Smoked Meat Guide: How It Works, Is It Cooked & Is Pink OK?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 27, 2022

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Smoked meat is a type of red meat, white meat or seafood which is cooked by exposing it to smoke to preserve, brown, and add flavor.

There are two different types of smoking – cold smoking and hot smoking.

What is smoked meat

Cold Smoking

This method consists of exposing the meat to low temperature smoke.

The meat will not be in direct heat but by the end will be flavorsome and preserved.

Hot Smoking

This method is the complete opposite to cold smoking.

With this, the meat is completely exposed to the smoke and the heat, the purpose being to add a substantial amount of flavor as well as cooking the meat itself.

Hot smoking is most commonly referred to and known as barbecuing.

Are smoked meats fully cooked?

Most smoked meats will be fully cooked when hot smoked and are safe to eat without cooking them further, or saved in the fridge to be reheated and consumed later. Cold smoked meats will have been either cooked in advance or cured to make them safe to eat after smoking.

How does smoking meat cook it?

Hot smoking meat will cook the meat because the smoke will flow around it at a temperature of around 225 °F. This will ensure the internal temperature of the meat is above the danger zone in fewer than 4 hours while being cooked slowly to achieve it’s smoky flavor.

Why does meat turn pink when smoked?

The pink color of smoked meat comes down to a simple chemical reaction. When meat is exposed to smoke, a compound called myoglobin is oxidized but doesn’t fully break down because of the slow cooking process. This causes chicken to turn pink and causes the smoke ring on meat.

What Meat Can You Smoke?

If you are new to smoking, you may be curious to know what can and cannot be smoked.

Luckily, when it comes to smoking meat, there is nothing you cannot experiment with.

Below, we will be listing some of the meats that are commonly used by all.

After smoking these meats, you will be in awe with the difference it makes in the meat’s quality, taste, and powerful flavor.

Why should I smoke meat?

The main reason why people smoke meat is because of the flavor. It will infuse your meat with that smoky and sweet flavor that everybody loves.

You can use flavored wood chips to give you that amazing flavor every time.

Cold smoking meat is one of the best ways to preserve food for later consumption.

When you cold smoke meat, you prepare the meat by curing it and then create a low-temperature environment where bacteria cannot grow as easily. 

This means that you can store cold smoked meat for months without worry of spoilage.

Another reason why people smoke their own meat is that they enjoy the process. There is nothing better than sitting around a fire and enjoying a good meal.

You can even make friends while you’re at it!

Smoking meat is fun and relaxing, and it gives you a chance to get creative with your barbecue.


Is smoking meat the same as cooking?

No, smoking meat is not the same as cooking. Smoking is a process of flavoring, tenderizing and preserving meat.

However, hot smoking for a long time as with the low and slow method cooks the meat so it’s safe to consume.

Cooking is a process of heating food to make it safe to eat and easy to digest.

Can you smoke frozen meat?

No, you can’t smoke completely frozen meat. The reason is that the fat in the meat needs to be melted in order for the smoke to penetrate it.

If you try to smoke completely frozen meat, the outside will be cooked before the inside is even thawed.

Frozen meat will have an icy layer on the outside that can prevent the smoke from penetrating it.

Smoke reacting with ice can also create a nasty flavor that you don’t want in your food. Thus smoking meat that is frozen is not a good cooking process.

So be sure to completely thaw the meat before smoking it. You’ll notice your meat’s bark absorbing smoke if you let it thaw first.

Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your meat, especially if smoking thawed and cold meat.

Can you smoke cured meat?

Should I Leave My Meat Uncovered During Smoking?-1

Yes, you can smoke cured meat. In fact, some of the best-smoked meats are cured first.

Curing involves using salt, sugar, and nitrates/nitrites to preserve the meat.

Curing helps to prevent bacteria growth and adds flavor to the meat. Curing is a preservation method that’s been used for centuries.

Bacon is a good example of a cured meat that’s smoked.

Curing is not same as smoking meat.

The curing process for bacon involves rubbing the pork belly with a curing mixture that contains salt, sugar, and nitrates/nitrites.

The pork belly is then placed in the fridge for a week to allow the curing process to happen.

After a week, the bacon is rinsed off and then smoked.

Smoking cured meats is a great way to add flavor and preserve the meat.

Cured meats can be eaten without cooking them, but you should cook them if you want to eat them hot.

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.