Here is a list of our Top 10 best meats to smoke – along with an updated section ‘Smoker recipes to try Before You Die,’ which has more on the best meats for smoking, with a few other smoking ideas that are non-meat.
Smoking meat is both an art and science, and choosing the right meat and cut for the occasion is crucial for success and your desired outcome.
These meats are in no particular order of preference – they are all delicious meats to smoke recipes.
We have left links to our recommended recipe for each one of these best meats to smoke.
Remember that times are only a rough guide for smoking – we always cook to the internal temperature of the meat.
Make sure you carefully check the internal temperature of the meats you are smoking, according to each meats for smoking recipe.
- 1 Best Meats To Smoke – Beef Brisket – One of the Absolute Best Smoker Recipes
- 2 Best Meats For Smoking – Baby Back Ribs Smoked Using the 3-2-1 method
- 3 Best Meats To Smoke For Leanness – Venison Loin
- 4 Meats to Smoke – Smoked Sausage
- 5 Best Meats to Smoke – Whole Chicken on a Beer Can – Best Fun Meat For Smoking
- 6 Best Meats for Smoking – Tri Tip Steak
- 7 One of the Healthiest & Best Meats to Smoke – Fish
- 8 One of the Most Popular Meats For Smoking – Pork Butt (or Boston Butt)
- 9 Best Meat to Smoke At Holiday Times – Whole Turkey
- 10 One of the Most Impressive and Best Meats to Smoke – The Mighty Tomahawk Steak
- Best Smoker Recipes to Try Before You Die (Some Aren’t Even Meat!)
- 11 Best Smoker Recipe for Lamb Leg
- 12 Best Smoker Recipe for Smoked Mac and Cheese (with or without bacon)
- 13 Best Smoker Recipe Vegetarian Chili
- 14 Brilliant Smoker Recipe For Beef Chili
- 15 Best Smoker Foods – Smoked Cauliflower
- 16 Best Smoking Recipe For Smoked Shrimp
- 17 Best Smoker Ideas – Smoked Garlic
- 18 Best Smoker Recipe For ‘Dirty,’ Butternut Squash
- 19 Best Vegetable Smoker Recipes – ‘Dirty’ Onions
- 20 Top Smoker Recipe For ‘Dirty’ Rocket and Lemon
- 21 Best Smoker Recipe For ‘Dirty’ Baked Potato
- 22 Best Smoker Recipe For Chicken Wings
- 23 Smoker Recipe For Mushrooms
- 24 Best Smoker Recipe For Vegetable Kebabs – An Unexpected Triumph Among Smoker Recipes
- 25 Smoked Halloumi Burger – A Veggie Favourite Smoker Recipe
- 26 Smoked Pheasant – An Intensely Flavoured Gamey Classic & Best Recipe for the Smoker
- 27 Best Meats for Smoking – Pulled Pork in the Smoker
- 28 3-2-1 Spare Ribs – Classic Inclusion for a Best Smoker Recipes Article
- 29 Best Smoker Recipes – Chicken Shish Kebab
- 30 Whole Spatchcocked Chicken – One of the Absolute Best Smoker Recipes for Chicken
- 31 Best Smoker Recipe For Corn on the Cob
- 32 Best Smoker Recipe For Smoked Tomatoes to Make Homemade Ketchup
- 33 Smoked Lobster – Among the Best Seafood Smoker Recipes
- 34 Best Smoker Recipe For Smoked Mussels
- 35 Salmon in the Smoker Recipe
- FAQ’s About the Best Meats to Smoke
- FAQ’s About Best Meat Cuts For Smoking
- Traeger Ultimate Guide on the Best Meats to Smoke
- Best Pit Boss Pellet Grill Smoker Recipes
- The Best Meats to Smoke are Always Organic and Pasture Raised
- Where to Buy the Best Meats to Smoke Online – Porter Road
- What are some Easy and Quick Meats to Smoke?
