Once you’ve been a Texas BBQer for a few years (or less for those who are more ambitious!), it’s time to shift your energy to smoking meat. How else can you level up from a BBQ lover to an authentic Texas BBQ pitmaster? If you're new to this realm, don't worry. We've got you covered! Below you'll find a guide featuring everything from the tools needed to the best meats for smoking.
What You Need to Smoke Meat
As this is a beginner’s guide, the first step is identifying the tools you’ll need to purchase to prep for smoking meat. Let’s dive right in so you can get smoking even faster.
Starting off, you’ll need a smoker (of course). But what kind of a smoker? There are a few varieties that you can choose from, with the most popular being gas smokers and pellet smokers. Stick burners, charcoal smokers, kettle grills, and electric smokers are also available.
Gas smokers work similarly to a gas grill, where a source of gas (typically propane) is used as a fuel source. You will need to add wood chips to flavor the meat when using this type of smoker as gas does not produce smoke.
Another excellent option is a pellet smoker. They're pretty hands-off, which makes these smokers a superb choice for those newer to smoking meat. These smokers plug into an outlet and then automatically feed wood pellets in to keep the temperature maintained.
Regardless of which type of smoker you choose, it's essential to remember that they will need to maintain their temperature for a few hours to properly smoke meat. Opt for a smoker that fits your needs, as some are more involved than others when monitoring and adjusting the temperature.
As noted above, maintaining the same temperature while using a smoker is necessary. To accomplish this, you’ll need a thermometer. While it can be tempting to purchase a cheap thermometer – keep in mind the temperature reading may be off, or they may break easily.
Our top pick? We love using a Bluetooth thermometer. You can keep an eye on your meats while at the same time prepping the other food as this thermometer connects directly to your phone for monitoring.
Some smokers will require wood chips either alone or in combination with a fuel source. Wood chips are frequently used due to their availability. Head to your local grocery store, and you'll be able to find at least one brand easily – especially in the summertime.
Besides being accessible, wood chips are easy to use. Since they’re smaller, you can throw a handful or two in at a time whenever needed. If you’re feeling like a real pro, you can use flavored pellets. While there are multiple flavors you can opt for; some popular ones include hickory, cherry, and oak. Using these will offer a flavor boost to any meats you put in your smoker.
When choosing meats to add to your smoker, pick meats that have a good amount of fat on them. Smokers cook meat at a low temperature for a few hours. If you choose something like boneless skinless chicken breast, you'll be left with dried-out meat that is unappetizing and unappealing.
Rubs, Sauces, Seasonings
The key to perfectly smoked meat? The seasoning you add to the meat before and during the cooking process. This step can be anything from rubs to sauces and everything in between. Yes, you will be adding flavor during the smoking process. However, you'll still want to add other spices to keep it fun, tasty, and your meat moist.
Here Are a Few of Our Favorites:
- Dickey’s Salted Coffee Rub (excellent for smoked pork ribs)
- Homemade rub (use the spices that call to you!)
- Dickey’s Original BBQ Sauce (pairs well with any meat)
Best Cuts of Meat for Smoking
Here's the fun part – choosing meats for smoking. So, which cuts are best? Our top choices are brisket, pork shoulder (for pulled pork), pork chops, and ribs. You can also give our St. Louis Ribs a try in your new smoker.
Beef brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs are three cuts that offer sufficient fat to keep them juicy and tender when done. Feel free to get creative with other meats that have a higher fat content, like pork belly. If you aim for fattier meats, you can't go wrong!
Don't want to purchase your meat, spices, and sides separately? Try our Grill Master Meat Delivery Box. You’ll find multiple cuts of meat, seasoning, sauces, and even baked beans. It’s the perfect present for a fellow smoker lover or to treat yourself!
Which meats are best for low and slow cooking?
We'll start our low and slow cooking options with brisket because it's a top-tier BBQing/smoking meat. Expect your brisket to take about three hours to cook. This leaves you with the best pull-apart pieces of smoked meat you can find. It's no wonder Texans are known for their brisket (seriously, search Texas BBQ on Britannica!).
Here are a few more meats we love to throw into the smoker.
- Beef ribs or pork ribs
- Pork belly
- Lamb shoulder
- Whole chicken
- Pork butt
- Chuck roast
What are the benefits of slow cooking and low heat cooking?
This method is not a cure-all for any meat that you want to smoke. It’s typically used for meats that are considered chewier and more challenging to consume when cooked via other methods. This could be any cut from roasts to spare ribs. Think of meats you usually add to an instant pot, pressure cooker, or crockpot on low, and you'll have your answer.
The other main reason to use low and slow smoking is to infuse a smoky taste into any meat. Again, this adds a more complex flavor than typical grilling will.
So, in short, you want to slow cook in the smoker to:
- Tenderize meat
- Add smokiness
Let’s Get Smokin’
Now that you know all the tools needed and the type of meat to use, it’s time to get smokin’. Check out the inventory on Barbecue at Home, grab your favorite cut of meat and smoke up some authentic Texas BBQ. You'll be having friends and family begging for your cooking in no time!