The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a classic Texas-style barbecue is beef and it is no accident. The beef comes from a large animal so there is a great variety of textures and flavors between the different cuts.

Beef requires long hours of smoking because of its complex connective tissues and the considerable amount of fat. Done right; the long hours of smoking result in a rich flavor that you can only get from this type of cooking. Not even the best char-grilled piece of steak will give you the depth of flavor that you get from smoking meat on a smoker grill combo.

So begs the question, what is the best beef to smoke? We have outlined 5 of the best cuts to smoke along with a few suggestions to help you in your quest for the perfect smoked barbecue.

1. Beef Brisket

Traditional smoked barbecue wagyu beef brisket

Cooking Time: 5 – 6 Hours

Smoking Temp: 250°F

Target Internal Temp: 205°F

Beef brisket is synonymous with smoked barbecue despite this being such a difficult cut to get right. This is a tough cut of beef so it requires more care to smoke correctly. Ideally, the cut should have good marbling which adds to the flavor of the cooked meat.

If you can afford it, Prime brisket is the best beef to smoke. Choice brisket comes in a close second and is a great alternative to Prime if you cannot afford Prime cuts.

Do not trim the fat; you want to keep the thick fatty top even as you smoke the meat. The layer of fat acts as an insulator, keeping all juices in while adding even more flavor to the meat.

As long as you have chosen a good cut of meat, you don’t need to add too much seasoning as the meat is already rich in flavor. Choose a cut that is flexible or bends easily. The stiffer the meat the more likely it is that it will be tough once cooked.

2. Beef Ribs / Short Ribs

Barbecue chuck beef ribs with hot rub

Cooking Time: 5 – 6 Hours

Smoking Temp: 250°F

Target Internal Temp: 205°F

Beef ribs are among the easiest cuts of beef to smoke. The ribs come from the area between the flank steak and brisket which also happens to be well-marbled, has a good amount of fat to keep the meat moist, and plenty of flavors.

Beef ribs are huge and have to be cut to fit in the smoker or so that they are practical to eat – hence the term ‘short rib’. The actual ribs could actually be from the chuck plate, loin, or brisket. You can specify to your butcher that you prefer chuck plate ribs or full plate short ribs.

You can get away with seasoning short ribs with just salt and pepper and still get a great flavor. The large bone size helps to cook the meat evenly.

3. Chuck Roast

Traditional smoked barbecue wagyu beef brisket

Cooking Time: 5 – 6 Hours

Smoking Temp: 240°F

Target Internal Temp: 205°F

Chuck roast sits directly above the brisket at the shoulder of the steer. It is a great alternative to brisket since it is smaller (therefore cooks faster) and cheaper. The best part is you don’t lose any of the flavor profiles by switching your brisket for chuck roast.

There are two ways you could go with your chuck roast. The first is to cook it like a brisket. It will be tenderer than your traditional brisket while still sliceable once done. To achieve this, you should shoot for an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit at a cooking temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

The other option is to pull the meat just like pulled pork. For this, you will need to reach an internal temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit at a cooking temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whichever way you choose to cook your chuck roast, this is a flavorful cut of meat that cooks quickly and requires less effort compared to a traditional brisket.

4. Top Sirloin Steak

Grilled Marbled Meat Steak Filet Mignon With Seasonings.

Cooking Time: 1hr per lb

Smoking Temp: 225°F

Target Internal Temp: 145°F

Sirloin steak comes from the hip of the steer with your choice of top or bottom sirloin. The top sirloin is the tenderer of the two options and therefore the better option for smoking.

Sirloin steak is also affordable and has a rich beef flavor. Its great value for the money considering cheaper cuts such as tri-tip doesn’t have quite the flavor profile of a well-smoked top sirloin steak.

Be sure to dry brine the meat with kosher salt rather than using a mixture of salt and water. While also tenderizing the meat, dry brining also helps to give the beef a better texture. Leave the meat in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours after brining for the best effect.

Smoking sirloin steak is great for beginners. The cut is easy to smoke, has great flavors, and tender if done right.

5. Flank Steak

Barbecue dry aged wagyu flank steak sliced with green asparagus

Cooking Time: 3 hours

Smoking Temp: 225°F

Target Internal Temp: 145°F

Yet another great cut of meat for smoking is a flank steak. You don’t necessarily think steak when you picture a smoker but just like sirloin, well-smoked flank steak has great beef flavor and is tender.

Flank steak comes from the underside of the steer, close to the belly and along the animal’s sides.

Flank steak is also affordable, doesn’t take much time to prepare, and is easy for a beginner to get right. Marinate the meat beforehand to tenderize it. Flank steak has a strong beef flavor so it is can withstand strong seasonings including garlic, pepper, and lime juice.

Smoking the steak is a surprising deviation from the traditional direct grilling at high heat and your guests may appreciate the different take on a classic cut of beef.