Top 10 Best Meat To Smoke For Beginners: Everything You Need To Know

March 29, 2023 9 min read

Best Meat To Smoke For Beginners

Summer is right around the corner, which means everyone will get grills out in the backyards to have some of the best barbecues. The only way to serve the best meat is to know which one is perfect for smoking, especially if you are a beginner. Many people get smoking and barbecue equipment but don't know where to begin.

If you are in the same boat, then you have come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about the best meat to smoke for beginners. 

Reasons You Should Smoke Meat 

Before we move on to the best meat, you need to know why you are smoking the meat. After all, doing this needs to have a purpose because smoking meat can take hours. Here are a few reasons many people smoke meat, and so should you:

Meat Is More Tender

One of the top reasons why most people smoke meat is that the process breaks down the meat's collagen. When this happens, the meat becomes more tender, which means you get juicy and soft meat. Gone are the days when you will have to chew on tough meat during a barbecue. 

If you also want such a texture for your meat, then you can opt for smoking it. Once you do, you will witness the tenderness of the meat yourself. 

Adds Flavor 

Anyone looking to add more flavor to the meat can start smoking it. That is because smoking happens slowly, which means the meat has the chance to melt the fat and collagen present. These get into all parts of the meat, adding a depth of flavor you will not find otherwise. 

This is something you will not find with other types of cooking methods. Because of this, most people opt for smoking meat to ensure complex flavors that everyone will love. 

Versatile Cooking Method 

Who said you could only smoke meat during your barbecue? The best part about a smoker is that you can also use it for side dishes with your meat, fruits, vegetables, and much more. So, if you want to experiment with more than just meat, then you can go ahead. 

Soon, the smoked food will provide a depth of flavor and taste that you will not find anywhere else. So, these are the top reasons you can easily smoke meat and food. 

Top 10 Best Meat To Smoke For Beginners

Now that you understand why you should smoke meat, you will have decided that this is a cooking method you want to use. Well, making a decision is easy, but following through is a completely different story. First, you have to know which meats will be the best for this cooking technique. 

So, if you are looking for the best meat to smoke as a beginner, you have come to the right place. Here are all the meats you can begin with to boost your experience in no time: 

  1. Beef Brisket 

Beef Brisket

Smoking Time 

Between ten and twelve hours 

Preparation 

First trim extra skin, then wet brine, and dry rub the meat

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

4

The first meat that you can begin smoking is beef brisket because it is one of the top barbecue meats that many people opt for. However, what you must understand is the cooking time is high because it will take you all night to smoke the meat. However, this shouldn't deter you from trying to smoke this meat. 

Instead, it just means that you will have to do it well to get the best results. For example, you can put on the fat cap while smoking so that the fat drips into the meat to make it tender. Besides that, you can also use butcher paper to ensure that the meat stays moist. 

Once you take these steps, the brisket will turn out to be moist and tender. Make sure that you prep the meat before you start smoking so that you can get a burst of flavor when it has been smoked. 

  1. Turkey Legs 

smoked Turkey Legs

Smoking Time 

Five hours 

Preparation 

Trim the skin, then wet brine, and dry rub the turkey 

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

2

Turkey is not just for Thanksgiving because you can enjoy this delicious meat by smoking it in the summer. Anyone that has been to a fair understands how delicious these legs are when smoked. The best part is that it will only take you five hours to smoke the legs.

However, if you want to smoke a complete turkey, then it can take you between ten and twelve hours. So, choose your meat according to what you need. Just make sure that you bring it correctly so that the turkey legs can turn out to be moist. 

You can also add some light oil to the skin before you add the rub. This will help soften the legs even further and guarantee a burst of flavor. So, make sure you cook turkey legs at least once by smoking. 

  1. Chicken 

smoked Chicken

Smoking Time 

Three hours 

Preparation 

Trim, wet brine, and dry rub

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

None 

An entire chicken is perhaps the easiest meat that you can smoke without any issues. This is why it is the best meat to smoke for beginners. The key is to bring the chicken properly because adding a plain chicken will not give you the flavor you are looking for. 

Besides that, the smoking time is not a lot, which means that you don't have to stay up all night to smoke the meat. Instead, you can begin before your barbecue party starts, and when the guests start coming, the chicken will be done. However, one thing you must keep in mind is that the breast part will not be as tender and juicy as the legs. 

This is just a natural part of smoking the chicken, and it has nothing to do with your technique or rub. Besides that, even the skin will be tender and provide you with a juicy chicken. So, if you want the easiest meat to smoke, then you can begin with an entire chicken. 

  1. Prime Ribs 

Smoked Prime Ribs

Smoking Time 

Between three and five hours 

Preparation 

Trim the fat 

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

2.5

Are you looking for meat that you can smoke for a big group? Well, prime rib is the best piece of meat that will prove to be perfect for a party. Keep in mind that this cut is a little expensive, which is why you can use this meat when you are celebrating something important. 

