Very few foods scream summer like the smokey taste of a good BBQ. The smokey flavor adds a rich taste to the meat, and it’s hard to beat the crisp skin the smoker gives to your meat. Additionally, there are literally hundreds of smoker recipes available that can help you take your next gathering from ordinary to extraordinary. No matter if you just bought a smoker and want to try it out or if you’re looking for new smoker recipes to add to your lineup, this is for you.
We can trace the process of smoking meat back to the cavemen. Huts or caves didn’t have chimneys, and they would get very smokey after a fire started. It’s widely believed that early cavemen would hang their meat up to dry, and the smoke from the fire helped preserve it and gave it a different flavor. Later, people would pre-cure the meat with salt or in a salty brine to help preserve the meat even more. Although we still use this practice today, you don’t need to heavily salt the meat before smoking it, and you can smoke meat in hours.
To smoke the meat, you put fish or red meat in a smoker to preserve it using dehydration techniques. Smokers were originally a stone room with meat hanging from the ceiling. They would light a fire and enclose the meat in the room with the smoke. Today, a smoker allows you to cook the meat at a low and slow pace while locking in the juices and the flavors to create a tasty cut of meat. Different smoker recipes require different smoking methods.
Hams hanging in a smoker and slowly getting preserved using dehydration techniques.
The Three Main Smoking Methods
When it comes to smoking your cuts of meat and smoker recipes, there are three main methods you can employ. The first is cold smoking. When you cold smoke something, you keep your smoker’s temperature between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep your cut of meat moist while ensuring it takes on the smoke flavor. The meat has to be fully cured before you attempt this smoking process because it doesn’t get hot enough to cook it.
If you expose the meat to both smoke and heat, you’re hot smoking it. You’ll use cured meats during this smoking process, and you heat them to temperatures ranging between 126 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll get a flavorful taste with a moist texture, and it cooks the meat through at these temperatures.
Smoke roasting is the third option available for smoker recipes, and you combine smoking with baking or roasting. You can complete this smoking process using a traditional smoker, barbecue pit, or a wood fired masonry oven. The temperatures will go over 180 degrees Fahrenheit to fully cook the meat and seal the flavors in.
This is an example of small-scale smoke roasting. As you can see, the fire underneath the grate sends smoke up to the meat to cook it while imparting the smoke flavor.
12 Delicious Smoker Recipes for Your Summer BBQs
No matter what type of meat you want to try in your smoker recipes, we’re going to outline several you can try when your next BBQ party comes up. Maybe you have more than one smoker available and you want to try a few different cuts and recipes at one time.
1. Sweet Smoked Turkey
To make this delicious smoker recipe, you’ll brine the turkey before you smoke it to infuse a sweet bourbon taste. You’ll need:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup whole black peppercorns
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 cups bourbon (cold)
- 1 ½ gallons of cold water in a bucket
- 1 seven pound turkey breast
To start, combine the brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, bourbon, and peppercorns in a large bucket with the water. Clean the turkey (saving the neck), add it to the brine, and refrigerate it for 8 to 12 hours. Take the turkey out of the brine, pat it with paper towels, and put it on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for an hour to ensure it dries all the way. Next, you’ll make the rub for the turkey. You’ll need:
- 1 cup of water
- ½ cup bourbon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons each of black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and chili powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons of paprika
- 2 cups of soaked applewood chips
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
In a large bowl, combine your paprika, sugar, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and onion powder. Mix them to combine them. Lift your turkey’s skin and rub your melted butter on the meat. Once you have all the butter on the turkey, work your spice mixture into the meat, including on top of the skin. You want to cover your turkey breast.
Add your bourbon with a glass of water in a pan in your smoker. Put the turkey in the smoker breast side down and smoke it according to the directions, using the applewood chips for flavoring in this smoker recipe. Most recommend smoking 20 to 30 minutes for every pound, so this turkey breast would take around 3 ½ hours. Let it rest 20 minutes when you pull it out before slicing it.
