4 Best Meats to Smoke in a Pellet Smoker

sliced meat beside silver knife

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You finally bought the 8-in-1 wood pellet smoker you’ve been dreaming about to replace your old barbecue, now you just have to decide which are the best meats to smoke in your new pellet smoker.  The good news is you can smoke any type of meat and fish in an 8-in-1 smoker.

An 8-in-1 smoker doesn’t just smoke meats.  You can barbecue, grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, and char-grill meats and other dishes with healthy wood pellets. As a matter of fact, you can cook an entire meal in an 8-in-1 smoker, including dessert.

While a barbecue and oven cook meats at medium to high heat in minutes, a smoker cooks meats at low temperature for several hours.  You have better temperature control with a pellet smoker.  Once you set the desired temperature, the smoker’s internal thermometer maintains the temperature for the entire cooking process.

For this reason, the best meats to smoke are the cheaper cuts of meat that have more fat, marble and would be tougher and chewier if cooked in the oven or grill.  Avoid cooking expensive and lean cuts of meat on a smoker.  Due to the length of time on the smoker, the meat will come out dry and tough.  As Alton Brown would say, that isn’t good eats.

On the other hand, if you have an 8-in-1 pellet smoker, you can also grill or barbecue leaner cuts of meat at 375.°  When you cook meats at higher temperature, the wood pellets act as the fuel, similar to a barbecue.  The only difference is the quicker cooking time doesn’t allow the flavor from the wood pellets to fully infuse into the meat.

 

1. Smoked Chicken

smoking a chicken on a pellet grill

One of the easiest meats to smoke when you’re new to using a pellet smoker is chicken.  You can smoke a whole chicken or cut it up and smoke the pieces.  If you coat the chicken in olive oil, the skin will be rendered golden brown.  This will give the chicken darker brown color.  You can also use dry rub to add flavor to the meat.

You can use a dry rub, such as a barbecue flavor rub or a lemon pepper rub, which will enhance the flavor of the meat and skin.

You smoke chicken at 250° F for 5 hours.  You can use several different types of smoking pellets, such as oak, hickory, mesquite, and apple.  The smoke will infuse into the meat to give the chicken a delicious smoked flavor.

The chicken will be fully cooked when the internal temperature is 165° F.

To crisp the skin,  you can turn the heat up to the highest setting for about 10 minutes.

 

2. Smoked Turkey

smoking a turkey

Smoking a turkey is similar to smoking a turkey.  The only difference is it will take a bit longer to smoke a turkey.

You can use a dry rub, such as a barbecue flavor rub or a lemon pepper rub, which will enhance the flavor and color of the meat and skin.

You smoke chicken at 250° F for 6-7  hours.  You can use several different types of smoking pellets, such as oak, hickory, mesquite, and apple.

The smoke will infuse into the meat to give the chicken a delicious smoked flavor.

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the bird to monitor the cooking process.

The turkey will be fully cooked when the internal temperature is 165° F.

 

3. Smoked Fish

smoking salmon on a pellet grillSmoking fish, such as salmon, in a pellet smoker is a great way to enjoy this hearty fish.

Set the cooking temperature of the smoker to 250° F.  The perfect internal temperature to smoke fish in a pellet smoker is 150° to 160° F.

It is recommended for grill masters to use an aluminum grilling sheet on the smoker grate to prevent the fish from sticking.

Periodically check the temperature with a digital thermometer to maintain the ideal internal temperature.

Many digital cooking thermometers have a setting for different types of meat.  Make sure to use the fish setting, as the desired temperature is already pre-programmed in.

This will prevent you from overcooking the fish.

You can use several types of wood pellets to smoke fish in a pellet smoker, such as oak, apple, hickory, cherry and mesquite.

 

4. Smoked Brisket

smoked beef brisket

Beef Brisket is one of the best cuts of meat to cook in a pellet smoker.  Since brisket comes from the front chest portion of the cow, it is a rather tough cut of meat.

This lends itself perfectly to the low and slow method of smoking in a pellet smoker, which takes several hours to make the tender, juicy and easy to eat.

Unlike other tough pieces of meat such as chuck roast, which are often quite inexpensive, the brisket is an expensive cut of meat.

You’ll want to make a simple dry rub to put on your brisket.  Make sure the meat is well coated with the rub.

Brisket Rub:

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Cook smoke your brisket, set the temperature to 225 °F.   Place the brisket on the smoker, fat side down.  Insert your digital meat thermometer into the meat, and set it to brisket.  Cook the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 °F, which will probably take about 3 to 4 hours.

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5. Smoked Tri-Tip

smoked beef Tri-Tip

Another one of the best meats to smoke in a pellet smoker is beef tri-tip.

Heat the grill to 225 °F.  Cook the Tri-Tip for 60-90 minutes or until it reaches an internal temp of 125 °F in the deepest part of the Tri-Tip.

Here is where having an 8-in-1 pellet smoker comes in handy.  Remove the tri-tip from the grill once it reached an internal temperature of 125° F, and crank your grill thermostat up to the highest setting, which is usually between 375° and 450° depending on your specific smpker.

Sear the Tri-Tip on each side for 5 minutes, then let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes.

 

6. Smoked Pork Shoulder

pork roast on brown wooden chopping board

Set your wood pellet smoker for 225 °F.  Once your smoker get up to temperature, place the pork roast on the smoker grates fat side up.   This will help the juices baste the meat while cooking.

Smoke the pork  roast for about 60 to 90 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 195-205 degrees.

Depending on the size of your pork roast, it should take about 5 hours to smoke a pork roast.  Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the roast to monitor the cooking process.

The best smoking pellet flavors to use when smoking pork roast are:  Apple, cherry, hickory, peach, and mesquite.

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Use a Digital Thermometer

use a digital meat thermometer when smoking meats

Use a digital meat thermometer  to monitor temperature of the meat during the smoking process.

It is important to use a meat thermometer when smoking meats.  when you buy a Zgills Wood Pellet Smoker, you get a digital meat thermometer with a cell phone app for free.

You want to ensure your meat is cooking thoroughly to the right temperature.  This will cook out any bacteria.

Several digital thermometers include an app you can install on your cell phone to track your thermometer.

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