Best Meats For Smoking

Smoking meat has long been a revered barbequing practice, whether pork, lamb, beef, or turkey. The aroma of smoked hardwood adds a touch to your meat that just can’t be replaced.

Before you even get to pick out your meat, it is essential for you to educate yourself on the required smoking time, temperature, and the smoking process; Do this to ensure that you face no unexpected issues during the smoking process.

Using a pellet grill or a vertical smoker is a surefire way to get perfectly smoked meat. However, one thing people don’t pay enough attention to is the choice of meat.

Not every meat behaves the same way when smoked. To get the right blend of tenderness, smokiness, and juiciness, you must perfect the method and meat choice.

We’re here to give you a rundown on the best meats to smoke and what you should expect during the smoking process.

Before we get to discussing the meat, it is essential to understand how to prepare your meat!

Know Your Meat

You can’t just choose any meat off the supermarket counter and start smoking it. Every meat type and every cut must be smoked differently.

You should be well-versed in how your choice of meat behaves in heat. Understanding the nuances of different meat cuts may seem like a difficult task, but it is the only way to know when you have the perfect mix of flavor and moisture.

Ensure that you use food-safe hardwood. Woods like maple, oak, hickory, and cherry are considered food-safe. Each wood has a different aroma and produces a distinct flavor in smoked meat.

It’s important to choose high-quality meat. While it’s convenient to grab discount meat from the supermarket, it’s probably overpackaged and includes unwanted portions of the cut. Head to your local butcher, where you’ll get fresh meat of better quality.

You must know the composition (the fat, bones, cartilage content), as well as the color (dark, white) of your meat. Lean cuts of meat will lose their moisture quickly, and you’ll be left with a dry and chewy piece, while fattier meat cuts will take time to get that required smokiness.

The fatty and tough meat cuts are the best choice for a barbecue.

Meat cuts with high intramuscular fat and collagen content make for good smoking. They tenderize slowly and give off natural juices, leaving you with juicy, meaty flavor.

Preparing The Meat

After choosing the meat, it’s time to prepare it. This process includes trimming and seasoning.

Trimming the fat depends on how you like your meat. When the fat melts, it doesn’t penetrate the meat, but it does trap its moisture. This makes your cut juicy but sacrifices its crispiness.

You can leave it on to act as a buffer against the heat. We would recommend removing the fat pad to help cook the meat evenly, but it’s solely your discretion whether you like your meat fatty or not.

You can request your meatpacker to tie your cut for even cooking. If it comes pre-tied, do not remove the string to ensure the meat is cooked evenly throughout. It’s not something you need to do, but if you feel your meat is unevenly shaped, it’s better to tie it up.

If you’re smoking a bird, like a chicken or a turkey, you might need to tie them up because of their irregular shapes. Otherwise, you’ll end up with some parts overcooked and some undercooked. Tying also helps for easier turning during grilling.

Seasoning The Meat

Salt serves two purposes: firstly, it tenderizes and release the juices from the meat, and secondly, it adds flavor. It’s wise to start with a small amount; around a quarter of a teaspoon of salt for a regular-sized meat cut. If you’re using kosher salt, you can add half a teaspoon.

Some people like to add pepper, while some skip it. In some cases, it can enhance the flavor and balance out the salt.

Salting your meat will fulfill the purpose of brining; It’s enough to penetrate the meat and extract its moisture. This is what’s called a dry brine. It works best for low-fat meats like poultry and fish.

Wet brining is the process of tenderizing your meet by submerging it in a mixture of salt, spices, and water; at times, even vinegar and other acids.

Overbrining your meat will make it soggy and mushy, which is why it is important to be prepared and attentive during the entire smoking process.

Some people like to rub their meat with a mix of herbs and spices. This is done to add flavor without overwhelming the meat, and is done just a few minutes before smoking the meat. The herbs can vary, from onion powder to garlic powder and cayenne

Best Types Of Meat For Smoking

Having understood how to choose, prepare, brine, and tie the meat, let’s run through our picks for the six best types of meat to smoke:

Black Angus Beef Brisket – Huntspoint

Most popular 

Brisket is the most popular choice of cut when it comes to smoking and barbecuing meat. It’s considered the king of barbecue cuts.

Although hard to chew, but when smoked for the required amount of time (10 hours or more), it becomes perfectly tender and juicy, with a crisp surface.

Brisket is a large cut of meat from the lower chest, and it requires a long time to cook. It retains its shape even after smoking and is a popular addition to sandwiches and burgers.

Smoking a brisket can be a tough job for beginners. The most crucial thing to remember is to keep an eye on the smoker’s temperature.

Uneven heat will ensure that your brisket is irregularly cooked. Avoid sudden spikes or drops in the smoker’s temperature, and try not to open your smoker frequently unless it’s urgent.

It’s best to choose a high-quality brisket with a fat cap and plenty of muscle; if not, it’s going dry up. Also, try to enquire whether the animal was grain-fed or grass-fed because grass-fed meat cooks faster. This information can help you better control the temperature and cooking time.

The ideal temperature range for cooking a brisket is between 190°F to 215°F. You must let it rest for at least an hour after cooking. That means removing it from the smoker and wrapping it in foil; This allows the meat to retain the moisture.

Why Buy This?

It is the most popular cut of meat for smoking for a reason! When you’re feeling unsure about what to barbecue, grab this brisket and play it safe. It wouldn’t disappoint and always make for a tasty meal.


