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Quick to prep, Smoked Beef Cheeks is all about the smoking time. Since they are a tough muscle, the slow cooking of smoking is the perfect method for making melt-in-your-mouth perfect beef cheeks.
I bet you never thought about what it means when a butcher says they use the entire animal. Of all edible parts, the cheeks may be one of the lesser known, which is sad because they are extremely underrated. Smoked Beef Cheeks are versatile, small (and therefore well proportioned), and simple to prepare by following my Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe.
What Are Beef Cheeks?
Literally the facial cheeks of the cow, the cheeks are a well used muscle and therefore fairly full of sinew. Since there are only two of these muscles per cow, keep in mind that cheek meat is more of a specialty cut. If you have a local butcher you are going to buy them from, you’ll want to call ahead of time to order as not many butchers keep a lot on-hand. The butcher should trim all the sinew for you, though, so that might be worth the trip.
Ingredients for Smoked Beef Cheeks
Keep scrolling for the full recipe. This is just a quick overview to give you an idea what you’re dealing with.
- Beef Cheeks – Not a large cut of meat, so be aware of how much you need for the crowd you’re feeding. These probably aren’t great for a main dish for a horde of people.
- Kosher Salt – A pivotal ingredient when it comes to smoking meat, salt keeps the meat moist and makes it easy to pull apart when done smoking.
- Ground Black Pepper – Adds that zing of flavor that every meat needs.
- Garlic Powder – Bring on the garlic. All the garlic. Beef and garlic are always a flavor win.
How to Cook Beef Cheeks
First, be sure to trim all the fat, silver skin, and sinew off the beef cheeks. Since the cheeks are a much used muscle, it can be a very tough piece of meat (before smoking it, that is). Toss all the seasonings in a bowl and add the beef cheeks, using your hands to rub the seasoning in really well.
Preheat the smoker to 250°F then place the beef cheeks directly on the grates and smoke them for 4-5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 210°F. After removing the beef cheeks from the smoker, let them rest for 15 minutes before slicing or pulling the meat to serve.
If you’re wondering what dishes might be tasty with smoked beef cheeks, here are a few recommendations:
- For a smaller crowd, whip up some mashed potatoes and just go to town.
- Toss them in a hearty stew
- Create a beef cheeks lasagna
- Make pulled beef cheek sliders
- Pull the meat after smoking and use them for tacos
A Few Extra Tips
- Your beef cheeks will cook at varying rates, so I recommend inserting your meat thermometer into each cheek to ensure their internal temperature is around 210°F to 215°F before you take them out of the smoker.
- If you trim the beef cheeks yourself, you’ll probably feel like there’s a lot of waste. You can save it and add it to ground beef or even make tallow (fat added to dishes for seasoning and whatnot).
- There’s a big difference between Kosher salt and normal table salt, so if you aren’t looking to absolutely over-salt your smoked beef cheeks, it is absolutely worth purchasing Kosher salt.
Some of our Favorite Sauces to Serve with Smoked Beef Cheeks
Smoked Beef Cheeks
- 4-6 ea. Beef cheeks (2-3 lbs.)
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup garlic powder
- Trim any fat, silver skin, or sinew from your beef cheeks. There is quite a bit of waste, so save the trimming to add to ground beef or to make tallow.
- Season generously with the beef seasoning blend. I find it easiest to add the seasoning to a large bowl, toss the beef cheeks in the seasoning, and rub it in with my hands.
- Set the smoker to 250°F and preheat.
- Place the beef cheeks on the grates and cook for 4-5 hours until they reach an internal temperature of 210°F.
- Remove from the smoker and allow to rest for 15 minutes before you either slice or pull the meat.