New To Smoking Beef? This Is The Cut You Should Start With, According To A Grill Master

One of the most challenging things about trying something new is not knowing enough about the topic to recognize which parts are harder than others. When it comes to smoking beef, is a steak the best place to dip your toes in or can you start with a brisket? Here to help us understand where to begin is Adam Truhler from The Grilling Dad.

"In terms of beef, I would recommend beef plate ribs (often called 'dino' ribs because of their size) for beginners," Truhler tells Tasting Table. "Dino ribs are often referred to as brisket on a stick. They have great flavor and the combination of high intramuscular fat and large bones (which provide some protection against excessive heat) make them a great gateway into smoking beef." They also tend to cook faster than brisket.

Beef plate ribs bring the dual package needed for beginners. For one, they're easier to work with because of the bones which, as Truhler said, make them more forgiving. Secondly, beef plate ribs are going to provide the wow factor you need your first time smoking to give you the motivation to smoke meats again in the future.

If you pick a cut of beef that's more difficult to get right, you may end up ruining it. That's tough on your wallet but it also means you might not want to give smoking a second go. There are other cuts of beef ribs you can choose from, but the plate ribs are a solid choice.

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For most of us, smoked beef automatically brings brisket to mind but Truhler had some thoughts on why it isn't a great choice to start with. "Brisket, while popular, can be tricky for beginners because it is actually two muscles," Truhler told us. "One that is very fatty and one that is very lean. When smoking a brisket, you need to balance the needs of both these muscles to achieve an even, tender cook."

You have to learn to walk before you can run. Brisket done right is a glorious thing but even experienced cooks can easily mess up this cut of meat because of how temperamental it can be. There are many mistakes you need to avoid with brisket, none of which are going to occur to you if you're only just learning how to get your smoker to the right temperature.

"On top of that," Truhler went on. "Because beef is more expensive and briskets are typically well over 10 pounds (it's not uncommon for a brisket to cost $50 or more), cooking a brisket and having it not turn out how you would like can really be a bummer." If you ruin an expensive brisket once that may suck but you might try again. If you keep trying to cook brisket, not realizing that it's one of the hardest cuts of beef to work with, you'll eventually throw in the towel and stop smoking altogether. Start small and work your way up instead.