Besides that, this meat is also only for people that have a large smoker. That is because prime rib requires a lot of room, as you need to leave two inches between each piece of the meat and the side of the smoker. Even when you purchase this meat, you will have to let the butcher know you will smoke it so that they can trim the fat for you. 

Once they do, you will have the best cut that will prove to be perfect for smoking. So, if you have something to celebrate or if you want to throw the best party for a large group, then you can smoke prime ribs. Everyone will enjoy this meat to the maximum. 

  1. Sausages 

smoked Sausages

Smoking Time 

Between two and three hours 

Preparation 

None 

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

None 

Regardless of the sausage you select, they will take the same amount of time. These are essential barbecue meats that you should not miss at all. As a beginner, you will find it an easy meat to smoke because you don't need to prepare it, and it will only take a few hours to smoke. 

If your main meat is taking longer, then you can pop the sausages in the smoker to serve as appetizers during your party. It will warm up everyone's stomach and keep them interested in the coming meats. This is why sausage is the best meat to smoke for beginners. 

A top tip that we will recommend is that you should not cut shallow slits inside the meat. Doing this will dry out the meat, which will affect the taste and texture of the sausage. 

  1. Pork Belly 

Smoked Pork Belly

Smoking Time 

Four hours 

Preparation 

Remove skin, cut cross-hatch in fat, and dry rub

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

1

You can easily dry rub the belly and begin smoking it without any hassle. It will take around four hours for the pork belly to smoke, and it is the best meat to smoke for beginners. That is because you can use it to create some delicious sandwiches or eat it on its own. 

You can also serve the pork belly with other items. These include the classics, such as cornbread, mac and cheese, and much more. We recommend that you finish cooking the smoked pork belly on the grill. 

Doing this will ensure that the fat has a chance to break down and ensure a better eating experience. Once you do, the pork belly meat will turn out to be tender and juicy in no time. 

  1. Chicken Wings 

Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoking Time 

An hour and a half

Preparation 

Only requires a dry rub

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

None

A chicken wing is the best meat to smoke for beginners because it will not take you long to prepare, and cooking is a breeze. These wings will prove to be the best appetizers or snacks for your next party. So, you can add it to your next backyard barbecue party for the best results. 

We recommend that you finish the cooking process by adding the wings to a hot grill after smoking them. Doing this will ensure that the skin stays crispy and the texture is amazing. On the other hand, when you dry rub the wings, you must use a lot of spices and flavor. 

Seasoning this way will guarantee a complex flavor that will blow the mind of your guests. So, follow these tips and begin smoking this meat. You will thank us later for the recommendation.

  1. Salmon 

smoking salmon

Smoking Time 

Three hours 

Preparation 

Cut into filets and trim the belly fat

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

2

Whenever people think of smoking salmon, they think of the cold technique, which is used for salmon on eggs and bagels. However, the smoking technique that you can use is hot, and it will be easy for you as a beginner. You can use this salmon on sandwiches, pasta, and many other dishes. 

Besides that, you can also enjoy the fish with different sides after you are done smoking it. The key is to know how to ensure a great flavor. For example, we recommend that you glaze the salmon with a sweet sauce, such as teriyaki. 

On the other hand, you should also keep an eye while smoking so that you can know when it is done. All of these tips will help you perfect the smoked salmon for an incredible flavor. 

  1. Lamb Shoulder 

smoked Lamb Shoulder

Smoking Time 

Around five hours 

Preparation 

Dry rub

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

3

There are many people that love the flavor of lamb, which is why it is the best meat to smoke for beginners. You can eat its slices or you can add it to sandwiches, shawarmas, and much more. The best part is that there are many connective tissues in this meat that break down to ensure tender and juicy meat. 

You can also make it for your next date night because it pairs well together with various wines. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, and more. So, consider this meat to smoke for your next party or date night, and enjoy everything it offers. 

  1. Baby Back Ribs 

smoked Baby Back Ribs

Smoking Time 

Between five to six hours 

Preparation 

Peel the skin and dry rub

Difficulty Level for Beginners (Out of 5)

4

Ribs usually have a long smoke time, but this is not the case with baby back ribs. That is because they are naturally tender, which means that you don’t need to smoke them for long to get a great flavor. The best part about this meat is that everyone loves it. 

You can easily smoke them and serve them with sides of your choice or use them for sandwiches. Once you do, the flavor profile will wow everyone, and they will be a hit. 

If you're new to smoking meat, it's important to understand how long your smoked meat will last and how to properly store it for optimal freshness and safety. Check out our guide on how long smoked meat lasts to ensure you get the most out of your delicious creations.

Final Words 

That was your complete guide to learning about the best meat to smoke for beginners. All of these meats are delicious and easy to create, which means that it will not take a lot of time for you to smoke the meat. If you are planning to host a party and want to smoke meat, then choose from any of these. 

Once you do, you will have the best meat cuts that you can eat in unique ways. Just follow the preparation tips to ensure that each meat is juicy, tender, and the hit of the party.


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