Smoked beef cheeks are one of the most underrated cuts of meat on the planet. They are flavorful, tender, and so versatile! In this easy-to-follow smoked beef cheeks recipe, we’re going to show you how to smoke beef cheeks to perfection. We will also give you a few top tips on how to prepare and season them for smoking. If you still own your first pellet grill, Z Grills is the ideal choice for your first wood pellet grill. We’re a grill manufacturer with over 30 years of experience within the industry. With over 650,000 pellet grills sold and 85 million cooks made. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
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What are Beef Cheeks?
They are called cheeks for a reason! Beef cheeks are simply the cheek muscles of cattle. Now, cattle chew a lot so these muscles are well used. That means they are packed with flavor but can be a little tough. That’s the reason for the slow cooking. Cooking at a low temperature for a few hours renders the collagen in the meat making it melt-in-the-mouth tender and keeping it moist and sticky.
How to Buy the Best Beef Cheeks for Smoking?
Beef cheeks are a bit of a specialty cut, after all, there are only two per animal. You are probably better off finding a good butcher rather than looking in supermarkets. Your butcher may want a couple of days’ warning so that they can give you properly prepared cheeks. Beef cheeks are sinewy so you want them completely trimmed and ready to be cooked.
Don’t forget that beef cheeks shrink during cooking. What starts off as a 12½ oz (350 g) piece of meat will only weigh 8½ oz (250g) on the plate. If you think this small size makes them bad candidates for long smoking times, don’t worry. That’s the magic of collagen – it bastes the cheeks from inside, keeping them beautifully moist.
Remember that beef cheeks, like pork tenderloin, for example, can come with some silver skin attached. This membrane needs to be removed before cooking as it can remain extremely tough and often tastes bitter.
How to Prepare Beef Cheeks for Smoking?
With everything in life, preparation is key, and the first step in this recipe is to prepare the meat for the grill. This involves cleaning and trimming the beef cheeks and removing any excess fat from each piece using a sharp knife. Typically when the excess is removed, you’ll be left with around 70% meat.
Trim the Beef Cheeks
Trim any loose or hard fat by laying the beef cheek on a flat surface. You can also trim off any silver skin. By cleaning away the excess fat and silver skin before you throw the beef cheeks on the Z Grills, you’ll be left with tender, juicy meat every time.
Now that the meat is clean, it’s time to season it to perfection!
Season up the Beef Cheeks
Treating beef cheeks like you would any beef brisket, season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Coat each side of the meat generously with the seasoning so that it will smoke up nicely on your Z Grills.
How Long Should You Smoke Beef Cheeks?
In this recipe, we’ll smoke the beef cheeks at 275F for a full 4 hours. By slow cooking beef cheeks on a pellet grill, you’ll prevent any burnt and tough chunks of meat and instead enjoy tender, juicy bites. This will also help develop a nice bark on the meat.
How to Smoke Beef Cheeks, Step-by-Step
So, how to cook beef cheeks on a pellet Z Grills? We’ve made this process super simple, so just follow the below step-by-step guide. You can thank us later!
Preheat Your Z Grills Pellet Grill to 275F
Preheat your Z Grills pellet grill to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, using your favorite Z Grills pellets. In this video, we’ll use cherry wood pellets.
Place the Beef Cheeks onto the Grill
Once your pellet grill comes up to the right temperature, Place the beef cheeks directly onto the grates of the smoker. Now place aluminum foil or a tray under the meat to catch the dripping. Smoke for 2 1/2 hours.
Checking Your Beef Cheeks
At that 2 1/2 hour mark, check bark and internal temperature. If the meat is over 170F internal, proceed to the next step. If not, give it some more time but keep checking the temperature.
Cover With Foil
As soon as the bark is set and your internal temp has reached approximately 170F, it’s time to remove and place in an aluminum tray and on top of a bed of onions. At 1/2-1 box of beef stock (enough to cover the bottom of the tray and bottom layer of onions).
Smoke Covered for another 1 1/2 hours
Now cover the cheeks with aluminum foil and continue to smoke until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1 1/2 hours.
