Can You Smoke Meat With Green Wood?

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Have you been wondering whether or not you can smoke your meat with green wood? 

This is a highly debated question and many pitmasters are on the fence. See let’s find out what actually constitutes green wood and when are you able to use it. 

What Is Green Wood? 

Green wood is any type of wood that has been freshly cut but has not yet been given time to season. It contains more moisture compared to seasoned wood, which has been allowed to dry over time.

Due to the amount of moisture that it contains, green wood typically releases less heat than other types of wood. 

To Use Green Wood or Not?

You can use greenwood however some people still question the taste green wood gives food. 

Another factor is that larger-size smokers can use green wood with no problems as the fire burns hotter whereas an average backyard smokers need to use seasoned wood or else it just smolders. 

While some are under the impression that it gives food a great taste, others say it may actually ruin the taste.

Although many famous chefs such as Bobby Flay are known to use green wood in their recipes, some say that green wood produces excess smoke that can ruin a barbecue. Along with green wood you also can’t use sassafras wood for smoking.


How to Use Green Wood to Smoke?

If the conflicting opinions on using green wood are making you wonder whether or not you should use it, there is something else you can consider before using it. 

Beginners are advised to stay away from green wood.

Experimenting with this type of wood should only be done if you have prior smoking experience. 

What Meat Do I Smoke With Green Wood? 

The following types of green wood pair the best in these applications:

Green alder for seafood

 Green applewood for turkey

Green hickory for barbecue

Green mulberry for ribs  

How Long Till Green Wood Becomes Seasoned? 

In general, green wood needs about 6 months to become fully seasoned. You can use a moisture meter to tell whether or not it is seasoned. 

You may also check if the color of the wood has changed from a brown color to a silver-grey to determine if it is seasoned. 

However, this is not a trustworthy indication as even if the color has changed, you may find that the inside moisture content is still considerable once you split open the wood. 

Green Wood or Seasoned Wood?

Although you can use green wood to smoke meat, there is no doubt that the best wood for smoking meat is seasoned firewood. 

This is because green wood tends to give off heavy smoke, which can make your smoked meat taste bitter or acrid. This can cause meat cooked over green wood to overpower the taste buds and numb the tongue. 

On the other hand, seasoned firewood produces a thin, clean, and see-through smoke.

This smoke leaves the firebox gracefully, travels through the smoker to flavor the meat, and exits through the chimney without leaving an overpowering flavor. 

Tips for Seasoning Green Wood

1. To allow the wood to dry evenly, you can split the logs into smaller pieces or chunks. 

2. Stack the pieces evenly and make sure air is allowed to circulate. If you store the wood outside, cover it so the rain does not affect it.

3. Wood can also be dried out in an oven and some will even do it in a microwave. However, you should research carefully before attempting to do this. 

4. It is important not to let the freshly cut wood dry out completely as even seasoned wood should have some moisture content. 

Using The Right Smoker 

It is important to be mindful of using the right smoker when smoking green wood. 

You should ideally use a large smoker when using green wood as fires burn hotter in large smokers, like pellet or offset smokers. 

Preheating the wood will also ensure it smokes properly, avoiding billowing white smoke. The closer the wood is to the point of combustion, the cleaner the smoke.

Smaller smokers, on the other hand, should be avoided as they may not be as effective in producing a strong burn that works with green wood.


Keeping Green Woods Green 

Keeping green woods green can be a problem as it is bound to dry out over time and eventually even rot. 

The following solutions may help: 

1. Cutting fresh wood every time you are smoking. This can be high maintenance and a costly solution. 

2. Try placing wood chips into plastic bags and storing them in your freezer. Freezing wood has been shown to preserve green wood.

Logs, Chunks Or Chips? 

If you’re unable to source and season your own firewood, you’ll probably have to rely on dealers that tend to sell dry wood in several different forms.

You may need to pick a kind of wood product that works well with the type of grill or barbecue you have. 

Logs: large pieces of wood around 18 inches in length to generally be used in large offset smokers to produce heat and smoke.

Chunks: around 4 inches or the size of a fist, to be used in smaller offset smokers and gas grills. 

Wood chips: 1/4 of an inch thick and about an inch long are primarily used in gas and electric grills.

There are many contrasting opinions when it comes to using green wood for smoking. While some feel that it gives food a great flavor, others prefer to stick to seasoned wood.

If you have prior smoking experience under your belt and follow the tips mentioned above, smoking green wood can be an interesting and successful experiment! 

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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