Getting started with smoking meat can be daunting. This guide to smoking meat for beginners shares the tips and techniques I have learnt during my journey from beginner and from my years of working in the meat industry.

Smoking Meat For Beginners

When it comes to getting started with smoking meat, the key is to just get in there and give it a go.

Your first attempt might not be perfect, but no two smoking sessions are ever exactly the same and you will always be learning, no matter how far into your journey.

tray with prepared meat and a bullet smoker in the background

Best Smoker For Beginners

There are a lot of great options for smokers to suit all budgets. While I could recommend a specific one right now, I myself haven’t used every type of smoker available.

I also know that you can still create some decent smoked dishes with a basic smoker!

Start where you’re at. If that means you’re grabbing a cheap smoker from Facebook Marketplace or Bunnings, that’s okay. You can always upgrade later.

Preferred Smoking Woods & Technique 

There are a lot of options for smoking wood and each will have its own subtle to more noticeable flavour profiles.

Here are some tips to help you familiarise yourself with some of the more commonly used smoking woods;

  • Fruitwoods: Apple, Cherry, Mango, Pear, peach  
  • Hardwoods: Hickory, Oak, Pecan, Mesquite 

From mild to stronger flavour profiles: Apple < Cherry < Pecan < Hickory < Oak < Mesquite 

Best Smoking Wood For Different Types Of Food

  • Best for Chicken: Apple
  • Best for Fish: Apple, Oak
  • Best for Beef: Mesquite, Hickory
  • Best for Lamb: Apple, Cherry
  • Best for Pork: Apple, Hickory
  • Best for Vegetables: Cherry

Nothing wrong with mixing wood flavours to suit preference. Experimentation is the best.

For more whiter meats I have found the family feedback is that apple is a little too bitter so a combo of apple and cherry works.

Red meat benefits from a stronger mature smoke like mesquite or hickory. 

Which Is Better – Briquettes Or Lump Charcoal?

Briquettes over Lump charcoal – Yes, lump charcoal is cheaper but gives off a lot of ash and does not maintain heat as well as briquettes. Dont settle. 

close up of briquettes in the bottom of a smoker preparing to smoke meat

Foil Or Butcher’s Paper Wrap?

Which is better to wrap? – Foil or butcher paper? Both.

Butcher’s paper is not adhesive and locks in the juices of the meat while the aluminium foil traps the heat in to get over that stall relatively quickly. 

foil wrapped meat on top of the smoking grill

I hope these simple beginner smoking tips help you get started. You will develop your own preferences and techniques over time, but these are the things that work for me!

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