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best meats to smoke

The Best Meats To Smoke

  • August 7, 2018
  • / Tips
  • / By Nathan
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Smoking meats help to create a flavor that you cannot get when you cook it in the oven or on the grill. Smoking meat gives it a smoky flavor. The smoky flavor that your meat gets depends on the type of wood that you use while smoking. A few of the most popular types of wood include hickory, barbecue, mesquite, and applewood.

If you are planning to buy a smoker grill or offset smoker/grill, you should understand that some types of meat cook better than others. As a rule, fattier cuts of meat work best. This is because you can cook them low and slow without worrying about overcooking your meat. Also, when the fat melts, it breaks down into the tissue of the meat. This results in a juicy finished product that falls right off the bone. Below is a list of the best meats to smoke.

1. Poultry


Smoked Chicken

As a rule, you don't just want to smoke any type of poultry. There are certain types that smoke much better than others. 

Whole Hens: Whole hens are great to smoke for a few reasons. First, you can find whole hens at just about any supermarket. Also, while smoking, the meat will remain moist. Finally, due to their small size, hens can be smoked quickly. This is great if you don't have much time to smoke your meat. To smoke a hen, simply remove the gizzards and the necks and add your favorite seasoning.

Chicken Quarters: Chicken quarters are great for smoking. Chicken quarters are large chunks of dark meat. This particular cut helps to lock in the smoky flavor. Also, it doesn't lose its moisture during the smoking process. Best of all, chicken quarters are quite inexpensive.

Small Whole Chicken: Small whole chickens work great in the smoker. You can either rest the chicken directly on the grate in the smoker, or you can stuff it to add flavor. One common way to smoke a whole chicken is to put an open beer can in the bottom of the chicken. This makes the meat more juicy and flavorful. You can also use can of soda if you prefer.

  • Hot Tip: These are a great practice meat.

2. Pork


smoked pork

Pork is a lean meat and it is full of flavor. If you are thinking about smoking pork, you should understand that some cuts smoke better than others. 

Pork Shoulder or Butt: If you are new to smoking, you should go with either of these cuts. It is very difficult to make an error when cooking a shoulder or a butt. Also, pork has a good amount of fat. While the meat is smoking, the fat will self-baste the meat, keeping the meat juicy.

Ribs: Ribs are one of the most popular meats for smoking for a few reasons. First, ribs are one of the cheapest cuts of pork. Second, ribs can either be put directly on the grate or you can wrap them to hold in the flavor. Wrapping the ribs makes cleanup easy. Finally, smoking the ribs can add flavor that is impossible to resist.

3. Beef


smoked beef

Beef is one of the most popular types of meat. Beef is generally inexpensive and it tastes great. When it comes to smoking, you cannot smoke just any cut. There are a couple of types of meat that smoke the best. 

Brisket: Brisket is also known as the “king of smoked meats.” This cut has earned this title for a few reasons. First, it is very easy to find. You won't need to go to a specialty butcher shop to find a brisket. Most supermarkets carry it in the store daily. Second, there is a thick layer of fat on the brisket. As the meat smokes, the fat will melt into the meat, keeping it moist and juicy. Finally, it absorbs the smoky flavor better than most cuts of beef.

Prime Rib: If you are new to smoking, you might want to hold off on smoking prime rib. While the taste is amazing, it is difficult to cook. If you want your meat to come out moist and juicy, you should practice on easier cuts of meat first. Prime rib is more on the expensive side, therefore, you should practice before you try smoking this expensive cut that is difficult to cut. When you feel ready to smoke a cut of prime rib, it will likely be the tastiest cut of meat you have ever smoked.

4. Lamb


smoked lamb

Lamb is a let popular type of meat to smoke, however, this isn't due to the taste. Lamb actually smokes amazingly and the final product if juicy and full of flavor. There are a couple of cuts that smoke better than others. 

Lamb Shoulder: Lamb shoulder is very high in fat. This is great for smoking because when the fat breaks down, it leaves you with a piece of meat with a smoky flavor that has a gamey texture. The issue with lamb shoulder is that it can be difficult to find a good cut in your typical supermarket. You may need to go to a butcher shop to find a good lamb shoulder.

Lamb Leg: Lamb leg is great because it cooks low and slow. There is, however, an issue with lamb leg. Lamb leg is uneven. It is larger on one end than the other. This can make it difficult to position so that it cooks through evenly. If you are an inexperienced smoker, you should start with a boneless leg. If your leg doesn't have a bone, you can cut it in half and distribute it evenly on the racks of the smoker.

  • Hot Tip: If the meat is boneless, why not cut the leg in half, if only cook one half at a time you will be able to divide the halves on your smoker racks to ensure even smoking times.

5. Seafood


smoked salmon

There aren't many types of seafood that are good for smoking. In most cases, you should bake or grill your seafood. There is, however, one type of meat that works great in a smoke. 

Salmon: Salmon is a healthy fish choice. Also, when you smoke salmon, it will hold in the smoky flavor and it comes out extremely succulent.

There is a science when it comes to smoking meat. If you are new to smoking, you should start with the easier meats so that you can get some practice without worrying about ruining the cut. Over time, you can work your way up to more difficult cuts of meat.

About the Author Nathan

Hi! My name is Nathan and I’m a passionate meat-lover and certified grill connoisseur. I fell in love with grilling food back when I was a little kid when my grandfather used to cook tasty burgers in our backyard every Saturdays.

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