might be satisfied with the light hint of smokiness.

Generally, milder smoke woods don’t produce a strong enough flavor so you won’t be able to distinguish the delicious smokiness.

Dark meat like flank steak or smoked top round, for example, needs an intense smoky aroma.

Find out how to grill flank steak here

How long to smoke London broil

Pitmasters like to grill London broil using the reverse searing method and cook it fast. On the other hand, many also prefer to smoke this inexpensive cut of beef because smoke enhances the overall flavors.

Smoking these leaner steaks and roasts is a fantastic way to prepare them. If you really like the taste of wood-smoked meat, smoking the beef sure beats grilling!

Before smoking, marinate for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

It’s best to smoke the beef at 225 degrees F. The smoker temperature shouldn’t exceed the 240-degree mark or you end up over smoking the roast.

Be careful with a charcoal grill and smoker because temperatures may fluctuate more than for a gas grill or smoker, for example.

Most London broil cuts are about 2-3 lbs but larger cuts obviously take longer to cook.

Smoke for 30 minutes per pound of meat until the internal temperature reaches 125°F to 145°F.

Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the meat’s internal temperature. Anything under 125 F is undercooked.

Learn more about the danger zone (when is it too cold?) when smoking here

Takeaway

Smoked London broil is delicious and easy to prepare in your smoker and the wood smoke makes it even better than if you cook it on the grill.

Just be sure to use a meat thermometer to cook the beef until it has the ideal internal temperature.

The beef should be marinated before smoking. A good marinade can be as easy as olive oil, some drops of red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.

You can even use Montreal steak seasoning combined with olive oil as part of your rub. The idea is to include acid to tenderize the muscle.

You are welcome to serve one for dinner then save the other for sandwiches the next day.

Sure, there’s a bit of prep time involved, but you’ll get plenty of meal ideas from smoked London broil.

Learn about the Best Way to Reheat Steak Without Drying It Out 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.