Smoked Beef Cheeks (In 6 Simple Steps)

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Looking for a delicious beef cheeks recipe? Your in the right place!

Beef cheeks are often an overlooked cut of beef.

However, they are a cost-effective cut, packed with flavor.

Below I have my tried and test recipe for smoked beef cheeks that your friends and family will be requesting from you for years to come!

With a little love and know-how, these neglected cuts can be a tender and juicy mouthwatering meal.

Where Are Beef Cheeks Cut From?

As the name suggests, beef cheeks are the cheek muscle of the cow. 

The cheek muscles are one of the most worked on a cow, after all, they spend quite a lot of time chewing!

As such, they contain high amounts of connective tissue called collagen. This collagen breaking down is what gives the rich, melt-in-your-mouth meat. 

If cooked too fast though, this tends to become tough and chewy. Low and slow and braising is the secret.

Like all hard-working muscles, they respond well to longer cooking times. Treat them like brisket and you’ll be a step ahead of the game already.

Where To Buy Beef Cheeks?

As they aren’t popular you will rarely find them in supermarkets.

Your best bet is to head to your local butchers. Even then you may have to order in advance, so plan and give yourself plenty of time.

How To Prepare Beef Cheeks?

This can be quite a time-consuming job, so now is the time to butter up your butcher! They will make short work of what could take you some time.

If you are up for a challenge, remove all the tendons, silverskin (the connective tissue), and sinew. 

What Temperature to Smoke Beef Cheeks?

To cook beef cheeks you want to set the smoker to 250°F.

Load enough wood chips into the pellet hopper for at least 4 hours.  

Some people prefer to smoke beef cheeks at 225°F. If you smoke the beef cheeks at 225°F they will take around 5 hours to cook.

What Wood Chip Work Well With Beef Cheeks

For beef cheeks you can use strong flavors like mesquite and hickory if you like an intense smoked beef flavor. Or if you prefer a subtle flavors try applewood or cherrywood.

Can You Grill Beef Cheeks?

Grilling beef cheeks directly is not a common method due to their tough and collagen-rich nature. Beef cheeks are typically cooked using slow and moist cooking techniques like braising or smoking to break down the tough connective tissues and make them tender.

Grilling beef cheeks without any prior cooking would likely result in tough and chewy meat. However, if you still want to use the grill to cook beef cheeks, it is recommended to first braise or cook them using a low and slow method to tenderize the meat. After braising, you can finish them on the grill briefly to add a smoky and charred flavor.

The Perfect Rub for Beef Cheeks

All you need for your rub is salt and pepper. Use a ratio of 2:1 of black pepper to kosher salt. So if you use 2 tablespoons of black pepper, use one tablespoon of kosher salt.

If you prefer the flavor of a store brought rub anything that you use on brisket, chuck roast, or beef ribs are perfect for beef cheeks.

Don’t be too heavy-handed when applying, a light coating is all that’s needed.

What Can I Substitute for Beef Cheeks?

f you can’t find beef cheeks for a recipe, there are several alternative cuts of meat that can provide a similar flavor and texture. Here are some options:

  1. Short Ribs: Short ribs come from the same general area as beef cheeks and have a rich, meaty flavor. They can be braised or slow-cooked to achieve tenderness.
  2. Oxtail: Oxtail is a flavorful and gelatinous cut of meat that is ideal for slow cooking. It has a rich beefy taste and can be used as a substitute for beef cheeks in stews and braised dishes.
  3. Chuck: Chuck roast, also known as shoulder or chuck steak, is a well-marbled cut that becomes tender and juicy when braised. It has a robust flavor and can be a suitable substitute for beef cheeks.
  4. Shank: Beef shank is a tough but flavorful cut that becomes tender and succulent when slow-cooked. It has a rich, beefy taste and can be used in dishes that call for beef cheeks.

How to Smoke Beef Cheeks

Place the cheeks in the smoker with indirect heat, at around 250 for 3 hours. After three hours will develop a delicious bark.

Then it’s time to prepare for braising. Transfer the beef to an aluminium baking tray and fill it to about half an inch with the liquid (we use ginger beer).

You can use whatever you like – beef stock, ginger beef, or a stout beer is perfect. Then top with brown sugar.

Leave to the top exposed so you can develop the lovely crusty dark bark.

Cook until the beef cheeks reach an internal temperature of 200°F-210°F this can take around 1 hour.

How Long Will It Take to Smoke Beef Cheeks?

For both stages of cooking these beef cheeks it will take around four hours. The first stage of smoking takes around 3 hours or until the beef reaches 165°F and there is a bark developing. Then you want to braise the beef cheeks until they reach 200°F-210°F this can take around 1 hour.

What Internal Temperature Should The Beef Cheeks Be Before Braising?

The temperature of the cheeks should at least 165°F before braising.

Don’t gauge low and slow cooking on time alone. There are too many variables. Check the internal temperatures with a meat probe to get the right level.

The internal temps can run a little higher due to the high collagen content. It’s not unusual to sit around 205-210°F.

What You Need for Smoked Beef Cheeks

  • Beef cheeks
  • Rub
  • Stout, porter, or ginger beer
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe With Creamy Mashed Potato

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove all the fat and silver skin from the beef cheeks.
  2. Preheat your smoker/grill with indirect heat from 250°F 
  3. Apply a nice even coating of the salt and pepper (you can use a store brought rub if you prefer.
  4. Smoke the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  5. Place the beef cheeks in a tray then cover them with liquid by 0.4 inches (1cm). Apply the brown sugar to the beef cheeks
  6. Continue to cook the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 200-210°F.
  7. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes.

For The Mashed Potatoes

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until very soft.
  2. Drain potatoes.
  3. Add butter and milk and use a potato masher to mash until smooth.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
beef cheeks smoked

Smoked Beef Cheeks

These smoked beef cheeks are a melt-in-your-mouth delight. Seasoned with just salt and pepper, brown sugar and ginger beer they slow-smoked to perfection.
This smoked beef cheek recipe offer a delicious combination of smoky, savory, and sweet flavors that will leave you craving more.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course main, Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, bbq
Servings 4 serves
Calories 550 kcal


  • Smoker you can use a grill with a smoke tub or a charcoal grill with a charcoal snake


  • 4 whole Beef cheeks
  • 4 tbsp Cracked Pepper for the rub
  • 2 tbsp Kosher Salt for the rub
  • 1 can Ginger Beer you can use stout, coke or any liquid you like
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or to taste


  • Using a sharp knife, remove all the fat and silver skin from the beef cheeks.
  • Preheat your smoker/grill with indirect heat from 250°F
  • Apply a nice even coating of salt and pepper rub.
  • Smoke the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Place the beef cheeks in a tray then cover them with liquid by 0.4 inches (1cm). Apply the brown sugar to the beef cheeks
  • Continue to cook the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 200-210°F.
  • Remove and let rest for 15 minutes then slice and serve


You can using the leftover juices for gravy or jus
Keyword Beef, beef cheeks, Smoked

Why not step out of your comfort zone and give these neglected cuts of meat a go?

The slow smoking process will reward you with delicious and tender cuts of beef. The glorious smokey flavor hit is to die for.

You’ll be coming back for more with these beauties!

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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