The Friendly Toast is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The 12 Best Woods For Smoking Fish On Market for 2022

Mr James Hall
  May 22, 2022 8:39 AM

If you love fish and smoked foods, then you’ll be thrilled to hear about the latest smoking trend – smoking fish.

Smoking your seafood not only enhances the flavor but also ensures that it is perfectly cooked through.

But what wood should you use for this tasty endeavor?


Overview

Best Woods For Smoking Fish

Choosing the best woods for smoking fish is an important step in achieving that perfect smokey flavor.

There are three types of woods that are typically used while smoking the fish: Apple, Hickory, and Pecan.

Each has its strengths and fragrant aroma, but the major factors to consider when selecting wood are the item’s availability, price, and how the wood’s properties affect the final product.

Read more:


#12 Woods For Smoking Fish Compare

Most Saving
1
TOP Choice
2
  • SCORE
    9.2
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Mr. Bar-B-Q
TOP Choice
3
  • SCORE
    8.8
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    GrillingPlanks
TOP Choice
4
  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Kaduf
5
  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Wildwood Grilling
6
  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    INSISART
7
  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Jax Smok'in Tinder
8
  • SCORE
    8.8
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Navaris
9
  • SCORE
    9.4
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Western Wood
10
  • SCORE
    8.6
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    Iconikal
11
  • SCORE
    -
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    BORUIT
12
  • SCORE
    9.4
    AI Score

    FE Score is a Friendly Toast Score from our review team.

  • Brand
    WESTERN

Last update on 2022-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API


Buying Guide

Types of wood

Apple Wood

Apple Wood has a strong apple flavor. It is a very light-smelling wood and can be used to smoke many types of fish. Applewood works best when smoked at medium temperatures, around 225°F (110°C). The wood can also be soaked in apple juice for a longer smoke time. Applewood is good for smoking fatty fish like salmon, catfish, trout, and mackerel.

Hickory Wood

Hickory is often used as the main fuel during smoking, with other woods usually providing flavoring and additional smoke. Hickory is also known as ‘smokey hardwood’ because it gives off a strong smell of smoke when it burns. It works great on barbecued meats and fish like salmon, trout, and catfish.

Hickory wood is a bit harder than the others and it has to be put into the smoker for several hours before it can be used. Like fruit woods, Hickory has oils that can burn too hot. This means you’ll have to use a grill with a water tray or some sort of heat diffuser to get it started.

If you can keep the fire going in hickory wood, then it will add to your smoked foods an unforgettable flavor that will increase their taste significantly.

There are three types of hickory trees: Pignut hickory, Shagbark hickory, and Shellbark hickory. All of them are hardwoods, but each has its own distinctive flavor.

Pecan Wood

Pecan is a very fragrant wood. It gives a sweet and mild aroma to the fish that it is smoked with. The best thing about Pecan Wood is that it works great at high temperatures (up to 300°F or 150°C). That makes Pecan a good choice for smoking any kind of fish.

Pecan wood has a high sugar content, which means that it is a very good source of food for the smoke. Pecan also has other benefits: it helps keep and extend the color of the fish.

Pecans are usually taken from Syria, Tunisia, and Mexico. They only grow in these three countries, but they have an amazing aroma that improves any dish where they are used.

Pecan wood gives off a sweet smell because of its high sugar content. The wood itself does not taste like nuts at all, but it does add flavor to baked goods and desserts, as well as meat dishes like smoked pork chops or chicken breasts (and even in savory dishes like those mentioned above).

Pecan wood has high sugar content. This means that it is a very good source of food for the smoke. Pecan also has other benefits: it helps keep and extend the color of the fish.

Best pellets for smoking fish

Smoked foods are generally preservative-free, as long as you don’t overdose them with salt or sodium in a dish or marinade when curing. Even though smoked foods taste good, it is best to have some acids in your diet and not rely on smoked foods alone for your main source of nourishment.

Consider your budget

The three types of wood mentioned above have a lot in common – they’re all high quality and produce delicious flavors. But since each type has its own unique qualities, prices will vary accordingly.

The cheapest option is Pecan, and the priciest is Hickory. For example, a bag of hickory sticks (usually with a 50-inch dimension) costs only $12.95, while a bag of 100 Pecan sticks costs $22.95.

After that, you get Applewood for the midpriced option and Hickory for the top-price wood. A bundle of 100 Applewood sticks costs $21.95, while 100 Hickory sticks cost $29.95 (in bundles, not per stick).

And right now, bundles of Applewood ( Hickory and Pecan ) are on heavy discounts. In the past, they were selling at 45% off while Hickory was still at 40%.

When selecting your wood, keep in mind that the less you pay for the wood, the higher quality it will be. If you can afford a little more, then use that extra money to buy great food such as smoked salmon or other high-quality smoked fish.

Smoking fish in a smoker or on the grill

There are two main ways of smoking fish. The first one is grilling, but you'll need to get several accessories in order to prepare the food. You will need a grill (of at least 3-inch thickness is recommended), a barbecue smoker, a mesh bag made of nylon or heavy-duty foil, and some kind of diffuser (some smokers require you to add liquid smoke). For this tutorial, we recommend getting a smoker made by Smokey Mountain Cooker (SMC) and not an ordinary smoker. However, if you want to know more about other smokers please check out our article on the best smoking chamber for smokers.

