For thousands of years smoking food has been a way of preserving an abundance of produce for leaner times.
Even today you will see people in various countries around the world who do not have access to refrigeration smoking their food outdoors over small fires – most often it is fish, but a variety of meats are also smoked to make them last longer.
This collection is of smoker recipes for meat from domesticated animals as well as some more unusual wild game including alligator, and elk as well as smoked meat recipes from around the world like Turkish marinaded lamb, and Namibian Barbel (catfish) to name a few. They are really worth trying out.
Once people get into smoking their food it makes for interesting conversations as the pros and cons of various spice mixes, best cuts to smoke, and wood types for certain meats, are discussed and people share the results and the finer points of smoking certain cuts.
And now for the recipes!
Table of Contents
Smoked Chicken Breast
I find smoked chicken breast very versatile for sandwiches, wraps, salads, and even in Hawaiian poke bowls.
Bourbon BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings
The woods best suited to smoking chicken are hickory, apple, pecan, and cherry. This is a good way to use up those chicken wings. Here’s the recipe.
Smoked Chicken Drumsticks
This recipe is fairly simple and works for a variety of types of smokers. Although this recipe is sufficient for 4 people, if you have a larger smoker you can do a whole lot more as these are crowd pleasers.
Preserve the bounty from a good duck hunting season – smoke, then freeze for use later. Here’s the recipe.
If you have tried barbequing a turkey and had poor results then try the slower smoking method for a more evenly cooked bird that is super tasty and moist.
After soaking in a buttermilk brine quail only take about thirty minutes in the smoker. Here’s the recipe.
Brining the bird first makes for a more tender meat. Pheasant is quite a rich dark meat so a little will go far. Here’s the recipe.
Smoked Pork Ribs – tender
Baby back ribs are prepared to tender perfection using the 3-2-1 method resulting in meltingly tender ribs.
Smoking Pork Ribs – competition style
Pork ribs for competitions should have the meat pulling away from the bone cleanly but not so tender it falls off the bone. This post gives guidelines on getting that crisp finish to the ribs without them turning black!
Smoked Ham Hocks
The process to achieve these smoked ham hocks involves brining for three days, drying for 12-14 hours, and then smoking, but the result will be worth the wait.
It’s not so hard to smoke your own ham – just quite a bit of waiting around time, but make sure you have something else to do while the ham cures in brine and during the various other stages of getting to that perfectly pink ham.
Aside from smoked ham, you should also try this mouth-watering smoked pork loin recipe.
Bacon has to be one of the most universally loved meat products among pork eaters, and as the author of this post says, the only thing better than bacon is real home-cured bacon!
Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket
This brisket will be mouth-wateringly good. The post gives tips on achieving the perfect smoked brisket.
Smoked BBQ Beef Ribs
The smoked beef ribs with their dark bark and tender meat inside are one of the most popular additions to a BBQ platter, and are big enough to satisfy the cravings of any carnivore.
Smoked Leg of Lamb
Moist and full of delicate flavor, this smoked leg of lamb may have you rethinking the traditional Sunday roast.
The rub used is heavy on herbs to bring out the flavor rather than relying on spices that impart their own flavor.
Smoked Lamb Shanks
These shanks are tender as they are finished using a tomato paste, fresh herbs, and garlic in a beef broth braising technique that stops them from drying out.
Turkish Marinaded Smoked Lamb Leg
The overnight soak in a paste-type marinade made of onion, cumin, parsley, and garlic blended finely, helps to bring out the flavor before an additional seasoning is added.
The lamb is cooked to medium rare perfection. Here’s the recipe.
Fish and Seafood
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Smoked salmon is expensive, so when the salmon are running stock up and smoke plenty of this amazingly healthy food.
If you haven’t tagged and released a marlin, but caught it for a competition then you’ll want to smoke some of the meat.
At top resorts in Mauritius smoked marlin and tuna appear on the menu regularly – apparently it’s common off the island and a staple food enjoyed by locals and international tourists.
One of the oiliest fish, eels taste particularly good when smoked. Cleaning them can be a bit finicky but worth the taste sensation when done. Here’s the recipe.
Tuna is one of those gamey fish that needs to be bled after being caught and the bloodline removed from the flesh.
It’s a darker strip of meat that does not taste so good. See how to remove it here.
Tuna can also dry if fried, but smoked this way the fish is tender and moist.
Smoked African Barbel/Catfish
This recipe is for smoking the barbel found along the Namibian and South African coast, but will work just as well for North American species of catfish.
Despite the danger of avoiding the spines, the meat of catfish is white, tender, and delicious.
On a camping trip, a friend decided to hot smoke some catfish caught that day as a snack for the adults.
He thought the kids would be wanting the burgers, chicken, and other meat on the BBQ but no, when the adults turned their backs it was the kids who polished off the delicious pieces from the grill of the smoker!
He had to start again smoking some catfish for the adults and was waving his tongs at the kids telling them to leave the next batch alone!
It doesn’t really matter what type of fish you have caught – a firm white fish will do fine for this smoked fish recipe.
Often anglers dump this fish as it does not have a good reputation as an eating fish, but it all depends on how you prepare it and smoked it, and with the spice rub it turns out very tasty. Here’s the recipe.
