The Ultimate Guide to Smoked Goat: How to Achieve Best Results

Welcome to the ultimate guide to smoked goat! Goat meat is unique in taste but similar in ways to smoked lamb leg.

Goat meat has become more and more popular in recent times, and this is probably due in part to the fact that it is a lean, delicious and unique meat to smoke.

Smoked Goat
BBQ Smoked Goat

Why Smoke Goat?

Smoking goat meat is a bit of culinary adventure that offers a different and delicious flavour profile. The slow cooking process allows the natural flavours of the meat to shine through, while the layers of smoke add a rich and smoky depth.

Additionally, smoking low and slow helps to tenderise some of the tougher cuts of goat meat, resulting in meat that is fall-apart fork-tender. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or looking to explore new flavours in the kitchen, smoked goat could be a great option for you.

It’s versatile too – treat it like you would pulled pork, or serve it stews or curries. It works well in a taco or burrito too.

Goat has less fat than beef as well as quite a high iron content, while still delivering on protein.

To get started, it’s important to choose the right cut of goat for smoking.

Choosing the Right Cut of Goat

When it comes to smoking goat, not all cuts are created equal. Some cuts are more suited for smoking, while others are better suited for other cooking methods.

The ideal cuts for smoking goat include the shoulder, leg, and ribs. These cuts have a good amount of marbling and connective tissue, which helps to keep the meat moist and tender during the long cooking process. When selecting your cut of goat, look for meat that is fresh, well-marbled, and free from any strong odors. This will ensure that you start with the best possible base for your smoked goat.

It usually best to try and source it through your local butcher if possible, and that way you can ask questions about the life the animal has had.

Once you’ve chosen your cut of goat, it’s time to prepare the meat for smoking. We prefer shoulder or leg but really it’s up to you. Ribs take a lot longer to be fall off the bone than goat leg or shoulder.

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Preparing the Goat for Smoking

Before you can start smoking your goat, it’s important to properly prepare the meat. This involves trimming any excess fat, removing the silver skin, and scoring the meat to allow the marinade to penetrate deeper.

Trimming the fat helps to prevent flare-ups and ensures that the meat cooks evenly. Removing the silver skin, which is a tough connective tissue, helps to improve the texture of the meat. Scoring the meat is optional, but it does helps the marinade to penetrate, as well as create more surface area for the smoke to adhere to.

Selecting the Perfect Wood for Smoking

Goat can be thought of as similar to lamb and pork (athough gamier than both) in terms of wood choices. Popular wood choices for smoking goat include oak, hickory, apple, and mesquite. If you want a strong smoke taste go for mesquite, hickory or oak, and if you prefer a milder, sweet wood smoke flavour, go for apple. You can also experiment with a mix of different woods as well.

If you are using a wood pellet grill, there are plenty of great options for wood pellets.

It’s also important to note that using green or unseasoned wood can result in a bitter taste, so be sure to use properly seasoned wood for the best results.

Seasoning and Marinating the Goat

Smoked Goat BBQ 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 Garlic Powder)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fine Sea Salt

Simply place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

You want to consider buying your BBQ seasonings also.

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Smoked Goat Brine

You now have 2 main options for the smoked goat. You can dry brine the goat by liberally covering the goat meat in the BBQ rub and placing it the fridge, or you can use a wet brine and place it in the fridge (for up to 24 hours).

A wet brine is optional but it does act like a kind of insurance against the meat drying out in the smoker. If you want to use a wet brine you can try this simple recipe below.

  • 6 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar

The following are optional but add depth of flavour:

  • 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3-4 Whole Peeled Cloves of Garlic
  • Bunches of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme

Setting up the Smoker for Optimal Results

To achieve perfectly smoked goat, it’s important to set up your smoker correctly. Start by ensuring that your smoker is clean and free from any leftover ash or residue. This will help to prevent any off-flavours from transferring to your food.

The best way to do this is to get the smoker up to your desired temperature (225F or 107C) and leave it to smoke for 10-15 minutes with the lid open.

If you are fortunate enough to have a wood pellet grill all you have to do is plug it in, fill the hopper with pellets and set the dial to the correct temperature.

If you are using an offset smoker a chimney starter filled with charcoal and wood (and lit with natural firelighters) will help here. When the coals are white hot you can add them to your offset smoker.

Smoking the Goat – Time, Temperature, and Techniques

The ideal smoking temperature for low and slow cooking is in the 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit (107-121 degrees Celsius) range. This is easily maintained by a wood pellet grill such as Pit Boss Pro Series 1150 or very affordable alternative to Traeger grills, Z Grills Wood Pellet Grills.

If you are taking the old fashioned approach to smoking meat (you have our admiration!) you will need to monitor the heat and refuel with wood chunks and charcoal pretty regularly.

The low and slow cooking method allows the goat meat to slowly break down and become tender while infusing it with smoky flavors. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and cut of the goat, but as a general rule of thumb, you can estimate around 60-90 minutes per pound of meat. A 3 pound goat shoulder will then take around 3-5 hours, and a 2 pound goat leg will take 2-3 hours or so.

If you want to ‘pull,’ the goat meat so that it resembles pulled pork (or chicken) it will take longer again to break down to an internal temperature of around 165-170F (74-77C).

It’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the goat meat using a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) for medium-rare or 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius) for medium. Smoking times can vary but internal temperature is always the same.

Monitoring and Maintaining the Smoker

While the goat is smoking, it’s important to monitor and maintain the smoker to ensure consistent heat and smoke levels. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and make adjustments as needed to maintain a steady temperature. It’s also important to periodically check the smoker for any flare-ups or hot spots that could cause the meat to burn.

Adding additional wood chips or chunks to the smoker as needed will help to maintain a steady flow of smoke and enhance the flavor of the goat.

Wood pellet grills are essentially ‘set it and forget it,’ and maintain temperature very well, however many pitmasters (e.g. Aaron Franklin) prefer to work with wood and charcoal directly, preferring a more intuitive and time-honoured approach.

Resting and Carving the Smoked Goat

Once the goat has reached the desired internal temperature, it’s important to let it rest before carving.

This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ultimately resulting in a more flavourful and moist piece of meat.

Tent the goat loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes. When it’s time to carve, slice the goat against the grain (the grain is the direction that the muscle and fat in the meat travel) to ensure tender and melt-in-your-mouth bites.

Serving Suggestions and Accompaniments

Smoked goat is delicious on its own, but it can also be served with a variety of accompaniments to enhance the flavors and textures. Here are some suggestions for accompaniments:

  • In Tacos
  • In Burritos
  • With Mashed Potato and Gravy
  • In Buns or Sliders with BBQ Sauce
  • Fries
  • In Mac and Cheese
  • Roast Potatoes
  • On Pizza!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While smoking goat is relatively straightforward, there can be a few common issues that arise. For example, if the goat is drying out during the smoking process, it may be due to a lack of moisture in the smoker. Adding a water pan or spritzing the goat with a liquid (e.g. apple cider vinegar) can help to keep it moist.

If the goat is cooking too quickly or unevenly, it may be due to fluctuations in temperature. Monitor the temperature closely and make adjustments as needed. If the smoke flavour is too overpowering for your taste, try using a milder wood or reducing the amount of wood used. By troubleshooting these common issues, you should be able to overcome any obstacles and achieve delicious smoked goat every time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoking Goat

1. Can I Smoke a Whole Goat?

– While it is possible to smoke a whole goat, it is a challenging and time-consuming process. It’s often easier to smoke individual cuts of goat, such as the shoulder, leg, or ribs.

2. Can I Smoke Frozen Goat?

– It is not recommended to smoke frozen goat. It’s best to thaw the meat completely before smoking to ensure even cooking and optimal flavour. Frozen meat will reduce the temperature inside your smoker and will take much longer.

3. Can I use a Gas Smoker instead of a Charcoal or Wood Smoker?

– Yes, of course you can use a gas smoker for smoking goat. However, keep in mind that the flavour may differ slightly compared to using charcoal or wood. You can also use an electric smoker which uses gas AND charcoal/wood in combination.

4. How Long Should I Marinate the Goat?

– It’s best to marinate the goat for at least a few hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavours to penetrate and the meat to become more tender.

5. Can I Smoke Goat Indoors?

– Smoking goat indoors is not recommended due to the amount of smoke produced. It’s best to smoke goat outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Even a garage with windows open is not a good idea.

Conclusion and Final Tips for Perfect Smoked Goat

Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the ultimate guide to smoked goat! By now, you should have a solid understanding of how to achieve tender and flavourful results. Remember to choose the right cut of goat, prepare it properly, select the perfect wood for smoking, and season and brine it to perfection. Set up your smoker correctly, monitor and maintain the temperature, and smoke the goat low and slow until it reaches the desired internal temperature.

Let it rest, carve it against the grain, and serve it with your favourite accompaniments. And if any issues arise, troubleshoot and adjust as needed. With these tips and techniques, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art and science of smoking meat.

For a video on the process of smoking goat we would recommend this one.

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