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Best Cut Of Meat To Smoke For Beginners? [STEP BY STEP]

Best Cut Of Meat To Smoke For Beginners? [STEP BY STEP]

While meat smoking is a straightforward process, you can easily make mistakes if you are just starting. One trick to ensuring that you advance your smoking skills is to start with small and inexpensive cuts that will give you an easy time controlling the heat. So what are the best cuts of meat to smoke for beginners?

The best cuts of meat to smoke for beginners are small and affordable cuts such as burgers, chicken wings, pork belly, whole chickens, sausages, chicken thighs, and wings. These cuts are small and easy to smoke, meaning that even if you make a mistake, it won’t be very costly.

After your smoking skills advance, you will need to try bigger cuts, but still, there are some cuts that you may need to avoid until you become a grilling boss. Read on for more details on the best cut of meat to smoke if you are starting.

steak on grill

What Makes Smoked Meat Special?

Even though smoking is not a quick and easy process, many people want to advance their smoking skills, which leads to the question, what makes smoked meat special? Several reasons make smoking worthy of the hustle.

The Flavor

The flavor is the primary reason many people prefer smoking to cooking over direct heat. As the meat sits over the flame, it absorbs a nice and tasty flavor from the smoke to create a natural and smoky savor.

Science shows that smoke contains over 100 compounds and phenols, which explains the unique flavor of smoking. However, it is crucial to understand that the type of wood directly influences the flavor you get.

The Bark

Another reason for the increased popularity of meat smoking is that it helps create a bark on the meat. The bark is a dark, chewy, tangy, and spicy crunch texture that forms on the surface of the meat when smoking it. It is one of the tastiest parts as far as meat smoking is concerned.

In addition to the formation of a bark, smoking makes the meat softer and tender since it is a slow cooking process.

Tasty And Malty Feeling

Cooking the meat at high temperatures leads to its moisture blasting, leaving it dry and tough. Smoking, on the other hand, helps to prevent moisture from evaporating and thus plays a significant role in creating an excellent combination of juiciness and tenderness.

Best Meat For Beginners To Smoke

The best meat to smoke for beginners to start with is the Boston butt, also known as the pulled pork. The pulled pork is well-marbled, making it one of the most forgiving cuts. Moreover, it is cheaper to experiment with than other cuts such as the brisket.

To make your pork butt more flavorful, you will need the sweet-red rub, brown sugar, and paprika. An additional chill powder will make it even more enjoyable.

It is recommended that you smoke your pork butt at 250 degrees F for 4-5 hours to give it a nice bark before wrapping in an aluminum foil and putting it back into the smoker for another similar period.

Generally, smoke it until it attains the internal temperature of 199 degrees F.

The Easiest Meat To Smoke – The Whole Chicken

If you do not want to begin with a Boston butt for one reason or another, a whole bird would be a perfect replacement. Like the Boston butt, the whole chicken is cheap and hard to mess with.

When it comes to seasoning, you can keep it simple or go for your favorite seasoning. Generally, you need to smoke the chicken at 324 degrees F for 2-3 hours until the internal temperature reaches 164 degrees F.

What Is The Best Meat To Smoke For Beginners?

Most BBQ enthusiasts agree that if you are a beginner, the best cuts of meat to start with should be easy and cheap. They are the ones that help improve your grilling skills to become one of the best grilling bosses.

The Boston butts or a whole chicken will provide you with the ample time and experience you need to improve your skills. However, it is essential to note that those are not the only cuts you can embrace as a beginner. There are several best cuts of meats to smoke, as shown in the list below.

Other Best Meats To Smoke

One way to increase your smoking skills fast is to have a wide range of the best meats you can smoke without worrying about unnecessary losses. Here is an additional list of the best meats to smoke.


Sausages can provide a good starting point as they are quick and easy to smoke. You only need about one and a half hours to complete the smoking process. Interestingly, when it comes to sausages, you can even buy already smoked sausages, and all that you will need to do is to add extra smoke flavor to your sausages.

Beef Brisket

Beef briskets are tasty and easy-to-smoke meat cuts. While you might be quick to put them on the smoker as soon as you purchase them, there are essential things that you need to remember. For instance, you will need to smoke the briskets at 225 degrees F for 10-20 hours.


When it comes to fish, salmon is the best and the easiest one for smoking. One of the explanations for this is that it has lots of fats that assist in taking more smoke. Although some people will argue that smoking fish may not be the right move for beginners, the truth is that it will teach some essential skills that you will need for smoking other meats.

When smoking your salmon, you must maintain a temperature of 150 degrees F for two hours to allow it to take in enough smoke. Once the two hours have elapsed, you can increase the temperature to 200F until it attains the internal temperature of 165F and above.

Beef Ribs

While some online resources show pork ribs, such as the baby-backs, as the best meat to smoke, the beef ribs are not likely to disappoint.

One quality that makes the beef ribs the best for smoking is that they are derived from the steer’s dorsal area, which means that they are heavily marbled. In addition, the membrane removal is easy, no need for a binder when dry-brining, you can be simple when it comes to seasoning, and they take less time to smoke.

ribs grill smoker


While Bologna is one of the easiest meats to smoke, not many online resources mention it. Since Bologna is a cured sausage that is ready to eat, you do not need to do a lot of work when smoking it, and this makes it highly recommended to start with as a beginner.

Further, when smoking Bologna, you need a chub, dry brown sugar, smoked paprika, and barbecue sauce to test. You only need about three hours to complete the smoking. Notably, Bologna is super cheap, implying that you will not have to worry about anything if, by any chance, you mess it up in the smoking process.

Baby Back Ribs

The best thing about smoking baby back ribs is that they are tender, indicating that you would not spend much of your precious time cooking them. The tenderness comes from the fact that they are obtained from the spine section, implying that they are rarely used.

The baby back ribs can be the right cut for beginners because they are a little forgiving compared to other types of ribs.

After rubbing the baby back ribs with your favorite seasonings, you need to smoke them at a temperature of 255 degrees F for 5-6 hours until they attain an internal temperature of 195 degrees F.

Final Thoughts

The best way to advance your smoking skills is to start with cheap and easy-to-smoke cuts before moving to more complex cuts. The Pork butt and the whole chicken are the easiest meat to smoke that you should give a try if you are starting.