How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader’s Guide

Looking to perfect the art of smoking meat? You’re in for a treat because with this infographic, you’re halfway there!

Master Smoking Meat With This Ultimate Guide

Since we got into homesteading, one of my husband’s favorite pastimes is smoking meat. For him, nothing compares to the amazing flavor and aroma of well-smoked food. While smoking requires a degree of skill and knowledge, it’s absolutely doable. So let this amazing infographic from Life Hacker be your guide to smoking meat.

How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via lifehacker

Cooking With Smoke

How To Smoke On A Gas Or Charcoal Grill

How Does It Work?

As wood smolders, smoke particles adhere to the food, leaving behind some flavor. Because every type of wood has a unique flavor, and burns differently, smoking is a hugely versatile cooking method.

How Is Smoking Different From Barbecuing Or Grilling?

Smoking

Smoking | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideSmoking | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via commons.wikimedia
  • 52° – 140°F
  • 1 hour to 2 weeks

Barbecuing

Barbecuing | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideBarbecuing | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via winterbluemusic
  • 200° to 300°
  • Several hours

Grilling

Grilling | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideGrilling | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via healtheconnect.bannerhealth
  • 500°F
  • Under an hour

How To Smoke On A Charcoal Grill

How To Smoke On A Charcoal Grill | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideHow To Smoke On A Charcoal Grill | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via HowToBBQRight Malcom Reed

Tip: When using a rub or a brine, give meat at least six hours to marinate before you start cooking.

  • Set an aluminum pan on one side of the char grill and fill it with liquid – it can be anything from water to beer or even apple juice.
  • Next to the pan, lay lit coals with a piece of wood on top of the coals.

Tip: Use natural hardwood charcoal, and do not use lighter fluid to start the charcoal, as it will give the meat a chemical flavor. Use a chimney starter instead.

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  • Set the cooking grill in its place and add your choice of meat.
  • Lastly, close the lid and adjust the top vent to be about a quarter open.

How To Smoke On a Gas Grill

How To Smoke On a Gas Grill | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideHow To Smoke On a Gas Grill | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via cooking.stackexchange
  • Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Before placing the wood chips, drain the excess water. Drop the soaked wood chips in the smoker box.

Tip: Whether smoking on gas or charcoal, open the cooker’s lid as infrequently as possible. Doing so adds oxygen to the wood, increasing the temperature while releasing smoke.

  • Close the smoker box and grill lid and wait for it to begin smoking.
  • Once the grill is ready, adjust the flame to be on low/medium heat. Then, set meat over the unlit burners and close the lid.

Tip: If your grill doesn’t come equipped with a smoker box, you can make one by using an aluminum pan and covering it with foil. Before placing your smoker box on the grill, poke holes in the foil for ventilation.

Choosing The Right Wood

Oak

 Oak | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide Oak | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via acordofwood
  • Flavor: Medium-heavy
  • Burn: Hot and slow
  • Color: Dark mahogany
  • Common food pairings: Beef (Ribs/brisket/sausage); Lamb

Hickory

Hickory | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideHickory | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via hickorybbq
  • Flavor: Sweet and strong. Similar to bacon.
  • Burn: Hot and slow
  • Color: Dark mahogany
  • Common food pairings: Pork (Ribs/butt/sausage); Beef (Ribs/brisket/sausage); Lamb

Maple

Maple | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideMaple | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via hearth
  • Flavor: Sweet and light
  • Burn: Hot and slow
  • Color: Darkens meat
  • Common food pairings:Beef (Ribs/brisket/sausage); Lamb; Poultry (Chicken/turkey/game birds)

Pecan

Pecan | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuidePecan | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via us.letgo
  • Flavor: Fruity and sweet
  • Burn: Slow and cool
  • Color: Golden brown
  • Common food pairings:Pork (Ribs/butt/sausage); Beef (Ribs/brisket/sausage)

Tip: The sweetness of pecan can be overpowering. For a more balanced sweetness, mix it with a heavier wood.

Mesquite

Mesquite | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideMesquite | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via mesquitewoodproducts
  • Flavor: Very strong
  • Burn: Hot and fast
  • Color: Red/pink-ish
  • Common food pairings: Beef (Ribs/brisket/sausage); Lamb

Cherry

Cherry | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideCherry | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via gumtree
  • Flavor: Light, fruity and sweet
  • Burn: Hot and slow
  • Color: Mahogany
  • Common food pairings: Poultry (Chicken/turkey/game birds); Ham; Salmon (And other rich fish)

Apple

Apple | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideApple | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via doeorchards
  • Flavor: Light, fruity and sweet
  • Burn: Hot and slow
  • Color: Red/pink-ish
  • Common food pairings: Pork (Ribs/butt/sausage); Poultry (Chicken/turkey/game birds)

Tip: Apple and cherry wood have similar flavor profiles to peach and alder, however alder burns cooler.

Choosing The Right Meat

Good Cuts

Tip: Purchase meat with the bone in. The bone absorbs heat and distributes it into the meat, leading to more even cooking.

Pork: Ribs, Boston Butt

Pork: Ribs, Boston Butt | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuidePork: Ribs, Boston Butt | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via KC Campbell

Sausage (Pork or beef)

Sausage (Pork or beef) | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideSausage (Pork or beef) | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via oldvirginiahamshop

Beef: Ribs, brisket

Beef: Ribs, brisket | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideBeef: Ribs, brisket | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via luckydogbbq

Salmon

Salmon | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideSalmon | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via smoking-meat

Bad Cuts

Tip: Avoid lean cuts of meat, as the lack of fat and connective tissue can cause the meat to dry out during the slow cooking process.

Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuidePork Tenderloin | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via eatlikenoone

Chicken Breast

Chicken Breast | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideChicken Breast | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via tomhixson

Beef Steaks

Beef Steaks | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideBeef Steaks | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via chadwicksbutchers

Tilapia

Tilapia | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's GuideTilapia | How to Master Smoking Meat | Homesteader's Guide
image via thehealthyfish

Wasn’t that so simple? That’s all I have for now, my fellow homesteaders! Bear in mind that when there’s smoke, there isn’t fire, but incredible flavor!! Use these helpful guidelines and enjoy smoking meat for your friends and family!

Will you give smoking meat a try this spring? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t have a smoker yet? Build one using a pallet! Check out how to build a homemade pallet smoker here!

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