- Best BBQ Near Me
Let’s start off with the big one. Smoking a brisket is one of those things a barbecuer has just got to do. It’s like a rite of passage, and it’s one of the most popular meats for smoking.
Once you have figured out how many guests you have, and what side dishes you will serve with your brisket, you will be ready to choose the weight of your brisket.
Be warned though – smoking brisket takes a long time in the BBQ smoker (it can take 10+ hours – some even say 18) and you will also have to factor in preparation and resting time.
It’s definitely worth it in the end, and definitely best done at the weekend or holidays when you have more time.
The article teaches you how to save time and avoid the dreaded ‘stall,’ where the temperature in the brisket ‘stalls,’ sometimes for hours.
The classic Texas Crutch method of wrapping your brisket in tinfoil or butcher’s paper for part of the cook is explained in detail here.
You might also enjoy ‘Top 5 Recipes For Brisket.’
Baby Back Ribs are one of the tastiest meats for smoking.
They come from high on the pig’s back where they meet the backbone. They are more tender and shorter than the Spare Ribs which are cut from along the pig’s breastbone.
You can of course use this same method with Spare Ribs (which are cheaper and less popular than Baby Back) or with beef ribs.
The 3-2-1 method involves:
- 3 hours in the smoker cooking directly on the grills at 110°C or 225°F
- Cooking for 2 hours wrapped in tinfoil or butcher’s paper with a splash of cider or apple juice
- Cooking at a higher heat for an hour unwrapped being basted with BBQ sauce
Check out a another really good recipe for Baby Back Ribs 321 Method try here:
Venison loin (also called backstrap) is one of leanest meats for smoking. The meat is very low in fat because the animal is so active in its lifetime.
Enjoy it thinly sliced and served with a buttery mash and vegetables.
It will take around 2 hours in the smoker at 110°C or 225°F, and should be enjoyed medium rare.
This fantastic recipe for Smoked Venison has a delicious citrus marinade.
Smoked sausage might at first sound a little obvious.
Not when you realise, we are thinking German sausage served Berlin-style in a crusty roll with mustard and ketchup.
You can also serve it with ketchup mixed with curry powder, called a Currywurst.
Also this recipe involves making your own sausage from scratch at home using natural hog casings.
It isn’t your average smoked sausage recipe.
Of course, you don’t have to make it from scratch you can buy your own sausages. But hey, it just isn’t as much fun.
Serve it in a crusty roll with mustard and ketchup and smoky onions. Delicious.
Sauerkraut and fries are optional.
While this might sound like a bit of a gimmick, you owe it to yourself to try this meats to smoke recipe at least once in your life.
Essentially you drink half a tin of beer and then place a whole chicken (covered with a dry rub) on top of the can, and place it in the smoker.
The steam from the beer keeps the chicken moist and imparts flavour.
Also it’s just a whole heap of fun.
It will take a whole chicken around 3 hours to smoke at 121°C or 250°F.
Here’s a great recipe for you to try here:
Tri Tip Steak has become an increasingly popular cut in recent times, and it is definitely one of the more fun and satisfying meats to smoke.
The cut actually comes from the rear of the cow at the lower part of the sirloin, and it is triangle-shaped.
It’s a pretty lean cut so it won’t take anywhere near the time to smoke that a brisket would.
In fact it only takes around 2 hours to smoke – a very worthwhile contender for the best meats for smoking.
Some people oddly don’t consider fish as meat, but we think that fish can be one of the most delicious meats to smoke.
Meat is eating the flesh of an animal that was once alive, so there’s no question it’s a form of meat.
A lot of barbecuers forget about seafood and how delicious it can be when smoked.
Salmon or rainbow trout are probably the most common fish to smoke but there are a whole host of other options.
For a great general guide to hot smoking various types of fish try here:
Despite the name, Pork Butt is actually pork shoulder. It also happens to be one of the best meats to smoke, especially for beginners.
It’s fairly straightforward, although it does take quite a while.
