The Best Meats to Smoke (2021): A Short Guide for Novices


Cooking meat in a low and slow process is one of the best ways to make it tender and flavorful. It also adds a distinct aroma that makes it more mouthwatering. However, as a novice, it is important to take note that not all meats will be good for smoking.

While it might be tempting to use an expensive cut of meats, this will be a waste of money. Truth is, you will do better with the cheaper cuts.

Those that are loaded with connective tissues and fats will be great, even if most people will think that they are bad. They might appear tough to chew, but after smoking, they will become tender and juicy.

If you are clueless about the best meats to smoke, keep on reading and we’ll extend a helping hand.

Pork Ribs

This is perhaps one of the most popular meats for smoking. It is cheap, easy to access, and delicious. It has high fat and collagen content, which will make it the perfect meat to smoke.

To make the most out of this meat and cut, pay attention to the quality and freshness. See to it that it is pinkish. Generally, there are two types of ribs that you can smoke.

One is baby back ribs, which are small. If you want the meat to be larger and with more pronounced flavor, it will be best to choose spareribs. On average, this will take four to six hours to smoke and will do great when you use cherry, maple, or apple wood.

Beef Brisket

Known as the big daddy of smoked meats, this is equally popular as the pork ribs. The beef brisket is bland and tough to chew. However, when you smoke it the right way, the process can do a lot for its transformation.

It will become rich, savory, tender, and juicy – everything that you will ever want in smoked meats. For the best outcomes, you need to choose a brisket that comes with a flat and lean end.

To add, organic is also a better choice, which will make it flavorful and healthier. Keep the seasoning to a minimum, since beef itself can already be flavorful. Often, salt and pepper will suffice.

Lamb Shoulder

This may not be as popular as the two meats that have been mentioned above, but it might surprise you how delicious lamb is when it is smoked. The shoulder is one of the fattiest parts of the lamb, which is why it will make a great choice of meat to be cooked in a smoker.

The problem is that finding high-quality lamb shoulder can be quite a challenge, especially if you live in a place where lamb is not easy to access. Dry rubs and beer basting can help to give the lamb better flavor. Fruit woods will also be great as they can perfectly complement the natural flavor of the meat.

Pork Butt

Also called Boston butt, this is another flavorful and fatty part of pork that you should not ignore when thinking about the best meats to smoke. This is also commonly called a pork shoulder.

If you are smoking for the first time, this is actually one of the best meats to choose. You can hardly go wrong! It is fatty and when smoked properly, will be tender.

It is best to blend different wood chips if you want to maximize the flavor of the pork butt. For most people, they prefer cherry and hickory. It will also be good to skip the trimming part as it basically does nothing except for making the meat look more appealing.

Whole Chicken

If you are looking for a good meat to smoke that is also easy on the wallet, hens should be on your list. Plus, it is available almost everywhere. One thing that a lot of people loved about chickens is that they are small.

This means that it won’t require a lot of time and effort on your end. If you are in a hurry, this will be a good meat to smoke. The chicken should be free-range and not processed heavily, which will affect its flavor. If you want the skin to be crispy, you can put it under high heat for about 20 minutes.

Whole Turkey

Whether it is Thanksgiving or not, turkey can also be promising meat of choice for smoking. It is larger than chicken but equally easy to smoke.

For those who are used to eating roast turkey, smoking the meat is a good way to give it a different flavor. Compared to most of the meats that have been mentioned above, however, turkey contains lesser fat.

This makes it necessary to thoroughly brine the meat and closely monitor the smoking process so that it won’t end up being dry and tough to chew. For a more intense flavor, it is better to smoke wild turkey compared to its domestic counterpart.


For something that is more exotic, consider smoking deer. One of the things that we loved about deer is that you can smoke any part of it and expect it to be mouthwatering. Deer meat, however, is lean.

With the lack of fats, you should pay attention to brining, which will keep it moist and juicy even after it is smoked. If possible, you should brine the meat up to 24 hours before it is smoked. It is also important to refrain from using softwood as it tends to give the meat a sour and foul flavor.


In sum, as it has been discussed above, the best meats to smoke are those that are cheap. You will benefit from using fatty meats. Even if it is full of connective tissues, there should be no problem as smoking will make it softer.

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