Best Cuts of Beef to Smoke: Your One-stop Guide

Beef is one of the most delicate and delicious meats, which is why it’s ideal to barbecue, grill, or smoke. However, not all cuts are suitable for every cooking method. 

Some cuts are better suited to certain types of smoking. When smoking beef, you want to select the best cuts of meat possible to ensure flavorful and tender results. Here, I’m going to uncover the best cuts of beef to smoke.

Selecting the right cut of beef to smoke can be a daunting task, but with the information here, it can be a breeze.

So, let’s get started!

Best Cuts of Beef to Smoke – My Ideal Choices

Going by my cooking experience and general preference, the following are the best cuts of beef that I would recommend for smoking.

Beef Brisket

When it comes to smoking beef, the Brisket is king. The meat comes from the breast or lower chest of beef cattle or veal. This cut of beef is ideal for smoking because it has a robust flavor that pairs well with various wood types and smoke.

Brisket can be smoked at a low temperature for hours, which results in a melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you have a good cut, you won’t need a lot of seasoning as the Beef Brisket is already loaded with flavors.

If you’re looking for an incredible beef smoking experience, then look no further than the Brisket.

  • How to smoke: The Brisket is a cut of beef that’s perfect for smoking. It can be smoked at different temperatures, depending on the desired results. If you like tender and melt-in-your-mouth meat, then low and slow is the way to go. But, if you want a beef brisket that is more well done with crispy edges, then medium heat works best.
  • Cook time: 5 to 6 hours.
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205 °F.
  • Wood to pair with: Hickory, Oak, Chery, Pecan.
  • Sauce to serve with: Although the Brisket cut is full of flavors, you can take it with Texas BBQ sauce.

Chuck Roast

The chuck roast is yet another cut of beef that’s ideal for smoking. The meat is taken from the lower neck and upper shoulder. It is a small cut and cooks faster, and despite its size, it’s full of flavors. Chuck Roast is considered the best alternative for Brisket. 

You don’t need to use any special rubs or marinades when cooking this cut because the flavor will be perfect without them. The chuck roast can be smoked at a low or medium temperature and is best served in the rare to the medium-rare range.

This is an excellent choice for smoking if you’re looking for a more affordable cut of beef that still delivers incredible flavor.

  • How to smoke: The chuck roast is perfect for smoking at a low or medium temperature. If you like the meat rare to medium rare, cooking at a low temperature is suggested. For more well-done beef, smoking at a high temperature is best.
  • Cook time: 5 to 6 hours.
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205 °F.
  • Wood to pair with: Pecan, Hickory.
  • Sauce to serve with: It is best served with red wine sauce.

Beef Ribs / Short Ribs

Ribs are always a popular choice as they are among the easiest cuts to smoke. 

There are two types of ribs that you can smoke: beef ribs and short ribs. The ribs come from the loin, chuck plate, or brisket, so you can specify the butcher if you want chuck plate ribs or full plate short ribs. They are huge and need to be cut to smoke evenly, which suggests the term “short ribs.”

Both of these ribs are perfect for smoking and can be cooked at various temperatures to achieve the desired results.

  • How to smoke: You need to remove the membrane and excess fat to prepare it for smoking. You can use a rub or marinade if you like, but it won’t be necessary. Beef ribs and short ribs taste great when smoked at medium heat.
  • Cook time: 4 to 6 hours.
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205 °F.
  • Wood to pair with: Hickory, Oak, Cherry, Pecan.
  • Sauce to serve with: Ribs can be served with a rich Burgundy sauce.

Top Sirloin Steak

Sirloin steak comes from the hip of the steer, and you have the option of top sirloin or bottom sirloin. I’d suggest taking the top sirloin cut because it is comparatively more tender and is a good choice for smoking.

It’s a great pick for beginners because it’s hard to overcook and provides you with a fantastic beef smoking experience. Moreover, this beef cut is affordable and rich in flavor. 

Sirloin is lean meat, and leaving to marinate can help it stay juicy. So, If you’re looking for a smoked beef that’s full of flavors, then top sirloin steak is the one.

  • How to smoke: You can smoke this cut at a low or medium temperature, depending on your preferences. When smoking at low heat, the meat will be more tender and well done, but if you want a well-cooked cut, use high heat.
  • Cook time: Typically 1 hour per pound.
  • Smoking Temp: 225° F.
  • Target Internal Temperature: 205° F.
  • Wood to pair with: Mesquite, Hickory.
  • Sauce to serve with: Peppercorn sauce goes well with this beef cut.

