Before you start smoking, you need to choose what exactly you’re going to smoke.
Most of us usually only know few types of meat and stick to them. You need to know, though, that there are many interesting meats that are also great for smoking. Of course each type has a different difficulty level, which is why not all of them are good for beginners.
Meat is characterized not only by its flavor but also its price, which is also a very essential and deciding factor to many people. An advantage of cheaper meat is the ability to test many different recipes or experiment by yourself in order to discover interesting flavors.
Meat smoking is a slightly difficult topic for beginners. Depending on the meat, this process takes about 30 minutes up to more than a dozen hours. It requires the right preparations, equipment and most of all patience. Maintaining the right conditions for proper meat smoking is not always so easy ( smoke and temperature ).
If you have problems with that then I recommend starting with less demanding and cheap type of meat that is chicken, and then some time later trying something like pork ribs.
The Best Meats to Smoke
You’re looking for the answer to the question of what is the best type of meat for meat smoking? There is no clear answer to that, which is why I have created a list where you will find not only the most popular types of meat but also the more obscure types so that you can discover something new.
Pork ribs – Perfectly known to everyone, pork ribs are mainly characterized by their affordable price and availability at any meat store. On top of that, they’re not hard to prepare and are forgiving towards many of beginners’ mistakes. There are many different ways to prepare them thanks to a large base of recipes available online. Slow rib smoking makes them tender, with a very eye-pleasing bark, and the meat is easy to pull from the ribs, plus it melts in your mouth.
Pork shoulder – Due to the very good fat to lean meat ratio, pork shoulder is very recommended for slow smoking. It is also not difficult to get a good piece of meat at most stores, another upside is the affordable price. The result of smoking a pork shoulder is meat of intense flavor that becomes tender and juicy.
Ribs – It might seem that ribs are ribs and there’s no difference between beef and pork ones. In reality, however, they’re different, mostly in flavor and the fact that beef ribs smoked with the same technique as pork ones will be a little less tender. Sadly, they cost more than the pork ones, but are still much cheaper than most steaks. It is no secret that ribs are a very popular type of meat for smoking, which is why they can be found at any store and are easy to prepare, with so many recipes available.
Brisket – A great piece of meat for smoking, the thick layer of fat is great at absorbing smoke. That way an impressive smoke ring is created, as well as delicious shell ( bark ), and the meat inside remains juicy. The structure of this meat is pretty much perfect for slow smoking which is why it always ranks high in BBQ rankings.
Whole turkey – The obligatory element of any thanksgiving is a simple dish that most beginners can easily handle. The only thing to remember is that it has to be smoked at the right temperature and over an adequate period of time so that the meat doesn’t get dry. There is a whole lot of interesting recipes that allow to easily and quickly prepare it in many ways.
Whole chicken – You can easily get a fresh one at any store, it is much cheaper than most meats I describe in this guide. When properly prepared, it is very tasty, it’s great for smoking. It doesn’t require much time or attention, and the multitude of different recipes available online allows to prepare interesting dishes without spending much time or money.
Chicken wings - Very cheap and great for quick smoking or grilling on a gas grill. They don’t require pretty much any advanced knowledge or experience. Everyone can easily handle preparing wings, they are perfect for a quick meal. Another advantage is of course the low price, so if your wings don’t turn out well, there is nothing to despair over. Wings are not beef sternum, which is expensive and takes many hours to smoke as well as perfect conditions.
Salmon – Of course the possibilities of smoking fish are much broader than just salmon, you can pick different other types of fish, but right now I’ll focus mainly on salmon. The whole smoking process is not complicated, it’s actually easy, although it requires adequately low temperature, which is not easy if you don’t have the right smoker. Salmon makes an interesting alternative to regular meat that is worth trying out.
Meat smoking is for everyone, but for beginners I recommend starting with much easier types. The best meat to start with in terms of budget as well as the least time-consuming is chicken.
If this is your first interaction with smoking and smokers, the best way to get familiar with the equipment, temperature control etc. will be chicken smoking. I recommend starting with wings, which are very easy to prepare, barely take any time and cost a little.
Then if you feel more confident, you can try smoking a whole chicken, and once you believe you have gained the adequate experience, you can choose whatever meat you want out of my list and enjoy its flavor.