Hickory vs. Mesquite: BBQ Smoking Wood Comparison


Hickory and Mesquite are popular BBQ smoking woods with intense smoky flavors and dense blue smoke. But what are you throwing on the coals of your grill? Discover the differences between hickory and mesquite wood chips.

Hickory vs Mesquite grill wood for grilling


Where does it come from

Mesquite wood is native to South America. It is also found in Mexico and grows in other parts of the US, such as Texas. This may also be because it grows best in semi-arid regions like Texas. Growing in arid like America means the tree must have long roots to tap into deep water resources. 


The taste and aroma of the wood you choose for grilling is evident. If you’ve probably been wondering what separate classes in smoked meat, this is one of the key factors. The wood is burned and the resulting smoke gives the meat its special taste. So ha, the woody taste is important. 

When burned, mesquite has a much stronger flavor than fruitwoods and even hickory. It’s one of the strongest flavor profiles YOU can get. It’s best used for smoking dark red meats that can stand up to the strong flavor. The flavor has earthy undertones and is also bold and distinctive when used in the right proportions. However, if you overdo it, the taste can be a bit bitter.  

Smoking properties

Not only is the flavor strong, the mesquite wood also discolors the meat. It is a fast burning wood and gives off a lot of smoke quickly. This gives you an intensely rich taste very quickly. The amount of smoke it produces is greater than most grill woods. 

Which meat goes best with it?

Mesquite wood goes best with red meat. You should go to meat, that takes a little more time. Cuts like brisket pair well with mesquite because it’s strong enough to absorb the smoky flavor and not be overwhelmed by it. The fact that it’s flesh discolored is another reason why this wood pairs better with darker red meat. 

Recommended product

You can get it in pieces from various online sites and also hardware stores. Cameron’s Smoking Wood Chips is a great option. You can get them in a 10 pound bag, which is a decent amount for most grill jobs. Wood chips are kiln dried and can be easily loaded into your smoker.

Hickory vs Mesquite grill wood for grilling


Where does it come from

Walnut is also a common wood in the United States. It also occurs in Southeast Asia. Of the 18 walnut species, about 15 are native to North America. The others come from Southeast Asia. 


Although not as pungent as mesquite, hickory roastwood has a distinctly strong nutty flavor profile. It has sweet notes. It is sturdier than the fruitwoods. It is often used in conjunction with oak, although it is stronger than oak. It has a nutty flavor that goes well with lots of dark meat. It can also be described as savory. 

Smoking properties

Walnut wood burns longer, which means YOU can use it longer when you want to do something else. The longer period does not change the taste. The smoke profile is more intense than many inviting grill woods, such as B. Obstölzern. In addition, the smoke produced is cleaner than most types of wood. You also don’t have to combine it with another wood unless you want to die. 

Which meat goes best

One of the best meats for smoking hickory is bacon. Because of this, you can often find the two paired together. It smokes the pork well and adds a deeper dimension to the meat. You can smoke pork shoulder or other cuts of pork for a rich flavor. It also goes well with pork as it gives it a rich, intense color. 

Recommended product

We recommend the Western Wood Grilling Chips Variety Pack as it contains several wood chips and the hickory wood chips are part of the set. You can use them with a variety of grills and smokers. During production, the manufacturer pays close attention to the moisture content, the essential components for the wood chips to be dry and ready for grilling. 

Hickory vs Mesquite grill wood for grilling

Can you mix hickory and mesquite?

If you can. Mixing the two gives you the best of both worlds. A combination that gives you a smoke stronger than hickory but not as intense as mesquite. You also get the slight sweetness that comes from hickory wood shavings but is absent in mesquite. It requires a certain level of skill, so it may not be advisable for new smokers. The balance has to be fair. Better to match the intensity of the wood to the intensity of the meat for best results. 

Hardwood versus softwood

The type of wood you choose is crucial. Softwoods are not ideal for grilling as they burn quickly and hot, although not as hot as softwoods. They have more juice and produce flares and flavors that don’t pair well with the food. You won’t like the taste of foods made from softwoods like pine, cedar, fir, and cypress. They are not a good choice for grilling or cooking. 

Hardwoods are taken from deciduous trees, which often have broad leaves. They can burn for hours, making them the best choice for cooking. They don’t have as much resin, which means it’s safer to cook with hardwood. One of the components that makes up hardwood is lignin, and this is helpful when you want to flavor your meat. Hardwood tastes better than softwood. Hardwood burns longer and hotter, meaning you won’t have to refill your smoker or grill often. 

In addition to the lignin just mentioned, hardwoods consist of cellulose, hemicellulose. These three work together and help preserve food. Using hardwoods gives you more flavor in the meat and good chlorination. Another difference between the two is that hardwoods burn much slower than softwoods. Softwoods are much less dense than hardwoods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have burning questions about wood smoking? CHECK OUT these answers to our most frequently asked grilling questions.

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