Different Smokes, Different Folks

Camerons Indoor SmokerThis week, in our Italian Market store, we’ll feature a demo of the Cameron Indoor Smoker, which allows the user to utilize a method of cooking previously unavailable to the indoor chef. When we first thought about this demo, a classic scene came to mind — some cagey old Southerner sipping sweet tea and lazily basting succulent pork ribs strewn atop a smoldering pile of hickory wood.

But we quickly snapped back to reality: we don’t employ any cagey folks, it’s a little late for sweet tea, and we don’t need to be pigeonholed into just hickory wood. After all, smoking can employ any number of different types and flavors of smoke.

Let’s take a look at the different types of wood you can use to get the flavor you want.


When not being employed by Fender guitars for building their Stratocasters (since the 1950’s), alder is a prime species used to smoke foods. Particularly popular in the Pacific Northwest (think alder-smoked salmon), this wood has a light, almost sweet flavor that works well with fish and veggies.


Fruit woods add a bit more complex flavor than the milder alder, and apple is a very popular choice. Just as with any recipe, you can add (or subtract) the amount of apple wood and substitute another, non-fruit wood to tone it down. Apple wood works best with game fish, poultry and, of course, bacon.


Sporting a much more aggressive fruit flavor than apple, cherry is a great smoking option for Cornish game hens, duck breast or beef. Imagine a cherry wood-smoked brisket with a rich pomegranate barbeque sauce!


A truly classic choice, hickory gives a deep, complex flavor and hearty smell, too. This straightforward smoke pairs best with pork ribs or chicken. Hickory ain’t just for smokin’, either! A variation of hickory wood is used to make a style of baseball bat.


Speaking of baseball, another (even more popular) choice for baseball bats is maple. As far as smoking, maple is a great subtle choice to use with delicate foods, like vegetables or even cheeses. Thinking of smoking some gouda? All you need is 4 ounces of your favorite gouda and 1 tablespoon of hickory or maple. Smoke for about 4 minutes and refrigerate your creation immediately. What better fall snack is there than apple slices and smoked gouda?


White oak is another classic choice, and is used in many commercial smoking outfits. It has a mild flavor that plays well with other woods, like apple or cherry. A good base wood to pair with more dominant flavors when smoking homemade sausages.

Bourbon Smoked Oak

While we’re on the topic of pairing flavors with oak, what could go better with – well, anything — than some hearty bourbon? This blend, from Cameron, works great with beef ribs, brisket or venison.


Representing the great Southwest, mesquite wood chips offer a big-time flavor, so sparing use is recommended. However, there is no better wood to smoke with chicken or peppers. Just the right amount should yield legendary smoked chicken tacos.


An unconventional choice, pecan adds a buttery, nutty flavor to dishes, and works best with game meats or poultry. Like fruit woods, pecan also can be combined with Oak or Hickory to balance flavors.

Of course, there are some things that you simply can’t replicate with an indoor stove top smoker.  But there are tons of other wood variations and combinations that we didn’t list here. The best part is being able to mix and match the variations that work for your dishes. Now, get smokin’!

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