On summer nights, nothing feels better than firing up your barbeque grill and gathering up to enjoy crisp, barbecue veggies, fish and meat. For Canadians, knowing how to use a barbeque grill effectively is a great skill that one can impress others with without ruining the quartz fireplace.

Making your favourite grilled foods on a barbeque grill makes for an enjoyable activity, perfect for a get-together with friends or family. However, grilling your food flawlessly requires you to pay attention to a number of aspects, including choosing the right fuel.

Click here to shop for high-quality products and accessories once you’ve found the ideal type of wood for your barbeque grill.

What type of wood should you use in your barbeque grill?

While propane and electric barbeque grills are relatively modern, meat grilled using traditional fuels like the wood taste much better. Such fuel imparts a smoky taste to the meat, which is one of the best things about grilled food. However, wood for grilling is available in various forms, and you may have a hard time choosing the right one.

Different forms of grilling fuelwood have their perks and downsides. While some are more convenient, others make the meat taste better. Your best options are:

1. Charcoal briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are one of the most traditional grilling fuels and continue to be a go-to fuel for a major section of people who enjoy cooking outdoors. The lumps are of consistent size and shape, burn at different temperatures, and create the right amount of smoke. It is recommended to buy charcoal briquettes without any chemical additives to make them easier to light, as the chemicals can add an unpleasant flavour.

2. Hardwood lump charcoal

This type of charcoal is of uneven size and shape, largely resembling bonfire wood that was suddenly extinguished while burning. While they are less popular than charcoal briquettes, these lumps come without any chemical additives. This helps to ensure a more natural flavour to the grilled food, along with consistent smoke. Both charcoal briquettes and hardwood lump charcoal are perfect for slow grilling on low heat and direct grill heating, as charcoal fire is much easier to control.

3. Wood pellets

Although food-quality wood pellets for barbeque grills have been around for decades, they have gained a significant amount of popularity only recently. These pellets are basically prepared by compressing wood shavings or wood dust. It’s a highly economical fuel and creates much less soot and mess than charcoal. Wood pellets burn at a relatively lower temperature, between 150°F and 450°F, and aren’t as efficient as charcoal for grilling at high heat. Make sure to store your wood pellets in a sealed container until you use them, as they are vulnerable to moisture.

4. Wood chips

If you are looking for a particularly intense smoky flavour, wood chips are a good choice. These chips are very small pieces of seasoned hardwood and also work well when used together with charcoal, gas, or other fuels. You may soak the wood chips in water for moisture and prevent certain foods from drying excessively due to the high heat. These are pretty affordable, and you can choose from different types of customized wood chips depending on the flavour you would prefer.

5. Wooden logs and chunks

Of course, logs and chunks of wood are among the oldest cooking fuels and are still a great choice for grilling. These are especially suitable for outdoor pits, and you can choose between chunks of different sizes to suit the capacity of the grill or the pit. The wood used in grilling imparts a crispy bark and a smoky flavour to the food. However, you will have to monitor the fire constantly to maintain a consistent temperature.

6. Grilling planks

You may use wooden planks as a base on which you place and grill the food. While grilling planks are typically used in gas and electric grills, they actually work quite well in charcoal grills too. The planks add a pleasant fragrance to the food, alongside a smoky flavour that you can enjoy on the deck. One of the best things about plank grilling is that the juices will stay on the plank instead of dripping away through the grill. This makes the meat juicier.

Here’s how to choose the right wood based on the tree type

When buying wooden planks, logs, chips, or pellets, you can pick from a wide variety of woods. This is an important aspect to consider, as wood from different trees has different effects on the food you grill. Not every type of wood is the best choice for every food.

  • Hickory: You may consider hickory wood to be universal as it works well for grilling almost any type of food, including poultry, pork shoulders, large ribs, and red meat. It adds a distinct flavour and a rich brown colouring to the meat.
  • Apple: Applewood is one of the best options for grilling bacon but is also a good choice for chicken and wildfowl. It adds a somewhat sweet and fruity flavour to the meat but takes some time to impart the flavour.
  • Oak: If you seek something in between apple and hickory, with versatile use and rich flavours, oakwood is an excellent option for you. You may use oakwood for grilling beef, lamb, brisket, and sausages.
  • Alder: If you are grilling vegetables or seafood, you need a type of wood that won’t overpower the food’s actual flavour with its smokiness. Alderwood is perfect for this, as its smoky flavour is much lighter.
  • Heather: Heather wood is another good choice for grilling seafood, but it works well with only a limited variety of fish and meat. However, it imparts a very unique flavour that makes the food delicious.
  • Cherrywood: If you are looking for a relatively stronger fruity flavour, you may consider using cherrywood. It will add bold and earthy notes to the meat with rich brown hues. You may also use cherrywood together with other hardwoods.


In most cases, it is advisable to avoid using softwoods as the high volume of terpenes and sap can add absurd tastes to the meat. Hopefully, you find this guide helpful and make an informed decision while choosing the right kind of firewood.

Max Kim

Max Kim holds a Bachelor’s in Nutrition Science from the University of Washington and has spent 17 years as a food critic and nutrition expert. He has a rich experience in global cuisines, food trends, and culinary techniques. His background includes working in restaurants and food journalism. Before this, he worked as a nutrition consultant and a freelance food writer. He is a great urban forager and enjoys experimenting with plant-based recipes. He is passionate about fusion cooking and enjoys hosting culinary workshops.

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