Mesquite vs Hickory – Which One Is Best For BBQ Smoking

Do you want to make a Mesquite vs Hickory comparison because you have to choose between the two? If you are new to the world of meat smoking then the decision is a bit difficult.

Newbies and enthusiasts alike are fascinated by hickory and mesquite smoke which are two great types of wood commonly used in meat smoking.

The most important question is what wood should you use to smoke meat? There are many types of smoking wood, but why mesquite or hickory?

Do you understand the subtleties of wood smoke? No, it will take you some time. But today we are debating the great hickory vs mesquite.

Mesquite vs Hickory

Let us walk you through the finer differences between hickory and mesquite, making it easy for you to choose the one that suits your tastes.

Mesquite imparts a very strong smoke flavor and is best suited for cuts of beef, especially brisket. Like mesquite, if you don’t like the strong flavor, you’ll have to experiment with lighter woods.

Hickory is a medium-intensity wood that pairs well with the meat of small animals. But do not think that it is not suitable for roasting chicken or beef. I would recommend you to use it.

Hickory wood is commonly used by BBQ masters and hobbyists, but no matter how experienced you are, you definitely need to be careful when smoking it.

Since even small amounts can spoil the taste of food, we also recommend using a low and slow speed to smoke with hickory wood.

Flavor Profile of Mesquite

Mesquite vs Hickory

Even if you’ve never sampled mesquite-smoked foods before, you’ll recognize the taste as soon as you take the first bite. But how are these possible?

Because mesquite is the most commonly used — and strongest — wood for barbecues — you need enough restraint to smoke with this strong wood.

In fact, it often needs to be combined with lighter wood to reduce its intensity. Such as Apple and Pecan smoking wood.

Flavor Profile of Hickory

Mesquite vs Hickory

Experts agree that hickory imparts a mild smoky flavor and is a medium-strength wood, but it doesn’t have that distinctive flavor profile. As we get to see different tastes of Apple and Maple.

Nevertheless, it is known for its great flavor on smoked meats such as bacon.

Hickory gives you a strongly aromatic and vaguely sweet smoke, you’ll be able to detect its smoke after some time if you’re cooking with it, even if you’re new.

If you’re cooking for guests who aren’t familiar with smoked food, the flavor can be a little different and overwhelming.

What Shape Are Smoking Wood?

Taste isn’t always the only feature one should think about, although it may have played the biggest role. You also need to consider what type of wood you want to use and what size and shape.


If you use a gas grill or charcoal smoker to smoke, wood chips and shavings are one of the most popular choices, as they burn quickly and need to be replaced all the time.

We wouldn’t recommend preparing it for a larger cut like brisket or pork shoulder until you’ve learned how to use a handful of wood to taste the smoke.


Generally, its size is about 2.5 square inches which simply means that it will provide heat for a long time. We believe it is a great choice for offset smokers and charcoal grills.


It’s the largest size that does a better job of imparting flavor as well as being the main source of heat, which you can only use in a large offset smoker where the folds can easily fit. If your idea is to smoke a large amount of meat, this is the perfect alternative to burning it for hours.


If you have a pellet smoker grill it needs pellets to operate. Wood pellets are made from compressed hardwood. For making sawdust of hardwood and it is converted into small cylinders. Now it’s time to use it.

Best Pairing Food with Hickory

The question often arises, which meat goes best with hickory? As you got the clue above, it’s a natural partner for bacon, which simply means it works well with most cuts of pork.

Hickory wood also works well to bring out the natural sweetness of the beef and provides great intensity with any bird, especially with darker meats like shredded thighs, drumsticks, and more.

Some food smoking experts use hickory wood to smoke fish and cheese, but all believe it dominates the subtle properties of these ingredients and the same has happened to us.

Best Pairing Food with Mesquite

Mesquite wood is used for almost every cut of beef, especially in Texas, where the flavor is renowned. In particular, pitmasters use mesquite wood to smoke brisket, which is the most popular.

It can also be used to intensify the smoke properties of lamb or pulled boar, especially when used in conjunction with applewood.

FAQ – Mesquite vs Hickory

Is hickory or mesquite better for ribs?

The first thing to note is that hickory and mesquite burn at roughly the same rate, which simply means you don’t need to adjust the smoking time of the meat.

When you cook for a group of guests, only you will know the difference between mesquite and hickory. It simply means that you have done a great job. You don’t have to smoke a lot for the flavor to balance well.

You are the only smoke expert in that crowd who can tell which wood blend you’ve used. The rest may only see the smoky undertones, but will never know their distinction.

Larger cuts such as beef brisket will benefit from a dose of mesquite but you should be aware that these cuts require a long, slow cooking period.

What type of wood sizing you like depends on your grill unit, but you should work with wood logs if you want the best flavor.

Hickory smoke gives your ribs a nice color, hearty feel, and mellow tone. This is a great option for your ribs that works well with the use of BBQ sauce to glaze the ribs.

Can you mix hickory and mesquite?

It shouldn’t matter to you what other people think, but if it’s about combining hickory and mesquite, yes you can.

If you are a beginner, we advised you to try the two separately, only when you learn to recognize the difference between them, then you should consider a combination. You need to start mixing the two with the least amount that will spoil your food and keep you learning.

What does hickory taste like?

The hickory flavor works well with ribs and larger cuts of pork shoulders. The flavor of hickory wood is described as savory, and hearty, with an almost beanie tang.

What does mesquite taste like?

The taste of mesquite wood is easily recognizable. This wood flavor produces a strong flavor. The profile is bitter, pungent, and strong with an earthy stringy taste.

Final Verdict – Hickory vs Mesquite

There are many questions about both. Which is better mesquite or hickory? Which is not needed in my opinion. Because both have their own distinct taste, hickory imparts a medium-to-strong flavor and mesquite is different from any flavor that binds you.

Unless you use both, it’s too early to say which is the better option for you. When you don’t get the taste you want, you should always keep experimenting.

Which one of these two is better, you have to decide after using them. Below is a link to the hickory and mesquite wood you can buy.

Hickory Woods Options

Best Wood For Smoking TurkeyTraeger Grills Hickory Hardwood Pellets Grill1. Premium quality
2.100% Natural hickory hardwood
3. Pairs well with everything
4. Clean Burn, Low Ash, and No Binders

Buy Now On Amazon
Best Wood For Smoking TurkeyWESTERN Premium BBQ Hickory Wood Chips1. Big Wood size
2. 100% natural Hickory wood
3. Heat treated
Buy Now On Amazon
Best Wood For Smoking TurkeyCamerons Hickory Smoking Wood Chunks1. 100% natural Hickory wood chunks
2. Works with all grills
3. Subtle fruity flavor
Buy Now On Amazon

Mesquite Woods Options

best pellets for brisketLouisiana Grills Texas Mesquite Pellets1. Premium quality
2.100% Natural maple wood
3. Pairs well with everything
4. Clean Burn, Low Ash, and No Binders
Buy Now On Amazon
Best Wood For Smoking BrisketOklahoma Joe's Mesquite Wood Smoker Chips1. light and sweet smoke flavor
2. Longer lasting smoke
3. Heat treated
Buy Now On Amazon
MesquiteSteven Raichlen's Project Smoke Smoking Chips - (Mesquite)
1. 100% Mesquite wood chunks
2. Works with all grills
3. Ignited quickly and com-busts completely
Buy Now On Amazon
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