The 11 Quickest Meat to Smoke

Quickest Meats to Smoke

If you’re looking to smoke meat this weekend and need quick smoker recipes or a simple list of the quickest meats to smoke, you’ve come to the right place!

Fast Meats to Smoke

Smoking meat is delicious but can be a cumbersome and long process. However, there are some smoked meat options that you can cook within three to four hours? Yes, you don’t have to smoke beef brisket every time there is a BBQ at your home.

There are so many quick meat options for urgent plans that you can serve on your lunch/dinner table pretty fast.

Also, just because they cook quickly doesn’t mean that these best meats to smoke lack flavor. Interestingly, they are as good as meats that require low and slow smoking.

Just make sure you have a good meat thermometer with you at all times to check the internal temperature now and then.

By now, you must be intrigued to know all the details of these quick meat options. So, without further ado, let dig into this guide and explore them.

Top 11 Best Quick Meats to Smoke

You can use any smoker for the meat smoking process. We prefer the pellet grill because it’s the most set-and-forget way to smoke meat. However, charcoal smokers, offset smokers and electric smokers are all great options too.

Just make sure you follow our instructions for each fast meat to smoke and pay attention to internal temperatures to avoid any unnecessary food disasters and disappointments.

1 – Smoked Pork Chops

While smoked pulled pork is a favorite smoked meat of ours, it takes about 16 hours to cook before anyone can enjoy it. So, in that case, we like to sub out the pork shoulder for some nicely smoked pork chops as the best alternative.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 145ºF

Pork chops only take about an hour to smoke and cook to perfection. However, you need to take care of certain things before you can serve this dish to your guests.

First, choose either loin or rib chops for smoking. Both these options give a traditional flavor and texture when cooked under appropriate conditions.

In addition, while marinating these chops, try to include a nice pork rub in your seasoning. This additional ingredient will help add the right flavor and tenderness as the meat cooks.

Smoked pork chops require a cooking temperature of 225ºF to create moist and juicy meat. Use one of the best temperature probes to monitor the internal temperature and as soon as it reaches 145ºF, remove the ribs from the smoker and plate them on a dish to serve.


2 – Smoked Salmon

If your guests like smoked fish, there is no better and quickest meat than smoked salmon. Salmon needs only 17 minutes to cook and smoke and uses alder or applewood for the right smoky flavor.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 30 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 400ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 145ºF

Marinate the fish with garlic powder, kosher salt, soy sauce, black pepper, and olive oil. Then smoke meat at a cooking temperature of 400ºF to reach an internal temperature of 145ºF.

While serving this smoky delight, squeeze some lemon juice on the fish to add the much-needed tangy flavor. You can also garnish the dish with some lemon zest, as most professionals do.


3 – Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked chicken wings are a family favorite in our house. They take just 60 minutes to smoke and are very easy to prepare.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 375ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 165ºF

When smoking chicken wings, the most important thing to remember is that you need to get the smoker HOT before you put the chicken wings on the smoker. Once your smoker is at 375ºF, get your already seasoned wings on the smoker and let them cook for at least 30-45 minutes.

If you like a crispy smoked chicken wing, we highly recommend finishing your smoked chicken wings off in the oven on broil. Broiling your wings will render out any of the remaining fat between the skin and the meat of the chicken wing, getting rid of any potential ‘chewiness’.


4 – Smoked Steak

Smoked Steak is another family favorite. We smoke steak at our house at least once a week because it’s easy to prepare and very straightforward to cook.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 60 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 135ºF (medium rare)

Smoked steak is delicious but we highly recommend doing the reverse sear smoked steak method. It gives your smoked steak a nice steak house crust and extra flavors.

To reverse sear your steak, just smoke it like you would any other cut of meat. Get it to the right internal temperature that you want, then remove the steak from your smoker and let it rest. You want your steak to stop cooking and start cooling down at your desired internal temp.