  • Can be used in burgers and wraps
  • Gives a tender and juicy flavor


  • Takes a long time to smoke
  • Expensive

Check Price

Pork Shoulder Butt Country Style – Evaxo

Great pulled-pork sandwiches

Pork butt is the second most popular meat cut for smoking. It comes from the upper shoulder of the pig, which contains more muscle and connective tissue.

The cut is made for smoking because its tough muscle fibers take a long time to break down. The longer you smoke your meat, the more tender and juicy it ends up. It usually comes in 4 or 8-pound slabs and is good for beginners who want to try smoking.

When choosing a pork butt, look for a cut with a hefty amount of fat for the most flavor; pork butts usually don’t need trimming.

You can apply a rub of your choice; a barbecue rub should go well; leave it to rest and fire up the smoker.

The pork butt should cook at a temperature of 220°F to 250°F, and the cooking time should be roughly an hour per pound of meat at 225°F.

When your meat reaches 160°F, you should wrap it up with foil and place it back into the smoker. Once the temperature reaches 195°F, pull it out and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Your pork butt is ready!

Why Buy This?

Get the family together to help you smoke dinner! It’s an educational cooking experience that results in delicious dinner, one that costs you less money than a brisket!


  • Great cut for sandwiches
  • Cheaper than brisket


  • Requires attention while in the smoker

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Beef Short Ribs – Huntspoint

Tender and melts in your mouth

Smoked ribs are a tradition!

They are best for slow smoking as the connective tissue breaks down and gives you a juicy, tender piece that falls apart in your hands.

You can choose between spare ribs and baby backs ribs; both are equally flavorful. When selecting ribs, look for meat with plenty of fat marbling and an even thickness around the entirety slab.

Remove the membrane using a knife. Start from the corners and pull it off using a paper towel in one swift sweep.

Rubbing seasoning on ribs is more of an option than an obligation; some people find that a rub takes away from the rib’s taste.

Smoking ribs is a slow process, and the ideal temperature is around 220°F to 240°F. Smoke them for around 3 hours and then let them cool in the heat.

Baby back ribs take around 5 to 6 hours to cook completely. The best way to check if they are done is to grab two adjacent bones and pull them apart; if the meat breaks apart with ease, they are done.

Why Buy This?

Smoked ribs take some time to prepare. That time will allow you to make delicious dishes to accompany the ribs, and that’s game day dinner sorted! These short ribs will smoke just perfectly in your smoker and make for scrumptious barbecue.


  • Best for slow cooking
  • Very tender and melts in your mouth


  • Difficult to smoke for beginners

Check Price

Fresh Whole Turkey Wings – Just BARE

Lean meat perfect with side dishes

Turkey is a decent smoking option if you prefer lean meat. Turkey meat is flattened and quite easy to smoke; it also requires very little time.

You can smoke a turkey at home with a basic grill. The key to thoroughly smoking a turkey is to create indirect heat and maintain the temperature at a point where the meat doesn’t burn.

You should keep the temperature at a constant 225°F throughout the time it is being cooked. If you’re using a whole turkey, tie down the legs with a string.

You have complete authority to decide what flavor rub you want to use. A BBQ flavored rub will harmonize well with the turkey’s taste, or if you use a sweet rub, the sugar will cause the turkey skin to caramelize and become crispy.

For a whole turkey, cook at 225°F for 30 minutes per pound; keep an eye on your turkey an hour before the finishing time to avoid any overcooking.

Why Buy This?

Who doesn’t serve turkey at Thanksgiving? Smoked turkey is a great way to surprise your family and guests with a brand new take on Thanksgiving dinner. These turkey wings will go particularly well with most Thanksgiving side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy.


  • Less cooking time
  • Can be done indoors
  • Cheaper alternative to beef or pork


  • Can overcook quite fast
  • Does not have the juiciness of pork and beef cuts

Check Price

Boneless Skinless Chicken – Walnut Creek Farms

Best cost-effective smoked meal

Smoked chicken can be used in salads, sandwiches, and burgers, among other things, and is a great way to cook chicken if you have the time for it. All it takes is a little preparation.

If you’re smoking a whole chicken, it’s best to tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder. You will need to smoke a chicken at an estimated 275°F for up to 3 hours.

The bigger the chicken, the more time it’ll take, but it’s imperative to keep the temperature constant and avoid any spikes or drops.

Smoking the chicken with the skin on helps it retain moisture and prevents that dry, flaky texture.

It’s a good idea to coat the chicken with olive oil to prevent the skin from becoming leathery. The oil contains the smoke from drying out the chicken.

Just like turkey, it’s up to you how you want to season your chicken. BBQ rubs enhance the taste, and sweet rubs provide caramelization.

Why Buy This?

You don’t have to spend hours smoking this boneless chicken, throw them in the smoker for an hour, and you’ll have them ready to serve for dinner. They’re incredibly easy to smoke and go well with most side dishes.


  • Takes less time to smoke
  • Cheap
  • Can be done indoors


  • Can dry out pretty quickly
  • Must check temperature to prevent any overcooking
  • Does not have the juiciness of pork and beef cuts

Check Price

Bottom Line

We hope you’re clear on the best meat options for smoking. Smoked meat is often versatile, and the process can be a fun holiday picnic for the family.

Smoking the meat yourself can be an unforgettable culinary experience if you love barbecuing, the outdoors, and getting your hands dirty.

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