When it comes to a good BBQ, there's nothing like the flavor of meat smoking over charcoal. Smoking tenderizes the meat, adds flavor, and can turn the most humble cuts into something incredible.
Cooking "low and slow" is the key to a good smoked meat. For most meat smoking recipes, between six and eight hours at around 225 degrees F is what you'll be aiming for—so patience is the secret ingredient.
We've assembled a few of our favorite meat-smoking recipes below. They may take a bit of time, but they aren't complicated. So even if you're new to grilling, you'll be able to enjoy some awesome flavorful barbecue.
Before you begin, though, there's one weapon you'll need in your smoking arsenal:
Essential Meat Smoking Accessories: The BBQ Thermometer
Finding the best meat smoking thermometer can mean the difference between knowing exactly what's going on inside your slab of meat, and just guessing.
You wouldn't drive with your eyes closed, so why cook without a thermometer?
There are some impressive tools out there for those who take their smoking seriously. You won't get the same level of accuracy from a cheaper thermometer, but just about any will work in a pinch for your meat smoking recipes.
Now that you’ve got your meat smoking accessories sorted, let's get to grilling. Here are a few of the best smoker recipes:
The "3-2-1" method is used for cooking ribs low and slow without drying them out. It works like this:
- 3 hours uncovered
- 2 hours wrapped in foil
- 1 hour uncovered and brushed with sauce
Following these steps will ensure the ribs cook evenly, with the final hour giving them a delicious barbecued crust.
Start by seasoning your ribs, and let them sit on the smoker under heavy smoke at around 225 degrees for the first three hours.
If you're using baby back ribs instead of pork spare ribs, however, you may want to cut the first step down to about two hours, as baby back ribs can dry out faster.
After three hours, take your ribs out and tightly wrap them in aluminum foil. This smoking stage tenderizes the meat and ensures the interior cooks properly.
Next, remove the foil, apply your favorite barbecue sauce, and smoke for another hour. If you've kept the temperature consistent, your ribs should be ready to serve!
While this method is pretty straightforward, novice smokers may want to read more detailed 3-2-1 ribs meat smoking recipes here.
BBQ Smoked Brisket
Smoking a good brisket can be intimidating at first, but it doesn't have to be. All you need is salt, pepper, and smoke to get the perfect crunchy and juicy smoked meat that even a beginner can pull off.
You can use an electric or an offset smoker to make brisket—all that matters is its ability to maintain the correct temperature: you guessed it, 225 degrees.
When choosing your brisket, aim for about half a pound of meat per person. As for the cut, it's personal preference whether you prefer the first cut or the point. The first cut tends to be leaner and flatter (and therefore cook more evenly), but the point usually has better marbling and fat content.
When cutting the brisket, slice against the grain using a serrated knife. Trim any excess bits off, but leave the fat cap intact.
Different smoker recipes call for different smoking times when it comes to brisket. While 90 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb, you should be checking the internal meat temperature often with your meat-smoking thermometer. An internal temperature of 195 degrees F means it's cooked.
After smoking, wrap the brisket in foil and let it rest for at least half an hour. This enables the meat to retain some of the juices, leaving you with a tender, delicious chunk of beef.
For more step-by-step instructions, follow this recipe.
Beer Can Chicken
Beer Can Chicken is not only an American classic; it's a great way to impress friends at the cookout. Done correctly, you'll have fall-off-the-bone chicken that's crispy on the outside with tender smoked meat on the inside.
To season the chicken, apply your favorite rub. Something simple like olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic powder helps to bring out great flavor.
Next, simply perch the chicken on a half-full can of beer and set it on the grill. It certainly will look ridiculous, so feel free to send a picture of it to your friends and tell them you're getting into modern art sculpture.
The beer can inserted in the chicken's cavity can be a bit precarious, so ensure you've balanced it well. Next, cook it on indirect heat (meaning on the opposite side of the grill from the flame) for about 90 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Use tongs to remove the chicken, and let it rest for 10 minutes before removing the beer can. We don't recommend drinking the rest of the beer... unless you're into hot chicken-flavored lager.
Try these beer can chicken meat smoking recipes for more detailed instructions.
Once you’ve mastered these smoker recipes, don’t stop there! There are endless possibilities when it comes to making mouth-watering smoked meat at home. Lamb, pork—even pheasant or turkey—all can turn out great with just some heat, smoke, and creativity.