Best wood for smoking meatloaf | 5 wood choices & some to avoid

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  April 26, 2020
I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Many kinds of woods are suitable to smoke your meatloaf. Especially because different types of wood will give a different flavor to the meat.

But mostly, people love using applewood or hickory to get the rich delicacies as well as the perfect smokey color of the dish.

In this article, I’ll take a look at these flavors and more tips for smoking your meatloaf to perfection.

Best wood for smoked meatloaf

A Brief About Meatloaf

Meatloaf refers to the ground meat mixed with herbs and spices in the shape of a loaf. Most people use beef to make this dish, but it actually can use any kind of meat.

You can cook your meatloaf either by baking it or smoking it.

Smoking the meatloaf means cooking it very slowly. It gives the chance for the meat to cook more evenly.

But most of all, the smoke will put extra flavors to the meat, making it taste richer than a baked meatloaf of the same recipe.

Which wood is best for smoking meatloaf?

Almost every type of smoking wood can go well with meat. You can try different woods each time you smoke your meatloaf and see how it turns out.

But if you are new to this, you can try some of these popular woods. Some say these are the best woods for smoking meatloaf!


Apple is the most common type of wood to use for cooking due to its versatility. Applewood has a mild and rather fresh sweet taste, making it perfect simple-seasoned meat.

If you season your meatloaf with honey or cinnamon, applewood smoke will give it a harmonious finish to its flavor.


If you want a heavier flavor, try using hickory for smoking your meatloaf.

It is full and distinct, which would be perfect to complement the rich usage of herbs and spices on your meatloaf.

Hickory is by far the most common wood to use for smoking beef, including the meatloaf.


Walnut woods give out a stench of a nutty taste to the meatloaf. It is effective to elevate the savory flavor on your dish. The wood is more intense than hickory.

Sometimes, people mix walnut with milder-flavored woods like cherry or other fruitwoods to create a more balanced complexity.


Lemonwood delivers a mild-to-medium intensity with a hint of citrusy flavor.

You can also interchange lemonwood with any citrus woods, such as tangerines, orange, and lime. They all deliver similar styles of tastes.

Lemonwood can make a great combination with heavier woods such as hickory, pecan, or walnut.


Mesquite gives a strong and heavy taste. It may cause your meatloaf to taste bitter if you over smoke it with this type of wood.

Unless this is what you wish for, you might want to consider mixing mesquite with one of your fruitwood.

Which wood to avoid when smoking meatloaf

Although many kinds of wood can go well with the meatloaf, it doesn’t mean you can use any woods for the smoking process.

Wrong woods can fail your meatloaf in terms of taste, aroma, and textures.

So when you are experimenting with wood types for smoking meatloaf, remember to avoid these woods:


Softwoods contain sap and terpenes. The chemicals will produce a bad flavor to your meatloaf. Even worse, some of them can give you an upset stomach.

Some examples of softwoods are eucalyptus, elm, sycamore, as well as woods from confiners like spruce, cedar, redwood, and pines.

Woods with Fungi

Molds and fungi make the wood unusable for cooking. There is no excuse for this.

Even the best wood for smoking meatloaf will deliberately ruin your dish if it is covered with mold or fungi. The taste will be awful.

Not to mention how it can also be poisonous. No matter how good your wood was, you need to throw it away as soon as it gets moldy.

Treated Woods

Always use natural woods for smoking your food, not just the meatloaf. Woods that have got painted, coated, or chemically treated in any way are no longer safe for smoking.

The toxic chemical will burn into the smoke and get to your food, making it toxic and dangerous for eating.

Important Tips on Smoking Meatloaf

Using the right wood is important. But that alone would not be enough.

You also need to perform the right technique to acquire a satisfying outcome. So here are some tips to live by:

Use Chunks

Wood chips or pellets are too quick to burn, only 30 minutes approximately. Meanwhile, meatloaf can take up to two hours to get perfectly smoked.

Hence, wood chunks are a much better option to use for smoking meatloaf. Wood logs can work too.

But since they are so big, they are more suitable for commercial use and bulk smoking.

No Soaking

You might have heard some suggestions about soaking your wood before starting your smoker. It is such a bad idea because woods need to be dry to produce a perfect smoke.

Wet wood takes longer to burn. Also, it will produce steam which carries along with impurities from the wood to your food. As a result, your dish won’t taste as good.


You need to keep your smoker warm enough to cook the meat, but also cool enough to give it time to absorb all the smokes.

The ideal temperature for smoking meatloaf is around 250-350 F, with internal temperature stays around 140-160 F.

It is also essential to preheat your smoker before putting the dish in to get it evenly cooked.


The longer you keep your food in a smoker, the more flavor it absorbs. However, too much smokiness does not equal better taste.

The excess smoke will overpower the meat taste itself. You need to keep the meat the main flavor of your dish.

For optimum results, meatloaf needs about 90 to 180 minutes to get smoked.

Smoking your meatloaf will result in a richer and more complex flavor of the dish than baking it.

However, you must use the right wood and technique, or else you will ruin it. Don’t be afraid of trying out new recipes or different types of woods for your smoked meatloaf.

The more you explore and practice, the better you will get it.

How to BBQ right has a great recipe video: