Top 10 Meats to Smoke for Beginners

best meats for smoking

To get the best-smoked meat you have go through three-stage process.

  • The first thing is getting the smoker that ticks all the boxes according to what you need.
  • The second thing, you need to understand how to smoke the meat.
  • Finally, you need to determine which type of meat is ideal for smoking.

With a strategic cooking process and the right temperature, you can smoke any meat to perfection. However, there are some types of meat that are perfect for smoking, even for beginners.

Here is a list of meats that you can put in your smoker this weekend – Whether you are using a pellet smoker, an offset smoker, or an electric smoker, these meats can be smoked in anywhere and will have a great flavor and tenderness.

What are the best meats for smoking?

1. Whole chicken

whole chicken

A whole chicken is ideal for beginners because of several reasons. Chicken takes less time to smoke when compared to other meat like beef or pork. The additional advantage is that the chicken does not require too much work when preparing it. For example; if you had some salt and pepper, maybe for the seasoning, and you are good to go.

Smoking the whole chicken should be done in around 2 to 3 hours until the temperature clocks 164 degrees Fahrenheit. The best wood flavor for smoking chicken includes oak, cherry, pecan, maple, and apple.

Smoking the entire chicken allows you to smoke its breast efficiently, and remember these are not compatible with smoking. If you are smoking the chicken using an electric smoker, all you need is to set it up and forget about it. That is why this meat is perfect for beginners or anyone that does not have time to keep checking if the meat is ready.

2. Boston butt (Pullet pork)

Also known as pulled pork, this meat is a well-marbled and excellent cut of meat for smoking. The meat is cheaper than brisket and other meat in the market. Ensure you look for meat that still contains bone to give it a glamorous texture and flavor.

Use a sweet-red rub to cut this meat as it is the most common rub used. Add brown sugar and paprika to the meat to enhance its flavor and produce the mouth-watering bark many people crave. If you love spice, then sprinkle some chili powder on the meat. The best wood for smoking this is maple.

For beginners, we recommend using a wood chip or neutral-tasting wood pellet. That way, you will know how you like your meat and learn how to prepare it better in the future. Smoke the meat for around 4 to 5 hours to create the tasty outer bark. Wrap it and return it for smoking for another 4 to 5 hours. If you want the Boston butt to have an exquisite flavor and texture, the internal temperature should be around 199°F.

3. Whole Turkey

Turkeys represent joyful holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Smoking a whole turkey will present you with a phenomenal meal. Turkey meat is healthier and leaner compared to chicken. Turkey is also a larger bird meaning it is ideal for feeding a large crowd of people.

The whole turkey requires a slow and low smoking process of around 10 to 12 hours. Since this is a large bird and you are smoking the entire thing, you expect it to take some time to get ready, but it will surely be worth the wait. The best wood for smoking turkey would be cherry wood. Smoke your turkey at 225 degrees to have a tasty meal.

4. Pork shoulder

It is among the common and best meat to smoke for beginners. This meat goes well with typically any smoker meaning you can never go wrong with this meat. One thing that makes this meat ideal even for beginners is the connective tissues and fat it contains. Let the pork shoulder smoke for around 16 hours to properly cook.

High heat melts the fat and covers the pork shoulder keeping the meat moist. As a result, what you have is a juicy and tasty smoked pork shoulder that will leave you craving for more. Pork shoulders can prepare long-smoked sausages. The meat is quite versatile and addicting. Use hickory wood to smoke your pork shoulders in around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Beef brisket

corned beef brisket

Ribs and briskets are typically smoked meat hallmarks. While you may want to smoke beef briskets after getting your new smoker immediately, there are vital things to keep in mind:

  • Put the smoker on earlier than you had scheduled
  • Make use of the water pan
  • Assess the stall

My recommendation for brisket is to cook it at 225 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound, for achieving best results. With this meat, you can use different types of wood such as apple, maple, or red oak.

6. Pork Ribs

Pork ribs are for those who wish to smoke traditional meat. This meat is perfect for smoking for everyone, even a novice pitmaster. The meat does not require a lot of effort to prepare, and once placed in the smoker, all you have to do is give it time.

Pork ribs are astonishingly tender, meaning you won’t require a lot of heat to smoke. The meat can make delicious smoked prime ribs. The ideal wood to prepare the pork ribs includes traditional woods such as oak and mesquite. Ensure you smoke the meat in temperatures of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for not more than 6 hours.

7. Beef ribs

Beef ribs are not easy to find when compared to beef briskets. But you should know they are much easier to cook. Beef ribs are compatible with fast and high cooking.

At a consistent temperature of 205-degree Fahrenheit, the meat should be ready in under six hours. However, beef ribs require constant monitoring. Use fruitwood to smoke this meat, such as cherry or Applewood.

This meat has a lot of fat and tough connective tissues, making it perfect for smoking. Smoking beef ribs give you a tender and juicy meal that you wouldn’t achieve with another cooking technique. Add some bit of salt and pepper to make the meat even more sumptuous.

8. Lamb Leg

When getting the lamb leg, choose one that is fatty for your smoking endeavors. That is because the fat melts, covering the meat during smoking, making the meat juicy and tender.

Smoke the lamb leg for about 3 to 4 hours at temperatures of about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for an incredible meal. With this meat, use fruit wood like apple or cherry.

9. Sausage

Any sausage is ideal meat for smoking. These are cheaper to get, not like a whole turkey or whole chicken. You can also buy them virtually anywhere, and smoking them is one of the simplest things one can ever do.

Add the smoky flavor to your dishes by smoking sausages. Hickory wood is ideal for smoking sausages. Smoke it at temperatures of 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about three or four hours.

10. Salmon

smoked salmon

The process of smoking Salmon is straightforward, and it takes much less time than smoking other meats such as pork and venison.

Adjust the heat to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a tender and juicy salmon piece. You could add some spices, salt, and pepper to make the meal mouth-watering.

With salmon, you need to smoke it using Applewood for around three to four hours for tasty meat.

Final Thoughts

Smoking your meat is a fascinating way to feed the entire family or guests when having a function. If you have never smoked meat before, do not worry, as this guide gives you the easiest meat to smoke and prepares delicious cuisine for your visitors.