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Grill with Real Wood

Mayonnaise in marinades, sauce on a stick and burger patties basted with butter: We polled some of our favorite grilling experts to get their most extraordinary ideas for everyday cooking.

Adam Perry Lang, chef at New York City’s Daisy May’s Barbecue USA and author of the book Serious Barbecue, uses wood to boost the smoky flavor of a charcoal fire. He recommends using wood chips for quick-cooking items, like steaks and chops, and wood chunks for slow-cooked meats like ribs and pork shoulder (grillingwood.com and mainegrillingwoods.com are good sources). “Don’t use freshly cut wood, because it smokes too heavily and makes food taste bitter,” he says.

alder wood chips

© Carin Johnson


Alder This wood gives off a light, mild smoke. Best for fish, especially salmon.

apple wood chips

© Carin Johnson


Cherry or Apple Sweet and fragrant but not overly strong. Best for mild meats like chicken and pork.

oak wood chips

© Carin Johnson


Oak A great all-purpose wood. It burns evenly and has a clean flavor.

alder wood chips

© Carin Johnson


Mesquite Burns superhot and gives off an intense flavor. Best for game meats.

20 Grilling Tips

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Published June 2009
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