Beginner Friendly Meats to Smoke (6 Best Picks)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 20, 2024

For beginners just getting into the tasty world of meat smoking, the best and easiest meats to smoke are rated by professional meat smokers in the US.

Besides learning the best meats to smoke as a beginner, this article will also provide you with crucial smoking information from our experts.

Quick Summary

  • Some of the top smoking meat choices for beginners include pulled pork, pork ribs, tomahawk/ribeye steak, and smoked sausage.
  • Smoking meat is an art that requires patience and practice, with the best meats for beginners being those that are fatty, tough, and rich in collagen.
  • The Key to a good smoke is keeping the smoker at the correct temperature.


The meats listed in this article are all tasty and easy to smoke, making them ideal for amateur smokers perfecting their skills.

Most Professionals still smoke these easy meats as the results are delicious.

Best Meats to Smoke for Beginners

raw meat

The cuts of meat listed below are some of the best meats to smoke as they require very little preparation and are forgiving in most circumstances.

“Cooking is the art of adjustment”
- Jacques Pepin American Chef, Winner of the James Beard award for General Cooking 1991 and 2000

1. Whole Chicken

A whole chicken is the easiest meat to smoke as it is inexpensive and would be a good choice for the first attempt. If you feel like it's too much, consider settling for chicken breast instead.

Season the chicken using salt/pepper or a rub, and place in the smoker for 2-3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 164°F.

It is smoked meat and ready to be served [1].

2. Pulled Pork

plate of shredded pork

Boston Butt is another favorite amongst smoker enthusiasts as it is easy to smoke and has loads of inter-muscular fat (marbling), so it won't dry out quickly.

Feel free to experiment with rubs and seasoning, as most flavors go well with this pulled pork butt.

Smoke for 4-5 hours at 250°F, then remove the meat and wrap it in foil.

Smoke for a further 4 hours or until an internal temperature of 199°F is reached.

Let the smoked pork butt meat rest, then pull it apart. The pulled pork butt will have a lovely smokey flavor with juicy meaty goodness [2].

3. Pork Ribs

Pork Ribs are an easy and tasty option and a winner at any barbeque, even when compared to pork butt and pork chop. Use the 3-2-1 rule below since it has proven successful even for amateur smokers.

Smoke the pork ribs for 180 minutes at 225°F, then remove and wrap them in foil. Place them back in the smoker for a further 2 hours.

Then unwrap and baste the pork ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and smoke for an additional 1 hour.

You now make juicy pork ribs that fall off the bone [3]!

4. Tomahawk/Ribeye Steak

pan with raw rib eye steak

Smoking a steak takes the meat to the next dimension, and it's easy to do!

These bad boys will need to be reversed seared to lock in the flavor at the end of the smoking process.

Salt (dry brine) the steaks and place them in the chiller for 2 hours.  Remove and season with your favorite rub and place in the smoker.

Smoke at 225°F for 90 minutes or until an internal temperature of 110°F is reached.

The steaks are now ready to reverse sear.

Remove the smoked meats and place them on a hot grill to sear until the desired color; around 130°F is perfect.

Remove from the heat and let the smoked meats rest for 10 minutes. The Tomahawk/Ribeye steaks are tender and delicious [4].

Read More: How to Grill a Ribeye

5. Pre-cut bacon

Pre-Cut Bacon is simple, making it one of the easiest to smoke meat.

Place the bacon in the smoker at 200°F for 30 minutes, then push the temperature up to 400°F for a further 20 minutes.

Enjoy tasty smoked crispy bacon in less than an hour [5].

6. Smoked Sausage

foil with cooked sausages

Another great-tasting easy to smoke meat is sausage.

Bratwurst, Chorizo, Kielbasa, and beef or chicken sausage are winners and will take the same amount of time to smoke.

Place the sausage in the smoker at 225°F and smoke for 3-4 hours or until an internal temperature of 165°F [6].

Related Articles:

Smoking Tips

smoking meat

Smoking the meat aims to create a slice of juicy and tender meat with a smoky flavor.

Here are a few basics to remember when smoking:

  • Start earlier, as the smoking process can be affected by many factors. Patience is vital for this cooking method.
  • More smoke will not speed up or bring a smokier flavor to the meat; it can taste bitter. A thin blue smoke is what you are trying to achieve, no more, no less.
  • Low and slow is what will bring tenderness and juiciness to the meat.
  • Use a water tray to increase the smoker’s humidity to counteract the meat’s evaporation cooling effect. The result will be juicier meat and a shorter cooking time.
  • Do not lift the lid too often, as this will cause temperature fluctuation, which will increase cooking time.
  • Give the meat time to rest after smoking to soak up all the goodness to increase flavor; this is true for all meats.
  • Enjoy smoking meat and practice your skills as it is not a chore but an art form.
  • The best meats for smoking are the fatter and tougher cuts, which will melt and tenderize the meat while in the smoker. Starting with a less expensive cut of meat will allow beginners to experiment and learn the basics of the smoking process. If you don't have easy access to these cuts, you can have them delivered to you by ButcherBox.

What Makes a Good Smoking Meat?

cooking meat in a smoker

The fatty, tough, and meats that have lots of collagen are ideal for smoking.

Intramuscular fat is better than a large fat cap as it needs to melt and tenderize the meat from the inside.

The low heat and long smoking time (low and slow) aids in the breakdown of tissue and soften the meat while locking in the flavor.

Beginner-friendly meats to smoke, such as pork spare ribs, pork butt, pork belly, and Boston butt (pork shoulder), are smoked for a long time to achieve tender meat.

The saying low and slow is a critical fundamental lesson to learn from the beginning, do not rush [7]!


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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