Best Meats to Smoke: How to Smoke Your Favourite Meat

best meats to smoke beef brisket

Grilling on a barbecue is a great way to enjoy some delicious meats, but to impart massive flavour and tenderness, consider smoking the meat instead. Rather than searing the meat on the outside at high heat before cooking it through, smoking involves cooking the meat slowly and at a much lower temperature.

While it can take a while to fully cook some meats, and the best meat smoking temperature varies depending on the protein, you'll surely find that the incredible flavour is worth the wait.

Here's our guide on how to smoke meat in a smoker by cut:

Smoked Beef Brisket

smoked beef brisket

Brisket is one of the best meats to smoke, and also one of the most delicious. Done right, the meat will feel like it almost melts in your mouth when you eat it. It will take about 10 to 14 hours to cook the meat in a smoker, depending on the size and density. You'll want the meat to reach an internal temperature of about 96°C to ensure that it is fully cooked.

Brisket absorbs the flavours of the wood you use to create the smoke, so don't be shy about experimenting with different wood chip types. Some wood chip favourites include:

  • Oak

  • Cherry

  • Hickory

  • Pecan

Once you stick the meat in the smoker, try to leave it alone as much as possible to let the smoke accumulate and work its magic.

Smoked Pork Butt and Shoulder

Despite the name, pork butt does not actually come from the animal's behind. It is really the upper shoulder area of the pig's front legs. The shoulder cut is the lower portion of the shoulder, leading down towards the "elbow".

Both cuts tend to be quite large, often weighing in at several kilos. This makes them great options for feeding large groups. However, because of their large size, pork butts and shoulders often take upwards of 10 hours to fully cook in a smoker.

If your pork butt came bone-in, you can tell the meat is ready to eat simply by giving the bone a little twist. When the meat is done, the bone will slide out easily. If you weren't lucky enough to find a bone-in pork butt or are smoking a pork shoulder, aim for an internal temperature of about 96°C. Hickory and pecan are great wood choices for these cuts.

Smoked Pulled Beef Oyster Blade

smoked pulled beef oyster blade

Smoking your beef oyster blade is a great way to create a versatile protein for use in a variety of meal choices. For example, smoke a beef oyster blade and pull it apart for use in:

  • Tacos

  • Sandwiches

  • Stir-fry’s

  • Pies

  • Or even just eat it as is for a tasty snack

The best part of smoking a beef oyster blade is that the meat is very set and forget and as long as you get the basics of smoking right (such as smoking temperature), you’ll be sure to have a tasty meal your family and friends will definitely enjoy.

As for temperature, you want to get your trusty smoker preheated to 138°C. If time permits, it’s also recommended that you season the beef oyster blade in advance, up to 24 hours prior to cooking.

Check the meat after 3 hours, and then every hour following until your thermometer reads an internal temperature of around 96°C. Then, grab the meat off and let it rest for at least half an hour before pulling and serving.

Smoked Chicken Quarters

Chicken is always a crowd-pleaser, so this meat should be included in your smoking arsenal. Rather than roasting the chicken whole, this is one of the easiest meats you can smoke if you first cut it into quarters.

Using this method, it will take about an hour and a half to smoke the meat, though the dark meat may take slightly longer than the white meat. The meat should reach an internal temperature of about 82°C. Apple and maple wood are both great choices for smoking chicken.

If you are a fan of crispy chicken skin, keep in mind that smoking is not the best option for this purpose. Typically, the skin will come out tough and chewy after smoking, so it doesn’t suit hungry guests seeking a crisp bite. You should keep the skin on during smoking to help keep the meat as juicy as possible.

It is also important to note that the smoking process will give the meat a pink ring around the outer edges. This is a natural part of smoking and does not mean that the meat is undercooked. Slather on some sauce if the colour makes you nervous.

Smoked Pork Ribs

smoked pork ribs

When you want to have some fun and eat with your hands, smoked pork ribs are the way to go. From the pig, a few of the meat cuts you can smoke are the baby back ribs and spare ribs.

Baby back ribs are the smaller of the two types, and as their name suggests, they come from the pig's back. Spare ribs are much larger, and they are found on the animal's sides, closer to the belly. Despite their differences, the smoking process is relatively similar, though the spare ribs will take longer to cook.

In general, a rack of ribs will take about four to six hours to cook. You can shorten the smoking time by trimming racks of baby backs into chunks of three or four ribs and spare ribs into single ribs. Because of all the bones, it can be a bit tricky to determine the internal temperature of the meat. Instead, stick a toothpick into the meat. If it slides through easily, you're good to go! Ribs lend themselves well to a variety of smoking wood, including apple, maple and cherry.

Smoked Chuck Roast

If you love brisket but don't want to wait all day for it to cook in the smoker, the chuck roast is the cut for you! It's got lots of fat marbling, which makes it a great candidate for smoking. As the fat and connective tissue dissolve, they'll impart incredible flavour to the meat, leaving it tender and juicy.

To smoke a chuck roast, you'll need about five to six hours, and the meat should reach an internal temperature of 96°C. Try using hickory or pecan wood to get the best results.

Smoked Lamb Shoulder

smoked lamb shoulder

Another one of the best meats to smoke is a lamb shoulder. Smoking a lamb shoulder is very similar to smoking a pork shoulder while offering a delicious alternative that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Heat up your favourite smoker to 150°C and add the lamb shoulder. You want the lamb to hit an internal temperature of approximately 90°C. If your temperature prod enters with little resistance, it’s time to take the lamb shoulder off, wrap it in foil, and let it rest for at least one hour.

One ready to serve, pull the shoulder apart and serve to your hungry guests. Combine with some fresh-made salads and condiments to create a delicious lunch or dinner.

Follow this recipe for a delicious lamb shoulder smoked in the Weber Smokey Mountain.

Smoked Turkey Breast

If you don't want to take the time to roast an entire turkey, smoking just the breasts is a great option. Before you stick the meat in the smoker, give it a bit of a rub underneath the skin with some butter and seasonings to impart more flavour. As with smoking chicken, you'll want to leave the skin on during the smoking process, but remember it is unlikely to come out crispy.

A turkey breast will only take about two hours to smoke and should get up to an internal temperature of 71°C. Mild woods, like apple and maple, are best for smoking turkey.

It All Starts with a High-Quality Smoker

Now that you know exactly how to smoke these delicious meats, you'll need a top-of-the-line smoker to get the job done. Here at The Outdoor Chef, we have a wide range of smokers and Weber smokers to suit the needs of both home cooks and restaurant chefs.

While your in-store at our Joondalup or Osborne Park showroom, make sure to pick up a BBQ cookbook for some great recipe ideas. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our many smoker options and find one that is best for you.