As time has passed, we have moved from smoking meat for preservation to smoking it for great texture and taste. In fact, smoking meat is one of the best ways of turning even the worst cuts of meat into a scrumptious meal.

Knowing how long you will need to smoke your meat is one of the most important BBQ lessons. Having the best cut of meat is not enough. You can have an inexpensive cut of meat and still do it justice.

So, whether you are a newbie in the BBQ game, you want to take your smoking skills to the next level, or you have been looking at the best meats to smoke on your pellet grill and don’t know where to start, you are in the right place.

Smoking Must-Haves

Before you start your BBQ adventure, you will need:

● To choose a type and cut of meat. Tougher cuts of meat with a lot of fat and collagen require longer to cook. That is why smoking is the best option for these types of meat. The smoke allows the fat and collagen to slowly break down, creating a melt-in-your-mouth phenomenon.

● A BBQ smoker. Pitmasters will tell you that choosing the right BBQ smoker is important. There are different types of smokers, each serving a different purpose. You can go with a gas smoker, charcoal grill, offset smoker, or pellet grill. If you are new to BBQ, the pellet grill is the best option. It is automated and perfect for anyone uninterested in the science of smoking meat.

● Fuel. The fuel you use depends on the type of smoker you have and the flavor you want to achieve.

● Thermometer. A thermometer will help you know how to regulate the temperature as you BBQ. Ideally, you should have two thermometers- one to regulate the temperature of the smoker and another for the meat.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke?

Smoking your meat requires a lot of patience because you need to give your meat time for the smoke to penetrate. This is where all the great taste comes from. Also, different cuts of meat require different temperatures and smoking times.

To make the juiciest BBQ, pay attention to both time and temperature. The temperature you use to smoke your meat will determine how long the meat will cook. In addition, larger cuts of meat take longer to cook than smaller ones. So, this is something you will have to take into consideration.

That being said, let us look at how long it takes to smoke popular types of meat.


Beef is always a great option for BBQ. However, it takes longer to cook than pork and other types of meat because it takes longer to break down. Even so, your patience will be rewarded greatly if smoked right.

● Beef ribs. When perfectly cooked, beef ribs are always a winner in a BBQ. Nevertheless, they take quite some time to cook as they are usually packed with meat. The best ribs to smoke for a large group of people are prime ribs. Ribs can take you up to 12 hours to smoke to perfection, depending on their size.

● Beef Brisket. This is undoubtedly the most challenging cut to BBQ. This is because it is quite tough and takes skill and extra patience to cook it till it is tender enough. A brisket will take 10 to 12 hours to smoke at 225°F.

● Steak. Nothing tastes better than a well-cooked steak. To smoke this cut of meat, fire up your smoker for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 225°F.


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Smoking chicken is easy to do, especially if you control the fire. It also takes a short time, and you can quickly whip up a smoked chicken recipe. Like other types of meat, the smoking duration depends on the chicken parts.

● Chicken wings. Even though chicken wings are usually grilled or fried, you can get an amazing flavor when you smoke them. Smoking chicken wings takes 2 to 2.5 hours at a temperature between 225-250°F.

● Drumsticks. Drumsticks are great for beginners. This is because they can still remain moist even after cooking for a long time. Once you apply your rub, it will take you 2 hours at 250 °F for your drumstick to be perfectly cooked.

● Chicken thighs. Like other cuts of chicken, thighs are easy to prepare and cook. You will also need to bring it to ensure it stays moist. Thighs usually take 1.5 to 2 hours at 225 °F to smoke properly.

● Whole chicken. This one can be a bit tricky. It takes between 2.5-3 hours to cook at 250 °F. However, to avoid it from drying, you can brine the chicken.


Pork is a great option for BBQ. It is one of the best options for beginners because it is forgiving. You could have a flavorful dish even if the BBQ did not go so well. Furthermore, there is also a wide variety of cuts to choose from, such as:

● Pork ribs. To perfectly smoke pork ribs, BBQ experts recommend following the 3-2-1 rule– 3 hours of smoking the meat, 2 hours of cooking it in foil, and 1 hour of saucing. However, this depends on the type of pork ribs you choose:

● Baby back ribs. These ribs are ideal because they are soft and therefore take a short time to smoke when compared to other ribs. They take 5 to 5.5 hours to BBQ. Moreover, they are also a crowd pleaser because they are meatier than other ribs.

● Spare ribs. These are the most popular ribs in BBQ competitions as they are packed with fat and flavor. Trim the ribs and smoke them for 6 hours at 225°F.

● Pork Butt. This is a cut from the shoulder blade that is very succulent. It can also be deboned, making it perfect for those who don’t like bones. This cut takes 8 hours at 225°F.

● Ham. Ham is best brined first before smoked. Allow the ham to cure for seven days to maximize flavor before smoking it for 4 to 5 hours at 250°F.


Lamb is one of the finest meats to smoke as it takes its gamey taste to another level. You can start with lamb shoulder and smoke it for 5 hours at 250°F.


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With Thanksgiving around the corner, you can learn how to smoke turkey and wow your guests. You can inject your turkey with chicken stock and butter to ensure it stays moist. You will also start with a low temperature and pump it up as you finish cooking. Turkey legs will take you 4 to 5 hours, while a whole turkey can take up to 12 hours at 250°F, depending on its size.


This fish is one of the most popular smoked fish. You can choose to smoke the salmon with its skin on to keep it intact. Salmon will take you 3 hours to smoke at 175°F.

Now that you know how long it takes to smoke different meats, you can go ahead, take out your BBQ equipment and prepare for a showdown.


Jenny has always been interested in food and cooking. She grew up in a family where meals were made from scratch and food was always celebrated. After college, Jenny began working in restaurants and catering. She soon realized that she wanted to help people cook at home more often. In 2016, Jenny started Nourish as a way to share her love of simple and nourishing food. Jenny's recipes are all inspired by her own experiences with food allergies and sensitivities. She knows how hard it can be to find recipes that are both delicious and safe to eat, so she creates recipes that everyone can enjoy. If you're looking for recipes that are easy to make and good for you, then you've come to the right place! Jenny's recipes are all tested and proven to be both delicious and nutritious.