Cherry Wood Smoking: Pros, Cons & Expert Tips for Delicious BBQ

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 11, 2023

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Is cherrywood good for smoking? Yes, it is. It has a subtle fruity flavor from fruitwood that complements most meats and doesn’t burn quickly like other woods. However, is it the best option? Let’s weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, I’ll answer that question and more. Keep reading to learn more.

Is cherry wood good for smoking

In this post we'll cover:

Cherry Wood: The Perfect Addition to Your Smoking Game

Cherry wood is a type of wood that is commonly used for smoking meat. It is a natural wood that comes from the cherry tree, which is found in different parts of the world. Cherry wood is a light-colored wood that has a delicate and slightly sweet flavor profile. Unlike other woods, cherry wood is not overpowering, making it an excellent choice for smoking meats.

How Does Cherry Wood Compare to Other Woods?

While cherry wood is not as strong as oak or mesquite, it is still a great wood to use for smoking meats. Here are some of the main differences between cherry wood and other woods:

  • Cherry wood is lighter in color and has a more delicate flavor profile than oak or mesquite.
  • It is not as strong as oak or mesquite, meaning that it won’t overpower your meats.
  • Cherry wood is not as consistent as oak or mesquite, but it is still a high-quality wood that delivers a great flavor to your meats.

How to Use Cherry Wood for Smoking Meat?

Using cherry wood for smoking meat is relatively easy. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Use cherry wood chunks or chips to add a touch of smoky flavor to your meats.
  • Mix cherry wood with oak or mesquite to create a more complex flavor profile.
  • Use a ratio of 1:3 cherry wood to oak or mesquite for the best results.
  • Soak your cherry wood chunks or chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to your smoker.
  • Place your cherry wood chunks or chips on top of hot coals or in a smoker box to create a consistent smoke.

What Meats Pair Well with Cherry Wood?

Cherry wood is an excellent wood for smoking pork, dark poultry like duck, beef, lamb, and other gamey meat. Here are some meats that pair particularly well with cherry wood:

  • Pork ribs and pork shoulder
  • Beef brisket and beef ribs
  • Lamb chops and leg of lamb
  • Duck breast and other gamey meats

Why Cherry Wood is a Great Choice for Smoking Meat

When smoking meat (here’s how to do it at home), it’s important to have control over the process. Cherry wood chunks enable you to have that control. You can add small or larger portions of cherry wood depending on the level of smoke and sweetness you want to achieve. This makes it easier to create consistent results every time you smoke meat.

The Combination of Cherry Wood with Other Woods

Cherry wood can be combined with other woods, such as hickory, to create a stronger flavor profile. Depending on the meat you are smoking, certain woods may work better than others. It’s important to check which woods work best with cherry wood to ensure the best results.

The Negative Compounds in Cherry Wood

Some people believe that cherry wood contains negative compounds that can cause health problems. However, this is not necessarily true. The smoking process takes a long time, and any harmful compounds are burned off during the process. As long as you are using dry cherry wood, there is no need to worry about negative compounds.

The Importance of Soaking Cherry Wood

Soaking cherry wood before using it in a smoker can help to create a nice, consistent smoke. This is especially important for beginners (check out these smokers to get started) who are just starting to learn the smoking process. Soaking the wood for a shorter time can help to create a wet smoke, while soaking it for a longer time can create a dry smoke.

The Sweet and Fruity Cherry Flavor Profile for Smoking Food

Cherry wood smoke is medium in strength, making it an excellent choice for smoking pork, turkey, and other red meats. The final result is a delicate and smoky flavor that enhances the natural taste of the meat. Cherry wood smoke also pairs well with seafood, producing a unique and flavorful profile that is sure to impress.

Preparing Cherry Wood for Smoking

When using cherry wood for smoking, it’s a good idea to start by soaking the wood in water for at least 30 minutes. This will help to prevent the wood from burning too quickly and will also help to produce a more consistent smoke.

The Difference Cherry Wood Can Make

The use of cherry wood in smoking meat can make a significant difference in the final result. The sweet and fruity profile of cherry wood smoke can improve the quality of any food, making it a popular choice for barbecue enthusiasts and chefs alike.

Why Cherry Wood Smoke is the Secret Advantage for Juicy Meats

Cherry wood produces a mild to medium smoke that is sweet, slightly fruity, and blends well with oak wood. This fruity flavor complements poultry and duck, making them taste even more delicious. The fruitiness of the smoke works well with the natural flavor of the meat, resulting in a dish that is both flavorful and juicy.

Cherry Wood Burns Slower and Prevents Over-Smokiness

Cherry wood is relatively dense and burns slower than other woods, which prevents over-smokiness. This slower burn allows the smoke to penetrate the meat without overpowering it, resulting in a perfectly smoked dish. The cherry wood smoke imparts a gorgeous hue to the meat, which is sure to impress your guests.

Cherry Wood Smoke Works Well with Other Woods

Cherry wood smoke blends well with other woods, especially oak wood. This combination produces a smokiness that is not too overpowering, allowing the natural flavor of the meat to shine through. The cherry wood smoke also adds a touch of sweetness to the meat, which complements the smoky flavor.

