What should I smoke with pecan wood? Nutty, sweet & rich

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 10, 2023

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Pecan can be easy to find, especially if you live near Mexico or the southern regions of the US so perhaps you have some on hand to smoke with. But WHAT to do with it?

Pecan generally goes excellent with every food, whether it’s beef, pork, chicken, or even game meats. Having more strength than sweet woods and somehow weaker than its other peers in the hardwoods family, it infuses a very balanced flavor to the meat without affecting its natural taste.

In this article, we will dive a bit deep into which foods you can smoke with pecan wood. Plus, all the different smoking methods you can use it for.

What should I smoke with pecan wood?

The pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a species of hickory native to Mexico and the southcentral and southeastern regions of the United States. 

Agree or not, the hickory family is the Waltons of the hardwoods. With their monopoly on taste, flavor profile, and aroma, they are a staple for smoking meats.

One of the hickory’s most famous members is pecan wood. It is a lightly smoky, nutty, and mildly sweet-flavored wood that barbeque lovers consistently use and admire due to the immaculate taste it adds to the food.

What should I smoke with pecan wood?

Any food smoked with pecan tastes delicious. Below given are some of the most common ones you can conveniently smoke with pecan wood:

Whole chicken

With a mild flavor having a touch of nuttiness, pecan is one of the best smoking woods for smoking poultry.

Since the intensity of wood isn’t overwhelming, it fully enhances the flavor of chicken without overpowering its overall taste.

Have you ever tried making pellet smoker beer can chicken?


Generally, it’s good to smoke venison with extra smoky woods like mesquite or hickory.

But let me tell you, once you marinate the meat, there’s nothing better than sliding it in the smoker with pecan chunks.

Having mild smokiness and a bunch of different flavors, you get to build much more layers of taste on the meat than just simple smoke.

I like the generous-sized Weber pecan chunks that give a good smoking time

Whole turkey

Any Thanksgiving is incomplete without a turkey.

Next time, try smoking it with pecan wood to add some extra smokiness and sweetness to its already delicious taste. You aren’t going to regret this, period!

Find out here how and where to put the thermometer in turkey to make sure it’s well cooked

Beef brisket

Beef brisket is one of the main and tasteful cuts of meat and perhaps among the most time-consuming ones to smoke.

But hey, it’s so-worth-it, even more, when smoked with something light and sweet like pecan wood.

To ensure that the smoke flavor isn’t too nutty, combining it with something a little smoky, like oak or mesquite, is good.

It will balance down the sweetness of pecan and ensure the best flavor. You can also use apple instead of pecan if you like it fruity.

Pork butt

Pork butt or Boston butt, just like beef brisket, contains a lot of connective tissue that must be broken down through a persistent heat supply. Plus, it’s incredibly fatty as well.

This makes it highly suitable to be smoked with something mild like pecan or maple.

The long-term heat exposure ensures that all the subtle flavors are imparted to the meat without making it bitter.

Spare ribs

The first thing you need to know about spare ribs? They are challenging to smoke.

With all the extra and delicate trimming, the low chance for error in the smoking process, and slow cooking time, everything needs to be spot-on.

That being said, light woods like cherry and apple and hardwoods like hickory, oak, and pecan are your best bets.

Nevertheless, you have to be careful. Too much smoke can turn any piece of meat into a bitter-tasting health hazard.


Nothing tastes more delicious than a hot spice-rub coated ham smoked over low heat in a smoker. Especially ham that is smoked with pecan wood.

Top it off with a brush of brown sugar and maple glaze, and you’ve got a piece of pork that doesn’t have any parallels when it comes to taste.

Guess what? Pecan flavor has its own magic!

How to smoke with pecan wood

As you move towards smoking your meat, the first thing you need to know is whether it’s a large piece of meat or just a small one.

Based on this, you will decide whether you need to get pecan chips or chunks? Chips are preferred for minor cuts while chunks for bigger ones.

For longer smoking sessions, most grill and pitmasters prefer soaking the wood. Whether you should soak or not, it’s totally up to you!

Now let me tell you some of the essential know-how of smoking meat with pecan:

Smoking on a charcoal grill

If you are using a charcoal grill, the best practice is to heat the coal with the charcoal starter.

Once it’s heated perfectly, pour the coals directly into the grill and place the wood chunks on it. You can also set up a fuse burn with charcoal if it is a long session.

Smoking with a gas/electric grill

The best practice for an electric or gas grill is to wrap up the wood chunks or chips into a foil and directly place it on the fire.

Once it starts producing smoke, you can move it to the cooler side of the grill, let it smoke, and place your meat on the grill.

Smoker grills

Smoker grills have low temps for slow cooking and more control over the smoking process.

To begin smoking meat in the smoker grill, put some hot coals into the firebox with wood chunks or chips following them.

The easiest smoker for beginners has to be the electric smoker

Can I smoke pecan wood for smoking foods other than meats?

Yes! Pecan is a great option to smoke many foods other than meats.

Personally, I often smoke cheese with pecan wood to give it a bacony flavor.

You can also smoke pecan nuts or almonds. Just season them with some spice mixture and put in some olive oil.

Heat it for about 30 minutes in the pan, and they will naturally take to the smoke flavor.


Pecan is simply one of the most versatile smoking woods out there that you can use for almost any meat.

Moreover, due to its light flavors, you always have the option to mix it up with cherry wood, applewood, peach wood, or other fruitwoods to add up some extra flavors.

Hardwoods like mesquite and oak are also an excellent option for an extra smoky touch.

I hope this short article answered any question you might have had about what foods you can pair up with pecan.

There’s just one thing I would like to add to wrap up the talk: use pecan with caution. Too much of it can get the meat pungent.

Here’s one wood you should never use for smoking: pinewood is simply a health hazard

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.