Chicken and most other poultry is best smoked with fruit woods such as apple, cherry or peach. Other woods commonly used in smoking meat such as oak, hickory and mesquite can overpower the flavor of chicken. Fruit woods tend to provide a lighter, sweeter smoke that accents the flavor of chicken instead of overpowering it.
Of the available fruit woods, my typical go to is apple wood. It is typically the easiest fruit wood to find on store shelves or online. However, chicken is relatively inexpensive and it doesn’t hurt to experiment with different woods or combinations of wood. It is actually kind of fun to mix and match to find your own signature combinations.
For example, when preparing smoked chicken wings that will be sauced, I like to add a small amount of hickory to the apple wood to add a little extra smokey flavor. This extra flavor provided by the hint of hickory helps adds a little extra complex smokiness to wings that will be covered in BBQ or hot sauces.