best meat for smoking

Find Out to Choose the Best Meats to Smoke

Here we are going to look at some of the most popular options and determine which are the best meats to smoke.

There’s one thing a lot of people will agree on, is that smoking is probably one of the best and delicious methods of cooking. And why wouldn’t it? After all, when you have the best grill, and some skills – your food will get that amazing, smoky aroma and taste, that just makes it so heavenly and pleasant.

Smoking is most often done on meat, however, there are plenty of vegan options as well. And the great thing is – each type of meat for smoking provides its own, savory experience. 

What is Meat Smoking

Smoking meat is a slow cooking process at a low temperature that can last from 30 minutes to 20 hours. It contributes to the better flavor of the food, gives it some rich aroma, and preserves it for longer periods. 

And because of that humanity has started to find new ways to smoke meat – more recipes, improved functions of the smoker, showed better techniques e.t.c.  And while finding the types of beef roast or some other meat smoking is not super difficult – it’s a whole other matter to learn how to choose good meats to smoke.

What Is Best Meat for Smoking?

A lot of professional chefs consider these types the best meat for smoking:

  1. Beef brisket
  2. Pork ribs
  3. Lamb shoulder
  4. Lamb leg
  5. Whole turkey
  6. Whole chicken
  7. Wild boar
  8. Deer
  9. Carp
  10. Salmon

While all these meats are good to smoke, it’s also important to keep in mind that when we are looking for meat to prepare BBQ it’s important to choose the right consistency of the meat. Since meat smoking is a slow process when you use tender meat there’s a risk that it will get way too soft and tender, to a point when it’s completely inedible. That’s why when we are talking about the best meats to smoke it’s essential to point out that you should look for pieces that are tougher and fattier. It might not sound too appealing at first, but trust us – once such meat is done, it will taste heavenly. Plus, while buying tougher meat you’re saving money since tender pieces are always more expensive.

Now, let’s take a look at all the best meat for smoke in more detail:

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is one of the best meats to smoke. All you have to do is choose the right piece of it – and from that point on beef briskets are very easy to cook, making it one of the best meat to smoke for a beginner. Abundant marbling and healthy fat will keep the meat moisture enough.

Cooking Instructions The time needed to smoke beef brisket depends also on the quantity of meat. In general, you need about 90 minutes for a pound of beef (half of the kilogram). The ideal smoking temperature is around 225 degrees Fahrenheit/107 degrees Celsius.
Best Wood to Use Different meats work best with different types of wood. For beef briskets, we recommend you use oak, hickory, or mesquite wood.

Pork Ribs 

Pork ribs are among the top-10 meat to smoke and thus they are most commonly found on the menu. People generally love them for their taste and softness that doesn’t lose even when you reheat them. The meat on pork ribs is quite tender so you need to have a bit of experience in smoking to avoid drying it out. Also make sure to cook the right amount of ribs, depending on how big of a company you have – after all, no one likes to be left out.

Cooking Instructions Ribs are packed with fat and collagen and when they are smoked they become wonderfully moist. It takes a bit of time to prepare them and you need about 40 minutes to smoke a pound of ribs. This means that for the whole process you need around 6 hours. Temperature is an important aspect of smoking and it must not be too high so make sure that it stays around 230℉/110℃. The internal temperature of ribs should be 185℉/85℃.
Best Wood to Use Similar to the wood used for beef brisket here you need red oak, hickory, or mesquite.

Lamb Shoulder

Beef and pork are pretty traditional meats to grill and smoke, so naturally, we hear a lot of recipes with these types of meat to smoke. But another one is gaining more popularity in the last year – lamb. Lamb is known for its full taste that is enriched during the smoking process. Moreover, because of its high-fat content, lamb shoulder is one of the best meats to smoke in a smoker.

Cooking Instructions You will need approximately 45 minutes for one pound of meat. The smoking temperature shouldn’t exceed 225℉/110℃. The internal temperature of the meat when it’s done should be around 165℉/73℃.
Best Wood to Use Best wood for these types of easy meats to smoke comes from fruit trees like apple and cherry.

Lamb Leg

Lamb’s legs are also among the best meats to smoke. You can choose between two parts of a leg, sirloin and shank end. Sirloin is generally fattier and thus better for smoking.

Cooking Instructions It doesn’t take long to smoke a pound of lamb leg – approximately 30 minutes. Then how long it will take to finish the whole process depends on the amount of meat you want to smoke. Same as for other types the temperature shouldn’t go over 225 degrees Fahrenheit or 110 degrees Celsius.
Best Wood to Use The maple tree is the best one for this type of meat.

