9 Cheapest Cuts of Meat to Smoke on the Market

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Smoking meat can get expensive if you keep buying the meats marketed as the best smoking meats, like tri-tip or top round, as these meat cuts are always some of the most expensive cuts.

But our smoking experts are here to help! They have put together a list of cheaper meat cuts perfect for smoking, so let's go through them.

Quick Summary

  • Cheap cuts of meat like whole spatchcock chicken, spare ribs, and skirt steak are excellent for smoking.
  • Other affordable options include hanger steak, pork butt, whole spatchcock turkey, and chuck roast.
  • Cheaper cuts of meat are great for smoking as they always come out tender and juicy.
  • To enhance your smoking experience with these affordable cuts, consider sourcing your meat from ButcherBox.

The 9 Cheapest Cuts Of Meat for Smoking

Different meat cuts on table

Smoking specific cuts of meat can start to get pretty expensive, especially if you are new to smoking and want to smoke every weekend.

Thankfully, there are many inexpensive cuts of meat that will not break the bank to buy whenever you want to do some smoking.

Let's go through these cheaper alternative meat cuts that are still perfect for smoking as they result in a delicious and juicy piece of meat.

1. A Whole Spatchcock Chicken

Whole chickens are great to smoke as chicken is one of the cheapest meats you can buy, and it has an excellent flavor profile when it's smoked meat.

When you smoke your whole chicken, you should keep the temperature over 300°F as lower temperatures can lead to the chicken's skin having a rubbery texture.

You will only need to smoke your whole spatchcock chicken for between 1 and 1.5 hours, so this is a great meat for smoking when you need to make a meal in a shorter time.

The chicken thighs are often a delight, especially when you follow this procedure.

2. Spare Ribs

Raw spare ribs on stone surface

Pork ribs are another cheaper cut of meat to buy for smoking. These inexpensive cuts come from the breastbone, behind the pork shoulder, and the pig's belly.

Generally, these are between 11, and 13 pork ribs joined together by some cartilage and flavorful meat that melts in your mouth when smoked.

If you do not want the cartilage, ask your butcher to cut the pork ribs for more meat pieces to make them easier to handle.

3. Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is a fibrous and thin piece of meat that separates the cow's chest from the abdomen, which is in the plate location on the cow.

This steak is the cow's diaphragm muscle attached to the cow's 6th rib through to the 12th rib on the underside of the cow's short plate.

Skirt steak is one of the best meats to smoke as it is tougher meat, but it has a fantastic flavor profile. You can usually find this steak at a pretty low price at your local butcher, as well as flank steak.

4. Hanger Steak

Raw hanger steak with knife and ingredients beside

Hanger steak, also widely known as hanging tenderloin or butcher's steak, is a cut of meat that is highly prized for its flavor.

This steak was often kept by the butchers for themselves rather than sold to customers, which is where this cut of meat gets one of its names: Butchers steak.

The hanger steak is also taken from the plate location of the cow, but its placement is a lot deeper in the cow's loin, and the rib cage encircles it.

Hanger steak gets this common name as it "hangs" between the ribs and the tenderloin of the cow.

5. Pork Butt

This cut is a portion of meat that is usually easy to find and is cheap to buy. Pork butts are perfect for smoking as it has a good amount of fat, making the meat juicy and delicious.

These come from just above the pork shoulder and generally include part of the pig's leg bone.

The pork butts and pork shoulder are often confused as they are so close together, but they are different cuts of meat.

So, ensure you buy the former as it is usually cheaper than the latter. Consider using it for pulled pork sandwiches for a quick meal.

6. A Whole Spatchcock Turkey

Raw spatchcock turkey on wooden surface

Turkey is an excellent choice of meat. Just like the whole chicken, turkey is one of the most inexpensive meats you can buy, and the turkey breast tastes fantastic as smoked meat.

When you smoke a turkey, you do not need to smoke it for long as it will cook fast, and it absorbs the delicious smoky flavor better in this shorter cooking process.

The smoking time will depend on the size of your turkey, but it's generally between 3 and 4 hours.

7. Chuck Roast

Chuck roasts are packed with flavor that is enhanced through the smoking process.

This inexpensive cut of meat is taken from the cow's shoulder, which means this cut is a tough piece of meat as this muscle is a heavily used muscle throughout the cow's life.

This makes the chuck roast perfect for smoking as it comes out tender and juicy, packed with many flavors that will have you coming back for seconds, and thirds, as you will not get enough of this cut when it comes out smoked.

8. Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is a long-time favorite cut of meat for smokers as it is cheap, easy to come by, and tastes excellent when smoked.

The beef brisket is cut from the cow's lower chest or breast area and generally includes both the cow's deep and superficial pectoral muscles. It's what makes it better than beef ribs.

Even though it's a cheaper cut of meat that is great for smoking and tastes delicious, beef ribs or brisket is challenging to smoke correctly.

As such, smoked brisket is not a cut of meat recommended for beginners.

9. Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs on wooden surface

Baby back ribs are common and popular cheap cuts of meat that you can smoke easily, and these pork ribs will not put a massive dent in your wallet, like pork shoulder and pork chops.

These pork ribs are usually smaller but meatier than the spare rib cuts mentioned earlier on this list.

These are a cut of meat taken from the top of the pig's rib cage, right between the spare rib and the pig's spine.

These ribs generally cook faster as they are a leaner cut of meat, but they are incredibly juicy and so tender that they easily fall off the bone when you smoke them.

Also Read: Brazilian Cuts of Beef

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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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