The Best Meats to Smoke with Your Pellet Grill

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The best meats to smoke will give you the taste and tenderness that you want in your smoked BBQ.

Cooking an amazing barbecue is a time-honored tradition in the US. Grilling wonderful barbecue recipes with your pellet grill will not just give you the most delicious BBQ. It is also a great way to have an awesome picnic in the comfort of your backyard.

Fun and sun aside, there can be no doubt that cooking BBQ calls for a lot of hard work. All those hours of grilling will be vindicated only if you get delicious and succulent BBQ.

Knowing about the best cuts of meat to smoke is an important starting point of your grilling adventure. The better the cut, the better your meal will be.

The right cuts will give you barbecue that oozes delectable juices. Each tender morsel melts in your mouth to wash your taste buds with delightful flavors.

You will get the stark opposite with the wrong cuts of meat. There is no fun in having tough and bland leather on your plate after hours of toiling away at the grill.

Here are the details that you need on the best meats to smoke.

What Kind of Meat Is Best for Smoking?

The best cuts of meat for smoking are the fattier cuts like ribs and brisket. What holds for other cooking methods also holds for pellet grills.

But you can also get good results with tougher cuts of meat thanks to the versatile nature of pellet smoking.

Since smoking is a slow cooking technique that can take up to several hours, it is ideal for tenderizing tough cuts of meat in addition to the more tender ones.

Two factors determine how long a cut of meat will take for smoking. They are toughness and size.

Leaner cuts require less time for smoking. However, you should not content yourself by selecting the very leanest cuts. The reason for this is that the cut of meat requires a certain level of fat to make it through the long smoking process without drying up.

Bigger cuts of meat also require a higher fat content so that they do not dry up towards the end of the smoking process.

The advantage of smoking is that you can get great results even with tougher cuts of meat. These cuts have a high amount of connective tissue. Smoking these meats over a long period can break down this connective tissue to give you tender barbecue, even though you started with a tougher cut.

These cuts should also have a fair amount of fat attached to them so that they do not dry up completely when smoking is finished. This layer of fat will not only keep the meat moist, but it will also impart plenty of flavors to the smoked meat.

 Here are the best meats to smoke on the pellet grill.

Best Meats to Smoke with Your Pellet Grill


Most BBQ lovers agree that there is no other meat that tastes as good as pork. The reason for this is the high-fat content that is inherent in pork. This high level of fat is behind the great flavor and tenderness in pork.

When smoked correctly, cuts of pork will give your barbecue a tender texture and a delicious taste. As a result, pork is the best choice for many meat lovers as far as smoking is concerned. Although you can cook pork in many different styles, none can give the full range of subtle flavors as does the smoking method.

Another great advantage of pork is that it pairs well with all kinds of rubs, sauces, and condiments. These can complement the wonderful flavor of pork and give you the rich taste that you desire from your barbecue. For this reason, pork is good meat for marinating.

The good news is that pork is also easy for beginners. If you are a budding grill chef and have just started learning the fine art of smoking then you can’t go wrong with pork. Not only is it easy to work with, but it also gives you superb taste. Pork cuts are your best bet for learning how to smoke. Once you master this meat, you can move on to other types of meat for greater variety. The basic skills that you learn with smoking pork will serve you well for other more difficult types and cuts of meat.

Pork has a good degree of tolerance for grilling mistakes. Quite often, you can end up with delicious tasting smoked pork even if things did not go according to plan. This is another key reason why grilling enthusiasts should begin their grand epicurean adventure by familiarizing themselves with pork.

However, this should not serve as a pretext for the lax smoking technique. You can certainly get better results if you do everything right.

Pork ribs are a fabulous starting point. Not only are they easy to cook, but they are also extremely delicious. Their low price is another bonus that you will not want to miss. If you are smoking your very first meal, start with pork ribs and the right recipe for the finest tasting barbecue that you will be proud of.

Here are the different cuts of pork available in the market that you need to familiarize yourself with.

  • Picnic shoulder – ham hocks and small picnic hams
  • shoulder – sausages and ground pork
  • side – spare ribs and bacon
  • leg – hams and roasts
  • loin – pork chops, tenderloins, and rib roasts

Here are some of the best pork cuts for smoking.

Back Ribs

This is the favorite cut for pork lovers. Back ribs are also known as baby back ribs on account of their diminutive size. The back ribs are the most commonly purchased pork meat for several reasons as you will soon find out.

Back ribs have an incredible level of softness and tenderness. They are very juicy and moist when cooked correctly. Back ribs are bursting with wonderful flavors that can hardly be found in any other cut of meat. Things get even better when novice cooks learn that they are also very easy to smoke. These are some of the factors behind the immense popularity of back ribs.

In light of these numerous benefits, you should consider starting your smoking experience with back ribs as your first meal. Smoking this cut is very simple as you will soon discover.

Spare Ribs

These ribs are not as soft as the aforementioned baby back ribs. Consequently, smoking them is not as simple as back ribs. You will need a certain level of skill to get the very best out of this pork cut. Hence, it makes sense to master baby back ribs first before moving on to this cut of pork meat.

However, you will be amply rewarded for your efforts. Spare ribs have a deep flavor that barbecue lovers relish.

Pork Butt

This part comes off the shoulder blade. Since this cut has plentiful fat, the taste is beyond description and the texture is incredibly moist, juicy and succulent. Another major advantage is that you can debone this meat easily. This is a bonus since almost everyone prefers boneless meat for the smoked barbecue.

