Can you smoke meat with beech wood? Here’s why it’s popular!

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 1, 2022

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Beech (Fagus) is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.

Beechwood produces a mild smoke that is very aromatic, and the scent of the wood can help to make food more appetizing.

The best woods for smoking meat and other foods can take your BBQ to the next level. Smoking combined with spice rubs can make the food so much tastier.

Beech wood is a favorite smoking wood in Europe and the U.K but it’s not as popular in North America because other popular smoke woods are more prevalent.

Can you smoke meat with beech wood? Here's why it's popular!

When you think of smoking wood chips, you probably think of hickory, oak, or apple, not beech.

Most people think that beechwood is bland and tasteless but that’s not true.

Beechwood is a popular smoking wood that produces mild smoke with a smoky, nutty, and delicate flavor. It doesn’t overwhelm meat so it’s best for smoking poultry, fish, nuts, vegetables, and cheese. Of course, you can also use beech wood for smoking pork, beef, and game meat but it’s best to blend the beech with a stronger wood if you want an intense smoky taste.

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In this post, I’m sharing why beech wood is good for smoking and which meats and foods you can smoke with it.

Can you smoke food with beech wood?

Yes, beechwood is suitable for smoking meat and other foods because it is relatively mild. It is best used to smoke meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, nuts, and cheese.

The smoke from beechwood, often known as beechnut, is the nuttiest of all the nut woods. Beechnut is a must-try if you’re used to hickory or pecan.

It has the highest density of all of the nut forests.

As a result, the more dense the wood, the more smoke, and the longer they smoke, the more flavor. Poultry and fish all benefit from beechnut.

You can use beech wood for hot smoking, cold smoking, and of course, grilling.

It appears to be widely known that wood grown in colder climates has a higher density than wood grown in warm climates all year.

This wood is very popular in parts of Europe and the UK because it’s a mild smoke wood with a pleasant light nutty flavor. The smoke is mild enough to complement poultry and fish, especially salmon.

Because of its delicate taste, beechwood is a popular alternative because it works as a blending wood for stronger smoky woods. It’s also great to mix with some seaweed for smoking if you are into that.

The overall flavor of beech wood is similar to oak with the nutty notes of pecan but it’s not sweet.

People use the beechwood smoke for fish, poultry, and some pork or beef but for those red meats, the smoke profile is a bit too bland.

Generally, beech is perfect for more delicate meats rather than red meat because it’s light.

If you want to smoke nuts like almonds, you can replace pecan wood with beech because these woods have a similar flavor.

When smoking cheese, you can use beech to bring out flavors of other seasonings too by blending the beech with a fruity flavor from sweet apple or cherry wood chips.

Overall, beech is an alternative to oak wood because it’s less intense, some might even call it bland but I think it’s an excellent wood for smoking.

How to use beech wood for smoking

The problem with beach wood is that it’s hard to find beechwood chips for sale.

Instead, you can source beech trees and make your own wood chunks. Most people just chop up the wood into larger style chunks.

Beechwood burns hot and clean. However, it is harder to light up than some of the other best wood types.

Once lit, it offers a clean smoky flavor and unlike walnut wood, it doesn’t burn unevenly so it’s easy to use.

Also the smoke profile doesn’t give such an intense flavor so it’s harder to oversmoke the food.

Just a reminder to use a small number of wood chips or wood chunks in order to avoid the unpleasant flavor of over smoked meat, fish, and veggies.

Best food to smoke with beech wood

Since beech wood is mild, the best foods to smoke are white meats like poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables, nuts, and cheese.

The reason why lighter foods are best for beech wood is that this wood’s nutty and smoky taste imparts a lot of flavor to these foods.

Therefore, they absorb most of the smoke and take on a distinct flavor.

Vegetables and nuts can be quite bland when smoked so a mild wood gives them the right amount of smokiness without overpowering or imparting a bitter taste.

In case you like a delicate smokey aroma, you can even use beech to smoke beef cuts like brisket, London broil, chuck, and ribs.

You can also smoke pork because the nutty flavor pairs well with strong meaty aromas.

Also, when smoking with it, beech gives the meat a yellow or golden hue. The chicken, turkey, fish, and beef can get yellow-tinged.

What is beech wood and what is it like?

Beech is definitely not one of the popular American smoking woods. In the North American region, it’s nowhere near as popular as oak, hickory, mesquite, and fruitwood chips.

This wood is part of the Fagaceae family, a relative of oak wood.

In fact, beech is way more popular in Europe and UK because in the Americas people mostly use this wood for woodworking, construction, and furniture.

But, this wood type is good for all types of wood-fired cooking techniques, especially smoking and grilling. You’ll get a pretty amazing result when smoking meats or grilling with this wood.

The smoke from beechwood, often known as beechnut, is the nuttiest of all the nut woods. Beechnut is a good alternative if you’re used to hickory or pecan. It has the highest density of all of the nut forests.

As a result, the more dense the wood, the more smoke, and the longer they smoke, the more flavor. Beef, pork, and poultry all benefit from beechnut.

Because beech grows in cooler climates, it is denser than other wood types from warmer climates.

Beechwood in North America

Beech is a great wood for many purposes. Unlike other woods in the US, it’s less popular and mostly used for smoking fish and most meats like pork in Europe.

The beech trees and ones from the same family that grows in the Eastern Appalachian mountain region have a slightly stronger flavor.

Since the soil Ph levels and the climate is slightly different, this dense wood has a nutty but classic smoky flavor.

It’s definitely not as neutral as some mild woods in America (i.e alder wood). It also doesn’t have a fruity smoke but it’s similar to Oak’s earthy smoke flavor combined with pecan’s nuttiness.

Takeaway

If you like to smoke fish, poultry, beef, or make recipes like pulled pork, you can definitely choose beech wood over classics like oak, alder, and pecan.

As one of the smoky moderate woods, beech gives plenty of kick so you can have a unique taste.

Beech smoked chicken is a must-try food if you like a mild smoky flavor without any bitter aftertaste.

Overall, this wood blends well with all kinds of foods and other woods. Your smoked meat and food will have a tasty smoky aroma without any pungent taste.

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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.