Mesquite flavor comes from mesquite trees, which are native to Mexico, the Southwest and South America. The distinctive sweet flavor, which is a common component of Southwestern recipes, comes from the smoke of mesquite wood as it burns.
While mesquite trees can cause great harm due to their invasive nature, farmers, ranchers and the barbecue industry found a beneficial solution to this problem by turning the wood into barbecue material, including chips and chunks for grills and smokers. A wide variety of mesquite-flavored products are available, including mesquite smoke powder or liquid, seasoning blends, dry rubs and barbecue sauces. Mesquite flavoring is also used in snack foods, such as potato chips, popcorn and jerky.