How to Smoke Chuck Roast for Pulled Beef (Like A Pro Pitmaster)


Chuck roast is a good brisket alternative if you’re wanting an inexpensive low-and-slow roast for pulled beef. Brisket used to be a cheap cut of meat, but thanks to the popularity of slow cooking, the price of has gone through the roof. Chuck, like brisket, is part of the shoulder so it contains a similar type of fat and connective tissue that renders beautifully when cooked at a low temperature over many hours. I wanted to find out how pitmasters smoke a chuck roast, so I found out all I could about smoking a “chucky”.

Chuck roast should be cooked low-and-slow for about 6-hours or until the internal temperature reaches just under 200°F. Slow smoked chuck roast has to be cooked in two stages; unwrapped, then wrapped. Make sure the smoker isn’t too hot, or the chuck will turn out tough and dry. Set the temperature of your smoker to about 250°F, throw on some of your favorite flavored wood and smoke uncovered until the meat hits a 170°F internal (which should be about 3-hours). Wrap the roast in foil and then cook for another 2-3 hours. Remove the chuck roast once the internal temperature hits 195 – 200°F. Rest the chuck for at least 1-hour before shredding. I’ll go over the process in more depth below.

What is Chuck Roast?

The chuck is part of the beef forequarter, a neighbouring muscle to the brisket. Traditionally, chuck is one of those cuts of meat discarded into casserole steak, cubed/diced beef or thrown into the grinder. Chuck has a lot of fat and connective tissue, which is why it needs to be cooked low-and-slow. With the price of brisket always going up, chuck roast has become a more affordable option to brisket. Most butchers sell chuck as either a roast or as a thick steak. Often the roasts have a few strings tied around the outside to hold it together. You can also smoke the thick chuck steaks, and these work especially well if you want to make chuck burnt ends.

Average Weight Of A Chuck Roast

On average, a chuck roast weighs between 3 and 5 pounds and is around 1.5 to 2 inches in thickness. When estimating total cooking times, allow 0.5 lbs per hour at 250°F. As with most low and slow cuts of meat, cook the chuck roast to an internal temperature of 200°F thereabouts.

Ideal Temperature To Smoke a Chuck Roast

The ideal temperature to smoke a chuck roast is between 225°F and 250°F. The difference between these temperatures will have little effect on quality and flavor, the only difference will be total cook time. If you cook chuck any higher than these temperatures, the meat will be at risk of drying out. Chuck isn’t normally a large roast like a brisket. It’s usually a thick 1.5 – 2 inch steak, so it won’t be able to absorb as much heat.

Smoked Chuck Roast – Time and Temperature Cooking Guide

Chuck Roast Weight Cooking TemperatureTotal Cooking Time
2 lbs250°F4 hours
2.5 lbs250°F5 hours
3 lbs250°F6 hours
3.5 lbs250°F7 hours
4 lbs250°F8 hours
4.5 lbs250°F9 hours
6 lbs250°F10 hours
6.5 lbs250°F11 hours
Smoked Chuck Roast Cooking Times

Done Temp – How Long Does it Take to Smoke Chuck Roast?

The cook time will depend on the size of the roast or if you are smoking chuck steaks, but expect it will take about 6-7 hours to cook a large chuck roast. If you are smoking chuck cubes for burnt ends, it should only take about 5-hours. Whatever you do, don’t rush a chuck because the connective tissue needs time to break down and tenderize. Keep it low-and-slow and cook to internal temperature, not time. Make sure you have a good meat thermometer inserted into the meat, otherwise you’re operating in the dark.

Tips on Smoking Chuck Roast

  • The secret to smoking a tender, juicy chuck roast is by keeping the temperature below 250°F, and leaving it in the smoker until the internal meat temperature reaches 200°F.
  • If you can’t control your smoker, then your chuck is at risk of drying out.
  • Wrapping is an important step. The chuck will lose a lot of moisture over the long cook, so it’s important to hold the moisture in by wrapping in foil.
  • When buying meat, always look for good marbling (the fatty striations in meat). Chuck with a high marbling score will make the meat moist and juicy.
  • Consider dry brining the roast prior to smoking. Dry brining is simply rubbing salt into the meat a few hours before cooking. The salt will not only add flavor, but it will help the meat retain moisture while cooking. If you dry brine, just be careful not to apply a rub with high salt content.
  • Marinading is another way to help tenderize the meat. This is a common tactic with brisket on the competition circuit.