Then, once your steak’s internal temperature has dropped about 10ºF, it’s time to sear. There are many ways you can sear your steak using an oven on broil, a hot cast iron pan, the hot grills on a BBQ or direct flame.


5 – Smoked Turkey Breast

Are you planning a quick smoking meat dish for the upcoming holiday lunch? While there is no better option than turkey, choosing the breast over the whole bird will save your time by a great deal.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 35 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF and 250ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 165ºF

Turkey breast takes about one hour and 35 minutes to cook. But before you place the soon-to-be smoking meat on the grill, you should brine the turkey breast for at least 12 hours by placing it in a salt solution.

From there, you then need to season this meat with ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic olive oil, and black pepper. You can follow the recipe for a detailed list of ingredients.

As soon as the internal temperature of the dense meat reaches 165ºF, you can remove the turkey breast from the smoker.


6 – Chicken Thighs

Among the best and quick meats to smoke, we also have chicken on the list. Chicken thighs, especially, take only two hours to cook and achieve the desired juiciness.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 2 hours
  • Smoking Temperature: 250ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 165ºF

You need to marinate the thighs with a nice dry rub, salt, butter, olive, and pepper. If you don’t mind a spicy or sweet rub, include any of these in your ingredient list as well.

Smoked chicken thighs demand a cooking temperature of 250ºF and are ready to serve as soon as their internal temperature reaches 165ºF. In addition, you can either go for the hickory or cherry wood to add the right smoke flavor to the meat.

A thigh doesn’t have a high-fat content, and so it can get dry quite easily. So, instead of witnessing a disaster, add lots of butter to make the meat moist.


7 – Hot & Fast Smoked Pork Ribs

It is not easy to smoke pork ribs but believe us, the results are worth all the effort. There are different pork ribs available in the market, but spare ribs and baby back ribs are quite popular.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 2 hours
  • Smoking Temperature: 300ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 200ºF

Baby back pork ribs are quite meatier than spare ribs and are found near a pig’s backbone. These ribs are also quite small with lean meat, which means that they cook quite fast. So, when you have them on the grill, make sure you measure the internal temperature so that they don’t burn.

On the other hand, spare ribs are larger than baby back ribs, but they have more flavor. They take a little longer to cook, but you can also smoke them within five hours.

Pork ribs are quite juicy and flavorsome. Besides, they are ideal for a quick lunch with a ready-made side such as coleslaw.


8 – Smoked Tri-Tip

If you are a busy individual but also a meat lover, why not give Tri-tip a try? This meat cut has a triangle shape and works perfectly as a quick alternative to beef brisket. While this meat gets tender pretty quickly, it delivers a blast of flavor and unique texture that would convince you to try this beef cut repeatedly.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 45 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 350ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 135ºF

The cooking process of this meat cut is quite straightforward. You simply have to season the Tri-tip with a rub, some olive oil, and rosemary. Once done, smoke the meat until the thermometer reads an internal temperature of 135ºF.

You can then sear the smoked Tri-tip and serve it after giving it a rest time of 15 minutes. Then, slice the meat so that it becomes super convenient to eat.


2 – Smoked Beef Ribs

Most of us can’t do a BBQ without having a beef dish on the menu. So while beef brisket may take longer to cook, there is no harm in trying beef ribs that get ready within 6-8 hours. While this duration is longer than what pork ribs demand, at least you don’t have to spend half of your day near the grill monitoring the meat.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 6-8 hours
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 200ºF

Smoked beef short ribs are made from raw beef ribs with plenty of connective tissue and fat. They are cooked at a temperature of 225ºF and require oak or cherry wood to add the correct smoky flavor.

You can season these beef ribs with a basic seasoning containing pepper, salt, garlic, and brown mustard. Then, sprinkle some broth over the ribs to make them juicier and tender while the meat is smoking.