Whole Turkey 

Smoking the whole turkey takes a lot of time and can be certainly challenging for those that have no experience cooking it. However, such meat is perfect for a large crowd and is very healthy.

Cooking Instructions This type of meat requires a bit of skill especially because it doesn’t come with a lot of fat. For one pound of meat, you will need about 30 minutes. The temperature should be like for other types of meat around 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Wood to Use The best wood for turkey meat is hickory and mesquite.

Whole Chicken

Chicken is another popular meat for smoking. Of course, you can smoke just parts of the chicken such as legs or breasts. However, if you’re cooking for a larger company, then it’s best to smoke the entire chicken.

Cooking Instructions Many types of meat require you to cook them at lower temperatures. But it’s different with the chicken. If the temperature is too low the skin will be rubber-like. To avoid this the temperature for smoking chicken should be approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half to enjoy the perfect lunch or dinner if you smoke the hen this way.
Best Wood to Use Same as with many other types of meat the best wood is hickory or mesquite.


Deer is one of the favorite game meats but it is a lot more exotic and rare compared to other types of meat to smoke. But if you try it, you will understand that there is a reason why it’s considered the best meat to smoke. It’s delicious, rather easy to cook, and has a plethora of health benefits. You can smoke all parts of dear but tenderloin and shoulders are best.

Cooking Instructions It will take about 90 minutes to smoke a pound of deer meat at the temperature of 250℉/120℃.
Best Wood to Use The great option for this type is apple, oak, and cherry.

Wild Boar

Real meat connoisseurs know that very few types of meat are delicious as Real meat connoisseurs know that very few types of meat are delicious as boar meat – it is juicy, soft, and sweet. It is possible to smoke the entire boar but the most delicious parts are ribs, shoulders, and loins. To enjoy smoked boar you will need a lot of time but when you finally try it you will understand that it was, in the end, it would be 100% worth it.

Cooking Instructions This meat needs to be smoked at really low temperatures. On average it shouldn’t exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 90 degrees Celsius. This is the main reason why it takes between 12 and 14 hours to finish the process.
Best Wood to Use For this type of meat, you should use maple wood or mesquite, or apple to gain the tastiest result.


Smoked fish is a true delicacy. Carp is a freshwater fish and it tastes marvelous when smoked because of its high-fat content. Moreover, it doesn’t require much preparation, since you can put the meat directly on the smoker and you will get a wonderful dinner.

Cooking Instructions It might come as a surprise but the cooking temperature is more or less the same as for smoking meat. It should be around 250 degrees Fahrenheit/ 120 degrees Celsius. For a pound of carp, you need about 60 minutes because it contains a lot of fat.
Best Wood to Use The best wood types to smoke carp are apple, hickory, cherry.


The last on our list of the best meat to smoke is another fatty fish that lives both in the sea and freshwaters. Salmon is one of the most popular fish to smoke, thanks to its rich taste and so many health benefits. Before being smoked it is cured and air-dried so even if the smoking doesn’t take so much time, the whole process does.

Cooking Instructions Salmon should be smoked at a low temperature, not higher than 180 degrees Fahrenheit / 80 degrees Celsius. It will take about three hours for the fish to be done.
Best Wood to Use For this type of meat, the best wood is oak or apple tree.

Smoking Meat Tips for Beginners

So, you can see that smoking meat doesn’t require that you are a professional chef. However, there are things that you need to know before you get started – which meat is the best, how to set the right temperature, and so on. Also, some meats require more skill, like full turkey and chicken, so you need to consider how experienced you are. 

In addition to that, there are also a couple of other tips for meat smoking beginners you should keep in mind:

Learn About the Meat 

When choosing the best meat for smoke, you need to pay attention to the composition, color, and texture. You also need to know how to treat different types of meat. For example, the lamb will have a different cooking process than chicken.

Get Informed About Wood

You need to fully understand what type of wood you need to use. And for smoking, you must choose food-safe hardwood instead of just any wood. Some types of wood that are good for smoking are maple, oak, hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry, etc. And keep in mind that wood creates different aromas that affect the flavor of the food – so if you want a beef brisket that gives off the smell and taste of cherry – then use this wood.

Know the Temperature 

Different meats require different temperatures to be smoked properly. In general, safe cooking temperatures for smoking are always lower and for most types of meat, they are around 230 degrees Fahrenheit.

Final Word 

The combination of quality meat, properly selected wood, and consistent temperature and time – that’s what will make your smoked meat perfect. So when you consider what kind of meat can you smoke, it’s essential to pick the proper one.

And now that we’ve shared with you some of the best meat to smoke, you can easily impress your loved ones with some delicious food at your next BBQ getaway! 

So, have you tried smoking meat yet? If you have a special recipe or combination, don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments!

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