How Long To Smoke Beef – The Complete Guide

Smoking beef to perfection requires patience and precision. While delicious smoked brisket, ribs, or roasts may seem intimidating, with a little know-how, you can easily smoke beef at home. This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know to smoke any cut of beef like a pro, including how long to smoke different cuts for best results.

Time and Temperature Are Key

The two most critical factors for smoking beef are maintaining the target temperature in your smoker and smoking the meat for the proper length of time. Different cuts require different temperatures and cook times. Rushing the process or letting the temperature fluctuate too much can lead to dry, tough meat.

For most beef cuts, the optimal smoking temperature is between 225-275°F. The lower end of this range allows for a slower smoke which breaks down connective tissue over many hours. The higher end speeds the cooking process but still imparts delicious smoke flavor.

Cook times can range from 1 hour for small tender cuts like filet mignon, up to 18+ hours for a whole packer brisket. The thickness and toughness of each cut of beef determines just how long you need to smoke it before it reaches the ideal internal finishing temperature.

Know Your Beef Cuts

Choosing the right beef cuts for smoking is critical. Tough, collagen-rich cuts stand up best to low, slow smoking. The long cook time tenderizes the meat into fall-apart perfection. More tender cuts can dry out with prolonged smoking, so they require more care.

Here’s an overview of the most popular beef cuts to smoke and how long to smoke them:


  • Packer brisket (untrimmed, whole brisket): 14-18 lbs, smoke for 12-18 hours to 205°F internal.
  • Brisket flat (leaner half of brisket): 6-8 lbs, smoke for 8-10 hours to 205°F.
  • Excellent for Texas-style barbecue. Long, low smoke tenderizes tough meat.

Beef Ribs

  • Plate ribs (dino ribs): Smoke 8-10 hours @ 225-250°F to 200°F, meat shrinks back 1-2 inches from bone.
  • Meatier than back ribs.Flavorful, tender, but little meat compared to brisket.


  • Chuck roast: 8-10 lbs, smoke 8-12 hours @ 225°F to 195-205°F.
  • Tri-tip roast: 2-3 lbs, smoke 1-2 hrs @ 225°F + sear to 120-135°F.
  • Top round: 4-6 lbs, smoke 4-6 hrs @ 225°F to 120-145°F.
  • Though roasts aren’t as popular as brisket or ribs for smoking, they produce incredibly tender smoked beef when cooked low and slow to the right temp.


  • Ribeye: 1-2 inches thick, smoke 45-60 mins @ 225°F to 120-135°F.
  • Strip, filet mignon, NY strip: 1-2 inches thick, smoke 45-60 mins @ 225°F to 120-135°F.
  • Quick light smoke adds flavor without overcooking these tender cuts. Always sear over high heat after smoking.

Ground Beef

  • Burgers: 1/2 to 1 inch thick patties, smoke for 45-90 minutes @ 225-250°F to 160°F internal (safe doneness).
  • Light smoke infuses burgers with flavor. Avoid cooking burgers to higher well-done temps to prevent drying out.

Other Smoked Beef Specialties

  • Beef jerky: Slice beef thinly, smoke at 160°F for 4+ hours until dried.
  • Pastrami: Brine beef navel for 5-10 days then smoke 8-10 hrs @ 225°F to 200°F.
  • Corned beef: Brine brisket or round for 5-10 days then smoke 8-10 hrs @ 225°F to 195-205°F.

Judge Doneness Properly

An instant read thermometer is indispensable for determining when your smoked beef is finished cooking. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones, to get an accurate internal temp reading.

For brisket, ribs, roasts, and other tough cuts aim for 195-210°F internal temperature when the meat should be perfectly tender. For steaks and other tender cuts, go for 120-135°F for rare to medium-rare doneness to prevent overcooking.

If you don’t have a thermometer, use the poke test, looking for meat to feel very tender with little resistance. And always allow beef to rest tented in foil for 15-30 minutes before serving for juicier results.

Step-By-Step Guide To Smoking Beef

Follow this simple process for smoking beef perfectly every time:

  1. Choose your cut – Pick a suitable beef cut for smoking based on desired cook time, thickness, fat content, etc.

  2. Trim and portion – Trim thick fat caps and portion beef into manageable smoking sizes if needed.

  3. Season – Generously season beef all over with salt, pepper, rubs, etc. Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes to absorb seasoning.

