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The Best Meats to Smoke

Are you a Grillmaster? Then you are likely into meat smoking, too. 

Smoking meat is a low and slow process that adds intense flavor and tenderizes meats. Some people even consider this an art, or special techniques for barbecue aficionados.

If you like good meat, the type that falls apart in your mouth or gives off flavor you will never forget, smoking meat is what you need to do.

Whether you’re a beginner at smoking meat or you want to learn the best tips and tricks, I have everything you need. 

For now, the most important thing you need to learn is what are the best meats to smoke.

While you may be tempted to throw almost any type of meat in the smoker, you need to know there are only a specific few that actually do best in the smoker.

The Best Meats to Smoke: Top Cuts

Have fun and experiment, smoking meat is delicious and exciting for meat and cooking enthusiasts. Nothing beats food cooking on the grill other than smoking your meat!

Below are the best meats for smoking:

Beef Brisket

beef brisket

The premier meat for smoking, beef brisket is the secret to all meat smoking desires. However, it doesn’t just stop there, its also about the type of Brisket you choose.

Ample marbling as well as having a nice fatty layer will give you ultimate piece of brisket. I'm talking about mouth-watering delicious when you find a piece of brisket with a good fatty layer.

Make sure you are looking for the most tender piece from the meat section. In fact, if you want to get really technical you can ask the butcher or meat department worker to lift up the pieces of brisket to see how tender it is.

The more it bends, the more tender it will be.

A Brisket is divided into two parts, the point and the flat. For smoking good brisket, you will want it undivided and untrimmed.

In fact, you can request your meat to be made out of “packer’s cut”, which will have a strip of fat located in the middle and a fat layer on top.

The layer on top is considered a “fat cap”, which is something you want to have if you desire tender smoked brisket.

Just like any meat, make sure you rinse it well and marinate it for at least 12 hours for some good flavor.

Now its time to smoke some good brisket!

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

The reason pork shoulder is one of the best meat to smoke is that it have a perfect ratio of fat to lean meat.

This means it is great for slow cooking and comes out deliciously moist and flavorful!

It also makes a mean pulled pork. Also known as “Boston Butt”, after smoking this meat will be so tender it will just fall apart at a knifes touch.

Some recipe ideas for pork shoulder are pulled pork tacos and sandwiches, mac and cheese with pulled pork, casseroles, or baked beans with pork.

Choosing the right pork shoulder for smoking is important to achieve maximum flavor and tenderness.

When shopping for a Boston Butt you want to choose one with bone for more flavor. Look for one that has a nice layer of fat, about ¼ inch.

If you want to ensure you have the absolute best piece of Boston Butt, ask your butcher to score the fat for you. Once you have the most tender piece of pork shoulder its time to get smoking!

Be sure to see my guide where you will learn how to smoke a pork shoulder.

Beef Ribs and Pork Ribs

smoke beef ribs

The most common smoked meats are pork and beef ribs.

Who doesn’t love a nice pair of smoked spare ribs on a lovely summer evening? Ribs are one hundred percent better smoked than grilled, and they are extremely easy to smoke.

Once you remove the membrane and rub on your favorite seasoning and spices, your ribs will be ready in no time.

Smoking ribs make them more tender and mouth-watering than any other way of cooking them. If you want ultimate flavor, then choose beef ribs for smoking rather than baking them!

For the best results, you need to choose the best slab of ribs you can find. Quality ribs will have excellent meat coverage over the bones, and will not have large areas of fat.

Unlike the other meats, you do not want to choose ribs with a thick layer of surface fat.

Choosing the Best Wood Is Important Too

wood is important bbq

It doesn’t just end with the meat, the type of wood you smoke with makes a huge impact on the flavor.

However, if your smoking with an electric smoker you will be looking for wood chips.

Always keep in mind to choose a wood that will complement the meat your cooking and the seasonings you paired with it. The wood adds flavor to your meat, so you want to make sure the flavors go together.

The most common types of wood are below:

  • Alder and fruitwoods: You can get flavors such as pecan, apple, and cherry. This wood offers a sweet and smoky flavor to the meat.
  • Hickory: Offers a stronger smoke flavor, and it works best with bolder cuts of meat such as pork butt and beef ribs.
  • Mesquite: The strongest wood out of all smoking wood. It is perfect for smoking darker meats.
  • Maple: For a more mild and sweet flavor, maple wood is ideal for poultry and vegetables.