Best Meats to Smoke in an Electric Smoker

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 24, 2021

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The great thing about using an electric smoker is that it allows you to get the best flavor out of your smoked meat. And you don’t have to use the most expensive cuts of meat either. Sometimes the most affordable choices are the best.

The following is a selection of the best meats to smoke in electric smoker or portable smoker.


Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is one of the best meats to smoke in electric smoker. However, not all briskets are made equal, and you need to be careful with the type of cuts you choose so that you don’t end up with sub-par quality meat. For the best results, go with a piece of brisket that has a nice amount of fat and lots of marbling. That fatty layer is what will bring out the delicious flavor you’re craving for and it makes for a very tender finished product. When you visit the butcher to buy your meat, don’t be shy to ask him to lift up each piece for you so that you can choose the tenderest cut. You’ll know which one to choose based on how much it bends. The more it bends the better.

You’ll also notice that there are two sections on a brisket. There’s the flat and the point. Make sure not to separate these two parts if you want to have the best smoked brisket. Ask your butcher for a “packer’s cut”, which refers to a piece of brisket that has a layer of fat on top and in the middle. This type of cut is what makes for a tender texture in the end.

When you get home, make sure to rinse the meat thoroughly and soak it in some marinade for about 12 hours before you cook it. Afterward, you can smoke it at the recommended temperature with wood chips of your choice.

Also check out these meat recipes in some of the best rated smoker cookbooks

Pork Shoulder

As you’ve probably noticed, pork shoulder is one of the most popular meats available for smoking and that’s because it has the ideal balance between lean meat and fat. This makes it perfect for slow cooking and at the end, you’ll come out with a nice and tender piece of meat that just falls off the bone.

Some people like to use smoked pork shoulder in pulled pork recipes such as pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and baked beans with pulled pork, mac and cheese with pulled pork as well as casseroles.

To get the most out of a smoked pork shoulder, you need to choose the right type of meat. This means choosing a cut with more bone so that you get that tender and flavorful texture. The piece should also have a ¼ inch of fat, which you can ascertain by asking your butcher to score it for you. Once you take your pork shoulder piece, take it home and turn on your electric smoker.

Pork and Beef Ribs

Pork and beef ribs are a firm favorite when it comes to electric BBQ smoker recipes like these top 10 we’ve created. With the right marinade, smoked ribs go down nicely and can be served on any occasion. They’re especially popular during the summer when people are more likely to have their grills out.

The best part is that ribs are easy to smoke and all you have to do is take the membrane out so that you can season the meat and you’re good to go! There’s not much preparation aside from that, and the smoke just adds a dimension of flavor that you won’t get with any other cooking method.

When you’re at the butcher, opt for a slab of ribs that has a lot of meat with little fat on the bones. The last thing you want is a stack of ribs dripping fat on your smoker.

How Does Smoking Work?

Okay, so now that you know what types of meat cuts to opt for, and the smoking meat recipes electric smoker, it’s important that you find out what actually goes down during the smoking process. First of all, most meat takes about 30 minutes to smoke and cook through. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule like the sardines we mentioned above which can take up to five hours, while other meats can take up to 20 hours. Quantity also plays a role so keep that in mind when considering preparation time. For the best results, keep your smoking temperature low in order to preserve the natural flavors of the meat and get that tender juicy texture in the end.

Electric Smoker Recipes You Should Learn As Soon As Possible

The first thing that most people want to do after getting a new electric smoker is to start experimenting with recipes. If that sounds like you then look no further because we’ve got you covered with a variety of recipes suitable for all types of smokers. Even if you have a propane or charcoal smoker, these recipes will turn out great.

The following is an assortment of Masterbuilt electric smoker recipes, which is a company that manufactures all types of smokers. As you’ll see below, you can prepare all types of meals on a smoker, including seafood, beef, lamb, game meat and poultry-which is a favorite among many.

The following is one of the best electric smoker recipe that anyone can try out.

Easy Smoked Sardines Recipe

Smoked sardines are one of the most versatile and convenient meals that you can cook on your electric smoker. That’s because it’s quick and easy to prepare and works with a variety of flavor combinations. It’s also very healthy, as it contains good fats like Omega-3 fatty acids and EPA/DHA.

Sardines are a nutrient dense form of seafood with low carb and high protein content as well as other health benefits. They’re packed with beneficial minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium and selenium, as well as vitamins B12 and D.

How to Smoke Sardines in an electric smoker



  • 20 sardines (cleaned)
  • water 4 cups
  • 1/4 cup salt kosher
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 1 chopped finely or grated onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (smashed)
  • 1/2 cup parsley or cilantro chopped
  • Optional: 3-4 chiles (crushed, dried)
  • 2 tbsp peppercorns cracked black


  • The first thing you need to do is gut and clean the sardines. To make them boneless, cut them in two so that you can take out the backbone and ribs. This step might take too long if you’re looking for a quick meal so feel free to skip it and leave the bones on.
  • Combine the ingredients needed for the brine and heat them up in a pot. Make sure that the stove is set to medium high heat. Boil contents and turn the stove off without removing the pot from the stove plate. Stir the pot to combine ingredients well and then cover with lid. Leave the mixture to rest at room temperature.
  • After about two hours, transfer the brine to a large non-reactive container and submerge the fish so that it soaks up all the flavor.
  • Place the brine with the sardines in the fridge and leave the mixture to marinade for about 12 hours. If you started preparations during the day than you’ll have to wait for it to soak overnight. Whatever you do, never leave your sardines in brine for longer than 12 hours as that will make them too salty.
  • After the 12 hours is done, take the container out of the fridge and remove the sardines from the brine. Rinse them in cold running water and pat them with a paper towel so that they’re nice and dry. Transfer your sardines onto a rack and wait for them to dry out completely. Make sure to leave them in a cool area for the best results. If there’s a bit of humidity, use a fan to cool down the temperature a bit. Leave the sardines like that for 30 minutes to an hour, turning them over in between to make sure that both sides are dry. Once this step is done the sardines should have a pellicle which will make it easier to smoke them later.
  • You’ll know your sardines are ready for the smoker when they feel dry but look shiny. It’s important to not place them too close to the heat when you start smoking them and cook them on low heat. Almond wood is often recommended for sardines because it makes the best smoked sardines. Note that you’ll need lots of wood for this recipe because it takes about five hours of slow cooking to properly make smoked sardines. While it’s okay to use other types of wood like maple, hickory and apple, under no circumstances you should use pine wood for sardines.
  • Keep the temperature at 140 degrees F when smoking your sardines, to ensure a nice and slow burn. This will help retain the healthy fats while effectively smoking the sardines and you won’t weep out any of the flavor that you want.
  • Remove the sardines from the smoker after about 4 to 5 hours of slow cooking on low heat. Let them cool off at room temperature and enjoy. To keep your smoked sardines fresh for longer, seal them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. When stored in this way, smoked sardines can stay fresh for up to three weeks. If you want to keep them for longer, say a year, then you’ll have to store them in a vacuum-seal container and place them in the freezer instead of the fridge.
  • Alternatively, remove the fish heads and place the remaining parts in a Tupperware jar. Pour olive oil into the jar or container, making sure that the sardines are totally submerged. Sardines can last for months when left in this condition.

Done the sardines dished and then you should clean the electric smoker and make them shiny again.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.