Is Bird Cherry or “Hackberry” Good for Smoking? Find Out Now

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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Not to be confused with Prunus avium, meaning “bird cherry”. Prunus padus, known as Bird Cherry or Hackberry, is a species of cherry, native to northern Europe and northern Asia. It is a deciduous small tree or large shrub, 8–16 m tall, which grows south of the Arctic Circle in northern Britain and Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Ukraine. There are also some trees in France, Spain, Portugal and in the Balkans. It is the type species of the subgenus Padus, which have flowers in racemes.

Bird cherry is a great choice for a mild fruity flavor, perfect for smoking pork and beef. In this article, I’ll explain why bird cherry is a great choice for smoking meat and share some tips on how to get the best results.

What is bird cherry

Discovering the Unique Flavor Profile of Bird Cherry “Hackberry” Wood for Smoking

Bird cherry wood is a type of wood that is popularly used for smoking meat and other produce. It is referred to as “bird” cherry wood because birds are known to love the fruit of the tree. This wood is unique in that it produces a sweet and smoky flavor that is different from other types of wood used for smoking.

The Different Varieties of Bird Cherry Wood

There are several varieties of bird cherry wood, including white, red, and dark. The fiber of the wood is different depending on the age of the tree. Young bird cherry wood has a softer fiber, while older wood has a harder fiber. The drying and storing method of the wood can also affect the flavor it produces.

When it comes to smoking meat, choosing the right type of wood is important. Both bird cherry and cherry wood are excellent choices, but they have some differences that you need to consider. Here are the types of cherry wood:

  • White Cherry Wood: This type of cherry wood is lighter in color and has a mild flavor. It’s ideal for smoking poultry and fish.
  • Red Cherry Wood: This type of cherry wood is darker in color and has a stronger flavor. It’s perfect for smoking pork and beef.
  • Dark Cherry Wood: This type of cherry wood is the darkest in color and has the strongest flavor. It’s great for smoking meats that require a lot of heat.

On the other hand, bird cherry wood is a type of firewood that comes from the bird cherry tree. It’s a hard and dense wood that is known for its high fiber content. Bird cherry wood is commonly used for making furniture, but it’s also an excellent choice for smoking meat.

The Flavor Profile of Bird Cherry Wood Smoke

Bird cherry wood smoke has a unique flavor profile that is mildly sweet and fruity, with a smoky and spicy undertone. The smoke produced by bird cherry wood is not as strong as other types of wood, but it still adds a great flavor to meat.

What Types of Meat Work Best with Bird Cherry Wood Smoke?

Bird cherry wood smoke works great with pork and beef. The smoke adds a rich and smoky flavor to the meat, making it perfect for barbecue. It’s important to note that the flavor of bird cherry wood smoke is not as strong as other types of wood, so it’s best to use it in combination with other woods like maple or oak.

What Are the Benefits of Using Bird Cherry Wood for Smoking?

  • Bird cherry wood smoke adds a unique flavor profile to meat.
  • It produces a mild and fruity smoke that is not too strong.
  • It works great with pork and beef.
  • It can be used in combination with other woods for a more complex flavor.
  • Bird cherry wood is a natural and organic alternative to traditional smoking woods.
  • It is a cheaper alternative to other types of wood.

Can Bird Cherry Wood Smoke Be Associated with Sharpness or Strong Flavors?

Despite the unique flavor profile of bird cherry wood smoke, it is not associated with sharpness or strong flavors. The smoke produced is mild and fruity, with a smoky and spicy undertone. Adding a sauce or mix to the meat can improve the flavor profile and add a greater benefit to the dish.

What Is the Price of Bird Cherry Wood Compared to Other Smoking Woods?

Bird cherry wood is a cheaper alternative to other types of smoking woods, making it a great option for novice smokers or those on a budget. The price of bird cherry wood varies depending on the store and the area, but it is generally lighter on the wallet than other woods like red oak or hickory.

Why Bird Cherry Wood is a Great Choice for Smoking Meat

Bird cherry wood is a unique type of wood that produces a smoky flavor that is both delicate and strong at the same time. It’s a great choice for adding a nice cherry flavor to your dishes, especially pork and beef.

Wide Range of Dishes

Bird cherry wood works well with a wide variety of dishes, from lighter seafood to heavier pulled pork. It can be used to create a complex and slightly sweet flavor profile that is perfect for making a dish stand out.

Excellent for Wet and Dry Smoking

Whether you prefer wet or dry smoking, bird cherry wood is an excellent choice. It produces a consistent smoke that contributes to the natural flavors of the meat. It’s also a great alternative to traditional woods like hickory and oak.

Easy to Work With

Bird cherry wood comes in a variety of forms, from chunks to finely ground pieces. Depending on the dish you’re making, you can choose the type of wood that will best match the other ingredients. It’s also fairly easy to break into consistent portions, making it a lot easier to achieve the desired result.

Getting the Perfect Mix: How to Prepare Bird Cherry Wood for Smoking

When it comes to smoking, not all bird cherry wood is created equal. To get the best flavor, you’ll want to choose wood that is seasoned and ready to use. This means selecting wood that has been dried for at least six months, which allows the bark to loosen and the wood to become more porous. The best bird cherry wood for smoking is mild in flavor and has a delicious combination of sweet and smoky taste.

Preparing the Wood

Once you’ve selected your bird cherry wood, it’s time to prepare it for smoking. Here’s how to do it:

  • Remove any loose bark or debris from the wood.
  • Cut the wood into small, manageable pieces that will fit in your smoker.
  • Soak the wood in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour to add moisture to the wood and prevent it from burning too quickly.
  • Drain the wood and let it air dry for a few minutes before placing it in your smoker.

Mixing Bird Cherry Wood with Other Woods

While bird cherry wood is delicious on its own, it can also be mixed with other woods to create a unique flavor profile. Here are some woods that pair well with bird cherry:

  • Cherry wood: This wood has a similar flavor profile to bird cherry and can enhance the sweetness of the smoke.
  • Apple wood: This wood adds a fruity flavor to the smoke and pairs well with the mild taste of bird cherry.
  • Hickory wood: This wood adds a smoky flavor to the smoke and can balance out the sweetness of bird cherry.

Experiment with different wood combinations to find the perfect mix for your taste.


So, is bird cherry wood good for smoking? 

It’s a great wood to use for smoking meat, especially pork and beef. It has a mild fruity flavor and produces a sweet and smoky smoke. 

Plus, it’s a natural organic alternative to traditional smoking woods, so it’s cheaper too. So, give it a try and see for yourself!

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.