Do different woods make a difference in the flavor?
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Do different woods make a difference in the flavor?
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Thread: Do different woods make a difference in the flavor?

  1. #1
    Senior Member PaulyT's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Baltimore, MD

    Question Do different woods make a difference in the flavor?

    Green Mountain Grills' website says the following (in the FAQ section):

    Why doesn’t GMG make ‘flavored’ pellets?
    The flavor molecules in wood fiber – guaiacol (gweye-a-kol) – come from the combustion of lignin which is found almost equally in all hardwoods. We hate to destroy the myth of flavored pellets, but different species of hardwoods do not produce different flavors in food. Sorry.
    What do you all think? Is it a myth? Or are they just trying to excuse why they only make one type of pellet? Right now I'm using theirs, I bought one bag with the grill, but I will certainly try other brands and woods at some point; I'm a scientist, I need to experiment for myself. But still, I'm curious what the general consensus is from those of you who've been doing this for a long time.
    - Paul

    Green Mountain Grills - Daniel Boone

  2. #2
    Senior Member ACW3's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Morganton, NC
    Interesting comments on their part. The "smoke" from the burning/smoldering wood pellets does, IMO, flavor the food when you cook "low-n-slow". Different blends of wood give different flavors to the meat, cheese, etc. Every chance I get o try a different flavor or brand of cooking pellets, I try them. Some are definitley better than others. If their claim were true, then all flaored pellets would taste the same. This is just not true. It is difficult to distinguish (sometimes) between wood flavors from the same family of woods. But with practice, I believe you can. For example, pecan and hickory are "similar", but, again IMO, pecan is lighter in flavor than hickory.

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  3. #3
    Administrator Big Poppa's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    La Quinta California
    Let me throw a curve ball...I really cant tell that much difference......but some can...ask them for a picture of their pellet factory....hehehehe I dont believe they make pellets.

  4. #4
    I think Art's is 100% right, and GMG is blowing smoke (pun fully intended).

    I too can tell a difference, although, admittedly, that difference is often subtle and much more prevalent when cooking Low & Slow versus Hot & Fast.

    Points to consider:

    1) Guiacol may be the primary "flavor molecule", but it's certainly NOT the only one. Different species of wood contain other different compounds that also influence the color, flavor and smell of food. - Smoking (cooking) Read the section entitled "Wood Smoke"

    Which brings up my second point...

    2) You've seen me post this before: I believe a lot of the difference is in the smell.

    FACT - Taste is influenced by smell. This isn't conjecture but a well know scientifically proven fact. Research it and see.

    Here's an interesting read: How does the way food looks or its smell influence taste?: Scientific American

    3) Big Poppa eludes to another important factor; a lot of it is in how a person perceives those differences in taste & smell.

    Another good read from MeatHead: Barbecue Wood & Smoke: Different Types, How to Use it.

    The bottom line for me is I can tell and enjoy the subtle differences between wood types.

    One final thought: Just try smoking some food using Pine wood and see if you want to eat it!
    Last edited by TentHunter; 06-14-2012 at 08:25 AM. Reason: It was just too dang long! LOL
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  5. #5
    Senior Member sparky's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    northern california
    ya know. i burn alot of different pellets. can i tell one from the other? not really. i do notice the smell of wood as its burning. i like it. can i tell if burning oak or cherry will affect how my stuff taste? not sure about that either. i have burned all the flavors and combo of flavors. i'm tired of it. is there one wood to cook everything? have to ask someone smarter than me. i don't know. for the last few months i have been burning oak (like the smell of oak) and a combo of pecan/cherry. i seem to like cherry. i like the smell and what it does to my food. might just start buying nothing but cherry and be done w/ it. ok. welp, there might be one wood for everything. its cherry. glad we figured that out. well, maybe just straight oak. you can cook anything w/ oak. once again, lost.
    Last edited by sparky; 06-14-2012 at 08:21 AM.
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  6. #6
    I can't tell much difference but ones like Black Walnut and hickory have a stronger smoke taste to them.

  7. #7
    If you really want to taste the difference in food using different woods, try cheese. I smoked some cheese using mesquite and some using hickory. I used cheddar and mozzarella. The cheeses really do pick up the flavor. And yes you can pick up the flavor. With meats it is more difficult. I really do not care for mesquite smoked cheese. It imparts a harsh taste, like you were burning paper. IMO

  8. #8
    Senior Member PaulyT's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Thanks gentlemen, this is very informative!
    - Paul

    Green Mountain Grills - Daniel Boone

  9. #9
    I would like to suggest that the brand of pellets may make a bigger difference than the flavor. While I have had a hard time discerning a difference between flavors within a brand, I did notice a difference between brands. One brand covered everything with a sameness across different meats and the second does not.

    Still Learning.

  10. #10
    AFAIK do some brands use oak and others use alder as the main wood (70-80%) in their pellets.
    Maybe this is the difference that you smell or taste.


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