Smoking Wood : Tips for Smoking with Cherry

Smoking with cherry wood and which meats pair best.

The art of smoking meat is truly dependent on the wood you use. At Smoking #MeatGeeks we love to smoke with cherry wood.
UPDATED 3/5/19

smoking with cherry wood

Cherry wood is a team player. It goes well with any kind of meat. It's no wonder why George chopped it down.  If you are unsure of which wood to choose for your next job, go with cherry – you can’t go wrong. Unlike heavy woods such as oak, which is only good with meats such as beef, cherry is versatile; it can be used with all meats, from beef and pork to fish and chicken.

Is Smoking with Cherry Wood Harmful?

Smoking aficionados have used cherry wood to smoke for years, but if you’re new to the art of smoking you may have hesitations. We know there is a fear running amok about arsenic in cherry wood.

Rest assured if the wood has not been treated or altered from the tree to your grill, it's safe to use.

Best cherry wood chunk vendors

WEBERWESTERNCHAR BROIL
2 lbs
6 lbs
4.5 lbs
Light Bark
Decent Size Chunks
Burns Clean
Medium to Large Chunks
Minimal Bark
Smaller Chunks
Some Chips
Minimal Wood Chips
Some Chips
See Now
See Now
See Now

Restaurants and thousands of smoking aficionados have been using cherry wood for ages; it's safe. Just in case you need further convincing, let's talk science for a minute.

First of all, cherry wood does not contain arsenic, it contains a chemical called hydrogen cyanide.We know that doesn’t make you feel any better, but hear me out.

The compounds have to burn at a rapid rate for them to have a negative effect.

Chemistry of Cherries

Smoking doesn’t set the wood on fire, instead, it allows the wood to smolder. Therefore, the cyanogenic compounds do not develop into harmful chemicals. In addition, when used in small amounts hydrogen cyanide is not harmful. For example, apple seeds contain the same chemical compound, but eating them won’t have any negative effects.

When to Use Cherry for Smoking

You may not believe us when we say, cherry wood is great for smoking any type of meat, but it's true. We love to use it on pork and beef, to change things up, occasionally we will mix it with oak. The flavor cherry wood produces is light and sweet. It is delicate and not overpowering. This makes cherry a good wood mix with others such as apple, oak or hickory. We also use cherry wood for barbecuing chicken. We love the dark color of our bird when it’s smoked with cherry and the light sweet flavor is unbeatable.

 

Cherry Wood Chunks

Western is our value pick when it comes to this fruit wood. 

Coloring 

Beware, cherry wood smoke will create a dark skin on light colored meats, such as chicken. You may find the darkened skin not visually appealing, but rest assured the flavor will be delicious. If you want the flavor of cherry wood but not the color you can mix it with apple wood to help diminish the darkening effect. On darker meats, cherry smoke produces a dark mahogany that looks simple mouth watering.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article!

  • Jeni Cheatham says:

    I’m having trouble getting cherry to smoke. It just dries out. Any tips?

    • Top Geek says:

      Hi Jeni,

      There are several reasons for wood, in general, not to produce the type of smoke you’re looking for. Are you using chips or chunks? What brand are they? What type of smoker/grill do you have? And how are you applying them? Can you taste the flavor of the smoke in your meat? Many times people are looking to see billowing white clouds of smoke, and if they don’t see this they assume they are not smoking properly; the opposite is true, you’re going for a light gray/blue steady stream of smoke, some aficionados even refer to it as an “invisible blue smoke”.

  • Steve O says:

    I have some wood from a tart cherry tree I had to chop down in m backyard. I plan on using it in my smoker, but when I cut it up, do I need to remove the bark?

    • TopGeek says:

      I wouldn’t spend too much time removing bark. Cherry wood bark isn’t terrible unless it contains mold. I’d say skip on removing the bark, but I know people who will spend the extra time when it comes to woods like hickory or mesquite.

  • Jason Frett says:

    Can I use black cherry wood for smoking meat?

  • Randolph Lively says:

    I recently (April 2020) had a wild cherry tree (18-20 inch base) cut because it was growing at about a 60 degree angle. I have cut the trunk and large limbs in slices of 4″ to 6″ wide and put them in a dry place. Is there a market for this wood?

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