You can also select from other fine cuts of pork to flaunt your culinary expertise. There are several great items that you can make with other cuts of pork such as smoked ham and cured bacon.


Although beef is one of the very best meats when it comes to tantalizing taste, it is also more difficult to cook with since the smoking process is much longer with beef as compared to pork.

It can take hours to get that crispy dark crust and a juicy pink interior that barbecue aficionados admire. However, the taste and texture are worth the effort that you put in.

The reason why beef is harder to cook is that it has a high level of connective tissue and fat that must be broken down. You need to smoke for several hours to disintegrate the connective tissue and melt the fat before the beef is soft enough to be served. But the extra effort is warranted because you cannot enjoy the delightfully rich flavors of beef with any other meat.

You need to smoke beef at medium-low heat over several hours before serving it.

You need to acquaint yourself with several cuts of beef to understand the best cuts for smoking.

As a rough guide, you will enjoy better flavor and softer texture with the fattier cuts. So go for those cuts that have the highest fat content.


Although the taste is unmatched, beef brisket is not an easy cut to start with for beginners. The reason behind this is that brisket is quite tough and can take a long time to cook before it is tender enough.

You will need a fair level of culinary finesse and lots of patience to master this cut of meat. But once you master it, your hard work will pay off. Beef brisket is the favorite cut of BBQ fans and one of the most popular items on the menu of barbecue restaurants.

Barbecue chefs also like brisket for another reason. It is harder to smoke and therefore more challenging. But once you learn to smoke beef brisket, you will have an exquisite meal on the platter that won’t remain intact for long in the presence of barbecue lovers. You will be amazed at how quickly it vanishes as if by magic.

Beef Ribs

This cut is hard to smoke. However, the final barbecue is simply amazing. The delicious unique flavor and the soft texture of beef ribs are the factors behind the incredible popularity of Texas-style beef short ribs.

When cooked to perfection, you will have delectable beef ribs that few can resist. And just who would want to resist such delicacies?

But there are a few points to keep in mind. Beef ribs are not exactly small. Even the shortest ribs can have a substantial size and therefore take a longer time to smoke.

The smoking process can continue up to 10 hours since beef ribs are big and tough– they are full of connective tissue that needs to be broken down for acceptable softness. However, when the fat content of the brisket gradually melts down, you will have a very tender cut of smoked meat. The tenderness and juiciness of this meal are one of a kind.

If you feel that a single slab of beef ribs weighing several pounds is too big for you, you can cut it down into smaller sections using a sharp boning knife. Your butcher can also do the job for you if you do not have a boning knife.

Classic Steak

Few things in the world can match the delightful taste of good old fashioned steak. The classic barbecue items get even better when you smoke them on your pellet grill.

The crisp, dark, and smoky texture is a wonderful sight to behold as is the pink and tender interior. Steak sliced with a sharp knife reveals a cross-section of dark crust and a pink core that is nothing less than a work of art. It may take some time for you to reach this level of proficiency, but once you learn how, you can make smoked steaks that look as delicious as it tastes.

To get the tenderness and flavor just right, you must carefully follow the temperature to ensure that nothing less than the juiciest steak is served on your table.

When purchasing from your butcher, make sure that you select the cut that comes with the bone since this variety has a richer flavor as compared to the boneless type.

Once you begin to excel in the art of smoking the aforementioned beef cuts, you can go for other cuts as well to include more exquisite beef recipes in your repertoire. There are more exciting beef recipes waiting for you like corned beef and beef tenderloin.


It is amazing how poultry meat packs such ease of cooking and mouth-watering flavor into one superb package. As if this is not enough, poultry meat is also much cheaper compared to other kinds of meat.

There is a spectacular array of dishes that you can make with poultry. Since it has such a short cooking time and is so easy to smoke, poultry is one of the best choices for beginners.


Chicken is consumed by many people in the US on practically a daily basis. So you shouldn’t be surprised when you find out that the per capita consumption of chicken meat is well over a hundred pounds.

Fried chicken is a great tasting food category that not only tastes superb but is also very easy to make.

Since chicken is so delicate, you do not need to smoke it for several hours unlike pork and beef in particular. So chicken is an essential choice if you lack time for a long smoking session.

Here are some great cuts of chicken for some of the best and most convenient smoked recipes.

Smoked Chicken Wings

Americans are used to having their chicken wings fried. But you can also get some amazing chicken wings by smoking these cuts. You can use a wide array of sauces and rubs on your chicken wings. This cut of chicken meat becomes an excellent vehicle for rich exotic flavors.

In addition to tasting awesome, smoked chicken wings take only 90 minutes to prepare. Just make sure that you set a low heat level since these pieces are very small and delicate.

Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken

A whole chicken is usually more difficult to smoke since it is such a large piece. It also does not build up as much flavor as it is capable of. Also, the skin is not as crispy as it can be. If you are not careful enough, the interior may be left tough and chewy.

A practical way to resolve these shortcomings is to cut up your chicken into pieces small enough for rotisserie-style cooking. The chicken will have a delightfully crispy texture. The flavor will also be much richer and more intense since more of the surface is exposed to accommodate more sauces, rubs, and pellet smoke.

For the best smoky flavor that you will love, go for apple or cherry wood.

You can embark on your smoking adventure and enthrall your guests with the highest level of taste and tenderness by choosing the best meats to smoke for your pellet grill.

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