Greetings, fellow food lovers! If you’re anything like me, you have a soft spot for the rich, robust flavors only achieved through the slow and careful process of smoking meats. But have you ever wondered what meats are the best to smoke, and which ones might not lend themselves well to this cooking method? If so, you’re in the right place.

Today, we’ll explore some of the top meats for smoking, plus a few that might be best prepared using other cooking methods. But before we dive into the depths of deliciousness, let’s quickly review what smoking is all about.

Understanding the Art of Smoking Meats

In a nutshell, smoking is a process where meats are cooked at a low temperature over a long period of time. The smoke, usually from wood chips, infuses the meat with a depth of flavor that’s hard to replicate with other methods. It also tenderizes the meat, making it fall-off-the-bone good. Now, let’s uncover the best meats to smoke!

The Best Meats to Smoke

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket tops our list for the best meats to smoke. A favorite in traditional barbecue, this cut of meat is a smoking superstar thanks to its high fat content and connective tissue, which melt slowly during the smoking process, rendering the meat incredibly juicy and tender.

Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, is another excellent candidate for smoking. Like beef brisket, it has a high fat content and plenty of connective tissue that breaks down beautifully under low, slow heat. And, let’s not forget, it’s the key ingredient in succulent pulled pork.

Whole Chicken

Chicken might not have the same amount of fat as pork or beef, but a whole chicken smoked on a grill or smoker can yield some extraordinarily tasty results. The key is to brine it first to ensure it remains moist throughout the smoking process.


Both pork and beef ribs are excellent for smoking. They’re rich, flavorful, and have plenty of fat and connective tissue to keep them juicy during the long, slow cooking process.


That’s right! It’s not just about red meat and poultry. Fish, particularly salmon, is a popular choice for smoking. The natural oils in salmon keep it moist during the smoking process, and the smoke adds a fantastic flavor to the fish.

Meats to Avoid When Smoking

While most meats can be smoked, some don’t benefit as much from this process. Here are a few that might be best prepared using other methods.

Lean Cuts of Meat

Cuts of meat that are lean, like chicken breasts or pork tenderloin, aren’t ideal for smoking. They lack the necessary fat and connective tissue that break down and keep the meat moist during the lengthy smoking process.

Ground Meats

While you can certainly smoke ground meats, it’s not typically the best method for these types of meat. The consistency of ground meats makes them dry out quickly when smoked.

Delicate Fish

Delicate fish such as tilapia or cod may not hold up well under the long, slow smoking process. They have a tendency to dry out and can easily become overcooked.


Smoking meats is a time-honored tradition that brings out unique flavors and textures in a variety of meats. While the best meats to smoke are generally those with high fat content and connective tissue like beef brisket and pork shoulder, don’t be afraid to experiment with different cuts and types of meat. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the process, so light up that smoker and let the flavors fly! Just be mindful of lean cuts and delicate meats that might not stand up as well to this particular cooking method.

In the end, whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a smoking novice, the most important ingredient is your passion for good food. Happy smoking!