It’s a very rewarding smoke, and part and parcel of becoming a good barbecuer.
You can find a great recipe for Smoked Pork here:
Turkey isn’t just a meat for Christmas (or Thanksgiving in the US) it’s a fantastic lean meat to cook all year round.
It is also up there with the best meats to smoke, taking on that robust smoky flavour really well.
This big bird will take between 6-7 to cook in the smoker, and you can stuff it with delicious flavours and cover it in a BBQ rub to enhance the flavours.
Try this recipe for Smoked Turkey, and you won’t be disappointed:
The mighty Tomahawk steak (named after the Tomahawk axe because of its shape) is 100% one of our favourite meats to smoke.
It is essentially a number of Ribeye Steaks in one and unlike most steak cuts, it’s still is attached to the bone. It just looks super impressive and tastes even better.
Best Smoker Recipes to Try Before You Die (Some Aren’t Even Meat!)
Here are our best smoker recipes to try before you die. We think they are the best smoker foods around.
In order to properly smoke these recipes you will need the lid of barbecue or smoker down (unless you are refuelling or basting your food) otherwise you will lose heat and have less time for the flavours to get into your food. As a wise person once said ‘If you’re lookin’ it ain’t cookin’.’
We always recommend getting good quality charcoal (it last longer and maintains the heat properly), and using wood to add extra flavour to your smoke and food.
If you want a robust and intense wood smoke use hickory wood. If you like a milder and slightly fruity flavour in your smoke use apple or cherry wood. You can experiment and mix different woods to see which you like the best.
These smoker recipes and ideas are for beginners to advanced barbecuers/smokers to give you some ideas you may not have tried or thought of.
Smoked lamb leg is a perfect dish for a winter’s night, as it will warm you up from the inside out! It’s also a little bit different from the more commonly smoked meats, providing a nice change.
- You’ll need to slash your meat diagonally before smoking it to let the flavours in, cover it a little honey or mustard and a dry rub and then smoke it for an hour at 110°C or 225°F. This will get you a great crust.
- Now you can add BBQ sauce (bought or our homemade recipe) and smoke it for another 3 hours.
This will take your mac and cheese to the next level. The sweet, cheesy, smoky taste borders on magical. Our recipe contains smoked bacon, but you can leave it out if you’re vegetarian or can’t eat pork.
Start it off on the stove in a cast iron pot, and finish it on the smoker at 110°C or 225°F for around an hour.
You’ll need macaroni cooked to the packet instructions, whole milk, plain flour, butter, double cream, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, smoked bacon, and breadcrumbs for this one.
One of our absolute favourite and best smoker recipes.
For this one we smoke garlic and onions in their skins, along with a red chili pepper (red chilli in the UK) in advance in our smoker. This makes them go lovely and gooey, charred and full of smoke flavour.
We make our vegetarian chili in a cast iron pot on the hob, and then smoke it for an hour or so in the smoker at 110°C or 225°F.
You’ll need garlic, onions, veg stock, instant coffee, chili powder, dark chocolate, cumin, chickpeas, red kidney beans, bay leaves, tins of chopped tomatoes, red bell peppers, and smoked paprika for this one.
This one is approached in much the same way as the vegetarian version, but without the veg stock, chickpeas, and the addition of ground/minced beef and beef stock.
It takes around 2 hours to smoke slow and low at 110°C or 225°F.
15 Best Smoker Foods – Smoked Cauliflower
Cauliflower done in the smoker comes out with a really nice crispy texture. Treat it like a piece of meat – cover it in a dry rub and smoke it on the grills for around 1 hour per cauliflower head at 250°F or 121°C.
You want it to be tender but not mushy or it’s overdone.
You can make your own awesome Buffalo Hot Sauce for cauliflower steaks or wings.
Seafood isn’t always so popular at a barbecue, but smoked shrimp is an absolutely lovely dish.
Put your shrimp on skewers (they can be small enough to fall through the bars sometimes) smoke them at 110°C or 225°F for around 30-45 minutes.