Tri-Tip

This beef cut comes from the bottom sirloin. Tri-tip has a high degree of marbling, making it an incredible option for smoking. As the name suggests, this cut comes in a triangular shape and offers more chew with great flavors.

If you want to smoke tri-tip, I’d recommend you to remember the three-S formula: seasoning, smoking, and searing. The type of seasoning is a matter of preference; typically, a rub is used. Then you smoke it; the tri-tip is best when smoked at medium heat. Lastly, it should be seared to seal all the flavors.

If you’re looking for something that’s easy to smoke but delivers a lot of flavors, then the tri-tip roast is perfect for you.

  • How to smoke: Tri-tip should be smoked at medium heat for the best results. It can also be cooked at a low temperature if you want it to be more tender.
  • Cook time: 2 to 3 hours.
  • Smoking Temp: 225° F.
  • Target Internal Temperature: 135° F.
  • Wood to pair with: Cherry, Hickory, Pecan.
  • Sauce to serve with: BBQ sauce or Gorgonzola sauce are great options.

Top Round

This beef cut is taken from the cow’s rump and hind legs. Since it comes from a muscular area, this cut is tough, but when you smoke it using the best methods, it becomes tender and flavorful.

The preparation is similar to sirloin steak as you need to dry brine it before smoking. This will prevent the beef cut from drying in the smoking process. If you wish, you can also add spices and leave the beef cut in the fridge overnight.

If you’re looking for something incredibly delicious and simple to smoke, then the top-round roast is perfect for you.

  • How to smoke: The best way is by smoking it at a low or medium temperature. Also, it’s vital to wait for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it.
  • Cook time: 4 to 5 hours.
  • Smoking Temp: 225-250° F
  • Target Internal Temperature: 135° F.
  • Wood to pair with: Oak.

What Do You Need To Smoke Beef Perfectly?

Woods

First and foremost, we have wood. It is the most fundamental requirement in smoking and imparts the most flavor. Different woods have different tastes, so it’s essential to pair the correct wood with the cut of beef that you’re smoking. 

You can mix and match woods to create a unique flavor profile or use a single type of wood for a more subtle flavor.

It’s also vital that the wood is in good condition-dry, with no cracks or bugs. You can soak the wood in water before using it to prevent over-drying.

Preparation items

You can use the following things to enhance the flavors of the beef cut. Smokey beef is appetizing, but the following items can take it to the next level.

Rubs

A rub is a mixture of a few spices that is rubbed into the surface of the meat before smoking. It’s a great way to add flavor and can be as simple or complex as you want. There are many premade rubs available, and you can also make your own.

Marinades

Marinades are liquids that are used to soak the beef in before smoking. There are many different types of marinades, from simple salt and pepper to more complex flavors. You can also make your own marinade by using olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and many more.

Fresh Herbs

Finally, fresh herbs can add a little something extra to beef cuts and can be incorporated into rubs and marinades. This is the time when you get to experiment with flavors and create your unique rub or marinade. Some of my favorites are rosemary, thyme, parsley, and oregano. You can use various combinations of herbs that you like.

Some Tips to Enhance the Smoking Experience

Cooking is a practice where even the smallest mistake can make huge differences and turn things upside down. Here, I’ve mentioned some tips that will eradicate the possibilities of these mistakes.

Use a thermometer: A thermometer is a must-have to smoke the beef perfectly. You can use one built into your smoker or get a separate digital one. 

Smoke in batches: If you’re using a small smoker, then it’s recommended that you smoke the meat in batches. This allows for the optimal distribution of heat and can produce better results. 

Mind the temperature: As with most things, the temperature is vital when it comes to smoking beef cuts. If you’re cooking at too high a temperature, then the meat will get charred rather than smoke; if you’re cooking at too low a temperature, then the meat won’t smoke, and this might not produce the desired result.

Let it rest: After smoking the beef, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it. Leaving it will allow the juices to redistribute and result in a more tender piece of meat.

Conclusion

Smoking is a great way to cook beef cuts and results in a delicious, flavor-packed dish. In this article, I’ve outlined some of the best cuts of beef to smoke and have also included some tips on how to make your smoking experience even better.