Smoking meats is all about balancing the right temperature with the right woods and cuts of meat over a sustained time to achieve the tender and juicy, mouth-watering bites of meat (and veggies) that make up those unforgettable summer memories. If it’s your first time smoking meats, you need to know which meats are the easiest to smoke as well as the best method for smoking.
What are the easiest smoking meats to get started in bbq? You can throw any meat on to a smoker, but each meat requires knowledge of how it is best cooked. If this is your first time smoking or grilling meat, you can choose from beef, poultry, lamb, and salmon. Just make sure to follow the suggested guidelines for preparing your meats and heating the smoker.
Learning how to smoke meats is easy to do. While the first time may be more difficult, remember that practice makes perfect. So if your first time smoking meats doesn’t give you the results you want – tender morsels of meat that fall off the bone and flavor your palette – perfect your method by reading through this post on the easiest smoking meats to get started in barbecue or smoking and then try again.
What Does It Mean to Smoke Meat
Smoking is a method of preparing meat in which the meat is flavored, browned, and cooked or preserved by being exposed to smoke from burning wood. If you have ever had hickory smoked bacon, that means the meat was smoked by using hickory wood.
While smoking takes longer than other methods of preparing food such as grilling, baking, or frying, the results are well worth the wait. Read on to learn about the easiest meats to get started with smoking and to get some insight on the best meat smoking methods.
Check out my previous post on what BBQ stands for to learn more about the meaning of smoking and BBQ.
Easiest Meats to Smoke for Beginners
There are many types of meat you can use as an introduction to BBQ smoking. When choosing which meat to smoke, it is necessary to consider the amount of time you have to smoke the meat, the amount of fat on the meat, the fuel you will use, and the type of wood you will use.
Meats that are tough cuts with high fat are perfect for smoking since the finished product tastes amazing (even though the entire process takes several hours). If you are new to smoking, there are plenty of meats you can choose from to get started with smoking meats.
If it is your first time smoking meat, and you enjoy red meat, you may choose to go with a cut of beef. This is an excellent choice because there are many options of beef cuts you can choose from to explore your first few attempts at smoking. Let’s look at a few of the best meats you can choose to get started with smoking.
Chuck roast is an excellent cut for smoking, especially for those who are new to “smoking” for quite a few reasons. Chuck roast is a thick piece of meat with just enough fat that adds flavor to the meat as it is cooked by the smoke.
Additionally, it’s not as expensive as brisket, so it is the perfect cut of meat to use as an introduction to smoking beef. Finally, smoked chuck roasts are flavorful with a tender texture (due to the higher amount of fat), and if done correctly will have you preparing your smoker for summer smoke sessions throughout the season.
Everyone is familiar with barbecued baby back ribs, but spare ribs have more fat and have great flavor when barbecued over time in the smoker. They are a great introduction to smoking meat since they are relatively easy to smoke and they do not take such a long time to cook.
Spare ribs also do not need to be flipped or frequently checked while going through the smoking process. Spare ribs are great for smoking because they can be enhanced with a dry rub or with a sauce.
While poultry is not usually the first choice for smoking, the right bird on the right wood at the right temperature will give you the tasty results you desire. If it is your first time smoking poultry, the two types of meat to get started with would be turkey and duck.
Be aware that poultry can absorb a lot of smoke when barbecuing, so be careful not to add too much smoke.
Turkey is traditionally a Thanksgiving and holiday favorite, so why not make the holiday even more special by smoking your turkey? A smoked turkey is flavorful and will leave your party guests wanting more.
Not only does smoked turkey look and taste great, but it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you want to enjoy it longer, it can be frozen and stored for up to four months after it has been smoked.
A good duck smoked over the right wood with charcoal will have you wishing you could eat duck on a more regular basis. Smoked duck, when done right, results in a deep flavor with moist meat. And smoked duck is great because you can add this meat to pasta, tacos, spring rolls, or even to salads.
Lamb is not usually the first meat that comes to mind when people think about smoking. Yet it is one of the easier meats to smoke when getting started with the meat smoking method.
Lamb meat has much connective tissue and is also high in fat. So the smoking method results in the lamb being easy to eat as the meat pulls cleanly from the bone and is incredibly tender and juicy to taste.
Smoked seafood is popular when it comes to smoking meat. Salmon is one of the safest meats to use to get started with smoking meats. Salmon is easy to prepare for smoking, and it is a quick smoking process.
But more importantly, smoked salmon is delicious and versatile, and it can be used to make and enhance plenty of dishes. From smoked salmon as a main entree to smoked salmon breakfast bagels or sushi, salmon can be one of the easier meats to use to get used to the smoking method.
Methods for Smoking Meats
With all these beginner-friendly meat options to get started with smoking, you want to make sure you tailor your approach to match the cut of meat.
Since the smoking process occurs at lower temperatures, typically ranging from 225°F to 285°F over 2 to 12 hours, it is necessary to set up the smoking process so you can achieve the optimal results over a long cook.
The general rules for smoking meats are:
- DO not open the chamber too frequently as this alters the heat and impacts the overall smoking process.
- Avoid using lighter fluid to start your fire as it can add an unpleasant taste if not done correctly.
But there are more specific rules for each meat’s smoking method as described below.
Method for Smoking Beef
- Set your smoker to 225° – 250° Fahrenheit.
- Fruit woods and hickory are great to add a mild flavor to the meat.
- To keep a humid environment in the smoker, use a pan of water.
- Wrap spare ribs in butcher paper or aluminum foil for the last hour of smoking.
- Add your desired glaze to the meat as it is covered.
- Cook for approximately 1.5 hours per pound. This is an approximation and the meat is done when you achieve the internal meat temperature you are looking for.
Method for Smoking Poultry
- Maple, Apple, and Alder woods are ideal for adding flavor to poultry and seafood.
- To add moisture to the smoking chamber, add a pan of water.
- Catch the drippings for flavorful glaze or dressing.
- Smoked turkey takes up to 25 minutes per pound at 235° Fahrenheit. The size of the turkey determines the amount of time it needs to be smoked.
- Smoked duck takes up to four hours to smoke between 200° – 225° Fahrenheit.
Method for Smoking Lamb
- Hickory, Mesquite, or Apple woods add bold flavor to lamb.
- Alternatively, you can use smoking chips to add flavor to the lamb during the smoking process.
- Inject or spritz with apple cider vinegar and water mixture to contribute to the moistness of the meat.
- Cook on smoker uncovered for up to 1 hour.
- Takes up to four hours of smoking at about 225° Fahrenheit for the meat to reach an internal temperature of about 145° Fahrenheit.
Method for Smoking Seafood
- Use Maple or Cherry wood to add a sweet flavor to the meat.
- Season the salmon with brine (brown sugar, salt, and pepper).
- Use nonstick spray to keep the salmon from sticking to the grates.
- Smoke for about 1.5 hours at temperatures ranging from 125° to 180° Fahrenheit for the meat to reach an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit.
As with all cooking methods, smoking meats takes practice to get used to. If you use this guide to help you plan your summer meat smoking events, you will get tender, tasty, morsels of meat as you make memories with friends and family. Happy meat smoking!