Delicious with garlic butter.
This one is really easy but very effective. All you need to do is put a head of garlic (unpeeled) in the smoker for an hour or two until it goes gooey and smokey. Then you squeeze it out of the skins.
You can use it as a great flavour base for chilli but our favourite thing to do with it is make a delicious garlic smoked mayo to put on your burger.
Garlic Chilli Smoked Mayo is simply out of this world.
You can also roast garlic in a garlic roaster in the smoker or oven.
By ‘dirty’ we smoking something wrapped it tinfoil and placed directly among the charcoals of your barbecue/smoker. It gives you a really strong, intense smoky flavour, and maybe the odd bit of ash too.
You get some tasty charring as well as a great melty texture as well.
Make sure to wrap your vegetables tightly to avoid too much ash!
A butternut squash is great for this method of smoking because it stands up well to a long smoke. You don’t need to peel it and scoop out the seeds until after smoking it for around an hour at 110°C or 225°F. Add a splash of olive oil to your tinfoil package too.
19 Best Vegetable Smoker Recipes – ‘Dirty’ Onions
As you might imagine onions work really well cooked straight in the coals as well. Melty, smoky, charred onions can be added to burgers, hot dogs, or eaten as a side dish. Cook them the same way as the butternut squash.
Large onions will work particularly well.
20 Top Smoker Recipe For ‘Dirty’ Rocket and Lemon
Some people might be disgusted at the idea of putting salad in the smoker, but trust us this really works!
Add some lemon juice, a little salt and pepper, wrap it up in tinfoil and leave in the coals for around 30mins at 110°C or 225°F.
Great as a side dish or added to a burger. A surprisingly effective one among the best smoker recipes.
21 Best Smoker Recipe For ‘Dirty’ Baked Potato
Why not try a potato cooked in the coals? It will obviously take longer to cook than other veg which means it will be extra smoky.
Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in tinfoil. Now smoke for around 2 hours in the coals.
Serve with cheese or butter. A simple but delicious favourite among our smoker recipes.
It may seem fairly obvious to smoke chicken wings, but most people end up baking them in the oven. Leave them in the smoker on indirect heat for about an hour and you’ll have smoky, crispy, loveliness.
You can check out our full article on smoking chicken wings with a Buffalo Sauce Recipe if you like.
23 Smoker Recipe For Mushrooms
Mushrooms have a natural meaty flavour and texture and are great for smoking low and slow.
Big mushrooms such as Portabello are perfect here, and can be eaten in a bap like a burger.
Season your mushroom with salt and pepper, and add a splash of oil or balsamic vinegar.
Blue cheese is also perfect to crumble over the top of your mushroom for a salty, tangy, taste.
We like to smoke these mushrooms on the grills for around 30-40 minutes at 110°C or 225°F. You don’t need to turn them or you’ll lose your cheese! The smoke and indirect heat will cook the top of your mushroom.
24 Best Smoker Recipe For Vegetable Kebabs – An Unexpected Triumph Among Smoker Recipes
Our favourite things to put on the skewers and smoke are chunks of peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Try and keep your vegetable pieces all roughly the same size for presentation.
Brush with a little oil or honey every so often to stop them drying out.
Have a look at our full article on BBQ Smoked Vegetables.
25 Smoked Halloumi Burger – A Veggie Favourite Smoker Recipe
Cut some halloumi cheese into slices which are about the size of the palm of your hand.
Brush with a little oil or honey and then place directly on your smoker grills. Cook your halloumi in the smoker for around an hour, turning halfway through at 110°C or 225°F.
Brush with a little oil and honey a few times during the cook.
Season with pepper and serve in a brioche bun with some salad and ketchup/barbecue sauce.
26 Smoked Pheasant – An Intensely Flavoured Gamey Classic & Best Recipe for the Smoker
On the subject of game, another great meat to smoke for something a little out of the ordinary is pheasant.