Rest, Slice, and Serve
Rest for 20 minutes shred, chop and enjoy the delicious cut of meat!
Now that your beef cheeks are cooked to perfection, it’s time to rest them. This is an important step, as it allows the meat to reabsorb all of its juices and flavors. Once the beef cheeks have rested, you can either shred them or slice them into thin strips. Serve immediately with your favorite sides, and enjoy!
Top Tip: Using a Z Grills 11002B is the best grill for smoking beef cheeks as it can maintain a low temperature for hours on end. This is essential for smoking meat, as you want to cook it slowly and evenly.
Impress your friends and family and become the ultimate grill master at home by trying out this deliciously different recipe!
Pro Tips for Smoked Beef Cheeks
Now you know how to make smoked beef cheeks, here are some additional top tips to make this meat even more enjoyable.
If possible, look for organic meat and purchase from a local butcher. Since not many people seem to eat beef cheeks anymore, you might struggle to find this cut of meat at your local mall. So, it’s best to go to a butcher first.
When it comes to wood for your grill, try using oak, cherry, or even pecan, which will add aroma and bring out the flavor without burning the meat.
If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy beef cheeks, consider making smoked beef cheek tacos for a movie night. Coat with salsa and guacamole for a delicious Friday night snack.
How to Trim Beef Cheeks?
You can either slice the beef cheeks using a sharp knife, shred them or simply pull them apart if they start to fall apart when you take them from the grill.
What Are the Best Wood Pellets for Smoked Beef Cheeks?
Traditionally, the go-to pellets for beef are Oak wood pellets and Hickory BBQ grill pellets. But you may like to try Z Grills Competition Blend BBQ grill pellets with their subtle mix of maple, hickory, and cherry woods. Alternatively, go for a fruitwood like an apple, or cherry, or our Fruitwood BBQ grill pellets for something a little different.
Whatever pellets you choose, make sure they are high quality for consistency, heat, and flavor. All our pellets are all-natural and sourced from U.S. mills with no fillers or binders. Plus, they are kiln-dried for fast ignition and beautiful blue smoke.
How Long Should You Smoke Beef Cheeks?
Generally, you’ll be looking at around 4 hours for perfectly smoked beef cheeks, though the exact timing will depend on the size of the cuts and the temperature you use. The bigger, the longer, the hotter, the shorter. Collagen needs time to cook, so don’t cut corners. Set your wood pellet smoker to 275 °F for 4 hours on the grill, and make sure you have a temperature probe to hand to ensure they reach an internal temperature of 170 °F.
What Temperature Should I Cook Beef Cheek on the Smoker?
In this smoked beef cheek recipe, we smoke at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2 hours first, and then we turn down the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for another 1 1/2 hours.
What Does Beef Cheek Meat Taste Like?
If you’ve never had this cut of meat before, you’re probably wondering what are beef cheeks and what they really taste like! Well, the beef cheek meat is incredibly flavorful and juicy. It has a similar taste to beef brisket, but it is more tender and easier to eat.
Smoked Beef Cheeks
- Trim the beef cheeks. Trim any lose or hard fat by laying the beef cheek on a flat surface. You can also trim off any silver skin.
- Season up the beef cheeks. Use an S&P&G mix. Treat the beef cheek as you would on a brisket! Cover all side of the meat.
- Preheat your Z Grills pellet grill to 275F using your favorite Z GRILLS pellets. We recommend cherry pellets for this recipe!
- Wrap the beef cheeks in foil and smoke for approximately 1 hour.
- Once your Z Grills pellet grill comes up to temperature, add in your beef cheeks. Smoke for 2 1/2 hours.
- Checking your beef cheeks. At that 2 1/2 hour mark, check bark and internal temperature. If over 170F internal, proceed to the next step.
- Once the bark is set and your internal temp has reached approximately 170F remove to an aluminum tray on a bed of onions. At 1/2-1 box of beef stock (Enough to cover the bottom of the tray and bottom layer of onions). Cover with foil.
- Smoke covered for another 1 1/2 hours. You want the toothpick tender or an internal temperature of over 200F.
- Rest for 20 minutes, shred, chop and enjoy!