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Hickory Vs Mesquite

Hickory Vs Mesquite: Which One Is Better?

When it comes to smoking meat, there are hundreds of different types of wood that can be used. Hickory and mesquite are two examples of woods that provide a great flavor for smoked meats. One is not better than the other, but they do have their own unique characteristics.

This blog post will discuss these differences in detail so you can decide which one best suits your needs. Sometimes when people try both hickory and mesquite they find themselves preferring one over the other, this is because each has a distinct flavor profile that may work better with certain dishes or cooking styles.

What is Hickory?

Hickory is a medium-density hardwood. It is a highly sought-after species of wood that, when combined with oak, gives a great smoky flavor to meals.

What is Hickory

As with other hardwoods, hickory has a unique flavor and some believe it has a foreboding aroma, which is why it is often combined with oak.

The wood is widespread across North America and parts of South Asia.

What Does Hickory Smoke Taste Like?

Hickory smoke has a very distinctive flavor. It can be described as smoky with spicy overtones, and it pairs well with beef. This is why hickory is often used when barbecuing beef Boston butts or beef ribs. It’s important to use real wood chips when smoking meat using the hickory method, as this will help you capture its flavor.

What Foods Do You Smoke With Hickory Chips?

It’s fair to say that just about anything can be smoked with hickory chips. Many people have their favorite dish they prefer to smoke, whether it’s chicken wings, pork chops or a rack of ribs. The great thing about smoking with hickory chips is that the strong flavor will often mask some of the meat’s unappealing smells or tastes.

What is Mesquite?

Mesquite is also known as ironwood, and it comes from a flowering tree that can grow upwards of 50 feet tall.

What is Mesquite

The wood from the mesquite tree has been used for years to make furniture, bows and charcoal. Nowadays, it’s also used in barbecues due to its easy availability and very distinct flavor.

In fact, many people prefer smoking food with this type of wood chip because it gives off a smoky aroma that pairs well with meats like beef brisket or ribs.

What Does Mesquite Smoke Taste Like?

Some describe mesquite smoke as having a slightly sweet taste to it, but there are others who believe that it has more of a peppery flavor. Try tasting mesquite chips before using them to smoke meat, as this will give you an idea of what they’ll do to your beef brisket or chicken wings.

What Foods Do You Smoke With Mesquite Chips?

The best thing about smoking with mesquite is how versatile it is. This type of wood can be used for beef Boston butts or ribs, as well as chicken breasts and pork chops. Once again, the key is to use chunks of wood instead of wood chips when smoking, so it can soak up the flavors from the meat you’re cooking.

Hickory Vs Mesquite, Which Is Better?

To begin, you should be aware that mesquite and hickory both burn at about the same rate. As a result, you won’t need to change your cooking time based on the type of wood you use.

Then, bear in mind that if you’re cooking for a large group, you may be the only one who can tell the difference between mesquite and hickory—that is, assuming you do the job properly.

If you haven’t splurged on the smoke, you’ll receive a wonderfully balanced taste. Only specialists, such as yourself, will be able to determine the kind of wood you used. Other people may be able to perceive the smoky overtones, but the wood itself will overlook the distinction.

Do you believe this implies you should avoid researching the distinction? Certainly not. Indeed, while you cook, the distinction should be your primary objective. When deciding between mesquite and hickory, a number of variables must be considered, including the cuts of meat and the duration of the cook, the kind of wood being used, and your degree of expertise.

Large pieces of meat, such as beef brisket, benefit with a touch of mesquite. Likewise, pork shoulder would (also called Boston butt). Due to the long slow cooking required for these cuts, it is advised to utilize just pieces or chips of mesquite. If desired, add tiny pieces of lighter wood to the mixture to improve the flavor.

Hickory contributes more than flavor; it also adds a beautifully rich mahogany color to the dish. Utilize pieces for cooking purposes and larger slices and wood chips for grilling sausages or chicken thighs.

In any instance, avoid using smoke for more than half of the cooking time. Prolonged exposure may wreak havoc on the taste combination you’re attempting to create. If you’re using a pellet smoker, use unburnt wood for the bulk of the cooking period, supplemented with mesquite or hickory on occasion.

Is It Possible To Combine Hickory And Mesquite?

There is no reason why you cannot combine mesquite and hickory when combining smoking woods; the purpose of blending sweet or fruity woods is to decrease the intensity of the smoke.

Combine your preferred smoky wood, such as mesquite or hickory, with cherry, apple maple, or pecan for a more balanced smokiness.


Hickory and mesquite are the two most popular woods used for smoking meat in North America. It’s hard to say which one is better, because both offer different flavors when smoked. The best way to find out what you prefer is by experimenting with each type of wood before deciding on a favorite. When it comes down to it, either hickory or mesquite will provide delicious results if they’re cooked properly.

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