5 Best Cuts of Beef to Smoke and What Makes Them So Good

Best Cuts of Beef to Smoke

One of the best parts about smoking your own meat is choosing exactly what cuts and spices you can use to flavor the meat. With that said, if you’ve just gotten a smoker/grill combo, you may be wondering what type of meat to smoke first.

In our experience, we’ve found that beef is a great place to start. But finding out the exact cut of beef that you should place in your smoker is no easy task.

And to help you find out which cuts of beef would be the best fit for your first smoking experience, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list. We’ve researched the best options and some of the different ways you can smoke the meat to get the most out of the experience.

That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy before lighting up the smoker.


ribs on a wooden round Board

Beef ribs are the go-to choice for first-time pitmasters. They are relatively easy to source, aren’t that expensive, taste great, and open up a world of smoking opportunities. There are tons of different smoked beef ribs recipes available online, and it isn’t that hard for people to come up with their own unique recipes for their tastes.

Beef ribs come from the area between the flank steak and the brisket, which means it has a fairly high-fat content. There are various beef rib cuts available, so you can easily figure out which one fits your preferences the best.

Most pitmasters agree that beef ribs are one of the easiest beef cuts to smoke. Aside from the plethora of recipes available, this cut of meat cooks very nicely. And as long as you follow all the steps to properly smoking the meat, then you’ll have a very soft, tender, and juicy dish when all is said and done.

The best wood to smoke ribs with is oak, hickory, pecan, and cherry. You can choose just one of these woods or make a blend to create a unique flavor. Remember, you have all the control when smoking your own meat, which is one of the reasons beef ribs are a great place to start.

Read more:

1. How to Smoke Ribs on a Gas Grill

2. How Long to Smoke Ribs at 225


Roasted brisket

If you want to smoke your first cut of meat using a top-tier cut, then we recommend the beef brisket. This is because beef brisket hits all the criteria for a slice of good smoking meat. Beef brisket contains very tough muscle fibers and a fair amount of fat, which makes for a killer combination.

When you smoke meat, you cook it at a low temperature for a long time. This allows the fibers to fully break down, which is why beef brisket is known for its soft and juicy texture. With that said, while brisket does offer some of the best flavors when smoking meat, it isn’t an easy task.

We recommend taking extra care when smoking brisket because you have to get everything right to achieve the best flavors. But while it takes a lot of extra care and attention, smoked beef brisket has a signature taste and texture that makes it all worth it.

Beef brisket is great for feeding large groups. So, if you plan on firing up the smoker for a family reunion or a Sunday BBQ, this is a great option. Additionally, we recommend keeping the seasonings down with brisket, as the meat is already packed with flavors that you don’t want to overpower.

We recommend going for classic wood chips when smoking a beef brisket. So, you won’t go wrong if you opt for Hickory, Pecan, Cherry, Oak, and other similar woods when lighting up the smoker.

It takes between 5-6 hours for a brisket to cook fully, but don’t worry; it’s worth the wait.

Read more: Smoking Brisket At 225 vs 250

Top Sirloin

BBQ dinner with top sirloin beef steak

This is our recommendation for people looking to smoke beef on a budget. The top sirloin steak is flavorful, tender, juicy, and relatively inexpensive. This is great for beginners as it allows you to get the hang of smoking meat before moving on to more expensive cuts.

With that said, we only recommend smoking the top sirloin steaks. While other sirloin cuts could potentially work in the smoker, they aren’t as tender as the top sirloin. And if you’re really looking for great flavors and an unforgettable texture, you need to ensure that you’re smoking tender meat.

If you plan on smoking a top sirloin steak, we recommend a dry brining method. This allows you to make the steak extra tender as well as introduce a bunch of rich flavors that complement the beef.

However, keep in mind that top sirloin needs a bit more time to develop the appropriate flavors. So, you will need to leave it in the fridge dry brining for at least 24 hours to get the most out of the steak. This is a necessary part of the process that you can’t skip, especially if you’re looking to blow your guest’s minds with an unforgettable steak.

Chuck Roast

Chuck Beef Roast Ready to Cook

If you aren’t keen on smoking beef brisket, the chuck roast is your best alternative. It’s a similar size and offers similar flavors and textures, but most importantly: the chuck roast is more affordable. With that said, this cut is a bit smaller than the beef brisket, so you won’t have to wait as long for it to cook.

We consider the chuck roast a great “practice cut” for people looking to smoke beef. This is because it reacts similarly to brisket but isn’t as expensive, which gives you a bit more room for error. And if you smoke the chuck roast the same way you smoke a brisket, then you’ll have a much more tender cut.

Another method of cooking a chuck roast is pulled pork. This is because the chuck roast is a prime cut of meat if you want that type of texture. Both of these recipes will take some time, but it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with all the parts of the smoking process.

With that said, the chuck roast requires a pretty exact temperature before you pull it out. When cooking it, we recommend pulling it off the heat at an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best results, we suggest using a meat thermometer to get the exact temperature of the meat.

If you don’t already have a meat thermometer at home, we highly recommend investing in one. This will help you with just about any dish you cook.

Top Round

top round roast beef with carrot and mushed potato

We cap off our list with the top round. And while we saved it for last, it’s definitely a stand-out cut you may want to try. However, one thing to remember is that the top round isn’t an easy cut of steak to cook. In fact, this is quite literally a tough cut that takes a lot of time and preparation to cook.

Before putting this on the grill or in the smoker, you need to prep it. To do this, we recommend dry brining it similar to a sirloin steak. This will allow the meat to tenderize as much as possible, which will reduce the overall cooking time later on. As much as possible, you want to dry brine the steak for at least 24 hours in the fridge for the process to do its job.

The thing about the top round is that you need to eat it while it’s hot. If the meat cools down, then it might get tough, and the texture may not be as nice. So, if you’re serving this to a group, make sure not to get too much top round to prevent food waste.

But when prepared right, the top round produces incredible flavors and textures. So, if you’re looking for a challenge as a pitmaster, you might be ready to take on the top round yourself.


We mentioned 4 great cuts of beef for the smoker. You can choose any one of these options and come up with a great dish; your only limit is your creativity.

But keep in mind that these aren’t the only cuts available to you. We always recommend trying out a bunch of different cuts until you find the right one that fits your recipe and smoking style. So, if you want to try out a cut of beef that isn’t on this list, we highly suggest doing so! This list is for those having a hard time choosing a cut of beef. That way, they won’t have to beat around the bush and delay their smoking experience any further. All they have to do is choose any of the above beef cuts and get the smoker running!


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