How To Smoke Chuck Roast – 10 Easy Steps

Yield: 680 grams

Smoked Chuck Roast For Pulled Beef

Smoked Chuck Roast  For Pulled Beef

Smoked chuck roast is an affordable alternative to brisket, and works wonderfully in tacos or sandwiches.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 7 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • Paprika – ½ Cup
  • Kosher Salt – ½ Cup
  • Garlic Powder – ½ Cup
  • Onion Powder – ¼ Cup
  • Chilli Powder – ¼ Cup
  • Cumin Powder – ¼ Cup
  • Coarse Black Pepper – 2 Tablespoons
  • Beef broth

Instructions

    Rub. Apply a generous amount of rub to the chuck roast. Use a pre-made rub or use a basic homemade beef rub by combining the following ingredients: Paprika, Kosher Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chilli Powder, Cumin Powder, Black Pepper.

    Temperature. Fire up your smoker and get the temperature to stabilize at 250°F.

    Wood. Throw on a few chunks of your favorite wood that blends well with beef such as hickory or pecan.

    Cook. Smoke the chuck for 3 hours, flipping halfway and spritzing occasionally with apple juice or apple cider vinegar.

    Wrap. One the internal temperature hits the 150°F range, remove the chuck roast from the smoker. Wrap the chuck roast in two layers of heavy-duty aluminium foil.

    Broth. Before you wrap the roast, add some additional flavor and moisture before wrapping. Pour in some broth or apple juice to add some moisture to create steam in the parcel. Alternatively, place the chuck roast in an aluminium pan, pour in the broth, and cover with foil.

    Finish. Return the wrapped chuck roast to the smoker. Make sure the temperature is still stable at 250°F. Cook the chuck roast until the internal temperature reaches about 195 °F. This should take about 3-hours.

    Rest. Remove the chuck from the smoker and allow the meat to rest. While resting, keep the meat wrapped in foil. Wrap the foiled roasts with a towel and place in a dry cooler for about 1-hour at least.

    Shred. For pulled beef, shed the chuck using meat claws or heat-proof gloves.

    Serve. Shredded smoked chuck goes wonderfully in a sandwich or tacos.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

85g

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 13ggSaturated Fat: 5.4ggCholesterol: 71mgmgSodium: 65mgmgSugar: 4.17 gg

Chuck Roast Done Temp

Chuck roast is considered done once the internal meat temperature reaches around 195°F to 200°F. The USDA recommends a safe eating temperature for beef is 145 °F, but if you ate chuck or brisket at 145 °F, the meat would be way too chewy. Cuts of beef like chuck and brisket need a long time at a low temperature to allow the connective tissue to break down. There’s reason smoked brisket is so famously delicious. It’s because the fat and connective tissue melts and turns into a gelation-like texture when it’s cooked low-and-slow.

Should I wrap Smoked Chuck Roast?

Chuck roast will need to be cooked in two stages; unwrapped then wrapped. The first 2.5 to 3-hours of the cook is all about bark development and smoke absorption. The second part of the cook is all about moisture retention and tenderness. Since chuck takes about 7-hours to cook, it’s at risk of drying out. Wrapping the chuck roast will ensure it keeps the meat moist for the long cooking process.

Wrap the chuck in aluminium foil once the internal temp hits 150°F, which should be about 3-hours into the cook if you are cooking at 250°F. Just before you wrap the meat, pour some liquid such as apple juice, apple cider vinegar, beer or broth. Adding liquid will create steam and almost braise the meat. Another popular method is to sprinkle some brown sugar onto the roast before you fold the foil.

Can You Inject Chuck Roast?

Injecting is common practice when smoking brisket, but not so much when smoking chuck. Brisket needs 10-plus hours in the smoker, so it can benefit from the extra liquid. Chuck takes about 6-7-hours to cook, so it’s not as important. However, I’m sure a lot of pitmasters inject their chuck, because injecting can only benefit the flavor, tenderness and juiciness. Injecting a chuck roast with extra fluid or marinade will help keep the meat moist over the long cook. If you choose to inject your chuck roast, use bone broth, beef stock or a brisket marinade.

Should You Brine Chuck Roast Before Smoking?

