Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

This article highlights the absolute best wood for smoking ribs. There are many different types of wood that you can use to smoke ribs and achieve that signature smoky, sweet flavor, however apple wood is the best wood for smoking ribs. Other common woods used for smoking ribs include: Oak, Apple, Cherry, Pecan, and Hickory.

Below, our team has broken down the flavor profile of each of these types of wood to help you create the best smoked rack of ribs .

Traditional Woods

The first of the best wood for smoking ribs that we are going to review fall into the category of traditional woods. These types of wood, whether wood chunks, wood chips, wood pellets, or logs, will typically give you smoked ribs with a strong, smoky flavor.

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Hickory wood is the most commonly used wood for smoking ribs. It is also one of the most commonly used woods for smoking in general- The King of Smoking Woods. The sweet and strong flavor is perfect for use on pork, ham, and beef. If you are fan of the hickory flavor (some people can find it overpowering), hickory is the wood to use.

If you are looking for a milder, smoky flavor for your ribs, consider using one of the woods like pecan (which will offer a more sweet and mild flavor) or Oak which will produce a lot of smoke flavor for you pork.


Oak wood, commonly referred to in the smoking community as post oak, is the Queen of Smoking Wood. You can use either White Oak or Red Oak on ribs, however, Red Oak is typically the preferred variety. Producing a medium-to-heavy smoke flavor, oak will give you the quintessential smoky ribs you are looking for.

Producing much smoke, you may need to experiment with the smoking time to achieve that perfect smoke flavor.


Much like oak and hickory, Pecan provides a great baseline smoke for smoking ribs. Pecan is common BBQ wood used for many different meats, and produces a sweeter and milder smoke.

Pecan also can introduce nutty flavors to your ribs, if that is something that you are interested in.

Fruity Woods

If you are looking to experiment with different flavors beyond a simple sweet and smoky flavor, fruity woods such as apple, cherry, or peach will give your pork ribs a mild and sweet touch.

We personally recommend using one of these woods if you want more of the meat flavor to shine through rather than the smoke.


Apple wood is the best wood for smoking ribs. It is the perfect balance of sweet fruitiness and smoke, without having too much overpowering smokiness.

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Again, this is just our opinion, but there’s a reason that you see so many “apple wood” smoked pork products (bacon, ham, etc.) being advertised.


Cherry wood has a mild and fruity flavor. When used to smoke ribs, cherry wood can provide some additional sweet flavor. Just be sure to avoid chokecherry trees as they have been known to sometimes produce a bitter flavor.


Want to try something a little different? Try peach wood smoked ribs. Similar to apple wood, peach wood offers a subtle, sweet flavor which is a great choice for a rib bbq. The great peachy flavors perfectly compliment the sweet, fatty meat of the ribs.

If you live somewhere where you can get a little bit of peach wood, we highly recommend you try it.


The best wood for smoking ribs is a heavily debated topic in the smoking community and you will see many different opinions on it. The best type of wood to use is up to you and you alone. This article is only meant to make sure that you are aware of some of the different woods you can use to smoke your ribs, and how the smoke from those woods will affect the meat.

Additionally, the type of wood that you are using to smoke your pork ribs is not the only factor that will influence the flavor. For the best flavor outcome, pay attention to the format of wood you are using (pellets, chips, chunks, logs, etc.) as these have different lifespans in your smoker or grill and can greatly impact the efficacy of your wood for ribs.

Interested in smoking other meats? Be sure to check out the Best Wood for Smoking Brisket.

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