Pheasant is a richer, darker meat than chicken or turkey and has a distinctive flavour which is enhanced by smoking.
We need to careful not to overcook the pheasant as it is already quite a tough meat, and basically all muscle. They are always on the move.
To retain moisture some people like to brine their pheasants overnight in a mixture of sugar, salt and water. This is optional, but worth considering.
Rub the pheasant all over with this dry rub:
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
This rub works well for smoking chicken and turkey as well.
Smoke the pheasant at 110°C or 225°F for around 2-3 until the internal temperature of the meat is 63°C or 145°F The leg of the bird should be more like 80°C or 175°F. As always go by temperature not timings.
The best woods to use would be fruit woods such as apple or cherry.
Check your pheasant throughout the cook to make sure it isn’t getting too dry. Brush with a little oil or honey every so often.
Rest your bird for 20 minutes in tinfoil for 20 minutes before serving.
No smoker recipes article would be complete without including these next 2 ideas – Pulled Pork and 3-2-1 Spare Ribs.
For our pulled pork we are going to use pork shoulder and smoke it for 12 hours altogether – 6 hours unwrapped and 6 hours wrapped in tinfoil/butcher’s paper.
It’s a long smoke but worth it in the end.
Here are the ingredients for the sweet dry rub:
3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Sweet Smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder (or more if you like heat)
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon of Granulated Garlic (not the same as garlic powder)
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Fine Sea Salt
Rub this all over your pork shoulder and then place it over indirect heat straight onto the grills of your smoker at 110°C or 225°F.
As mentioned in the brisket section we are going to hit a temperature stall a few hours in, and we need to wrap our pork at this point.
The stall usually occurs around 145°F-165°F or 63°C-74°C which is obviously well below the internal temperature we need to bring our pork to.
At this point tightly wrap the pork in paper/tinfoil and throw in a splash of cider or apple juice.
Return your pork to the smoker and cook to an internal temperature of 88-91°C or 190-195°F.
Pulled pork is traditionally served in a bap or bun with coleslaw.
Further information is available on the internal temperature for pork and pulled pork in general.
The 3-2-1 method for bbq smoker ribs involves:
- 3 hours in your smoker cooked directly on the grill at 225°F or 110°C
- 2 hours cooking wrapped in butcher’s paper or foil with a little liquid (usually cider or apple juice)
- 1 final hour of cooking at a higher heat unwrapped and basted with barbecue sauce
Click the link above for the full article.
Marinate some chicken cubes for 2 hours or overnight in these ingredients:
- 200 ml natural yoghurt
- 6 boneless chicken thighs or 4 medium sized chicken breasts (thigh meat will be juicier and cost less, but it’s up to you)
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of Extra Hot Chilli Powder (more or less depending on your chilli tolerance!)
Place your chicken on skewers and cook in the smoker at 110C or 225F for around 30 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.
Get your butcher to spatchcock a whole chicken for you.
Or you try it yourself if you’re feeling brave.
This will open out the chicken so that it cooks quicker and helps you get your BBQ sauce right inside.
You can slow cook your whole chicken at around 110 C for 2-3 hours in your smoker to make sure the meat is beautifully moist and tender.
Internal temperature for cooked chicken is 74C or 165F.
31 Best Smoker Recipe For Corn on the Cob
Brush some corn on the cob with butter and lime juice and then sprinkle over some chili flakes, salt and pepper.
Place in the smoker for a couple of hours over indirect heat to really impart smokey flavour. 110C or 225F will do the job nicely.
32 Best Smoker Recipe For Smoked Tomatoes to Make Homemade Ketchup
Put 6 big beef tomatoes in an aluminium tray. Season with salt and pepper and add a little oil.
Place inside the smoker for a couple of hours at 110C or 225F.
Remove the smoked tomatoes and place in the blender.
Add the following ingredients to the blender to make an awesome smokey ketchup:
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 80g or 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Salt
- 120ml or 1/2 cup of malt vinegar
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 tsp Cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- chilli flakes according to taste
- 1 tsp of Garlic Powder
Lobster is delicious anyway, but it’s even better smoked.
