Is Mango Wood Good for Smoking Meat?

Smoking meat is a great way to create amazing tasting meat, especially with the smart use of certain woods that are well known for imparting flavor. There’s a reason that cherry, hickory, apple, and mesquite are all extremely well known by barbecue experts, longtime grill masters, and smoked meat enthusiasts. But what about less common options? Is mango wood good for smoking meat, for example?

Mango wood should never be used for smoking meat because the sap from a mango tree is extremely caustic and potentially harmful. This is because Mango trees are related to plants in the poison ivy family, and even if you could somehow assure the dangerous sap was removed, many people have allergic reactions to mango smoke and the trees are susceptible to fungus, disease, and pests.

This does sort of break my heart as my instincts tell me that mango wood could give a sweet flavor that would probably be enjoyable, and there are forum posts of individuals who say they have smoked with mango wood and had good results, it’s a risk-reward option that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

mango tree
Mango trees – the fruits are great, the sap is caustic, and while this wood is great for furniture, it’s not great for smoking meat.

Why You Should Never Smoke Meat With Mango Wood

There are a couple reasons why you’re really playing with fire, and not in the fun way, if you are smoking meat with mango wood.

  • The sap with mango wood is caustic and can be extremely harmful
  • There have been above average reports of allergen reactions to meat cooked with mango wood
  • The same sweet smoke flavor can come from easily accessible safe choices like cherry or apple

These are pretty good reasons to not use mango for smoking. While this might be unfortunate for those living in areas with lot of mango trees, it just means for those of us living in other places that it’s not an exotic to take a chance on.

What About People Who Smoke Using Mango Wood?

There are plenty of forums where individuals have talked about using mango for smoking in the past and didn’t seem to have any problems. Some forum postings even

Taking all of these at face value (and there’s no reason not to – I don’t doubt any of these posts), that means many people have eaten smoked meat from mango wood and seemed to not have problems. So does that mean it’s safe?

Well…there are a few potential problems with this line of thinking.

  1. Negative side effects don’t always happen right away – People can have damaging effects in the body they don’t notice or things like mercury poisoning from fish happens over time & the same could be true with meat smoked with mango wood.
  2. It might not be immediately harmful like we think of but not healthy from long-term ingestion
  3. Some people have allergic reactions to mango wood smoke

The main concerns are with the sap, but even when the wood is dried there can be sap in or on the wood which still makes i less than ideal to cook.

However, the solid advice is don’t use mango wood for smoking. Especially considering there are reliably safe and easy to get alternatives.

Alternatives to Smoking Meat with Mango

If sweet smoke is what you’re looking for more traditional choices that have a long history of being used by smokers are there way to go. Many of these are among the most popular options out there, so why risk something that could be unhealthy or dangerous?

If you’re thinking about smoking meat with mango no doubt you’re looking for a bit of sweet smoky flavor. The following have various degrees of sweetness but can substitute in for a reliably good smoky and sweet flavor.

Good alternatives to smoking meat with mango wood

  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Lemon
  • Macadamia
  • Mesquite (burns hot so be careful with this one – but SO good when done right)
  • Peach

Should You Give Mango Wood a Shot?

I’m a big believer that unless you run into a situation where the overwhelming agreement among experts is that the wood is terrible for smoking with a particular meat, it’s always worth giving it a shot at least once to see what your personal tastes and thoughts are.

However, when safety concerns come into the picture, there’s no reason to take the chance. Don’t try smoking with mango, use one of the other established “sweet smoke” woods instead for a delicious flavor and taste that you don’t need to worry about.

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