Smoked Beef Cheeks on a Pit Boss (In 8 Simple Steps)

Beef cheeks are often an overlooked cut of beef.

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

But most people tend to steer clear due to the gelatinous texture.

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

What Are Beef Cheeks?

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.

How 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. 

Preparing The Smoker

Set the smoker to 250°F and preheat for half an hour before adding any food.

Load enough wood chips into the pellet hopper for at least 6 hours.  

Wood Chip Suggestions

Use strong wood chip flavors like mesquite and hickory if you like an intense smoked beef flavor.

Subtle flavors like applewood, cherry, and ash are fine too. There is enough flavor with the rubs and braising and natural juiciness of the beef. 

Applying The Rub

Rubs used on brisket, chuck roast, or beef ribs are perfect for beef cheeks.

From a classic salt and black pepper mix to store-bought barbecue rubs, anything goes.  

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

Smoking The Cheeks

The secret to tender meat is all in the braising. Without the added moisture they can dry out and become unpleasant.

Smoke for 3 hours, and finish off the last stages with braising.

Place the cheeks under the grill in indirect heat, at around 250-300°F for 3 hours. You should have developed a delicious bark by now.

Then it’s time to prepare for braising. Transfer the beef to an aluminum 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 and smokey flavor. If you’re happy when the crisp bark forms, cover it with aluminum foil. This will help capture steam and break down the collagen. 

Place it back for indirect cooking.

Time and Temperatures

The temperature of the cheeks should be around 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.

Recipe: Smoked Beef Cheeks with Creamy Mashed Potato

Ingredients

  • 4 beef cheeks
  • sweet beef rub, to taste
  • stout, porter, or ginger beer
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste

For The Mash

  • 800g potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper

Method 

  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 275-325°F  
  3. Apply a nice even coating of spice rub.
  4. Smoke the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  5. Combine the beer, honey, and brown sugar. Place the beef cheeks in a tray then cover them with liquid by 0.4 inches (1cm).
  6. Continue to cook the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 200-210°F.
  7. Why not try using the leftover juices for gravy or jus?
  8. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. To serve slice. 

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.

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks are often an overlooked cut of beef. However, they are a cost-effective cut, packed with flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 10 mins
Course: main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq
Servings: 4
Calories: 550kcal
Author: Charlie

Equipment

  • Pit Boss Grill

Ingredients

  • 4 Beef cheeks
  • Sweet beef rub to taste
  • Stout porter, or ginger beer
  • 2 tbsp honey or to taste
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or to taste

Instructions

  • Using a sharp knife, remove all the fat and silver skin from the beef cheeks.
  • Preheat your smoker/grill with indirect heat from 275-325°F
  • Apply a nice even coating of spice rub.
  • Smoke the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Combine the beer, honey, and brown sugar. Place the beef cheeks in a tray then cover them with liquid by 0.4 inches (1cm).
  • Continue to cook the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature of 200-210°F.
  • Why not try using the leftover juices for gravy or jus?
  • Remove and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • To serve slice.

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!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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 adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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