Any hardwood that is free of resin or sap is usually suitable for cooking. If the tree produces fruit or nuts, like Apple, Pear, Cherry, Pecan, or Walnut trees; then the wood is great for BBQ grilling or smoking. If you want a strong smokey flavor, then Hickory is your best bet. Hickory Wood gives meats a strong smokey flavor very quickly, so you might want to mix it with a lighter wood. Oak is usually the preferred mixer unless you want to add a fruity or nutty flavor.
If you’re new to cooking with wood then you’ll have fun experimenting. Its probably one of the best parts of cooking with wood. The best way to experiment is on the grill. You don’t want to spend 20 hours smoking meat with Hickory and end up with an inedible meal. Try mixing woods, adding woods at varying times, and soaking your wood chunks or logs with water so they burn slower. Remember, if the smoke is bitter, black, or noxious then you shouldn’t be cooking with it.