Best Beef For Smoker


When it comes to choosing the best beef for smoker, you want to make sure you’ve got the best. There are many ways to cook up your meat in your smoker and cut it out of the rest of the competition.

When it comes to choosing the best beef for smoker, you want to make sure you’ve got the best. There are many ways to cook up your meat in your smoker and cut it out of the rest of the competition.

Best Cuts Of Beef To Smoke (& How To Cook Them Perfectly)

Smoked beef is one of the definitive American barbecue meats. From brisket to chuck roast, short rib to flank steak, here are 7 of the best cuts of beef to smoke at your next cook-off.

Best Cuts of Beef to Smoke

There’s no doubt about it: Beef is the iconic barbecue meat.

And the real beauty of BBQ beef? It comes from such a large animal that it offers an insane range of flavors, textures and aromas. Each cut brings something new to the table. But which one is best?

Here are 7 of the best cuts of beef, how to smoke them, and what to look out for.

best cuts of meat to smoke infographic

For me the best cuts of beef to smoke are brisket, chuck roast, rib, top sirloin, flank steak, rump, and round.

In this post I’m going to outline why each cut is so great, and help you decide which beef cut you should go for at your next barbecue.

Beef Brisket

Heading this list is perhaps the most famous and certainly the best cut of beef for smoking: Beef brisket.

Brisket is the king of BBQ. The process of smoking down a large piece of beef town to a tender, succulent plate of meat with a coat of beautiful bark is what outdoor cooking is all about.

how to smoke brisket recipe

Smoked beef brisket has everything that you want from a good cut of meat. This iconic primal cut of beef is tender, it’s tough, and it’s packed full of flavor. It has tough meaty fibers that are infused with flavor and tenderized by its top layer of fat.

Unlike a lot of other types of meat, brisket doesn’t require brining or a lot of added flavors to get the most out of it. The secret instead is to choose the perfect piece of meat.

Smoking Brisket: Key Facts

  • Cook Time: 10-14 hours
  • Preferred Smoke Wood: Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205°F

Try to pick a cut that has strong presence of graining, a good layer of fat, and a tender texture.

Pro tip: When looking for the best cut of brisket, hold the piece of meat up a little. If it bends then this is a good sign that it will be tender when cooked. The more it bends, the more tender it will be.

Buy Brisket Online

Dry-aged beef brisket for next-level beef flavor and unbelievable texture. Porter Road’s beef is pasture-raised, hormone-free, and without antibiotics.

porter road beef brisket

Chuck Roast

While beef brisket might get most of the headlines, I’m a huge fan of smoked chuck roast.

beef chuck roast

It has a lot in common with brisket. Chuck roast’s tough meaty fibers and connective tissue mirror brisket’s firm construction.

Smoking Chuck Roast: Key Facts

  • Cook Time: 5-6 hours
  • Preferred Smoke Wood: Hickory, Pecan
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205°F

The advantage of chuck roast is that it’s a smaller cut of meat so it takes far less time to smoke. Instead of the 10+ hours that you normally need to dedicate to brisket, chuck roast can be done in just 5 hours.

Buy Chuck Roast Online

Chuck roast straight from the shoulder. Porter Road’s pasture-raised heifers and steers live active and happy, resulting in extra flavorful beef.

porter road chuck roast
smoked beef ribs

Beef Ribs

When we talk about ribs, we often mean pork ribs, but beef ribs are just as good fresh out the smoker… maybe even better.

Smoking Beef Ribs: Key Facts

  • Cook Time: 5-6 hours
  • Preferred Smoke Wood: Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan
  • Target Internal Temperature: 135°F

Beef ribs can be hard to find, but are well worth the effort. What can make things confusing is that a few different cuts of beef are sometimes sold under the label of ‘beef ribs’. What you really want is ribs from the chuck plate.

Like baby back ribs, beef ribs are relatively quick to smoke. They need about 5 hours in the smoker.

Buy Beef Back Ribs Online

From the upper back of the cow, these ribs share the same bones as the Ribeye, yielding an incredibly tender plate of barbecue smoked beef.

porter road beef back ribs
Barbecue dry aged wagyu tri tip steak with BBQ sauce


Not everyone is sold on the idea of smoking steaks, but I think they’re well-deserving of a place on this list. Tri-tip is sometimes confused with sirloin, but it’s actually a small portion of the larger sirloin. It can sometimes be hard to find, but smoked tri-tip is well worth the effort.

Smoking Tri-Tip: Key Facts

  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Preferred Smoke Wood: Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan
  • Hickory, Pecan
  • Target Internal Temperature: 135°F

Unlike a lot of other smoking meats that rely on fat content to render and tenderize them, tri-tip is actually a very lean cut of meat. Because of this, it only needs about an hour to smoke before then being seared on a grill for a few minutes.

Try my reverse seared tri-tip if you want to give this beautiful cut of beef a go.

