The best wood for smoking that perfect wild boar

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 10, 2023

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Slow-cooked, smoky boar really is one of the best ways to eat the meat and ensures it’s tender and moist. But what is the best wood to use when smoking boar?

Hardwood burns slowly and evenly thanks to its density. Perfect for smoking boar meat without burning or overheating. Cherry wood is usually the most popular wood for smoking boar as it gives a subtle, fruity flavor to the meat. Oakwood is also popular for its stronger flavor. 

In this article. I’ll explore the best woods to use when smoking wild boar and which to avoid.

Best wood for smoked wild boar

What is the best wood for smoking wild boar?

Wood-smoking wild boar can result in a super tasty, flavorful dish.

The most popular hardwoods for smoking include:

  • Cherry
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Walnut
  • Apple

Fruit trees such as cherry, apple, fig and pear add some of the flavors of the fruits into the smoke. Cherry has a mild flavor, so it works well when paired with other woods.

The rich flavor of boar goes especially well with cherry, so using cherry wood can make the boar flavors really stand out. Boar smoked in cherry wood can be served with rich stews and red wine sauces that also compliment the cherry and boar flavors. 

Oak has a medium-to-strong flavor and is generally the classic, go-to wood for smoking.

Oak is also a very popular choice of wood for smoking as the rich, earthy flavors can really bring out the taste in meats. Oakwood is often paired with BBQ-style sauces as the flavors complement each other.

Maple wood has a slightly sweeter, lighter flavor than oak, so while it is a popular wood for smoking, it is more commonly used to smoke lighter meats such as pork.

Using maple wood to smoke boar will give a much subtler flavor, and therefore it can be used in conjunction with other flavors in a marinade or sauce without being overpowering. 

Pecan and walnut wood give a rich nutty flavor that pairs well with boar. However, both kinds of wood offer a milder flavor, so they work well when paired with another hardwood to pack more of a flavor punch. 

You can also combine woods to give a variety of flavors and create a signature blend. You may also want to switch up which wood you use depending on the cut and size of the meat. 

A large shoulder of boar would work well with oak and much more potent woods. If you plan on using the smoked boar in a brisket recipe with sauce, you might want to use a fruit tree to give a subtle richness to the meat combined with the sauce. 

Worst woods for smoking boar

There are many great options for smoking woods that can add unique flavors to the meat. Picking between these woods really is a personal preference.

However, there are some woods you should avoid when smoking wild boar meat. 

Wood to avoid when smoking includes all softwoods as these contain a lot of resin. This resin can give a nasty bitter flavor to the meat when smoked. 

Softwoods to avoid when smoking meat include:

  1. Pine
  2. Spruce
  3. Cedar
  4. Fir
  5. Sycamore
  6. Hemlock
  7. Larch
  8. European redwood

As well as giving your meat a nasty taste, softwoods contain more air and burn much hotter, making it harder to control the temperature and harder to smoke meats. They also burn faster and produce sparks which can burn the meat. 

So, when you’re looking to smoke wild boar meat, avoid any softwood at all costs. 

When choosing your wood, you should also make sure it doesn’t contain any chemicals or pesticides that could be released by the fire. 

Fruit trees are a popular choice for smoking because of their flavors. However, many fruit trees are sprayed with pesticides and insecticides, which can be harmful. The chemicals soak into the wood and are released by fire, making your meat both bitter to taste and potentially harmful to your health. 

You should also make sure the wood is well stored. Wood that has been left stacked outside may have damp, mold, bugs or fungus. If the wood is compromised, it will taste bad and could be dangerous. 

What to consider when smoking boar

Smoking meats like boar properly isn’t just about the wood that you use; there are several other elements to consider and control that will impact the end result. 

When smoking your meat, make sure you keep the temperature very low for tender meat. Keeping the meat moist and juicy is also very important when smoking, so you have several options for preventing the meat from drying out. 

Why smoke boar at a low temperature?

Smoking any meat at a low temperature helps keep it tender and stops it from becoming tough and chewy.

You should aim to smoke boar meet at around 200 because this is hot enough to break down the tougher collagen in muscles into a liquid, making the meat tender. However, it’s a low enough temperature to keep the meat tender and stop it from drying out.  

Depending on the size of the cut, you will want to smoke your boar meat for a minimum of one hour. This means the temperature will vary slightly based on the cut, on or off-bone and the size of the meat. On average, you should allow approximately an hour and a half of smoking time for every half a kilo of meat.  

Keeping the meat moist while smoking

The danger when smoking meat for a long time is that it could dry out, leaving you with chewy, hard meat that’s difficult to chew. 

Keeping moisture in your boar while smoking it by marinading it, wrapping it or basting it. All these techniques will help keep juices in the eat, and you can use the process to add flavors. 

Here’s a rundown on each technique for keeping meat moist while smoking: 

  • Basting: Basting means periodically adding more liquid to the meeting during the smoking process. You can make a sauce or marinade to keep the flavors fresh and reapply the liquid every half hour or so during cooking to give the meat extra juices. Make sure to avoid sugar-based liquids as sugar burns easily and will provide a glaze. Only add sugar-based sauces such as BBQ in the final 20 minutes of the smoking process for the sticky coating.
  • Wrapping: After an initial smoking period, you can wrap the meat in foil. This will keep the smoky flavors in the meat, and any juices or liquid will stay close to the meat and won’t dry up. This is an excellent technique for marinated boar as the flavors will remain close to the meat. This is also useful if you want to use the natural meat juices after smoking as the base for a sauce as the foil will capture and hold the meat juices. 
  • Marinading/injecting: Letting the boar meat sit in a liquid with spices and flavoring helps prepare the meat with moisture before starting to smoke it. You can inject a sauce or other liquid into the meat itself to help penetrate the center. This technique is often combined with basting to reapply the sauce throughout the smoking. 

Final Thoughts

Smoking boar meat is an easy, tasty way to add flavor to already flavorful meat. But picking the right kind of wood can make a big difference in the final taste.

Make sure that you are using hardwood as the base of your smoking fire, as this will burn slowly and ensure a smooth, even process. 

You can mix up different hardwoods to get a unique flavor and create your own recipe. Fruit trees can provide rich, complex flavors but offer a milder smoky taste, and oak is incredibly powerful.

Maple, walnut and pecan have a lightness and sweetness that makes them perfect for combining with other woods.  

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.