9 – Smoked Cod

Cod is also one of the best meats to smoke and takes only 45 minutes to get ready. Smoked cod is not only rich in flavor but has a beautiful texture that no one can resist. But most importantly, it makes a nice and healthy meal which is a perfect food option for the health-conscious members of your family.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 45 minutes
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 145ºF

When paired with roasted carrots and sauteed vegetables, smoked cod makes a complete meal that satisfies your taste buds. Before placing the cod on the smoker’s grill, make sure the fish is marinated with olive oil, seafood rub, soy sauce, ginger, and some honey.

While cooking a cod, ensure that the overall temperature of the smoker is 225ºF. But as soon as the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145ºF, remove it from the grill.


10 – Smoked Pork Loin

Outdoor cooking is fun, but only when the weather is right. On hot or rainy summer days, all of us often prefer to cook a quick meat dish and run inside before we start sweating or getting wet.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 2-3 hours
  • Smoking Temperature: 225ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 145ºF

So, in that case, we won’t ask you to smoke a pork butt or pork shoulder on your electric smoker, but we will want you to try smoked pork loin that takes under four hours to cook.

Unlike most slow-smoking meats, it is very hard to go wrong with a pork loin. Moreover, the meat requires just a few basic ingredients and a dry rub for seasoning before you can put this pork cut on the grill.

In a nutshell, cooking pork loin isn’t a big deal. You simply have to put the meat on the smoker and let it cook until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. Pork loin takes only three hours to cook and smoke.

A pork loin is often confused with pork tenderloin, but they are quite different from each other. Each one of these comes from different places and has distinctive properties, so you can’t use one recipe for both of them.


11 – Smoked Chuck Roast

Here is another beef cut that takes less than seven hours to cook properly. Chuck roast is found near the animal’s neck and shoulder region and has lots of saturated fat. That said, this meat is also rich in flavor and so doesn’t require a lot of seasoning.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Smoking Time: 3 hours
  • Smoking Temperature: 350ºF
  • Finish Internal Temperature: 200ºF

You can serve this meat dish with your tacos or as fillings for your sandwich. In addition, you can also enjoy a chuck roast on its own with a nice bbq sauce or a creamy side dish.


Tips to Prepare Meat that Smoke Fast

While regularly monitoring the internal temperature of the meat is quite crucial, you also need to look at a few other things when smoking the meat that takes less time to cook.

Brine the Chicken

Chicken doesn’t take long to smoke. So, you can either take the whole bird or remove the backbone and spatchcock the meat.

Regardless of what you choose to do with the chicken, make sure to brine it first before placing it on the grill. Brining helps the bird retain all its juices and become tender and moist within a short period.

Sear Your Tri-tip Steak

As mentioned above, Tri-tip is a lean beef cut that doesn’t take long to smoke. It is a perfect meat option to prepare large steaks for a wholesome meal. Smoking adds a variety of flavors to the steak that is impossible to achieve from grilling.

That said, smoking doesn’t give a Tri-tip steak a nice crust. So, to get that, make sure you sear the meat in an iron pan before serving the steak to your guests.

Smoke Turkey Breast for a Crowd

The good thing about a turkey breast is that it doesn’t take long to smoke. So you can easily nail the target internal temperature without worrying about the fully-cooked legs and thighs.

So, since smoking a turkey breast doesn’t involve any risks, you can easily throw two to five breasts in your electric smoker to feed a huge crowd. But before you do so, make sure your smoker’s size is compatible with the total size of all the breasts.

Rescue Overcooked Pork Ribs

As stated above, baby back ribs cook pretty quickly, so it is important to watch the internal temperature. But as a human, you can make mistakes, and your ribs might turn out dry and overcooked.

In that case, coat them with a mix of apple cider vinegar and bbq sauce. Then wrap the ribs in foil before placing them in a low heat oven for an hour at least.

Final Takeaway

Just because you don’t have enough time doesn’t mean you can’t prepare a nice bbq meal for your friends and family. As discussed in this guide, several meat options do not take more than four hours to cook and smoke. Moreover, they taste as delicious and juicy as slow-smoking meats.

So, make sure to try all of these and fill your food table with beautiful, tender, and aromatic meaty delights.

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