Boil your lobster in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute per ounce of lobster and then remove.
(Put the lobster in the freezer first to send it into a comatose state if you are concerned about being humane.)
Cut the lobster in half from head to tail, and then place in the smoker at 110°C or 225°F for around 45 minutes.
Serve with garlic butter or as a lobster roll.
34 Best Smoker Recipe For Smoked Mussels
Not too many of us have tried smoking mussels but it isn’t as difficult as you might think.
First of all scrub the shells and debeard them.
Steam your mussels first in a pan on the hob, until their shells are just starting to open.
Leave your mussels to smoke in their shells at 110°C or 225°F for a couple of hours.
Serve them with a garlic, white wine and cream sauce and crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
Smoked salmon takes a long time, especially to cure the fish but we wouldn’t want to leave it out. It’s a fantastic smoker recipe.
Place your salmon in a container with just enough water to cover it. Add 128g or 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup or 43g of salt, and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Take your salmon out of the brine, pat it down with kitchen paper, and leave to dry while you prepare your rub.
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Smoke on indirect heat at 110°C or 225°F for 3-4 hours until the internal temperature reaches until 145°F.
Make sure to brush the salmon with honey or maple syrup every so often during the cook. Salmon, like pork takes sweetness well.
For another great article on best smoker recipes try here:
What Meats are Good to Smoke?
Large and inexpensive cuts of meat such as brisket, pork shoulder or even whole chicken or turkey are good to smoke. Individual and expensive meat or steak cuts are better grilled than smoked.
Best Meats to Smoke for Beginners
If you are new to smoking the best meats to smoke will be the smaller cuts that take the least time – chicken wings, pork chops, lamb chops, chicken drumsticks, chicken thighs, turkey legs, or small pieces of lamb, beef, pork on the skewers for kabobs/kebabs.
Individual steaks such as ribeye or sirloin, as well as sausages (such as Bratwurst) have a short smoke time for beginners as well.
It’s also worth considering white fish such as sea bass or cod, as well as Rainbow Trout and shellfish such as oysters or crab because they won’t take very long to smoke either.
Despite the longer smoke time, pork butt is one of the best meats to smoke for beginners because it is very forgiving and difficult to get wrong.
Leave the more difficult beef brisket until you have done your research and got used to your BBQ Smoker.
Best Meat Cuts for Smoking
Many people think the best meat cuts for smoking are large, cheap cuts which can be cooked for long periods of time to break down the tough fatty connective tissue – for example brisket, pork butt or ribs.
However, the best meat cuts for smoking for you may be the ones that cook more quickly and still take on a good amount of smoke flavour, such as chicken wings/thighs/breasts, kebab meat, lamb chops, pork chops or sausages such as Bratwursts.
Does Smoking Meat Cook it?
Smoking meat means cooking it over an indirect heat away from open flames. The heat and smoke cook the meat slowly over time resulting in the meat being tenderised, breaking the connective tissues down for a melt in the mouth tasty result.
This great article from Traeger themselves is well worth reading for more information on the topic.
If you’re more of a Pit Boss kind of person you’ll love this article on best meats to smoke on the Pit Boss pellet grills.
The Best Meats to Smoke are Always Organic and Pasture Raised
Where to Buy the Best Meats to Smoke Online - Porter Road
Easy and quick smoker recipes would include smaller pieces of meat such as chicken drumsticks, thighs or wings, pork chops, lamb chops, individual ribeye steaks. Shish kebabs done on skewers with lamb, chicken or pork pieces are also a good quick and easy option.
Meats such as pork shoulder (pork butt) for pulled pork and beef brisket take a long time to smoke and tenderise - brisket can take 18-20 hours, and it isn't easy to get right.
Happy BBQ, Smoking and Grilling folks!Yum
You might also enjoy this article on Smoker Mac and Cheese.