Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: July 26, 2023

Smoking the best meats takes proper preparation and tons of patience.

Managing your smoker correctly will deliver a succulent cut of meat, this is fundamental when smoking the best meats that our experts have listed below.

Apart from learning the best meats to smoke, this article will also provide crucial smoking information from our experts.

Quick Summary

  • Beef brisket, pork ribs, deer shoulder, lamb shoulder, Boston butt, salmon, and chuck roast are all excellent choices for smoking.
  • Smoking meats requires proper preparation and patience, with the best meats being those with high fat and collagen content.
  • Each meat type has specific smoking times, temperatures, and recommended wood types for optimal flavor and tenderness.

Professionals recommend the meats mentioned in this article. It is based on the flavor of the meat created at the end of the smoke. Below are the best meats to smoke!

Best Cuts Of Meats to Smoke

Spare ribs and pork brisket on tray close up image

The smoking meats listed below are the best to smoke as they bring the most satisfaction and flavor to the table for the amount of time and effort needed.

“The simpler the food, the harder it is to prepare well”
– Joёl Robuchon 1945 – 2018, Chef and Restaurateur awarded the ‘Chef of the Century’ in 1989

1. Beef Brisket

The most popular cut of beef to smoke, the brisket, has a flavor that lies between roast beef ribs and steak.

This tender, stringy meat is juicy thanks to the fat that melts and spreads throughout.

Beef Brisket and beef ribs require very little preparation, use your favorite rub or brine, and it is ready for the smoker [1]!

Smoking Time 90 min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 225°F
Internal Meat Temp 195°F
Best Wood Oak, Hickory, Mesquite

2. Pork Ribs

Pork ribs top view on cutting board

Pork has a lot of fat and collagen, making them the best meat to smoke.

The tender and moist meat falls off the bone and has a smoky flavor, and will always be a firm favorite at any barbeque.

Smoking pork ribs will need some preparation by removing the tough membrane.

Remember to use the 3-2-1 rule of 3 hours of smoking meat; 2 hours wrapping and smoking; and 1 hour of basting and smoking for delicious ribs.

Smoking Time 6 hours
Smoker Temperature 230°F
Internal Meat Template 185°F
Best Wood Oak, Hickory, Mesquite

Read More:

3. Deer Shoulder

When smoked, deer shoulder takes on a lovely roast beef flavor and is not gamey at all.

This meat will pull apart with a stringy consistency, and the taste is truly irresistible.

The smoker will turn the Deer Shoulder juicy and dark with no resemblance to the original piece.

This cut will need to rest in brine overnight to add extra moisture and make it even tastier [2].

Smoking Time 90 min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 250°F
Internal Meat Temp 165°F
Best Wood Oak, Apple, Cherry

4. Lamb Shoulder

A lamb shoulder on wooden table

This cut might be on the pricier end of the meat scale, but it is worth every penny!

Lamb Shoulder contains a lot of fat that will boost the rich flavor of this meat, but too much fat is also not good.

Prep this cut by trimming off some excess fat; the amount is up to you.

Inject the meat with Apple Cider vinegar and use a good rub to enhance the succulent flavor [3].

Smoking Time 45 min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 225°F
Internal Meat Temp 165°F
Best Wood Apple, Cherry

5. Boston Butt

The tough connective tissue that makes up the pork shoulder (Boston Butt or Pork Butt) makes it a perfect choice to smoke meat.

The smoking process breaks down all these fibers and leaves the smoked meat tasty and full of flavor.

Do not rush this pork butt cut as time is needed on this smoke to soften the meat and let the juices flow.

A longer smoking time and a higher internal temperature of 199 °F will turn this lovely cut of meat into pulled pork [4].

Smoking Time 120 min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 225°F
Internal Meat Temp 145°F
Best Wood Apple, Hickory

Also Read: Smoked Boston Butt

6. Salmon

Raw salmon fillet steak pure protein

Smoking fish takes much less time in a smoker than other meat cuts, but it requires more preparation.

The preparation will include brining, curing, and air drying before it will end up in the smoker.

The combination of oak or applewood will infuse and add more flavor to the fish.

Smoking Salmon may be a lot of work, but you will reap the benefits of a delicious-tasting piece of fish [5].

Smoking Time min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 180°F
Internal Meat Temp 140°F
Best Wood Oak, Apple

7. Chuck Roast

Briskets and other cuts of meat are becoming more expensive, and the alternative would be this underrated roast.

This cut of meat is full of intramuscular fat but can be a little tough if not prepared correctly.

To solve the toughness, use a little lime juice with seasoning, and then rest.

The smoker will work its charm and deliver a slice of flavorful and succulent beef. The bark that appears on the roast is the best you’ll ever have [6]!

Smoking Time 45 min/lb.
Smoker Temperature 185°F
Internal Meat Temp 155°F
Best Wood Oak, Apple, Mesquite

What Meats Are Good For Smoking?

Different raw meat collection

There's no reason to spend money on high-quality smoked meats for your smoking preference.

Fattier and tougher cuts of meat are best for the smoker; the saying "low and slow smoking" stands true for the professionals that understand how the smoking process works.

The best meats to smoke are cuts with lots of fat and collagen, which will provide plenty of moisture for the meat. You can always check out pork butt, pork belly, smoked salmon, pulled pork, and other smoked meats.

Remember that intramuscular fat is better than a large fat cap as this fat will melt and tenderize inside the meat.

Being patient is the key to any good meat smoke, do not rush and just let the smoker do its magic [7]!

Read More:

Bottom Line: Which Meat Is Best For Smoking?

Fattier and tougher cuts of meat, like brisket, are ideal for smoking, as the melting fat tenderizes the meat, resulting in juicy, flavorful smoked dishes.

Different smoking woods can further enhance this flavor. While brisket is a common favorite, don't overlook unique options like salmon, deer, and lamb shoulder.

If you're looking for a reliable source for these cuts, consider ButcherBox. ButcherBox is a reliable source for high-quality brisket and other cuts. And of course, traditional favorites like pork-based ribs and Boston butt always steal the show at any barbeque.


  1. https://amazingribs.com/tested-recipes/beef-and-bison-recipes/smoked-brisket-texas-style/
  2.  https://honest-food.net/smoked-venison-leg-recipe/
  3. https://redmeatlover.com/recipe/how-to-smoke-lamb-shoulder/
  4. https://www.thechunkychef.com/smoked-pork-shoulder
  5. https://honest-food.net/how-to-smoke-salmon-recipe/
  6. https://www.seriouseats.com/barbecue-smoked-bbq-beef-chuck-recipe
  7. https://www.foodandwine.com/cooking-techniques/smoking/best-meats-smoke
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