The 7 Best Meats To Smoke -Smoking Guide 2024

When it comes to meat smoking, the most important thing is to get the fattest cut of meat. This is because the fat content will melt as the cooking continues, and the connective tissue starts to break down. This gives you a much more tender and juicy taste. There are many cuts of meat that we can consider perfect for smoking while others are not.

What Is Meat Smoking?

Before we go down into listing the best meats for smoking, it is important to expound on what smoking is all about. We will also try to give the simple rules of smoking meat.

Smoking is a slow and low cooking process that uses smoke to tenderize the meat and add flavor. This is a favorite technique and art for barbecue enthusiasts. However, if you are a backyard enthusiast, this style of barbecue isn’t out of reach.

When choosing the best meat parts to smoke, we are always tempted to choose the best. However, the less desirable and cheapest cuts are more favorable for smoking and give better results. Therefore, if you are trying to enjoy your meat and still save money, smoking might be the best cooking method.

Why Do People Enjoy Smoking?

Meat smoking is becoming a common cooking method because it is cheap and gives you the freedom of experimentation. Simultaneously, this is one cooking method that works perfectly well for almost all types of meat. Although some meat types can be dried by smoking, the pork shoulder or brisket's high-fat content will never let you down.

Best Meats To Smoke

This article will discuss some meats that will give you perfect results if smoked in the right way.

1. Whole Chicken

Whole Chicken

The first recommendation of the best meats to smoke for both experts and beginners is an entire chicken. A whole chicken has many advantages compared to different other types of meat. Some of these advantages are:

  • Compared to beef and pork, chicken takes lesser time to cook.
  • Apart from salt and a little pepper and some spices if you need to, a whole chicken doesn’t need much preparation.
  • In a normal case, it is impossible to smoke chicken breasts as they are not compatible with this cooking method. However, when you smoke a whole chicken, you will be able to enjoy smoked chicken breasts.
  •  If you are smoking with an electric smoker, all you need to do is set the meat and forget it.

 An electric smoker is a perfect choice for beginners and people who don’t have time to monitor the smokers. With this, you can never go wrong.

2.  Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder

Pork shoulder is another highly recommended meat for smoking. Pork shoulder makes it easy for beginners as making a mistake in smoking pork shoulders is very rare. Any type of smoker will work perfectly for you. At the same time, this part of meat works for any type of smoker.

The connective tissue and the amount of fat featured on chicken shoulders is what make it a perfect choice for smoking. When you use high heat cooking methods for pork shoulders, the fat will melt and cover the entire pork shoulder cuts.

Therefore, during smoking, this fat keeps your meat moist. This results to an endless juicy smoked pork meat. Pork shoulders can also used to make long-smoked sausages which are addicting, easy to smoke and versatile.

3.  Chicken Leg  Quarters

Chicken leg quarters

Whereas smoking chicken breasts is a no-go zone, when it comes to chicken leg quarters, it is a whole different story. This is because; chicken quarters are close to the bone. Therefore, getting a perfect balance of natural chicken taste and smoky flavors is easy with the chicken quarters.

When compared with whole chicken, chicken leg quarters are disadvantaged. This is because, the whole chicken doesn’t have enough moisture to prevent itself from drying up which is not the case with chicken quarters.

Therefore, the chicken leg quarters need some preparations before the smoking process begins. To improve the taste the of the chicken leg quarters, you are advised to fill the water pan and add maple or apple wood chips.

At the same time, the slow and low cooking process works best in this scenario. This is done to ensure there is some moist in the meat and the flavor is also given enough time to sink in. 

4.  Beef Briskets

Beef briskets

We cannot talk about smoking without mentioning the beef briskets. Just like pork ribs and whole turkeys, you need some experience to successful smoke beef briskets.

The beef brisket cuts are often undesirable and tough which makes it a good candidate for smoking method. This is because; smoking can achieve very high heat. Therefore, next time you want to enjoy beef briskets, you now have a perfect cooking method.

Smoked beef briskets once they come out of the smoker, boast tenderness and also features a beautiful irresistible smoke ring. Unfortunately, smoking beef briskets is not easy and it takes longer than many other meat cuts.

To smoke beef briskets successfully takes at least 12 hours and also requires high heat of between 205 degrees Fahrenheit and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This however depends on the fuel source and the smoker you are using. The results are however worth the sacrifice and your time.

5.  Whole Turkey

Whole Turkey

When it comes to poultry smoking, a whole turkey will mark the end of our list. a turkey generally represents joyful celebrations like Christmas and Thanksgivings.

Although this is not an easy option for beginners, the satisfying result it gives you is worth the sacrifice. A turkey is more expensive than a chicken but it might end up being more economical as it serves more people than a chicken.

Apart from being tasty, it is also healthier and leaner compared to chicken meat. At the same time, it’s larger and hence, will feed more people than a chicken. Therefore, if you are expecting many people and wants to surprise them with your large smoker, a whole turkey would be the best choice. If you want perfect flavor, make use of specific best wood in the smoking process.

Just like in smoking chicken leg quarters, smoking a whole turkey, you might also need to use low and slow cooking method. This is because, the meat size of a turkey is large and cooking it all through is going to take much time. At the same time, you might need to measure the temperature inside your meat which is done using a meat probe.

6.  Pork Ribs

Pork ribs

Pork ribs are the perfect candidate for anyone who wants to smoke a more conventional type of meat. Pork ribs always top the best meats to smoke as it is very popular among many communities. The sweet taste of smoked ribs stays even after you reheat it.

The main reason why pork ribs are famous in this cooking method is their ton of fat and exceptional juiciness. The fact that pork ribs are incredibly tender naturally makes them mouth-watering after the whole process is done.

 However, smoking them is not as easy as you may think; a bit more experience is needed in smoking this kind of meat.

7.  Lamb Leg

Lamb leg

We’ve talked much about pork, poultry, and beef cuts. It would just be fair to introduce a new cut of meat. Therefore, we have decided to introduce a lamb leg into the list. This type of meat features the advantage of enjoying juicy and fatty tenderness, although it is not served more often.

It is easier to get lamb shoulders than it is to get a perfect lamb leg cut. However, when you are lucky enough to get one, you will be assured of a dish you will need to enjoy more often. To get good results when smoking a lamb leg, you need low and slow smoking. You will also need to rotate them constantly as these cuts most of the time is uneven.

Lamb legs will rarely sit flush on your cooking grates, and hence a lot of patience is needed to get perfect results. Apart from this drawback, you have no reason not to enjoy lamb legs on your net meat smoking experience.


The meat cuts mentioned earlier are not the only meats you can smoke. As we indicated earlier, any fatty meat cut is considered perfect for this cooking method. This is because; it will remain tender and juicy after the whole process is done. Some additional meat cuts under this category are pork Boston butt and beef tri-tips, among many others.

Above the traditional steak and sausages, you now have a variety of meat cuts to choose from. Above from the above-recommended meat cuts, you can leap of faith and try up on several other cuts.