Smoked chuck roast aka poor man’s brisket is a great alternative to smoked brisket. If you feel intimidated by smoking a large cut of meat like brisket, then this recipe is perfect for you. Smoking beef chuck roast results in juicy, tender, and flavorful meat that you can either slice or shred to make smoked pulled beef. It works out cheaper than brisket, and cooks quicker too!
If you follow my recipe, you will get juicy and tender meat that literally melts and cuts like butter and easily passes the pull-test! The smokey flavor of this beef is absolutely incredible!
If you’re a smoker fan and still haven’t tried smoking a beef chuck roast, then it’s time to give this a try! It’s much easier than smoking a brisket as a chuck roast is a smaller cut of meat, so it takes less time but the result will still amaze you!
The smoked chuck roast takes about 6-7 hours to be ready, but if you need something even quicker, then check out my smoked whole chicken recipe! Ready in just 2-3 hours and it’s incredibly tender and juicy!
What is Chuck Roast?
A chuck cut or chucky is a brisket’s little cousin, as it’s smaller and doesn’t cost a fortune! I also very often see them go on sale, so pick the most marbled one for the best flavor.
A beef chuck roast is a tough cut of meat due to the tight connective tissue but becomes so tender with the process of smoking low and slow. It’s a cut that comes from the front of the animal, and although it’s quite tough and often used to make ground beef, it’s very rich in flavor and has a great balance of meat and fat.
Dollar to Dollar the chuck roast is not exactly cheaper, but it gives you the option to buy smaller cuts like the chuck roast so you end up paying less than buying a brisket and it’s perfect to be served to a family of 6 to 8 (we’re talking about 3-4 lb cut here).
Chuck roast is usually used to make pot roast, it’s also often roasted or grilled. The smoking method is also brilliant (although less known). The idea here is to smoke the chuck roast on low heat for a few hours, this will allow the fat to slowly render while breaking down and tenderizing the tight connective tissue.
Prepping the Beef Chuck Roast
I usually get a 3-3.5 pound chuck, and as I mentioned above, I try to get a marbled cut if possible. And for a Texas-style smoked beef, I season with just kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Simple but gives the best flavor!
So liberally season the cut of beef with equal parts of kosher salt and pepper from all sides, and leave it uncovered in the fridge for at least a couple of hours and up to 24 hours (24 hours means MORE flavor!). What this will do is draw out some moisture from the meat by sweating and the meat will absorb the salt and the proteins will weaken (tender meat!), all of this will help create a better smoked flavor, tender meat, and beautiful smoking bark.
TIP: If the meat is loose due to the intermuscular fat, tie it all around with a butcher’s twine so it keeps together.
Now if you’re in a hurry and can’t afford to wait, skip that part! Just season it, and move on to the smoker! The meat will be a little wet, but it will still taste delicious. However, make sure that you take the beef out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before smoking, never put a cold cut of meat on a smoker as it will sweat and steam if smoking from cold.
How to Smoke a Chuck Roast
Our goal here is to let the meat cook LOW AND SLOW just like brisket! However, chuck roast is a smaller cut compared to brisket, so it will be done quicker. The smoking process will be done in two stages: we will first smoke it unwrapped, and then wrap it tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil if that’s what you have available.
Wrapping the meat in butcher paper or foil will keep the chuck roast moist and tender, so it does not dry out. But make sure that you wrap it TIGHTLY so the meat doesn’t steam and lose its beautiful crusty bark that we worked so hard for!
So after the meat has come to room temperature, throw it on a preheated smoker and let it cook at 225°F for 3-3.5 hours and bathe in that smoke! Then starting probing it by inserting the probe in the thickest part of the cut, if it hits 160°-165°F then take it off the grill.
Wrap it with 2 layers of butcher paper or foil, and put it back on the smoker for another hour. Probe it, and when it registers an internal temperature of 208°-210°F, take it off the grill keeping it wrapped.
TIP: When probing the meat, pierce it through the butcher paper or foil (do not unwrap). If you have one of these fancy electric meat stainless steel probes that come with a wire, they work much better as you won’t have to keep opening the smoker to check the temperature.