Buy Tri-Tip Steak

Tender and packed with flavor, this beef tri-tip is like no other. The shape of the meat means you can achieve a lot with just one cut.

porter road tri tip steak
Barbecue wagyu roast beef sliced as top view on a metal tray with copy space right

Top Round

Beef top round is perfect for smoking, and is great either just by itself as a steak, or sliced up and used in fajitas or tacos. See our smoked top round recipe to find out more

Smoking Top Round: Key Facts

  • Cook Time: 4-5 hours
  • Preferred Smoke Wood: Oak
  • Smoking Temperature: 225-250°F
  • Target Internal Temperature: 135°F

This often needs to be cut specifically by your butcher, instead of bought prepackaged in a store or supermarket. I find that store bought cuts tend to be a bit small, so I’d go to a butcher to try and get a 5lb piece.

It will also require a dry brining, but this is really simple to do. Rather than soak it in salted water, you instead lightly coat it in kosher or table salt and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

The salt will slowly draw some of the juices out of the meat before being reabsorbed back into the meat. This will help the top round retain much of its natural moisture when smoking so it doesn’t dry out.

Best Beef to Smoke (5 Unique Cuts)

Most people start off their smoking experience by learning to smoke pork cuts, such as pork belly or baby back ribs. Beef also makes great smoking meat, but which cut is the best for smoking?

Our expert smokers have listed their top beef cuts to smoke to give you a head start on including beef in your smoking repertoire!


  • The best beef to smoke is brisket, but it is not an easy cut of meat to smoke. It requires additional processes to overcome the brisket temperature plateau and takes a long time to cook.
  • Other great beef cuts for smoking are beef ribs, chuck roast, tri-tip steak, and top round roast.


If you are new to meat smoking or have only smoked pork in your smoker, you may be unaware of what cuts of beef do well in the smoking process.

When people talk about beef smoking, you will undoubtedly hear beef brisket come up the most in this conversation.

Beef brisket may be one of the most common cuts of beef cooked in smokers, but other cuts can also be used.

As selected by our expert smokers, the best beef to smoke includes the following cuts.

1. Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket


Brisket is the most popular beef cut to smoke. It comes from the forequarter, lower chest of the cow.

The meat has a good amount of internal and surface fat, making it ideal for smoking.

Brisket is the prime cut for low and slow smoking since if it is cooked too quickly, brisket can be pretty tough.

Brisket may be one of the most popular beef cuts to smoke, but brisket is also one of the most difficult cuts to perfect in a smoker.

The dreaded internal temperature stall when smoking brisket has been the downfall of many people new to smoking this cut of meat.

The phenomenon causes the internal temperature of the meat to plateau for many hours, which results in the need to intervene and add additional components to the smoking process, such as wrapping the meat at certain stages to increase the internal temperature of the meat.

The cook time for brisket varies between 10 to 14 hours, making for a long session in the smoker. Always start smoking your brisket sooner than you think you should. You will be grateful to have some extra time available!

The ideal internal temperature to aim for is 205°F or 96°C. The best wood smoke to pair with this meat is oak or hickory for a dark, deep flavor, or cherry or pecan wood for a lighter taste.

2. Beef Ribs

Beef Ribs


Pork ribs are a standard favorite to smoke, but beef ribs can be as fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy if done right.

The smoke time is faster with this beef cut, and most types of beef ribs are often cheaper than pork ribs, making it an economical cut for smoking as well.

The meat on the beef ribs is relatively thin, making the smoking time a reasonable 5 to 6 hours, easily achievable on a weekend afternoon!

The internal temperature for beef ribs should be 135°F or 57.2°C for the duration of the smoke.

The best woods to pair with beef ribs are the same as the brisket; hickory and oak for deep, dark flavor and pecan or cherry for a lighter smoke.

3. Beef Chuck Roast

Beef Chuck Roast


The chuck cut is from the cow’s upper forequarter, shoulder area. The marbling of fat in this meat cut makes it great for smoking.

Any roast cut is a thick piece of meat, but it is shorter than a cut such as brisket.

You may think it would need a longer smoke time, but this is not the case. The need for a higher internal temperature means a higher smoker temperature than usual.

A chuck roast is not only a great cut of meat to smoke, but it is the ideal cut for a beginner to experiment with as their first beef cut to smoke. It is both easy and relatively quick to smoke, and the outcome is juicy, tasty, and delicious!

The internal temperature to aim for on a beef chuck roast is between 190°F or 87.7°C and 205°F or 96°C, which will require an outer temperature of between 225°F or 107.2°C and 250°F or 121°C.

The smoke time will vary depending on the size of the roast, but it is typically between 5 to 6 hours for a medium-sized roast but can be up to 10 hours for a larger piece of meat.

The best wood smoke to pair with a chuck roast is commonly Hickory wood or pecan wood.

4. Tri-Tip Steak

Tri-tip steak


This cut is from the sirloin area in the upper hindquarter. It is not always easy to find, but it is worth the effort to seek out since it does very well in a smoker.

