10 Next-Level Smoker Recipes to Try

Horn Barbecue Smoked Brisket
Photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Smoke imparts a deep flavor in food that can't be beat. And while you can achieve that effect through a number of different methods, from using a smoking gun to smoking with a grill, here, we're featuring recipes to make with an actual smoker. We've got several variations on smoked turkey recipes, whether you're looking for Smoked Turkey Breast or prefer turkey legs (and these get an extra kick with a chipotle-spiced dry brine). This Smoked Brisket recipe is on the menu, too, as are burnt ends — even Smoked Cherry Bounce, which gets depth from smoked fresh Bing cherries. So gather your wood chips or chunks, prepare your smoker, and get ready for a seriously delicious meal.

01 of 10

Smoked Cherry Bounce

Smoked Cherry Bounce Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer

Smoking juicy, sweet Bing cherries infuses them with a heady, savory aroma. The depth carries into boozy cherry bounce — after a three-month rest. Plenty of sugar, a touch of bright lemon juice, and smooth brandy round out this vibrant homemade cordial.

02 of 10

Smoked Pork Butt

Smoked Pork Butt sandwich
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

This recipe is perfect for your next weekend cookout. You can use Boston butt or pork shoulder; either will yield incredibly smoky, tender, and juicy meat. After rubbing the mustard into the pork and sprinkling on the brown sugar mixture, allow it to rest at room temperature while you prepare the smoker — this will not only allow the rub to permeate deeper into the meat, but also help expedite the cooking process slightly. Keep the temperature in the smoker as consistent as possible, and refill with hot coals as needed. Don't use quick-light types of charcoal, which will give the meat a chemical taste. Serve the pork with a barbecue sauce of your choice and classic barbecue sides, such as baked beans, potato salad or chips, and coleslaw.

03 of 10

Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey

Spatchcocked Smoke Turkey
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer & John Somerall / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Sweet, tangy, and succulent thanks to chef and pitmaster Rodney Scott's smoky dry rub and spicy mopping sauce, this turkey is easy to tackle on a kamado-style cooker. While Scott swears by the thermal qualities of a ceramic grill, this turkey can also be cooked in a kettle grill or smoker at 225°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F, or roasted in the oven at 325°F (cook times will vary).

04 of 10

Smoked Brisket

Horn Barbecue Smoked Brisket
Andrew Thomas Lee

This smoked brisket is self-taught barbecue expert Matt Horn's signature recipe — the star of the menu at his restaurant, Horn Barbecue, in Oakland, California. The 2021 F&W Best New Chef spent weeks perfecting this recipe, and says time is the most important ingredient in this dish. You need to be patient while the meat's internal temperature rises to 203°F (95°C), but it's worth it when your smoked masterpiece is ready.

05 of 10

Barbecue-Spiced Hot-Smoked Salmon

Barbecue Spiced Hot Smoked Salmon
Greg DuPree

Homemade barbecue spice seasons both a dry brine and pineapple-based mop sauce for a double dose of flavor in this hot-smoked salmon recipe. The resulting salmon makes a show-stopping buffet centerpiece any time of day.

06 of 10

Simple Smoked Turkey

Simple Smoked Turkey Recipe
Marcus Nilsson

Smoking a turkey yields juicy and tender meat. The keys to success are seasoning the bird with a dead-simple saltwater brine, then controlling the temperature of the smoker for even cooking. The added bonus of smoking the Thanksgiving turkey? It frees up the oven for sides and pies.

07 of 10

Burnt Ends with Bourbon Sauce

Burnt Ends
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox & John Somerall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

The crispy, caramelized "burnt" pieces of a smoked brisket are often the best part because the flavor is concentrated and the texture is pleasingly chewy. This recipe creates an entire baking tray of crispy pieces, so there are plenty to go around. Chef Matt Horn likes to serve these with slices of white bread; he shared his step-by-step process for making Burnt Ends with us, from seasoning the brisket to caramelizing the sauce on the cubed meat. If you spend a lot of time barbecuing, you will try out literally hundreds of rubs, not to mention cooking sauces, table sauces, mops, binders, and pastes. Eventually, you will settle on an all-purpose rub that adds loads of flavor to just about anything you put in the smoker. Horn Rub is chef Matt Horn's go-to rub; he keeps it close at hand at all time, and uses it to generously season these savory burnt ends. Instead of vinegar, Horn's thick, sticky Bourbon Sauce gets its kick from its namesake: bourbon. For a classic sauce with Kentucky roots, use dark molasses in place of the honey. This recipe works well with any type of barbecue, and Horn loves it in baked beans, too.

08 of 10

Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked Turkey Bread over Spring Salad
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Smoking a turkey breast results in smoky, juicy meat with a deeply golden skin. Applying the lemon-oregano rub under and on top of the skin ensures that the flavors permeate throughout the meat. The meat is very juicy when it comes out of the smoker, so make sure to allow it to rest for the full 20 minutes before carving and serving it, so the juices have a chance to redistribute.

09 of 10

Lemon-Brined Smoked Chickens

Lemon-Brined Smoked Chickens
© Marcus Nilsson

To help keep his chickens juicy throughout the lengthy smoking process, Slows Bar BQ co-founder Brian Perrone soaks them first in a lemony brine. "The brine also helps get the salt and seasonings all the way into the bird," he says. This recipe gives you the option of smoking the chicken either in a grill or a smoker.

10 of 10

Chipotle-Spiced Smoked Turkey Legs

Chipotle-Spiced Smoked Turkey Legs
Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

Seasoning these turkey legs with a dry brine packs them with flavor before they head to the smoker, resulting in juicy, smoky, and tender meat with a light kick from the chipotle chiles. Brining the legs uncovered in the refrigerator overnight also helps to keep the skin dry, and crisp up as it cooks. The turkey legs will emerge from the smoker a beautiful mahogany color. Serve them whole (which would be perfect for Thanksgiving), or shred the meat and mix it into grain bowls, pasta salads, sandwiches, and more. Save the bones as well to make a smoky turkey broth for soups or sauces.

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