Cherry Wood Smoke Gives Meats a Beautiful Color

Cherry wood smoke imparts a beautiful color to meats, giving them a gorgeous hue that is sure to impress your guests. The color is not only aesthetically pleasing but also an indication of a perfectly smoked dish. The cherry wood smoke adds a subtle sweetness to the meat, which complements the smokiness and enhances the overall flavor.

Cherry Wood Chips are Easy to Use

Cherry wood chips are readily available and easy to use. They can be added to any smoker or grill, making them a convenient option for home cooks. Cherry wood chips are also relatively affordable, making them a great option for those on a budget.

Mixing Cherry With Other Woods

When it comes to mixing cherry with other woods, there are numerous options to choose from. Some of the most popular woods to mix with cherry include:

  • Maple: Mixing cherry with maple can create a great balance of sweet and smoky flavors that work well with beef and pork.
  • Oak: Oak is an excellent wood to mix with cherry because it has a similar smoke profile and can help to add a little bit of extra smokiness to the end product.
  • White ash: White ash is a great wood to mix with cherry because it has a similar flavor profile and can help to add a little bit of extra heat to the mix.
  • Red oak: Mixing cherry with red oak can produce a slightly stronger smoky flavor that works well with dark poultry and gamey meats.

What Are the Potential Negative Effects of Mixing Cherry With Other Woods?

While mixing cherry with other woods can be an enjoyable and popular way to produce a unique smoky flavor profile, there are a few potential negative effects to keep in mind:

  • It can be difficult to control the smoky flavor: Depending on the recipe and the type of meat you are smoking, it can be difficult to control the smoky flavor produced by mixing cherry with other woods.
  • It can be difficult to produce a consistent flavor: Mixing cherry with other woods can produce a greater range of flavors, which can make it difficult to produce a consistent end product.
  • It can be difficult to get the correct balance of flavors: Mixing cherry with other woods requires a bit of trial and error to get the correct balance of flavors, so it’s important to be patient and willing to learn.

Cherry and Mesquite: A Match Made in Smoker Heaven?

When it comes to smoking meats, cherry and mesquite are two of the most popular woods used by pitmasters and home cooks alike. But can they be used together? The short answer is yes! Here’s why:

  • Cherry wood provides a mildly sweet and fruity smoke that pairs well with pork and other meats that have a natural sweetness.
  • Mesquite, on the other hand, is a strong and hearty wood that provides a savory and smoky flavor that goes great with cuts like brisket, ribs, and chops.

When you combine cherry and mesquite, you get the best of both worlds. The sweetness of the cherry is bolstered by the smokiness of the mesquite, creating a complex and delicious flavor profile that is sure to impress.

How to Combine Cherry and Mesquite

If you want to try combining cherry and mesquite in your next smoking session, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Reserve a handful of cherry wood chips or bisquettes and a handful of mesquite wood chips or bisquettes.
  • Combine the two woods in whichever ratio you prefer. Some people like a 50/50 mix, while others prefer more cherry than mesquite or vice versa.
  • Make sure not to overpower the cherry with too much mesquite. You want to add just enough mesquite to provide a hearty smokiness without ruining the mild sweetness of the cherry.
  • Use a quality meat thermometer or probe to make sure your meat is cooked to the desired temperature. This is especially important when combining different types of woods, as the cooking time may vary.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of woods. Cherry and mesquite are just two of many great options available, and each provides a unique flavor that can be combined with others to create your own signature taste.

Other Woods That Pair Well With Cherry

If you’re not a fan of mesquite or want to try something different, here are a few other woods that pair well with cherry:

  • Hickory: A strong and hearty wood that provides a smoky flavor comparable to mesquite.
  • Apple: A milder wood that provides a fruity and sweet smoke that goes great with pork and chicken.
  • Oak: A versatile wood that provides a neutral smoke flavor that can be combined with other woods to add depth and complexity.

No matter which wood you opt for, make sure to use a pure and natural product to ensure the highest quality smoke.

Mistakes to Avoid When Combining Woods

While combining woods can be a great way to add complexity to your smoked dishes, there are a few mistakes to avoid:

  • Adding too much of one wood can overpower the other and ruin the dish.
  • Using woods that are too different in flavor can clash and create an unpleasant taste.
  • Not being familiar with the woods you’re using can lead to unexpected results. Make sure to do your research and experiment to find the perfect combination for your tastes.

In the end, combining cherry and mesquite is a great way to add a new component to your smoked meats. Just make sure to dose it carefully and experiment to find your favorite combination of woods.

While cherry wood is an excellent choice for smoking meat, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind. Here are some things to consider:

  • Cherry wood is sweet and fruity, which is great for some people, but others may find it a bit too much. If you prefer a more delicate smoke flavor, you may want to consider mixing cherry with other types of wood, like apple or hickory.
  • Cherry wood contains a unique compound called benzaldehyde, which gives it its signature sweet flavor. However, some people may be sensitive to this compound and experience negative side effects like headaches or nausea.
  • Cherry wood can be difficult to find in some areas, and it may be more expensive than other types of smoking wood. If you can’t find cherry wood locally, you may need to order it online or consider using a different type of wood that’s more readily available.
  • Unlike some other types of smoking wood, cherry wood can be a bit more difficult to control. It produces a lighter smoke than woods like mesquite or oak, which can make it harder to maintain a consistent temperature. You may need to pay extra attention to your smoking methods to ensure that your meat is cooked evenly and to your liking.