The outside of your turkey breast should be a golden brown with darker brown spots on it due to the temperature of the smoker and the intensity of the smoke.
2. Spicy Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are a family favorite, and this smoker recipe is sure to delight. You can easily make pounds of chicken wings at one time, and this apple-flavor infusion mixes wonderfully with the smoke. For this smoker recipe, you’ll need:
- 6 pounds of chicken wings
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder
- 2 tablespoons each of smoked paprika, chili powder, and olive oil
To start, seperate your wings into wings and drumettes if you like. Pat the wings until they’re dry. Combine all of the dry ingredients to form your rub. Get a ziplock bag and add your chicken wings, olive oil, and the dry rub mix. Make sure every wing has an even coating, and let the wings rest for an hour.
Heat up your smoker until it’s between 250 and 255 F. Place the chicken wings over indirect heat and add the wood to create the smoke. Smoke the wings for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the chicken reaches 160° internally. Place the chicken wings directly over the coals for 5 to 10 minutes until the skin crisps. Let them rest for 10 minutes away from the heat and serve.
Your chicken skin should get a nice golden brown texture with hints of darker areas where it lays directly over the heat if you follow this smoker recipe.
3. Savory Pork Butt
These pork butts cook up in under 10 hours with crispy skin and loaded with flavorful juices using this smoker recipe. However, you do use a brine before you smoke it, so you’ll want to let these pork butts soak overnight. To make the brine, you’ll need:
- 1 cup kosher salt (divided)
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 8 cups water per pork butt
Get two containers that are large enough to add enough water to cover the pork butt(s). For this smoker recipe, we’re using two seven pound pork butts. Add ½ of the granulated sugar and kosher salt to each container with approximately eight cups of water. Make sure the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the pork butts, seal the container, and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, get your smoker ready according to the instructions. A few cups of soaked mesquite chips will add a nice flavor. Remove your pork butts from the brine and pat them dry. Next, you’ll make your rub and put it all over your pork butts. For the rub, you’ll need:
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons each of lemon pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup mild chili powder
- ¼ cup Lawry’s seasoned salt
Combine all of the dry ingredients but the Lawry’s and lemon pepper. Put each pork butt on its own baking sheet and sprinkle them with the Lawry’s. Sprinkle the rub all over the pork butts, including the sides and bottom. You want it to be thick enough to form a shell. Sprinkle lemon pepper on top of the rub. Cover and smoke for five to six hours.
Once you finish smoking it, place the pork butts on a rack in a large roasting pan and cover it. Put it in the oven at 300°F and cook for three more hours. Remove the foil and broil the pork butts for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The broiling portion of the process will help the skin crisp up while locking the juices inside the pork.
4. Smokey Mac n’ Cheese
You can smoke other things besides meat, and the smoky flavor is wonderful in this macaroni and cheese smoker recipe. It’s the perfect side to complement your BBQ, and you’ll need:
- 1 package elbow macaroni (16 ounces)
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ stick butter
- 3 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package cream cheese (8 ounces, chunked)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 8 ounce block of smoke Gouda cheese (divided, shredded)
- 1 8 ounce block of extra sharp cheddar (divided, shredded)
- 1 4 ounce wedge Parmesan cheese (shredded)
To start, cook your pasta as directed and drain it well. While the pasta cooks, get a medium saucepan and melt your butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the milk and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add in the salt, cream cheese, and pepper. Stir until smooth.
Coat a disposable 9 ½ by 11 by 2-inch pan with cooking spray. Heat your smoker up to 225 degrees. Get a large bowl and combine two cups of the smoked Gouda, two cups of the sharp cheddar, and Parmesan cheese. Add the pasta and the sauce in and mix well. Spoon the mixture into your aluminum pan. Cover it with foil and smoke for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle it with the remaining cheese, and smoke it uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.
Smoking the mac n’ cheese will give it a wonderful smoky layer that complements the cheese, and it’ll brown the top of the dish to give in a slight crunch.
