Hickory Wood is used more as a flavouring item than a cooking fuel.
There are about 12 species (opinions vary) of Hickory tree native to North America.
Hickory wood chips
When sold commercially as hickory wood chips, the chips will be under 1 ½ inches (4 cm) long.
Hickory wood chips are good for smoking, particularly pork such as ham and ribs, or pork loin, imparting a pungent flavour to the food.
Hickory wood can be used green in small amounts. When using dry hickory, soak the pieces of wood in water first or let larger pieces burn down before starting cooking.
Too much hickory wood smoke can ruin the taste of your food. When using it as a cooking fuel, use a mix of perhaps maximum 20% hickory to 80% of another wood such as oak.
Some barbequers like to use hickory nut shells, soaked in water first. They advise to use about ½ the quantity of what you would use for chips, as the shells impart a more intense flavour.
To use the chips: soak in water for a minimum of 20 minutes, then toss them on top of your coals. Or, if using in a propane-type grill, put the soaked chips into a smoker box, and place the smoker box on top of your briquettes or rocks. Light the grill. When smoke begins to appear, start cooking. You will likely have smoke for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pecan wood, for a lighter taste.