Maple is a beautiful grilling wood with a delicately sweet aroma that pairs perfectly with smoked ham, ribs or chicken. Find out today how to use maple wood for smoking on your backyard grill.
Maple trees give us delicious maple syrup, which we put on our pancakes and much more. Maple wood is one of the most commonly used woods for grilling and smoking. Thanks for its smooth, slightly sweet flavor and good burning profile, pit masters across the country love to include this wood in their plans.
Whether you’re new to grilling or just looking to add a new species of wood to your rotation, this is your guide to everything you need to know about maple wood.
What is maple wood?
Maple wood comes from Acer, a genus of deciduous trees better known as maple. Maple trees are particularly prevalent in the northern regions of North America, including Canada, where the tree is a national symbol.
A subspecies of the maple tree common in the northern United States is the sugar maple. Sugar maples are the trees that produce a sweet sap that turns into maple syrup. While not all maple wood comes from sugar maple, the wood that does have a subtly sweet flavor.
Properties of maple wood
Maple wood is more unique thanks to its aromas. It’s foods that carry a subtly sweet flavor that’s delicious but not overwhelming. This is because most maple wood you buy in stores for your smoker is actually sugar maple.
The aroma of maple is similar to its taste. When it burns, it produces a slightly sweet smoky smell that not only permeates your food while grilling, but entices everyone to come to the table!
Maple smoke’s color is deceptively strong compared to its mild flavor. While it burns, it creates a deep, rich mood that imparts a dark mahogany color to the food.
then maple produces long, even burns, although it doesn’t retain heat as well as harder woods like hickory.
How to use maple wood
You can obtain Maple Wood in chips, logs, pellets, and chunks. The type you should buy depends on your grill. Offset smokers, which have large fuel chutes, work best with logs. Most propane or electric smokers only need chips or small pieces to start the fire. Also, pellet smokers apparently feed on pellets.
You can use maple alone or mix it with other woods. Maple has a relatively mild flavor, so it works well in combination with woods like hickory when you want to create a flavorful but not overpowering roast.
The best meat to smoke with maple wood
Maple’s subtle sweet flavor pairs well with most meats. However, it works better with lighter cuts.
For example, maple is a good choice for smoking poultry. The delicate flavors of chicken are often overpowered by hickory smoke, but the natural sweetness of maple brings out the best in chicken. Maple also helps to balance the game of small game like quail without overpowering their natural tastes. Turkey, in particular, pairs well with maple because the wood balances the bird’s sometimes bland flavor.
Pork products are often paired with sweet treats to experience their natural richness, so pairing them well with the natural sweetness of maple wood makes sense. For example, maple-smoked country ham and bacon are delicious dishes.
Maple is also a good choice for smoking meatless dishes, as its smoothness doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor and texture of fish and vegetables.
Add maple wood to your smoker for a sweet and savory meal at your next barbecue.