5. Crisp Smoked Vegetables
Not only do smoked vegetables taste amazing, but they last longer once you smoke them. This smoker recipe will give you the basics on how to smoke vegetables, but you can try it out on your vegetables of choice. You’ll need the following ingredients to complete this smoker recipe:
- 1 cup of your preferred wood chips
- 1 ear of fresh corn cut into one-inch pieces and cleaned
- 1 red onion cut into wedges
- 1yellow squash cut into ½ inch strips
- 1 yellow, red, and green bell pepper cut into 1 inch strips
- 1 cup halved mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons each of vegetable oil and chicken seasoning
Once you cut up all of your vegetables, coat them evenly with your vegetable oil and chicken seasoning. Lay them in your aluminum pan. Heat your smoker to 225°F. Place your pan of vegetables in your smoker and smoke them for four hours. If you want a crispier skin, take the vegetables out of the smoker at the 3 ½ hour mark and finish them on the grill or with the broiler in your oven.
If you smoke roast your vegetables, you’ll get a nice crispy skin with a well done vegetable inside.
6. Smokey, Savory Brisket
When most people think of smoker recipes, brisket is the one cut of meat that comes to mind. It can be intimidating, but the end result is well worth the work. For this smoker recipe, you’ll need:
- 10 to 15 pound brisket (lean)
- 2 tablespoons each of coarse kosher salt and coarse black pepper
- 1 tablespoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 12 ounce beer of choice (corona works well)
- 6 ounces water
Mix your dry ingredients and lightly add the rub to both sides of your brisket. Get your smoker warming up. You want it to be between 275 and 300°F. Put the brisket on the smoker with the fat side up and the thicker end angled toward the fire. Let it cook for four hours, and check the temperature every ½ hour.
Pull the brisket from the smoker and add it to a pan that is around three inches deep. Pour 12 ounces of beer and 6 ounces of water over the brisket in the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, crimping the foil on the top. Cook for about four hours in the oven at 225 to 250°F. Pull it from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving it.
The rub you apply to the brisket will help it form a flavorful shell that locks the moisture and flavors in while protecting the meat from drying out.
7. Flavorful Smoked Salmon
This is a more labor-intensive smoker recipe, but you can seal the salmon in a freezer bag and it’ll keep for two months. You’ll want to buy fattier cuts of salmon as well so it doesn’t dry out. You’ll need:
- Salmon fillets (fatty, skin on)
- Lemon pepper or seasoning of choice
- 1:1 ratio of Apple and Cherry wood chips
To start this smoker recipe, rinse your salmon under cool water and pat dry. Remove all of the small bones, and cut the fillets into 8 or 16 ounce pieces. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and your seasoning of choice on both sides. Refrigerate the salmon 24 to 48 hours, wrapped.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and hang it in front of a fan overnight. Put a pan under the fish to catch any drippings, and allow a pellicle film to form. It should no longer be sticky to the touch. Heat your smoker up to 120°F. Set your salmon on the smoker racks, skin side down. Let them smoke for five to six hours. Change your wood chips out every two hours, and start checking for doneness after the four hour mark. Store in the refrigerator for a week or vacuum sealed for two months.
The smoky flavors mix well with salmon’s fishy flavor. Also, there is enough oil in the salmon to prevent it from drying out during the smoking process.
8. Spicy Smoked Sausage
This is an extremely simple smoker recipe, and all you need to do is decide which wood chips you want to use and which fresh sausage you have a craving for. To start, pick out your fresh Italian sausages with the casings. Lay them on your smoker racks in a single line, and make sure they’re not touching one another. Set your smoker to 250°F, and let the sausages smoke for three hours.
The sausages will have a slightly shriveled look, and they should have a reddish hue at this point. Once the sausages reach 165°F, they’re ready to come off the smoker. They’re tasty on their own, or you can slice them and add them to your soups, stir frys, or anything else you want to cook.
You can add different varieties of sausage to get different flavors like honey garlic, spicy, or mild.
