7 Good Meats to Smoke for a Delicious Meal

Smoking meat is not merely a cooking method; it’s an ancient culinary art form cherished by barbecue enthusiasts worldwide. This time-honored tradition involves slow-cooking meat over low heat, allowing it to absorb the rich, smoky flavor of wood chips or chunks. This ancient tradition has gained immense popularity due to the unique depth of flavor it imparts to meats, making them tender, juicy, and incredibly flavorful.

Benefits of Smoking Meat

Smoking meat offers a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other cooking methods, thanks to the infusion of smoky notes from wood chips or chunks. This unique taste enhances the overall flavor of the meat, adding depth and complexity to dishes that cannot be replicated through grilling or roasting alone. Additionally, the slow, even cooking process of smoking results in meats that are exceptionally tender and moist, as it breaks down tough muscle fibers and renders fat, ensuring a juicy end product that melts in the mouth.

Furthermore, the versatility of smoked meats allows for their incorporation into a wide range of culinary creations. Whether used as the star of a barbecue feast or as a flavorful addition to salads, pasta, or soups, smoked meats bring a delightful smokiness to various dishes, enhancing their taste and appeal. From classic comfort foods to more innovative culinary creations, smoked meats offer endless possibilities for delicious meals that are sure to impress. To spend the day tending to a smoker and enjoying the aroma of smoldering wood is a cherished tradition for many barbecue enthusiasts, adding to the overall experience of cooking with smoke.

Smoking Ribs in Summer

Selection of Meats

  • Opt for High Fat Content Cuts: Select cuts like brisket and pork shoulder with higher fat content. Fat marbling enhances tenderness, flavor, and moisture retention during smoking.
  • Fat Renders Down Slowly: This process infuses the meat with rich, succulent flavors and ensures a juicy result.
  • Choose Denser Textured Meats: Cuts like beef brisket are ideal for smoking because they can withstand long cooking times.
  • Slow Cooking Benefits: The slow, low-temperature smoking process allows flavors to penetrate deeply while tenderizing the meat.
  • Consider Intended Use: The selection should be based on the final dish’s desired outcome, such as tender pulled pork or perfectly sliced brisket.
  • Essential to Delicious Smoked Dishes: Choosing the right cuts is necessary for achieving delicious, mouthwatering smoked dishes.

Meat Section Inside a Supermarket

Top 7 Meats to Smoke

  • Brisket – cherished in barbecue circles for its robust flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture, is an iconic choice for smoking enthusiasts. Though smoking brisket requires time and expertise, the delectable outcome is well worth the investment. To prepare and smoke brisket to perfection, it’s crucial to trim excess fat for even cooking, apply a well-balanced rub to enhance flavor, and meticulously monitor and maintain a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process. These meticulous steps ensure that every slice of smoked brisket is tender, moist, and bursting with savory goodness, making it a staple of barbecue gatherings and cookouts.
  • Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt) – also known as pork butt, is celebrated for its versatility and forgiving nature when subjected to the smoking process. Whether destined for pulled pork sandwiches or tacos, pork shoulder consistently delivers succulent, flavorful results that satisfy the palate. With a plethora of seasoning options and smoking techniques at hand, smoking enthusiasts have ample opportunity to unleash their culinary creativity and tailor their approach to suit their taste preferences. From savory rubs to sweet glazes, the possibilities are endless, allowing smokers to craft mouthwatering dishes that leave a lasting impression on diners.
  • Ribs (Baby Back or Spare) – whether in the form of baby back or spare, hold a special place in the hearts of smoking aficionados for their tender meat and irresistible smoky flavor. Achieving perfectly smoked ribs requires attention to detail, starting with the removal of the membrane to enhance tenderness. Applying a flavorful rub further enhances the taste profile, while mastering the art of low and slow cooking ensures that the meat achieves optimal texture and flavor development. 
  • Chicken – when subjected to the smoking process, undergoes a transformation that results in a uniquely flavorful and tender dish. Brining the chicken before smoking is a crucial step that enhances its moisture retention, ensuring each bite remains juicy and succulent. Furthermore, seasoning the chicken with aromatic spices adds layers of complexity to its flavor profile, elevating it to new heights of culinary delight. The result is perfectly seasoned, moist chicken with a delightful smoky undertone that tantalizes the taste buds and leaves a lasting impression.
  • Salmon – renowned for its natural richness and delicate flavor, becomes even more exquisite when smoked. Brining the salmon beforehand is essential for locking in moisture and infusing it with flavor throughout the smoking process. The gentle infusion of smoke imparts a subtle yet distinct smokiness to the fish, enhancing its inherent qualities and creating a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The result is tender, flavorful salmon that boasts a perfect balance of smoky nuances and buttery richness, making it a highly sought-after choice for smoking enthusiasts.
  • Turkey – a beloved centerpiece of holiday feasts, offers moist and flavorful meat that is equally enjoyable for any occasion. Brining the turkey before smoking is critical to ensuring its juiciness and tenderness while using fruit woods such as apple or cherry adds a hint of sweetness to the meat. The combination of brining and smoking results in a succulent, flavorful turkey imbued with a subtle smokiness that enhances its overall taste profile; whether served as the star of a holiday meal or enjoyed year-round, smoked turkey impresses with its irresistible flavor and juicy texture.
  • Sausages – With their wide range of flavors and styles, Sausages are a versatile option for smoking enthusiasts seeking a delectable culinary experience. Smoking them imparts a rich, smoky flavor that elevates their taste, whether for spicy Italian sausages or savory bratwurst. The slow smoking process allows the sausages to absorb the essence of the wood smoke, resulting in an irresistible blend of savory and smoky notes that tantalize the taste buds. Whether enjoyed on their own or incorporated into various dishes, smoked sausages will surely be a hit with their robust flavor and irresistible aroma.

Man Preparing Meat on a Barbecue

Tips for Smoking Meat

  • Opting for a high-quality smoker is crucial for consistent results and efficient cooking. Look for features like sturdy construction, reliable temperature control, and adequate space for your cooking needs. Investing in a reputable brand ensures durability and reliable performance over time.
  • When selecting wood for smoking, consider the flavor profile you want to achieve. Hickory is famous for its robust, smoky flavor, while mesquite adds a bold, earthy taste. Applewood is slightly sweet and fruity, perfect for poultry and pork. Experiment with different wood varieties to find your preferred flavor combination.
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process is essential for even cooking and optimal flavor infusion. Adjust the vents or dampers on your smoker to regulate airflow and control the temperature. Monitor the temperature closely using built-in thermometers or external probes to ensure it stays within the desired range.
  • A meat thermometer is a foolproof way to ensure your smoked meat reaches the recommended internal temperature for safe consumption. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from bone or fat, and wait for an accurate reading. Refer to USDA guidelines for specific temperature recommendations for different types of meat.
  • Allowing the smoked meat to rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving is essential for maximizing flavor and juiciness. During the resting period, the internal juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful end product. Resist the temptation to cut into the meat immediately after smoking to reap the full benefits of the smoking process.

Smoked meat assortment on wooden board. Top view of sliced beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw salad, and pickles.


Smoking meat is a time-honored tradition that yields delicious results every time. By selecting the right cuts of beef, mastering essential smoking techniques, and following simple tips, anyone can enjoy the mouthwatering flavor of smoked meats at home. So fire up the smoker, gather your favorite meats, and embark on a culinary adventure filled with smoky goodness!