best meat for smoking

Find Out to Choose the Best Meat for Smoke

Getting and preparing food nowadays of course is much simpler then it was in the past. We are used to going to supermarkets and so on to get all we need and rely on various appliances to help us in the kitchen with preparation. But, some people began thinking that by doing things this way we sort of loses the artistic aspect of food preparation. While exploring vintage cooking styles, one stood out as particularly interesting – smoking.

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, improves the appearance, and last but not least together with curing preserves it for longer periods. 

We all enjoy smoked food, especially meats! And we know that homemade bacon or pastrami taste much better than store-bought. But who has time, space, and energy to smoke meat? It might sound unbelievable but whether you are using types of beef roast or some other meat smoking is not super difficult. However, there are some things you need to know, such as how to choose good meats to smoke.

What Is Best Meat for Smoking?

Briefly, the next meat considering by most experts as the best 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.

Normally when we are looking for meat to prepare BBQ or some other delicious meat specialty we focus on searching the most tender parts. But what meats are good to smoke? Now, as it is a slow process when you use the best quality, tender meat you are risking that it will get too and completely inedible. That’s why when we are talking about the best meats to smoke it is necessary to emphasize that you should look for pieces that are tougher and fattier. You will be surprised at how these cheaper and less desirable pieces of meat turn into the most delicious specialties after the smoking process. The additional benefit here is that you are saving money while experimenting with different options which is critical when you are just starting. 

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is one of the best meats to smoke. The trick of getting the maximum effect is of course knowing how to choose the best piece. Abundant marbling and healthy fat will keep the meat moisture enough. As good as beef brisket will taste some types of beef ribs – the more it bends the better it will be.

Cooking InstructionsThe 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 UseDifferent 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. 

Cooking InstructionsRibs 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 UseSimilar 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, smoke, and so on, and 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 rich full taste that is enriched during the smoking process and this became a reason for many people to label it is the as best meat to smoke. Because of its high-fat content, it is one best meats to smoke in a smoker.

Cooking InstructionsYou 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 its done should be around 165℉/73℃. 
Best Wood to UseBest 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 InstructionsIt 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 UseThe maple tree is the best one for this type of meat.

Whole Turkey 

A smoking whole turkey takes a lot of time and surely is challenging so it is not the best meat to smoke for a beginner. However, the process brings out a lot of fun and will satisfy larger crowds. We prefer it over chicken because it is leaner and healthier. 

Cooking InstructionsThis 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 UseWith turkey, hickory and mesquite will be a great choice.

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 want to treat your friends or family the best is that you smoke the entire chicken. 

Cooking InstructionsAs you have seen many types of meat require to cook them at lower temperatures. The chicken however is exempted from this rule. 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 then an hour and a half to enjoy the perfect lunch or dinner if you smoke the hen this way. 
Best Wood to UseSame 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 unjustly neglected when it comes to types of meat to smoke. If you however opt to try you will get wonderfully taste smoked gamey meat. You can smoke all parts of dear but tenderloin and shoulders are best. 

Cooking InstructionsIt will take about 90 minutes to smoke a pound of deer meat at the temperature of 250℉/120℃. 
Best Wood to UseThe 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 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 worth waiting. 

Cooking InstructionsIt will take about 90 minutes to smoke a pound of deer meat at the temperature of 250℉/120℃. 
Best Wood to UseFor 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 it is fatty. It doesn’t require almost any preparation and thus you can put it directly on the smoker and you will get a wonderful dinner. 

Cooking InstructionsIt 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 UseThe best wood types to smoke carp are apple, hickory, cherry. 


The last on our list is another fatty fish that lives both in the sea and freshwaters. Salmon is one of the most popular fish to smoke. 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 InstructionsSalmon 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 UseFor 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, there might be some meats that require more skills so you need to be careful in your choices. To make it easier we prepared some tips for meat smoking beginners. 

Learn About the Meat 

When choosing the meat you want to throw on the smoker 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, you must know that lamb and chicken require a different kind of process and temperature. 

Get Informed About Wood

Understanding what type of wood you need to use is equally important. 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. Wood creates different aromas that affect the flavor of the food. 

Know the Temperature 

As you could notice different meats require different temperatures to be smoked properly. In general, safe cooking temperatures for this process are always a lower ad for most types of meat they are around 230 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Final Word 

We tried to answer the question “What kind of meat can you smoke?” You can choose any meat from the offered list. Follow our little instructions and the result will pleasantly surprise you, and your guests and loved ones will appreciate your culinary skills. The combination of quality meat, properly selected wood, and consistent temperature and time – that’s what will make your smoked meat perfect.

Have you tried smoking meat yet? If you have a special recipe or combination, share this experience with us in the comments below!

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