Get your fish ready

Clean the fish thoroughly and wash it with hot water and soap. Pat, dry with paper towels and make sure there are no traces of blood or guts.

The next step is to remove the scales, head, and tail. It’s up to you whether you want to do that or not. If you don’t mind the whole process, then remove all the unwanted parts. If not, just gut the fish and leave the head on (but it will still taste good without the scales).

Smoke your fish

Set up your barbecue smoker or grill according to its instructions (if it comes with some). Once you know how high to heat your grill, put some drip trays at each one of its corners (in order to catch most of that extra oil). Once you add the fish to your smoker, add the wood to it.

If you’re using a smoker, smoke your fish for two to three hours (and up to five or six hours for large-sized meats). For grilling, smoke for about 20 minutes per side. Start with a higher temperature so that the fish can cook faster at first and be ready in time. Once your grill or smoker is done smoking the meat, lower its heat and start preparing its sauce or marinade.

Grill or smoke your fish

Once your fish is ready, start your grill (or smoker) and brush once or twice with a little oil. Place the fish onto the grill and cook for about 20 minutes per side. Remember to brush with more oil at least once during the cooking process.

If you're using a smoker, you can leave it in there for 24 hours (my personal favorite). Just remember to check on it occasionally to prevent any problems that may arise due to dry wood or oxygen.

If you are grilling your fish, prepare all of its ingredients in advance and let it sit overnight. Once everything is ready, proceed with grilling/smoking as described above.

Prepare your sauce or marinade

Prepare your sauce or marinade. If you’re using a smoker and have some leftover wood, add it to your sauce or marinade. If you’re using a grill, prepare a sauce/marinade that has the same amount of oil as the fish (one-third oil). You can add some herbs, spices, or lemon juice.

Serve your fish

woods for smoking fish

Serve the fish with bread, vegetables, and white wine. You can also use brown rice if you want to be more healthy.

How to store and serve smoked fish

If you want to eat your smoked fish within a few days, then store it in the fridge (after washing and drying). Cook it before serving. If you’re going to be eating your food for more than a few days, then keep smoked fish in the freezer. The time you can keep it in the fridge is relatively short and should not exceed twenty-four hours once it’s retrieved from the freezer.

When serving smoked fish, you can either put it on a sandwich, pizza, or cream of rice. You should also know that some foods (like some types of salmon) are naturally salty. If you’re planning to use smoked salmon for a meal, then you should add some salt to your dish.

Make sure that whatever you prepare with the smoked fish doesn’t have excess oil on it. The fish thaws and becomes soft easily, so make sure there is no way that the oil can go past the meat’s surface in order to maintain its crispness. If using cooked fish in a recipe, do not add any extra oil as it can affect your dish's texture negatively.

Depending on how long your smoke has lasted, the smoked fish may be much softer or very firm after being cooked; this will depend on how much moisture was retained by the wood.


FAQs

What type of wood is best for smoking fish?

Pecan, Hickory, and Applewood are the most commonly used woods for smoking fish. But the best wood for smoking is one that you like.

The wood helps to flavor the meat and give it a better taste. It also helps to maintain its original characteristics (for example, Hickory doesn't burn as much as Applewood).

Pecanwood is a good choice if you want a mild smoke flavor with some smoke complexity (but it will still have some strong flavors). Pecanwood has a mild to medium smoky taste and won’t overpower other flavors of food. It is rich in vitamin C, B-vitamins, iron, and potassium.

Should you soak wood chips before smoking?

For some people, soaking the wood chips before smoking is a good idea. It allows you to add more smoke to your food if you know how much to use and if you have enough wood. It also helps to prevent excessive smoking of your food by preventing some of the smoke from being lost in the air.

Others think that it’s better not to soak the wood before smoking it. They think that the water can damage or change the flavor of your food and make it taste bad. But there are two sides to this argument, so feel free to experiment!

How do you make your favorite smoked fish recipe?

You can add different amounts of spices, herbs, and ingredients according to personal taste or preferences. And you can also use your imagination and come up with your own recipes.

What are the health benefits of smoked fish?

They are many. With all of the health benefits that smoking fish provides, it’s no wonder they're such a popular favorite with anyone who likes to eat fish!

Smoked Fish is a fantastic source of protein. This is important since most people do not eat enough protein in their diet. It also provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the body (like omega-3 fatty acids). That’s why it’s so good for heart health. Smoking Fish also lowers levels of bad cholesterol in the body (so wouldn’t you like to lower yours?).


Conclusion

The main factor in choosing the best woods for smoking fish is your own personal preference. Since all woods are good for smoking fish, you have to decide whether Hickory, Pecan or Applewood smells and tastes better.

You also have to consider your budget and which one of them you can afford more. Some people even mix several types of wood together (usually two or three kinds) while they smoke fish.

Or they can use one type of wood on the surface, with another type of wood in a smoker below it (or vice versa). It really doesn’t matter. Just use whatever you think tastes and smells the best.

And remember to always maintain your smoker or grill because it will greatly improve your experience while using it. If you are planning to smoke fish, then always use a light-colored wood (such as Applewood or Pecanwood).

The lighter woods can help you achieve a better smoking process because they tend to burn at lower temperatures than the darker woods (which is why Pecan, Hickory, or Applewood are usually preferred).

And don't forget to let your fish rest for at least ten minutes after taking it out of the smoker/grill, so that all of the juices remain in place when it's served.


5
3 ratings