Let it rest for an hour in a dry cooler, it should reach around 145°F while in the cooler. What this does is help retain heat and let the meat temperature drop slowly while intermuscular fat is rendering further and breaking with it any muscle tissue. Also, that will let all meat juices redistribute and preserve all the flavor from running with the juices when you cut through the meat to serve, and it keeps the meat tender and juicy. Don’t worry it will still be hot for serving!
Once you take it out of the cooler, unwrap and slice or shred for a pulled beef sandwich of your dreams! And enjoy admiring the beautiful pink smoke ring that you’re going to get!
TIP: The above timings are just a guide, but it’s important that you keep probing the meat to make sure that you reach the correct temperature for tender smoked chuck roast!
To enjoy a good cut of beef, masking up the flavor of the meat is not always a good idea. I like to keep it simple and season the beef chuck with equal parts of kosher salt and pepper for a Texas-style flavor, and sometimes we also add garlic powder that adds a delicious flavor.
Honestly, when it comes to smoking and grilling, we all know that Texas is the home of grilling and smoking and these people KNOW what they’re doing! This simple seasoning embraces the meat flavor with the rendered intermuscular fat. Also remember, a good covering of coarse seasoning is what gives the meat the gorgeous crusty bark!
If you like barbecue rubs, then go for paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic, and onion powders.
Choice of Wood for Smoking
Always smoke with hardwood and never with softwood, the difference is that softwood comes from evergreen trees while hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves in the autumn. Softwood burns faster and contains more moisture, and that produces black smoke. Use hardwood for clean smoke that tastes amazing!
For smoked brisket and chuck roast, we usually go for oak for a classic Texas BBQ flavor. Pecan is also great, and hickory has a strong aroma but it also complements the beef flavor.
How to Smoke a Chuck Roast for Pulled Beef
If you want to pull the smoked chuck roast, it’s very important to wrap it in butcher paper or foil as you want to reserve all of the moisture. As you let the beef rest in a cooler for an hour, it should reach about 145°F which means that the meat is now tender and ready to be sliced or pulled.
The meat pulls very easily as it’s super tender so I usually just pull it with my fingers or with 2 forks, but another easy way to pull the beef is to use a stand mixer on a low speed.
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Smoked chuck roast also reheats very well to make sandwiches on the next day.
Other Smoked Recipes to Try
If you loved this smoked chuck roast recipe as much as I do, check out some of my other favorite smoked recipes, below:
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I hope that you love every recipe that you make! – Diana x
Smoked Chuck Roast Recipe
- 3-4 lb chuck roast
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- Season the roast liberally with salt and ground black pepper from all sides.
- Allow the chuck roast to rest until the meat begins to sweat, if possible leave it uncovered in the fridge for at least a couple of hours and up to 24 hours.
- If needed, truss the chuck roast with butcher’s twine to retain the shape before placing it in the smoker, and make sure that the meat comes to room temperature (rest for 45 minutes or 1 hour).
- Fill the steam pot in the smoker with water and stock with wood/pellets.
- Throw the chuck roast on a preheated smoker and let it cook at 225°F for 3-3.5 hours. Then starting probing it by inserting the probe in the thickest part of the cut, if it registers 160°-165°F then take it off the grill.
- Wrap it with 2 layers of butcher paper or foil, and put it back on the smoker for another hour.
- Probe it, and when it registers an internal temperature of 208°-210°F, take it off the grill keeping it wrapped. Let it rest for an hour in a dry cooler, it should reach around 145°F, then unwrap and slice or shred and serve.
- The above timings are just a guide, but it’s important that you keep probing the meat to make sure that you reach the correct temperature for tender smoked chuck roast!
- Avoid placing the smoker under direct sun on a hot day as probing might give you false readings. Reposition the smoker to a shaded or cloudy area.
- We used oak wood for this recipe.
- I usually season with equal parts of salt and pepper for Texas-style BBQ flavor, and sometimes add garlic powder. But if I’m doing for a barbecue0style rub, I use paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic and onion powders.
- Low and slow is the best way to smoke meats. This really allows the flavor of the seasonings and the wood to penetrate into the meat and it becomes packed full of flavor.
- Always make sure to check the steam pot and fill it with water as needed. It is important to maintain a high moisture level within the smoker.