Tri-tip steak is one of the cheaper steak cuts, making it an economical choice for smoking meat.

Another bonus with this cut is that it takes a very short time to cook in the smoker, so it is an ideal choice if you have time constraints.

If you like your meat rare, smoke the tri-tip steak to an internal temperature of 120°F or 48.8°C. An internal temperature of 127°F or 52.7°C will give a medium-rare cook, 133°F or 56.1°C a medium, 140°F or 60°C medium-well and 150°F or 65.5°C will produce a well-done cook.

The tri-tip steak will take a mere 90 minutes in the smoker, and our preference is to pair it with the lighter flavors of cherry or pecan wood smoke.

The internal temperature to aim for on a beef chuck roast is between 190°F or 87.7°C and 205°F or 96°C, which will require an outer temperature of between 225°F or 107.2°C and 250°F or 121°C.

The smoke time will vary depending on the size of the roast, but it is typically between 5 to 6 hours for a medium-sized roast but can be up to 10 hours for a larger piece of meat.

The best wood smoke to pair with a chuck roast is commonly Hickory wood or pecan wood.

5. Beef Top Round

Beef Top Round


A beef top round roast is a cut of beef sourced from the upper hindquarter of the cow, just behind the sirloin section. These cuts have less external fat and less internal marbling than the other cuts of meat from this section.

Consequently, it requires a shorter smoke to cook through and retain moisture in the meat.

Top round beef can easily be cooked and ready to eat in the space of an afternoon, making it an excellent choice for a busy weekend!

Dry brining this cut of meat overnight in the refrigerator with a good quality sea salt is an excellent technique to retain moisture during the smoking process.

The smoke time for a top round will vary depending on the size of the piece of meat. It should, however, average between 4 to 5 hours in the smoker.

The internal temperature you should target is 135°F or 57.2°C, which usually requires a smoker temperature of between 225°F or 107.2°C and 250°F or 121.1°C.

Oak, hickory, and mesquite make a good smoke pairing for this beef cut since it works well with heavier flavors.


Beef may not be everyone’s first choice of meat to smoke, but specific cuts of beef work equally well in a smoker as pork.

Beef cuts typically take a shorter time to cook in the smoker and can be more economical meat to try out your smoking skills.

Try out some of our recommended beef cuts, but leave the brisket until you have plenty of time on hand to get a great result!

You can source your beef cuts from ButcherBox and have them delivered right to your doorstep.

Best Meats to Smoke for Beginners, BBQ Enthusiasts, or Pitmasters

Best meats to smoke for beginners, BBQ enthusiasts, or pit masters. That’s what we’re talking about today.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite smoked recipes to show you just how versatile the smoking process is and why all meats are the best meats to smoke.

Grilling isn’t just a fun weekend activity, it’s a way to make some of the best food you’ll ever eat.

While grilled burgers and dogs on the grill are great, to be sure, there’s something about smoking meat that just cannot be beaten. And if you get creative, it doesn’t even have to stop with meats.

Smoking is a way to take your outdoor cooking to another level, so today we’re talking about the best meats to smoke, and you might even find a side or two in there, as well.

Why Smoke Meat?

If you’ve never smoked meat before you might be wondering what the point of it is. After all, really good smoked meat takes hours to cook.

Why wouldn’t you opt for a faster cooking method? True, there are faster ways to cook most meats, but are there tastier ways to do it? Here’s why smoking meat is always a great choice.

Smoking Meat Creates an Incredible Flavor

First and foremost, smoking meat creates incredible flavor. The reason smoked meats are cooked low and slow is to create an environment where the collagen and fat in the meat can slowly break down and melt, essentially self-basting the interior of the meat.

Over the hours needed to smoke the meat, that fat and collagen moves through the meat as it breaks down and melts.

It gets into all the nooks and crannies of the meat adding an extra depth of flavor along with an extra tenderness that you just can’t get with other cooking.

Speaking of things you can’t get with other cooking when you smoke meats, you also get that delicious crunchy exterior that we all love.

In addition to adding another layer of flavor, that exterior adds another layer of uniqueness to the bite itself.

Using Hardwood When Smoking Meat

The breakdown of collagen and fat during the smoking process adds a ton of flavor, but so does the hardwood used to smoke the meat.

As the wood slowly smolders, the aroma and flavors of the smoke permeate the meat, injecting even more flavor into it.

That’s why so many different types of woods are used to smoke meats. They all have different flavors.

While you can use a wide variety of woods for smoking meats, the most common ones are:

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Mesquite
  • Pecan
  • Apple
  • Alder
  • Cherry

We have a great post on the best wood for smoking that covers even more about wood smoking and a ton of hardwood varieties that can be used, as well.


Cooking with smoke is also an incredibly versatile process.

Of course, most of us think of meat when we think of smoking, but you can actually use this method to cook vegetables, fruits, and side dishes, as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

TheSuperHealthyFood © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.