Best Meats To Smoke For Beginners (11 EPIC & Easy Recipes)

Smoking your meat can add delicious flavor!

It can turn the simplest chicken breast into the centerpiece of your cookout.

If you’re new to the smoking process, you may not know the best meat to smoke for beginners.

These include pork ribs, pulled pork, whole chicken, pork butt, pork chops, turkey, and salmon.

So let’s dig in and find out the best meat to smoke for beginners + plus some tips so you can make your way towards pitmaster-worthy cookouts!

What is Smoking Meat?

Smoking meat is a slow cooking process that breaks down the collagens, connective tissues, and fats.

The meat is cooked via indirect heat and smoke. As a result, that makes tougher cuts of meat more juicy, sweet, and tender.

Pulled Pork 

If you’re new to smoking, pulled pork is a bona fide classic that you’ll want to have in your BBQ arsenal.

Pulled pork is usually made from smoked pork shoulder or butt, but you can also use pork loin.

These cuts are well-marbled, meaning they are very forgiving during the smoking process. Not to mention it’s cheaper than other cuts of meat. 

Look for the pork with the bone to allow better texture since the bone flavor naturally infuses into the meat.

It can be paired with just about all types of wood as well.

Before smoking, consider throwing on some sweet rubs like chili powder or paprika for the perfect spice. 

All it takes is smoking for about 4 to 5 hours at 250°F. Then wrap the meat and place it back onto the grill for another 4 to 5 hours.

For the best combination of texture, moisture and flavor, we recommend cooking it to about an internal temperature of nearly 200°F If you find your pork stalls during the cook, you might have to wrap them.

Chicken Breast 

Whole chicken or Smoked chicken breast is one of the most common meats to smoke for beginners.

Chicken breast has a lowerf fat content, so the best way to add some extra flavor is by smoking it. 

Take the chicken breast, prepare and marinate it. Then throw it on the smoked for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until it has an internal meat temperature of 170°F. 

Lamb Shoulder

Many people forget how good lamb is!

The lamb’s rich texture complemented by the extra flavor from smoking makes it an irresistible combination.

Generally, a 5-lb lamb should take about 5 to 6 hours to cook at 275°F.

At an internal temperature of 197 to 203°F, the inner fat melts away from the lamb and separates nicely from the bone.

Thus you can easily it apart and enjoy a nice tender smoked lamb shoulder. 

Love lamb?

Check out other recipes

Smoked Leg of Lamb

Smoked Lamb Shank

Beef Brisket 

We have included beef brisket, it can be trickier to smoke.

But as long as you follow my directions below and deal with the stall accordingly you should be fine!

In order to ensure the meat has the smokey flavor and the right amount of tenderness, it should be cooked to a temperature of 200°F to 203°F. 

This meat cooks need to cook slowly and often; beginners make the mistake of undercooking it.

Generally, proper cooking requires about 10 to 14 hours of smoking.

If you find the brisket begins to stall around 140°F, you can either wrap the brisket or increase the temperature of your smoker until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 170°F.

Unlike other types of meat, the beef brisket retains its shape when smoked and can be sliced easily.

This makes it the perfect meat for serving up heft slabs with a tasty slaw or mash potatoes. 

Beef Ribs 

Beef ribs taste amazing when smoked low and slow!

Generally, they take about 6 to 8 hours of cooking.

However, time cooking time can be sped up if you decide to wrap the ribs in aluminum foil. 

Pork ribs can be a little bit trickier. I recommend you try my reicpe for baby back ribs smoked on a pellet grill. They always come out succulent and juicy

Smoked Hamburgers 

There’s nothing like good ol’ hamburgers at a tailgate party.

Simply whip up some patties and throw them on your smoker.

They take about one hour to cook, and the beef patties are cooked at a temperature of 225°F.

We like using mesquite wood chips for burgers as they impart a strong smoky flavor. If you want something milder go for applewood.

Chuck Roast 

Have you ever craved some smoked brisket only to abandon it because of the time and effort required to make it?

The good news is that if you’re time-strapped, consider the smoked chuck roast. 

how many pounds of meat per person

This tender meat is almost as good as the brisket, except it can be made in a few hours. The beef chuck roast is a cut from the shoulder section of the steer. 

It has cooking times of 4 to 6 hours and tastes best when paired with a hickory.

Simply, smoke at 225°F until the internal temperature reaches 180°F to 185°F.

Like any piece of meat, the timing largely depends on the size.

Thicker and large cuts of meat will take close to six hours, while smaller and thinner ones can be done in 4. 


The Tri-Tip is one of the most overlooked cuts of meat to smoke. It’s triangular-shaped meat that produces a rich flavor and juicy texture.

Since it’s lean meat, smoked tri-tip takes under two hours to get ready.

Feel free to use oak or maple wood to smoke it at about a temperature of 135°F. 

Pork Ribs 

Pork ribs are much larger and more flavorful than beef ribs.

cooking pork ribs in smoker

If you want to maximize the tenderness of the pork ribs during the meat smoking process, consider the 3-2-1 method.

The number refers to how long to keep the ribs wrapped and unwrapped in the smoke. 

In this case, it means having 3 hours unwrapped on top of the smoker, 2 hours wrapped airtight and 1 hour unwrapped.

Pork Shoulder

The pork shoulder often called the pork butt, is full of flavor and is one of the best meats for smoking.

This popular meat is sourced from the upper shoulder of the pig; hence it’s packed full of tight connective tissues and muscles.

Since it has a lot of connective tissue, it needs to cook low and slow, resulting in mouth-watering tender meat! 

Trim the meat, add binders and seasoning, and smoke the meat for about 6 to 7 hours at 275°F.

Wait until the internal temperature reaches about 180°F and presto!

The smoked pork butt is incredibly versatile and can be served with nearly anything like potato salad, cornbread, and baked beans. 

There you have it. You now know all the best meats to smoke as a beginner.

Make sure to play a water tray in the smoker. That’s because as the temperature rises, it will start to lose moisture.

Also, keep the lid closed to ensure that the meat remains at a consistent temperature. 

Although you’re a beginner, you’re well on your way to becoming a BBQ pitmaster!

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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