Is Cherry Wood Good for Smoking: Why It Smokes the Competition

November 16, 2022
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Cherry wood is great for smoking, in fact, it is one of my favorites. It works especially well for smoking pork and other delicately flavored meats.

I completely understand why you would be wondering is cherry wood good for smoking. Most pitmasters will talk about mesquite, hickory, and oak but cherry is rarely mentioned. Well, I have spent most of my life smoking meat and have had plenty of opportunity to try out cherry wood – I am here to tell you that it is a great pick!

I am going to walk you through why you should use cherry wood, when is the best time to use it, and more!

is cherry wood good for smoking

Should You Use Cherry Wood for Smoking?

Yes, you absolutely should! Cherry wood is an excellent smoking wood and I would go so far as to say that cherry wood chunks and wood chips work with just about everything. So, this wood can be used to smoke almost any kind of meat that you want!

What is the Advantage of a Cherry Wood Smoke?

What I – and everyone else – love about cherry wood is the smoke flavor produced by this fruit wood.

It is a mild wood with a sweet flavor. It is very much like apple wood in this sense.

Now, I know what you might be thinking – why would you want a mild smoke flavor when smoking meat?

Well, this is because there are some meats that have a very mild flavor of their own. In this case if you use a wood that produces a stronger smoke flavor, then you will overpower the natural flavor profile of the meat. All you will really be able to taste is the smoke.

What Meat is Good Smoked with Cherry Wood?

You should definitely use cherry wood chips or chunks when smoking pork. Pork is rather mildly flavored and the cherry adds just enough smokiness without overpowering the pork flavor.

The other benefits of cherry smoke is that it adds a touch of sweetness. And, since pork works well with apple sauce and other sweet accompaniments, cherry wood really hits the spot here.

I also like to use cherry wood for fruity smoke when smoking chicken, turkey, and similarly delicate meats.

Are There Downsides to Using Cherry Wood?

The reality is that you can’t always use cherry wood alone when smoking meat. This is because there are meats like beef that have a stronger natural flavor profile. So, if you go to use cherry alone, you will find that the flavor doesn’t have nearly as much impact as you have hoped.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use cherry wood when smoking meats like this, however.

See, when you are smoking meat like beef, you would typically use white oak, hickory, or mesquite as they are quite strong. The problem, though, is that you can’t use too much of these heavier woods. If you do, your smoked meat could end up tasting quite bitter.

To prevent this from happening, you should mix cherry wood along with these stronger ones. This way, you bring down the smoky flavor while adding a touch of sweetness. Mild woods helps to balance things out.

Cut Trees in Forest

Wood Chips, Chunks, and Pellets – What Should You Use?

To begin with, this does depend on the kind of smoker that you are using. If you are using a pellet smoker, then you absolutely have to use wood pellets.

Otherwise, it is up to you to decide whether you want to use chunks or wood chips. Some people prefer to use chunks with charcoal smokers while wood chips can be better for electric and gas smokers.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what smoker you are using as well as which fuel source works best for you.

Should I Soak Cherry Wood for Smoking?

I get this question quite a lot – this is because some people believe that if you soak the wood that you get a more consistent smoke or that there is more smoke produced. However, this isn’t how things work at all!

The reality is that soaking cherry wood – and other woods – only causes more issues for you. This is because when you add wet wood to your smoke, you are simply creating steam instead of smoke.

Therefore, you won’t get the same delicious flavor when smoking meat. What’s more, you are likely to soften up any crispy or crusty portions on the meat as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is It Safe to Smoke with Cherry Wood?

For a while there, it was believed that cherry wood contained arsenic or cyanide in its trees. This is why many people stopped using it for smoking. However, the hydrogen cyanide – the same chemical compound found in cherry pits and apple seeds, is typically found in wilted leaves, not the wood.

If you want to be extra sure that you are smoking pork and other meats with safe wood, though, you should make it a point to choose good wood that hasn’t been processed.

2. What Wood Should Not Be Smoked?

Avoid smoking soft woods at all cost! Not only do they have sap and turpenes but they also produce soot when smoked. In doing so, they turn the meat bitter. It is best to stick to fruitwoods like cherry, apple, maple, etc.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, cherry wood is a great option for smoking meat! So, the next time you want to smoke pork, chicken, or anything mildly flavored, you know what wood to use.

And, if you are cooking dark meats or beef, then you know that cherry can make for an excellent accompaniment to mesquite or hickory. With all this knowledge, you can guarantee that your next cook is going to be a good one!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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