  4. Prepare smoker – Set up your smoker or grill for smoking by filling with desired smoking wood and heating to 225-275°F target temp.

  5. Smoke beef – Place seasoned beef in smoker and insert a probe thermometer if possible. Maintain consistent target temperature in the smoker for duration of smoking time.

  6. Check for doneness – Use a thermometer to check internal temp of beef once it nears estimated finish time based on cut. Meat should reach 195-210°F for well done, or 120-135°F for rare to medium-rare.

  7. Rest – Remove smoked beef from smoker and tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing or serving.

  8. Serve and enjoy! – Slice across the grain and serve your perfectly smoked beef.

Handy Beef Smoking Times Chart

For quick reference, here are approximate target cook times and temperatures for common cuts of beef:

Beef Cut Smoker Temp Time in Smoker Internal Temp
Packer brisket 225-250°F 12-18 hours 205°F
Brisket flat 225-250°F 8-10 hours 205°F
Beef plate ribs 225-250°F 8-10 hours 200°F
Chuck roast 225°F 8-12 hours 195-205°F
Tri-tip roast 225°F 1-2 hours 120-135°F
Top round roast 225°F 4-6 hours 120-145°F
Ribeye steak 225°F 45-60 mins 120-135°F
Filet mignon 225°F 45-60 mins 120-135°F
Burgers 225-250°F 45-90 mins 160°F
Beef jerky 160°F 4+ hours Completely dried
Pastrami 225°F 8-10 hours 200°F
Corned beef 225°F 8-10 hours 195-205°F

Use these smoking times as a starting point, always relying on a thermometer for gauging precise doneness. Times vary depending on thickness of cuts and accuracy of smoker temperatures.

Smoking Tips for Better Beef

  • Always bring meat to room temperature before smoking for more even cooking.

  • Use a water pan or spritz beef during smoking to prevent it from drying out.

  • Wrap tougher cuts like brisket and chuck roast in butcher paper at the halfway point to power through any stalls.

  • Let smoked beef rest well before slicing against the grain for tender, juicy results.

  • Maintain a steady, consistent smoker temperature for best results.

  • Use wood chips, chunks or logs with milder smoke flavor like oak, hickory, apple, alder.

  • Don’t be afraid to smoke leaner cuts like filet mignon, they turn out amazing with a light smoke!

  • For a nice crust, coat beef with a rub containing salt, sugar and spices before smoking.

Master Smoked Beef With Practice

Smoking beef may seem daunting but anyone can do it with the right cut, technique and patience. Now that you know exactly how long to smoke different beef cuts and what temperatures to target, you can start turning out perfectly smoked brisket, ribs, roasts and more. As with any new cooking method, it takes practice to nail down times and temps. The more beef you smoke, the better you’ll become at judging doneness based on look, feel and experience. Before long you’ll be smoking beef like a true backyard pitmaster!

Smoking Meat Week: Smoking 101


How long to smoke beef at 225?

Smoker Temp
Smoking Time
Chuck roast
225 – 250°F
12 – 20 hours
Rump roast
225 – 250°F
30 minutes/lb
Whole ribeye
225 – 250°F
25 minutes/lb
225 – 250°F
2 ½ – 3 hours

Can you smoke beef too long?

Over-smoked meat typically has been exposed to too much smoke for too long. Over-smoked meat isn’t usually bitter but has a strong, pungent smoke flavor that is unpleasant. Badly smoked meat has a bitter taste. It might even make the tip of your tongue tingle from the creosote.

What temperature do you smoke beef?

Beef, revered for its robust character and versatility, takes on a transformative quality when smoked, deepening its natural richness. Beef brisket is best approached with a temperature setting of 225°F to 250°F. This ensures that the meat slowly assimilates the smoky essence, finishing ideally between 190°F and 203°F.

What meat can I smoke in 3 hours?

For example, smoked pork loin takes 2.5 to 3 hours. It’s better to use a little less seasoning than you think you need to overseason your meat. You can always add extra seasoning at the end, but you can’t take it away.

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