Hickory VS Mesquite

Hickory VS Mesquite

Wood is an important component of great grilled food. It is responsible for the production of smoke, which then adds taste to the food. However, not all smoking woods are the same.

Some are stronger than others. Not to mention that each wood has a varied effect on different types of food.

Hickory and mesquite are among the woodlands. Hickory is often regarded as the king of all smoking woods. However, mesquite is the most intense of them all.

So, which is superior? And, more importantly, for what kind of food?

In this ‘hickory versus mesquite’ post, we’ll discover.

Hickory VS Mesquite

Customers have argued regarding the best sort of wood to use when creating their favorite foods. However, the question remains: what is the distinction between hickory and mesquite?

What Is Hickory?

Hickory is a type of hardwood native to North America. It is known for its durability and beauty, making it the perfect choice for various applications. Hickory has many advantages over other types of wood, including its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and be refinished easily.



Hickory wood has been a part of American history since the colonial days when it was used to construct everything from furniture to tools. Its strength, durability, and flexibility made it an ideal choice for many projects, and its popularity has only grown over time. Hickory is still widely used in furniture making, smoking meat, and barbecuing vegetables.


Hickory is widely used in furniture and home décor due to its durability, variety of colors, and visual appeal. Hickory is often described as having a ‘harsh’ texture; however, it can range from coarse to smooth, depending on which species is chosen. As for color, the wood ranges from cream-white to reddish brown, with some even exhibiting hints of yellow or green hues in certain areas.

The grain patterning can vary based on species but typically appears irregular or wavy, with pronounced curves and swirls throughout each piece. This unique blend of characteristics gives hickory an unmatched aesthetic that provides a stunning finish to any room or living space.

Smoking With Hickory

Hickory wood is especially good for longer smoking since it burns slowly and steadily over time. The smoke has a sweet aroma, and the flavor imparts sweetness and some heat depending on how much smoke comes through during cooking. It makes it ideal for ribs and other cuts of pork that require slow smoking processes over several hours or even days.

Drawbacks of Using Hickory Wood

Firstly, hickory has a high hardness rating which means it requires specialized tools in order to be cut or shaped properly. As such, this type of wood may not be suitable for DIY projects if the necessary tools are unavailable.

Furthermore, hickory can be difficult to stain as its grain pattern is often irregular and inconsistent which can result in undesired results after staining. Hickory tends to warp easily when exposed to moisture which can affect the quality of the finished product. It is also prone to splitting and cracking so extra caution must be taken when handling or transporting pieces made from this wood. 

What Is Mesquite?

Mesquite is wood for smoking and grilling meats, vegetables, and other foods. Its mild flavor makes it a great choice for those looking to smoke their foods without an overpowering smokiness lightly. Many people compare mesquite to hickory in terms of its flavor profile, but there are several differences between the two that make them unique.



The history of mesquite dates back thousands of years. Ancient Aztec people used mesquite trees for fuel for cooking fires, while Apache tribes relied on them for construction materials like posts and beams. Mesquite beans were also harvested as an important source of nutrition before corn was introduced from Europe in the 16th century. More modern uses include smoking foods like beef brisket or pork ribs with mesquite chips or chunks to add a unique smoky flavor.


Mesquite wood is popular for furniture, cabinetry, and decorative items due to its distinctive characteristics. This type of wood has a unique grain pattern, which varies from straight to interlocked patterns. Mesquite’s color can range from pale yellow to dark brown or red-brown hues, and it often contains dark streaks or flecks throughout the grain, adding further interest. Regarding texture, mesquite wood is generally characterized as having medium texture but may vary depending on the species.

Additionally, mesquite wood is known for its hardness and durability making it a great choice for flooring in high-traffic areas. It’s also highly resistant to insects and decay, increasing its popularity among homeowners looking for reliable materials with lasting value. Its strength also makes it ideal for carving projects that require intricate design details.

Smoking With Mesquite

Its intense flavor profile and versatility make it easy to understand why mesquite has become so popular for smoking food. Mesquite smoke has an unmistakable aroma that will entice your senses when you open the smoker lid or grill cover. Its smoke also reduces inflammation within the body due to its high magnesium concentration, making it a healthy choice for your cooking needs.

Drawbacks of Using Mesquite Wood

Mesquite wood can be difficult to work with because it is extremely hard and dense. It has a high shrinkage rate when exposed to humidity changes, making it prone to cracking or splitting over time. Additionally, because of its hardness, mesquite wood requires sharp tools when cutting or carving, as dull blades will not be able to penetrate the tough material properly.

Final Words on Hickory VS Mesquite

The conclusion of this discussion of hickory vs mesquite reveals that both planks of wood have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the specific cooking application. Hickory wood will impart a strong smoky flavor to grilled food, making it ideal for pork ribs or steaks. On the other hand, mesquite has a sweet flavor that meshes well with lighter meats like fish or chicken. It also produces far less smoke than hickory, which can be beneficial when barbecuing in small enclosed areas.

Ultimately, both kinds of wood are excellent for barbecuing and smoking meats, providing different flavors and smoke levels that can enhance meals. Each type of wood should be used according to its strengths when grilling to achieve the best possible results for any dish.


  • Troy Miller

    Hi! My name is Troy, and I'm the founder of Grill Taster. I have a lot of experience in grilling because I've been testing out products for over a decade. With almost ten years as a professional griller and help to thousands of aspiring BBQ masters, you can trust me to help you find the best grills and accessories on the market so that you don't have to waste time or money on junk. With my family enjoying some summertime fun just outside Carolina, we're all looking forward to your comments and questions!

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