Brining chuck prior to smoking is a good way to add extra flavor, and it will help the meat retain moisture when cooking. Dry brining works best for chuck and brisket because wet brining will make the meat taste more like corned beef. To dry brine a chuck roast, all you need is some kosher salt and rub it into the outer layer of the roast. Place the meat back into the refrigerator and give the salt at least an hour, but longer is better. You need to give the salt time to penetrate the flesh. You can dry brine just before applying the rub and seasoning, or you can dry brine at an earlier stage.

Do You Smoke Chuck Roast Like Brisket?

Chuck and brisket are in the same muscle group of the animal, and they both contain a lot of fatty connective tissue. You can approach a chuck roast like you are approaching a brisket, because many of the same principles apply, but there are some important differences. We usually smoke brisket to an internal meat temperature of 203°F, whereas we pull chuck from the smoker at about 195°F to 200°F. Another important difference is we wrap chuck in foil once the internal temperature reaches 150°F, whereas most pitmasters wrap brisket at a 160°F to 170°F internal. Brisket is a much larger and will require more cooking time than chuck.

Smoke Chuck Roast Burnt Ends

Brisket burnt ends are a delicacy, but what about chuck burnt ends? Chuck burnt ends are an excellent alternative to brisket burnt ends are much cheaper to make. All you need to do is cube some chuck steak, apply some rub, place them on a rack and smoke them at 250°F. After a few hours on the smoker, put the cubed chuck in an aluminium pan and pour in a barbecue sauce, then place them back in the smoker for another hour or so until the meat is tender.

Smoked Chuck Roast for Tacos and Nachos of Sandwiches

Smoked chuck roast is one of the best cuts of meat to make shredded beef for nachos and tacos. Smoked pulled brisket has more flavor and is always the first choice, but brisket is costly, so chuck is a great substitute. Smoked chuck also goes well in sandwiches.

Dry RubMSGSizeDescriptionIngredientsPriceWhere To Buy
Killer HogsYes12 OzChampionship winning rub made by Malcolm Reed, the guy with the number 1 barbecue YouTube channel ‘How To BBQ Right’. Brown sugar, sugar, paprika, salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, oleoresin paprika, dehydrated orange peel, natural flavor, and less than 2% tricalcium phosphate added to prevent caking$20Amazon
Slap Yo Daddy All Purpose RubNo12 OzMultiple barbecue world champion Harry Soo now shares his competition-winning secrets with his line of barbecue rubs. Sea salt, cane sugar, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, black pepper, rosemary, cayenne pepper, rice concentrate, spices, parsley flakes, natural flavors

$20Amazon
Meat ChurchNo14 OzWell respected name in barbecue. Southwestern style rub. Versatile, works on beef, chicken, pork and seafood. Adds great color to your meat.Sugar, salt, spices including paprika, dextrose, dehydrated garlic, celery, silicone dioxide & spice extractives. Gluten free. No MSG.$15Amazon
Butcher BBQNo16 OzWorks on great on beef, pork, chicken, wild game, and vegetables. Championship winning formula made by David Bouska, World BBQ Champion and featured on TV show Barbecue Pitmasters. Sugar, salt, garlic, onion, spices, lemon powder, corn syrup solids, natural flavors and BHA as an antioxidant$20Amazon
Kosmos Killer Bee Honey Rub13 OzAward winning rub. Sweet, savory rub. Works well on brisket, chicken and pork.Sugar, Salt, Honey Powder (Refined Syrup, Honey), Spices Including Paprika, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Celery, No Greater Than 2% Silicon Dioxide To Prevent Caking, And Extractive of Paprika$16Amazon
Killer Hogs Texas Brisket RubYes16 ozAward-winning Championship brisket rub made by barbecue guru Malcolm Reed. Salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, dehydrated parsley, refined soybean oil, and less than 2% calcium silicate added to prevent caking$20Amazon
McCormick Montreal Steak SeasoningNo29 ozMade with all natural herbs and spices. Very popular seasoning from a well-known brand. Garlic, extractives of paprika, and coarsely ground pepper.$20Amazon
Dry Rub Comparison

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBooard website here.

Related Articles:

Brisket Burnt Ends – What Are They and How Do You Make Them?

Dry Smoked Brisket? Here’s Why

Smoking Brisket The Day Before – Can You Serve The Next Day?

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