Have you ever needed to make a quick dinner but didn’t know what the Quickest Meat to Smoke was? We all go through such situations at least once in our lives, but we often prefer to panic instead of finding a solution.
Smoking meat can be a cumbersome and long process, but do you know that there are some 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. But make sure you have a 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.
Best Quick Meat to Smoke
So, shall we start this party? You can use any smoker for the meat smoking process. But make sure to follow the instructions regarding the cooking temperature to avoid any unnecessary food disasters and disappointments.
1) 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.
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.
2) 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 eight 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.
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.
3) Pork Chops
While smoked pulled pork is a favorite of everyone, the dish takes about 16 hours to cook before anyone can enjoy it with some special sides and drinks. So, in that case, well-cooked pork chops work as the best alternative.
They only require 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.
Firstly, 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 180ºF and 350ºF 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.
4) 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.
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.
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.
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.
6) 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.
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 need to brine the turkey 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 180ºF, you can remove the turkey breast from the smoker.
7) 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.
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.
8) 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.
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 145 degrees. 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.
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.
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 145ºF.
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 consume it.
10) 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.
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.
Smoked 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.
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.