Chuck roast is best when fresh off the grill or smoker. It’s cooked for hours low and slow over hickory, making it one of the best smoked beef cuts out there. Find out everything you need to know with our full smoked chuck roast recipe and guide.
Smoked beef chuck roast is incredible when done right, and it makes for a great burrito or sandwich filling too. It’s (almost) just as good as barbecue brisket, and comes at just a fraction of the price. In our recipe today we’ll be smoking a 10lb chuck roast on our choice of offset or drum smoker, and cooking it until perfect tender and delicious.
A lot of people think of chuck roast as either an oven or pan cooked meal, but it’s amazing prepared in a BBQ smoker. Just like brisket, it needs some serious cooking time – over 6 hours – before it becomes tender. But oh boy, is it worth it.
It’s not the most popular cut of beef, but this works to our favour as this tends to make it much cheaper!
Beef chuck is comprised of different groups of the shoulder, and is a cut well-suited to long cooks. When slow cooked, its fat will melt away, making the meat moist and packed full of flavour, and it will be close to falling away.
It’s outrageously delicious. So let’s get into it!
How to prepare beef chuck for smoking
Rinse the beef under cold water. Place it on a chopping board and apply salt to the surfaces of the meat. Apply it across the entire surface of the meat and rub it in firmly. This is called dry brining, and helps the meat retain its moisture and flavor while it’s exposed to warm temperatures in the smoker for several hours.
Transfer the meat to your refrigerator and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. This will allow the salt to be absorbed.
Remove it from the refrigerator and apply some yellow mustard all over it, including the bottom. The way that the mustard works here is to act almost as a glue or paste for the seasoning to stick to. The actual mustard flavour will fade quite a bit after smoking, so don’t be worried about the taste getting up your nose.
Sprinkle the seasoning over the roast and massage it in all over, including in any folds or crevices that you find.
Dry rub for chuck roast
For this recipe, I’ve opted for just a simple rub. Just like with brisket, I like smoked chuck roast to do the work and not reply on too many spices or herbs.
The ingredients for my rub are:
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
If you do like your meat to have a bit of a kick, try adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and half a teaspoon of chili powder. I find it’s better to use too little than it is too use too much, so be careful not to go overboard.
Prepare the smoker
Get the temperature of your smoker up to about 225°F (107°C). If you’re using a charcoal grill as a smoker, try to set up your grill for indirect grilling.
If you’re using a gas or outdoor electric grill this will still work, but you’re going have to make sure you keep feeding it smoking chips so that there is a constant feed of smoke for the 6+ hours of cooking time that we have planned for this! It won’t be as easy as charcoal, but it’s certainly doable.
There is a bit of a workaround though in the form of tube smokers. These little contraptions sit on top of your grill and contain pellets that will help provide a constant stream of smoke on whatever you’re smoking.
On to the BBQ smoker
Place your chuck roast right on the smoker grate, and let it cook for between 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound or until it reaches 195°F in the center. Thickness, as well as weight, can have a huge impact on cooking time, so you might find that it takes a lot longer than this!
You might want to wrap the roast in aluminum foil once you get to about 160°F just to help speed things up a bit. This isn’t always necessary, but can help if the rise in temperature in the meat seems to stall.
In fact, if you’re really struggling for kicking the heat up, once you foil the meat it’s just as fine being placed in the oven (while still wrapped in foil) to help get it over the line. I tend to prefer to use this as a last resort though, but the option is there.
Do try to remember to try and keep the heating temperature around 225°F though, as anything significantly higher will risk burning any seasoning or rubs that you use (both during and after cooking). Besides, a lower heat leads to a much tastier meat!
Resting and serving
For an even better finished product, wrap the roast in foil once it’s finished (if you haven’t done so already). Wrap a thick towel around it and place it into an empty ice chest like the ones you put ice and drinks into when you’re going to the lake.
Fill in any remaining space with more towels or blankets, and leave it for at least an hour. This is called the resting period and the reason we recommend this is because it allows the juices to re-circulate through the meat, back to the center, to help keep a great consistency through the roast.
Unwrap the foil and transfer the beef to a cutting board, and allow the internal temperature of the meat to drop to about 150°F.
Smoked chuck steak can dry out quickly once cut, so don’t slice it until you are serving it. Use a sharp knife to slice the roast in thin pieces, about a-quarter-inch thick.
Only slice what you are using. If you have any leftovers, keep it intact and store in airtight foil or wrap in the refrigerator.
How to pull chuck roast
If you prefer pulled beef instead of slices, then this bit’s for you! Open the foil and let the meat cool for a few minutes. Be careful: even after this resting period, the meat will still be very hot!
Pull the meat apart into chunks the size that you want, or use a cleaver or sharp knife to chop up the long strands of tender beef to make them much shorter.
Once you’ve done that, mix in your choice of rub… and enjoy!
What is chuck roast?
It has beautiful marbling throughout, which makes it perfect for low and slow cooking. The fat content in the marbling slow renders and melts away as it cooks, infusing the meat with a rich beef flavor.
It’s traditionally made as part of a pot roast (hence ‘chuck roast’), but it can in fact be barbecue smoked too. When smoked, it turns deliciously tender and moist, and full of rich beef flavor.
Chuck roast vs brisket
Chuck steak and brisket each come from different parts of the cow, making them two different kinds of beef altogether. They are different in terms of taste, texture, and how they should be cooked.
Chuck steak comes from the shoulder, while brisket comes from the lower chest or breast area of the cow.
Brisket often contains more fat and meat than chuck, making it more popular for smoking.
What’s the best wood for smoking chuck beef?
Just like when smoking brisket, the best woods for smoking beef tend to be woods that are deeper and more earthy in flavor, as opposed to the sweeter woods that we might use for poultry or pork.
These include oak, hickory, and mesquite.
For beef I tend to go for hickory. It’s a strong and deep wood, and you’ll only need a little bit to get the flavor you want.
What internal temperature do I need for smoked chuck roast?
Any smoked meat is only cooked once it reaches our target temperature, and in the case of beef chuck we want to go for between 190°F and 200°F.
This is a little higher than we might normally do for beef, but we want the chuck to reach a consistency at which we can pull the beef. Aiming for around 195°F helps the connecting tissues in the meat render and break down, so we can achieve that ideal melt-in-the-mouth feel that we want.