To Soak or Not to Soak Cherry Wood for Smoking?

There is a common misconception that soaking wood chunks before using them for smoking will prevent them from burning too quickly. However, this is not entirely true. Soaking wood can actually cause it to produce a lot of steam, which can mean less smoke and a shorter smoking time.

The Ideal Thickness for Cherry Wood Pieces

When it comes to smoking meat with cherry wood, it’s important to choose the right size and thickness of wood pieces. Smaller pieces will dry out faster and may cause a lot of smoke, while larger pieces may take longer to produce a smoky flavor. The ideal thickness for cherry wood pieces is around 1-2 inches, which will allow for consistent smoke production and control over the smoking process.

The Unique Flavor Profile of Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is an excellent choice for smoking pork, beef, and other meats due to its sweet and slightly fruity flavor. It can also be combined with other woods such as apple or mesquite to add a variety of smoky elements to your barbecue.

The Choice Between Soaking and Not Soaking

Ultimately, whether or not to soak cherry wood for smoking comes down to personal preference and experience. Some people believe that soaking the wood can help create a more consistent and controlled smoking process, while others prefer to use dry wood for a richer and more complex flavor.

For beginners, it may be a good idea to start with dry cherry wood and work your way up to experimenting with soaked pieces. Just be sure to control the soaking time and thickness of the wood to avoid any wrong outcomes.

Cherry Wood Smoking: Answering Your Burning Questions

Cherry wood is an excellent smoking wood due to its unique flavor profile, which is sweet, mild, and fruity. It produces a delicate smoke that is suitable for a variety of meats, mainly pork. Cherry wood chunks and wood chips work with just about everything, making it a great addition to your cooking arsenal.

What are the benefits of using cherry wood for smoking?

There are numerous benefits to using cherry wood for smoking, including:

  • Adding a sweet and fruity flavor to your food
  • Increasing the level of moisture in the meat
  • Producing a steady and consistent smoke
  • Providing a unique and incredible taste to your dishes

How should I properly store cherry wood for smoking?

To ensure that your cherry wood chunks or pieces stay fresh and mold-free, store them in a dry and cool place. Wrapping them in plastic or putting them in an airtight container can also help keep them fresh for longer.

Can I mix cherry wood with other wood varieties?

Yes, you can mix cherry wood with other wood types to add more complexity to your smoke. Some commonly used woods to mix with cherry include mesquite, hickory, and applewood. However, remember that the type of wood you choose to mix with cherry depends on the flavor profile you want to achieve.

Do I need to soak cherry wood before using it for smoking?

No, you do not need to soak cherry wood before using it for smoking. Soaking wood can actually decrease the ability of the wood to produce smoke and increase the internal temperature of your smoker. The key is to make sure that your cherry wood is dry before using it for smoking.

What are the differences between cherry wood chunks and cherry wood chips?

Cherry wood chunks are larger pieces of wood that burn slowly and steadily, producing a strong and consistent smoke. Cherry wood chips, on the other hand, are smaller pieces of wood that burn fast and produce a more subtle smoke. The choice between cherry wood chunks and chips depends on your personal preference and the type of meat you are smoking.

Can I use cherry wood for wrapping foods?

Cherry wood is not commonly used for wrapping foods due to its rich flavor profile. However, it can be used for wrapping foods that require an extreme smoky flavor, such as brisket or ribs. Just remember to test the internal temperature of the meat to ensure that it is cooked properly.

What is the meaning behind the names “black cherry” and “wild cherry”?

Black cherry and wild cherry are two common names used to describe cherry wood. Black cherry refers to the darker color of the wood, while wild cherry refers to the fact that the wood is commonly found in the wild. However, both names refer to the same type of wood.

Is cherry wood a widely sold smoking material?

Cherry wood is a popular smoking material and is widely sold in stores that specialize in grilling and smoking. It is also available online, making it easy to purchase no matter where you live.

Is it difficult to trim cherry wood?

Cherry wood has a unique grain pattern that can make it difficult to trim. However, with the right tools and a steady hand, you should be able to trim cherry wood with ease.

What potential mold issues should I be aware of when using cherry wood?

Fresh cherry wood can contain mold spores, which can cause mold to grow on the wood if it is not allowed to dry properly. To avoid mold issues, make sure that your cherry wood is dry before using it for smoking.


So, is cherrywood good for smoking? It’s a great wood to use for pork, poultry, and seafood, and it imparts a delicious fruity flavor to the food. You can use it to make a delicious smoker blend with oak or mesquite. So don’t be afraid to give it a try! You might just find your new favorite wood.

Also read: is chokecherry wood good for smoking?

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.