For these insanely delicious, incredibly easy Texas Style Smoked Beef Cheeks, Chef Tom fires up the Yoder Smokers YS640s Pellet Grill. He then transforms the beef into a fantastic chopped beef barbecue sandwich.
What are Beef Cheeks?
Aside from the obvious response (they are cheeks), beef cheek is a rather uncommon meat cut.
The average weight of beef cheek is around 7 ounces, which is incredibly light and small in comparison to other more conventional types of smoked meat.
You could be excused for thinking that because of their small size, cheeks are more prone to drying out when exposed to heat for an extended period of time, but that isn’t actually the case.
This is largely due to the meat’s collagen content.
This is what provides the meat with its signature stickiness. In the center of a beef cheek, there is a substantial strip of collagen. This strip begins to render and degrade as the cheek is smoked, creating moisture and the dish’s distinctive sticky texture.
How to Prepare Beef Cheeks for Smoking
If there are any significant pieces of silver skin or membrane attached to the red meat, you should remove them. This can happen occasionally.
This layer is unnecessary, and smoking it can make it extremely chewy, occasionally slightly bitter, and generally unpleasant to eat.
You shouldn’t have to trim the cheeks too much other than the silver skin. They are small enough as is, but feel free to remove any noticeable large pieces of fat if you see them. Just be sure you leave some actual meat leftover!.
I then like to apply a BBQ beef rub. There are many readily available store-bought alternatives, but I always favor using something homemade.
I like to use a straightforward mixture consisting only of kosher salt and black pepper, blended in a 2:1 ratio. Brown sugar is sometimes something I like to add because the sweetness blends well with the melted cheek fat.
How to Smoke Beef Cheeks
Set the temperature of your smoker (I use my charcoal offset smoker, but electric or pellet smokers work just as well) to 275°F (135°C) for cooking.
The crucial point to remember is that you want to smoke until the beef cheek reaches an internal temperature of 210°F (98°C), which can vary greatly depending on a variety of variables.
This will probably take around 5 hours, but that is an estimate, and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat should always be your primary yardstick.
Although this temperature is quite high for BBQ smoked food, it is just right for us to allow the collagen in the meat to really break down and give us that desired sticky texture and flavor.
I like to wrap the meat in foil after about 4 hours and before the final hour. This helps us stay on track for our desired internal temperature while also preserving the maximum amount of moisture and tenderness in our finished product.
By doing this, you’ll help the foil packet produce steam, which will aid in breaking down the meat’s collagen even more.
That collagen seam is the secret to this smoke session’s success. If we can’t disassemble it, we’ll only have a nasty layer of rubber. But if we get it right, we’ll have gorgeously tender beef cheeks.
Place the beef cheeks back on your smoker tray after being wrapped in foil. Leave for a further hour.
Remove the cooked food from the smoker after making sure the internal temperature is 210°F and allow it to rest for about ten minutes. As a result, the fat will be able to continue rendering and incorporate itself back into the meat. It’s a similar principal we follow for smoked brisket.
You can serve up sliced or pulled. I like them pulled because it provides the best combination of meat, flesh, and melted fat.
The ideal temperature for smoking beef cheeks is 275 degrees Fahrenheit, but you’ll still get great results if your smoker is set between 250 and 300 degrees. This temperature is hot enough to complete the cut without drying out the meat.
Before removing the beef cheeks, you want them to reach an internal temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, this takes about four hours. Verify that the internal collagen band is fully tenderized before removing the beef cheeks to make sure the meat is done.
These solutions to our most frequently asked questions about grilling and smoking beef cheeks are here to help.
Are Beef Cheeks Fatty?
Beef cheeks are famous for their delicious, tender texture. However, this is not due to excess fat because beef cheeks are a very lean meat cut. Instead, the inner pockets of collagen help tenderize this meat. Sometimes a layer of fat and sinew covers the outside of the beef cheeks, but a good butcher will remove that for you.
What Can I Substitute for Beef Cheeks?
Other lean, tender cuts of beef will have the same flavor and texture if you don’t feel like hunting down beef cheeks. Short ribs, oxtail, chuck, and shank are good substitutes. Pick lamb shanks if you want to completely avoid beef.
What Does Beef Cheek Meat Taste Like?
To most people, beef cheek is a completely unfamiliar cut. However, the taste is surprisingly familiar. The cheeks have an intense beefy flavor and are very tender and savory. The flavor of beef cheeks will be recognizable if you’ve had other meats with a similar flavor, like oxtail or chuck.
Why Are My Beef Cheeks Tough?
Because cows chew so much, beef cheeks are a tough, muscle-filled cut of meat. You might not be cooking your cheeks for long enough if they come out tough. To properly break down and tenderize beef cheeks, they must be smoked for several hours at a low temperature.
- 4 beef cheeks trimmed and with silver skin removed
- 2 parts ground black pepper
- 1 parts kosher salt
- 1 part brown sugar option
- Set smoker to cook at 275°F/135°F
- Prepare beef cheeks by trimming silver skin and excess fat
- Combine beef rub ingredients and apply generously to beef. Apply on underside too, and work into crevices.
- Transfer to smoker racks. Close lid/door and leave to smoke for 4 hours.
- Place in an aluminum tray and wrap in foil after removing from the smoker.
- Return to the smoker and continue smoking for another hour.
- Allow to cook until internal temperature has reached 210°F/98°C
- Remove from smoker and leave wrapped in foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve beef cheeks sliced or pulled for tacos or sandwiches.
The BEST Beef Cheek Recipe! | Chuds BBQ
How long does it take to smoke beef cheeks?
Cooking time for beef cheeks in a smoker set to 275 degrees Fahrenheit is about five hours. It’s crucial to understand that depending on the specific type of meat smoker or smoking setup utilized and how frequently you check the cheeks, this cooking time may change.
Why are my beef cheeks tough?
One of an animal’s most labor-intensive muscles is its cheeks; consider cows that graze on grass all day. This indicates that the meat is quite tough unless it is gently cooked for a prolonged period of time.
What temperature are beef cheeks done?
Due to that collagen seam, I’ve discovered that the internal temperature of beef cheeks can frequently be quite high, ranging from 205°F to 210°F. When testing for tenderness, exercise caution because the meat may feel quite tender even before the collagen has completely broken down.
Is beef cheek like brisket?
A typical trimmed beef cheek will resemble a small brisket in shape, being slightly triangular to oval, but that is where the similarity ends. You’ll notice that Beef Cheeks have a surface texture that is very distinct from all other beef cuts and is pock marked with tiny connective tissues all over.