9. Meaty Smoked Green Beans
This smoker recipe makes an excellent side dish, and you can cook it right when you cook your entree. You can use fresh or canned green beans, and you’ll need:
- Four to six cans green beans (drained)
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 clove garlic (diced)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ham hocks
- 2 to 4 cups chicken broth (enough to cover the beans)
- Pulled pork (optional)
Get an aluminum pan or a cast iron dutch oven and add the green beans to start using this smoker recipe. Add in your diced onion, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the pulled pork if you plan on it and the two ham hocks. Pour your chicken broth over the green beans until they’re covered. Cover with a layer of aluminum foil.
Heat your smoker to 250 or 275°F. Put your covered green beans in the smoker and let it smoke for two or three hours. Remove them from the smoker and serve.
Fresh green beans will have a little more texture to them than canned green beans when you smoke them.
10. Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Wrapping bacon around this pork tenderloin before smoking it adds layers of flavor. You can use thin cut bacon if you want or need a crispier finished product, but thick cut bacon works too. You’ll need the following ingredients for this smoker recipe:
- 1 one-pound pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon of your preferred rub
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 pound of bacon (thin or thick sliced)
To start this smoker recipe, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put your baking rack over it. Lightly season all sides of the pork tenderloin with your preferred rub. Wrap bacon around your entire pork tenderloin, and use toothpicks or skewers to hold it in place. Allow your smoker to heat up to 225°F.
Put your tenderloin in the smoker and let it go for 30 minutes at 225°. Once the half hour mark is up, turn your smoker up to 400°F. Drizzle your tablespoon of maple syrup over the tenderloin and put it back in the smoker. After another 30 minutes, the internal temperature should hit 145°F. When it does, pull it out of the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
The bacon will help seal your rub’s flavors into the pork while adding a salty element that mixes with the smokey taste.
11. Tasty Ribs
This smoker recipe will make you racks of honey barbeque ribs that have a wonderful smell, crispy outer layer, and it’s packed with juices. There are a few steps you’ll have to take with this smoker recipe, and you’ll need:
- ¼ cup paprika
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon each of kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger or basil
- Racks of ribs
To make the rub, combine your paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, and kosher salt in a bowl. Mix them well and set aside. To make your glaze, combine the soy sauce, water, honey, brown sugar, minced ginger, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Let the sauce simmer over medium heat until it thickens.
Remove the silver skin from the underside of each rack of ribs. Add your dry rub to both sides of the ribs, and turn your smoker to 225°F. Following this smoker recipe, you smoke the ribs for five hours. At the five hour mark, turn your temperature up to 250°F and apply your glaze to your ribs. Reapply your glaze after 30 minutes and check for doneness. When the internal temperature reaches 190°, the ribs are done.
The ribs should turn a darker red color and the glaze should add a brownish-orange tinge while imparting a host of flavors into the meat with this smoker recipe.
12. Tender Whole Chicken
Our final smoker recipe is a whole chicken. Unlike some of the smoker recipes on this, this one is relatively simple. You can change it or customize it to suit your tastes, and you’ll need:
- 1 two or three pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of your chosen rub
You want to preheat your smoker to 225°F for this smoker recipe. Drizzle olive oil over the entire chicken before coating it with your rub. Don’t try to work the rub into the meat because it’ll chunk up. Tie the legs together with butcher twine and tuck the wing tips behind the chicken’s shoulder joint.
Place your chicken directly on your smoker’s grill grates. Smoke your whole chicken for 3 ½ or 4 hours. You want the thighs to reach between 170 and 175°F while the breasts reach 160 to 165°F. If you want BBQ chicken, baste it with your favorite BBQ sauce during the last 30 minutes it smokes. For a crispy skin, increase your smokers’ temperature to 357 or 400°F for 5 to 10 minutes.
For this smoker recipe, you can also re-sauce the chicken when you pull it out of the smoker before you serve it.
These 12 smoker recipes allow you to make everything from the meat to the side dishes for your next BBQ. Invite the family over and swap different smoker recipes or invite everyone to bring their favorite. Whatever you choose, you’ll be the star of your next gathering.