The Best Meats to Smoke for Beginners

It can be a little intimidating for the average person to get started on smoking meat. Suddenly, you’re jumping into long-running debates about Texas crutches and spice rubs. Can’t somebody just tell us how to cook a good piece of meat? 

Relax! That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. These five cuts of meat are ideal for getting warmed up (no pun intended) in the world of smoking meat. Read on as we talk through the five best meats to smoke for beginners. 

a whole chicken being cooked on a grill

What Makes Meat Good for Smoking?

Smoking is a common way to cook meat with a high fat content. The best cuts for smoking tend to be thick cuts with lots of fat and connective tissue. Ribs, brisket and pork shoulder are a few of the classic examples.

The amount of connective tissue would make these cuts tough and chewy if cooked over high heat. Fortunately, our ancestors also figured out the secrets of using smoky, low-heat cooking to melt this tissue over a long time. When these tissues melt, they give smoked meats their moist and juicy texture. 

However, there are tons of different options for what to cook in a smoker. Smoking is just cooking with wood over a low and slow heat. Leaner meats like chicken will cook much faster than something like a brisket. That means novice pitmasters have a lot of different avenues to explore as they get their feet wet in the world of BBQ. Let’s dive in!

1. Pulled Pork (Boston Butt)

If you’re new to smoking, pulled pork is an ideal way to get started. In fact, the hardest part is making sure you buy the right cut. The cut of pork you need is known as pork butt or Boston butt, which is actually the shoulder of the pig. However, it’s technically not the same thing as pork shoulder

Once you get past the confusing names, a Boston butt is actually quite forgiving for novice pitmasters. Try our simple pulled pork recipe to get moist and tender shredded pork, and top it with a BBQ sauce of your choice. Don’t forget a set of meat claws for that perfect shredded texture! 

2. Chuck Roast

Craving some perfectly-smoked beef, but not quite ready to step up to smoking brisket? Try a chuck roast first! It’s a thinner cut that still packs plenty of fat and connective tissue for a tender and moist texture. 

For your first swing at chuck roast, why not take our classic pot roast recipe for a Sunday drive? It’s remarkably little work for such a rich and satisfying flavor. You barely even have to check on it! Serve with some baked potatoes or crusty bread for a meal to remember. 

Shred It Up with Stainless Steel Meat Claws

an aluminum tray full of pulled pork

3. Whole Chicken

Compared to mondo slabs of meat like a pork butt or brisket, a whole chicken will cook relatively quickly in a smoker. That makes it an ideal choice if you’re having guests over and need some delicious food in a few hours’ time.

Our smoked whole chicken recipe is a classic example of the style that’s also a snap to cook. It’s simple, it’s cheap and it goes amazingly well with a cold beer or glass of white wine. Use our Grilla Grills What Da Cluck rub to really make it pop with zesty flavors. 

4. Whole Turkey

Thanksgiving will never be the same once you’ve shown your guests the joy of smoked turkey! Like chicken, turkey cooks relatively quickly on a smoker and takes on a scrumptious bouquet of flavors in the process. 

Try Grilla Grills’ chipotle style smoked whole turkey recipe for an unforgettable twist on the classic bird. The taste of ancho chiles and chipotle takes the smoke flavor to the next level. Just be ready for people to insist that you cook the turkey every Thanksgiving from now on!

5. Ribs

For beginning pitmasters, ribs are like that intimidating-looking person who actually turns out to be nice and easy-going. They have a reputation for being challenging, but with our No Wrap Ribs recipe, you’ll see how easy it can actually be!

The secret is the consistent heat of our pellet smokers, which helps you keep the perfect temperature on your ribs the whole time. With a little help from our Grilla All Purpose Rub, you can astonish your pitmaster friends when your first rack of ribs turns out succulent and juicy. 

Meet the Beefiest Pellet Smokers Around

two racks of bbq ribs cooking on a grill

When you’re ready to expand your repertoire, be sure to check out our full library of pellet grill recipes. We’ve got years’ worth of smoky, savory wisdom ready to come to life on your Grilla grill!

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