Best Wood to Buy for Smoking Vegetables

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 29, 2022

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There are numerous types of woods to choose from when it comes to smoking vegetables. However, using the right one for the perfect result is not an easy task. People find it challenging to distinguish between different wood types and struggle to find suitable ones for veggies.

But don’t worry. Since you’re here, I’m going to show you exactly which woods to use for smoking vegetables. And to minimize any smoking mistakes, I’ll also tell you which ones to avoid. As a result, you’ll be ready to smoke vegetables perfectly and enjoy their tastes and flavors.

Sounds good, right? – let’s get right into it.

Best wood for smoking vegetables

Smoked vegetables are popular for a reason – they’re crunchy, full of flavor – and healthy too!

The best wood for smoking your vegetables are light woods, such as maple, hickory, apple, cherry, hickory, and pecan. Maple brings out the sweetness and earthiness of vegetables while hickory gets you the most “smoke” flavor. Pine, cedar, and eucalyptus are woods to avoid.

What Any Beginner Should Know About Choosing Wood Type For Smoking Vegetables

The types of wood used to smoke vegetables are often debated. But some clear guidelines can help you choose the right type. 

Different woods have different properties and purposes, so it’s important to know what each wood is capable of before using them in your smoker.

How to buy a bbq smoker video
How to buy a bbq smoker video

Some woods are better at producing smoke flavor while others are better at producing a tough, smoky exterior that holds up well to high-heat cooking.

When choosing a wood type, you should consider how it will affect the flavor and texture of your food as well as how long it will take to smoke.

While there are many different types of woods that you can use for smoking vegetables, some are less common than others and may not be readily available in all areas. 

To succeed with smoking vegetables, you’ll have to make sure that the cooking time is suitable for the particular variety of vegetables you’re preparing. Some vegetables require significantly less cooking time and will cook faster at hotter temperatures than others.

If you’re new to this, follow the recipes and have a bit of fun! As time goes by, you’ll learn about your individual preferences and adjust accordingly.

Top 5 Woods to Smoke Vegetables

The main reason why people love to smoke vegetables is to give them a smokey flavor without the harshness.

Based on experienced smokers these woods are the best for smoking vegetables: maple, apple, and cherry.

Each type of wood has its benefits for this purpose and will produce different flavors which complement the vegetables. Let’s see why they are the best options for smoking vegetables.

  1. Maple Wood: Maple wood is a popular smoking wood for vegetables. It gives off a sweet, smoky, and earthy flavor to your food as well as has some health benefits such as being high in manganese, iron, and calcium. 
  2. Apple Wood: Apple wood has a sweet, fruity aroma with a touch of spice. It is a popular wood for smoking vegetables because the fruity aroma tends to give the vegetables natural flavors. Although it can be used to smoke anything, it imparts a milder smoke flavor that’s a better choice for pork, fish, and vegetables.
  3. Hickory Wood: Hickory is one of the most common types of wood often used in smoking. It’s great at creating a “smoky” flavor that is perfect for both meat and vegetables. This type of wood is characterized by its scent and a slightly sweet taste. It is easy to find and very affordable, making it a perfect choice for those looking to get started smoking vegetables.
  4. Cherry Wood: Cherry wood has a light, fragrant aroma with hints of tartness. It is a great choice for smoking fish, chicken, and vegetables. This wood tends to be too light and gives fresh aromas. When it comes to smoking vegetables with Cherry Wood, you will need about 20 minutes of continuous smoking for a medium-sized vegetable like potato or turnip.
  5. Pecan Wood: Pecan wood is an interesting way to add a unique flavor to your vegetables. It gives a sweet, rich, and nutty taste which helps make it perfect for smoking vegetables. Its smoky flavor is impossible to replicate with other woods. Pecan wood is stronger than most fruit wood but milder than hickory.

Which woods typically go with which vegetables?

Maple wood has certain components that infuse some of the best properties to dishes cooked in or over it. You can cook any vegetables with this wood as it creates a lovely mellow smoke flavor. For example, you can smoke corn for 90 minutes with the maple wood or use it for potatoes for up to 2 hours.

Apple wood has a sweet, fruity, and mild profile. It is ideal for hearty vegetables like winter squash, Cauliflower, or pumpkin. You can also use this wood for Cabbage and Bell peppers.

Hickory wood goes well with Artichokes, Asparagus, Cabbage, Squash, and Zucchini. Vegetables receive sweet yet strong flavors from the wood and become tastier. However, they need different durations for cooking. Squash and Zucchini need 90 minutes to be cooked, while Asparagus takes only one hour. Artichokes needs 2 hours of smoking to get a perfect result, and Cabbage takes up to 4 hours of smoking.

Cherry wood with its sweet and mild flavor goes well with virtually everything. This wood has a hint of floral aroma, which differs it from other woods, like an apple. You can try to smoke any abovementioned veggies with cherry wood.

Pecan wood smokes a lightly sweet and fruity flavor that works great with vegetables. This wood is great for longer-roasted vegetables like asparagus or broccoli as it burns slowly. You can also use pecan with chilli Peppers and garlic (for 2 hours).

Woods to Avoid When Smoking Vegetables

When smoking vegetables, one should avoid using pine, cedar, and eucalyptus. These woods are known to emit toxins and thick smoke into the air.

  • Pine wood: Cooking with natural ingredients such as pine wood makes food taste better. However, smoking vegetables on pine wood causes a lot more problems than simply altering the flavor profile of your meal. There is an increased risk of releasing toxic substances like arsenic, formaldehyde, and other harmful chemicals that can lead to cancer, respiratory problems, and heart disease.
  • Cedar wood: Cedar is not suitable for smoking vegetables because it is too resinous, which can cause flare-ups and infuse odd flavors that don’t pair well with food. It is not recommended to use cedar for smoking vegetables because it has thick smoke, burns fast, and is dangerous for health.
  • Eucalyptus wood: Eucalyptus is a tree that has always been associated with being herbaceous and fragrant. However, it’s not always the best option for smoking vegetables like other plants such as tobacco, mint, or fennel.

Conclusion

Using the right wood for smoking your vegetables can make or break your dish. That is why it is challenging to decide which one is the best choice out of numerous smoking woods.

Practice shows that the best woods for smoking vegetables are maple, apple, cherry, hickory, and pecan. These types of woods are popular with vegetables because of their aromatic flavors and sweetness.

Whatever you choose for smoking vegetables, you should try to avoid pine, cedar, and eucalyptus. These woods are not suitable for smoking veggies because they have thick smoke, toxins, and harsh flavors.

Also read: these are the best smoked vegetable recipes you can find

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.