Which Cuts of Beef are the Best to Smoke?

Summer cook outs will soon give way to football season smoking! Gearing up for a cooler season and the holidays? Need a solid meal that can easily feed a group or just something nice for yourself?

Smokers can make some of the best dishes. It’s easy to maintain throughout the cooking period, and there are several different spices and sauces to try out. The possibilities are limitless!

Certain cuts are well-suited for the process due to their marbling, fat content, and overall tenderness. If you’re looking for the best of the best, start with these cuts.

Photo: Luis Santoyo


A classic! Brisket comes from the breast section of the cow and has abundant connective tissue that breaks down during the long smoking process, resulting in a tender and flavorful piece of meat.

Photo: James Kern

Short Ribs

Beef short ribs also have a good amount of fat and connective tissue, making them perfect for low and slow cooking. The result is succulent, fall-off-the-bone meat.

Photo: Jose Ignacio Pompe

Chuck Roast

This cut comes from the shoulder area and is known for its rich beefy flavor. When smoked, chuck roast becomes tender and delicious, making it an affordable alternative to brisket.


Tri-tip is a triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin and cooked at a lower temperature, can create a juicy and smoky result. This can be a harder cut to find so you may only be able to purchase from your local butcher.

Photo: Luis Santoyo

Beef Ribs

Beef back ribs or plate ribs are fantastic for smoking. They are meatier than pork ribs and have a delicious flavor when smoked slowly. Season them up! So good you don’t even need sauce.

Photo: Paras Kapoor


Ribeye is known for its exceptional marbling and tenderness. While it’s more commonly grilled or pan-seared, smoking ribeye can add a unique smoky dimension to this flavorful cut. Once smoked, sear on a cast iron with some rosemary.

Tenderloins and Filets

A smaller cut but ridiculously tender. This is perfect for a dinner of 1 or 2. Serve on top of a salad or with a stacked, loaded potato.

So, have we talked you into getting into smoking yet? Is your mouth watering like ours?

Remember, smoking is a slow and patient cooking method. It requires a lot of planning ahead because cook times can entail many hours.

Don’t be discouraged if your first meal doesn’t come out quite right! Eventually you will create your own method of cooking and ways of identifying the perfect cook temp.

And don’t forget:

  • The right seasoning and wood choice can greatly enhance the flavor.
  • Don’t be shy with seasoning and herbs.
  • It matters how you cut the meat once cooked.
  • It’s even more important to let it sit post smoking.
  • Support your local butcher!
  • And lastly, have some good tools to cut with to make cooking these hardy cuts easier and some tough butcher paper to wrap it with!

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