Although known by different names around the world, this fish is deliciously grilled or fried as well as smoked.
Smoked Lobster Tails
Just 45 to 60 minutes in the smoker with butter, lemon, and spices and you will have succulent lobster tails.
Hot Smoked Shrimp
These are quick and easy to do and are delicious as a snack or in salads, wraps, and pasta dishes.
Smoked Buttery Shrimp
The butter keeps them succulent. Just watch the temperature to make sure they don’t end up rubbery. Here’s the recipe.
Brushed with a spice mix and brushed with butter every 15 minutes or so during the cooking process, these are great as a side or a main dish. Here’s the recipe.
Pick your own mussels, or buy them fresh, smoke them using this method and you’ll never want to eat smoked mussels out of a can again!
For those not in favor of swallowing their raw oysters whole with a little lemon or tabasco, smoking them makes for a rich and tasty snack with a delicate smoky flavor.
Smoked Alligator Leg
Apple wood smoking enhances the taste of alligator which tastes a bit like a chicken with the texture of lobster. These guys smoke a smallish gator whole!
Smoked Elk Roast
Elk is a tender meat similar to beef but less fatty. Smoking enhances the flavor of this delicious meat.
Smoked Venison Ribs with Wild Plum Glaze
Follow the tips here to get succulent deer ribs – a cut most hunters sadly discard. Once you have tried this you will beg for the hunters to being home the ribs!
Smoked Venison Tenderloin
A citrus marinade adds depth to this venison, taking away from the gamey taste, and delivering succulent meat. Here’s the recipe.
Smoked Elk Roast
The taste of the meat depends on the wood used for smoking, and here it is the Mesquite and Apple wood that give this roast its unique flavor.
Take particular note of the temperature at which the meat is pulled from the smoker and how after wrapping the temperature increases. Here’s the recipe.
The cowboys in the Old West who smoked their buffalo meat over a fire just couldn’t get the taste from using a modern smoker where the temperature is controlled for getting the dark outer bark and tender meat inside when the smoking is done.
If you love those smoked olives from farmer’s markets or delicatessens, then here’s how to do it yourself.
Smoking cheese is quite an art if you don’t want to risk burning or melting it! The trick is to maintain it at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Smoker Should I Get?
This will depend on the size of the cuts you are planning on smoking. You can start off using your Weber grill but then may want to progress to an upright smoker for larger cuts, or a small smoker for delicate items like oysters, mussels, and shrimps.
It’s important to be able to control the temperature in the smoker. As you work through the recipes you will see each person may have a different preference.
The Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill is a popular choice, and if you want to go electric the Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Smoker is kind of state of the art with the temperature being controlled via Bluetooth from your phone, a wood chip loading system on the side meaning you don’t need to open the smoker door, and 4 racks!
The Cuisinart 36-inch Propane Smoker is a highly rated gas smoker.
What Types of Wood Chips Are Used in a Smoker?
The types of wood used for smoking vary from mild to strong. Among your mild woods are the fruit woods like apple, pear, peach, and cherry, which will work well with your delicate meats like poultry, and some fish.
Birch chips will work well with stronger fish like salmon, but as you work through the recipes collated below you will see the advice given on the appropriate wood or blend of woods, to use with each type of meat.
Pecan, hickory, maple, and oak are probably best known as they are often used with pork and beef, with hickory and oak lending a rich dark color to the meat.
Mesquite is a strong wood flavor you need to use in moderation. When you really get into smoking meat you’ll probably want to follow the lead of top contenders in smoking competitions who blend their woods like the rest of us blend spices!
Is Smoked Food Good for You?
For many years smoked food was advised in moderation as various studies have associated it with cancer and heart disease BUT the danger can be lessened by using real wood for smoking.
People are warned not to use gasoline for starting the fire or plastics to get it going as these are carcinogens.
Gas, electric, and wood smokers are probably slightly better health-wise, as when fat from the meat drips onto charcoal it creates polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) the fumes of which can be carcinogenic.
Instant Read Meat Thermometer
When you are smoking you need to know the internal temperature of the meat you are cooking in order to make sure it is sufficiently done.
The Duykqem is a brand trusted by many. Many of the recipes will specify that a certain temperature needs to be reached and maintained for a certain amount of time to ensure the meat is safe to eat.
Is Smoked Food Tasty?
Hell, yes! That’s why in an age where we don’t really have to preserve food by smoking it is still wildly popular.
How could we live without bacon, ham, chorizo, pastrami, smoked salmon, smoked oysters, smoked pork or beef ribs? And that’s to name just a few smoked foods.
What Spices Should I Add to Smoked Food?
The spices vary but can include herbs commonly grown in your garden like basil, dill, oregano, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon.
Then there are a large number of commercial seasoning blends available that can be used – often it’s a matter of personal preference whether you create your own blends or go with something tried and tested to achieve a particular flavor.
Spices you may want to include are cinnamon, all spice, cloves, coriander seed, cumin seed, garlic powder, ginger powder, nutmeg, onion powder, mustard powder, and ground dried chili.
Jeanie is an avid camper and a cook. She likes to do pioneer recipe sin particular, and any other type of survival food that our great-grandfathers loved.