How to Prepare Smoked Roast Beef in an Electric Smoker

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When it comes to roast beef, most people think of slow cookers, pot roasts, and crock-pots. Smoking is often over-looked. However, switching to an electric smoker can make your cooking simple and hassle-free. Even when stovetop cooking brings its own flavor, using an electric smoker is just so dang easy. It can handle almost any food well.

Beef briskets and roasts, for example, are considered as tough meat. They need to be cooked all the way through. They need special care and optimum temperature to achieve the desired level of doneness. If you mess up the recipe even slightly, your beef won’t turn out to be that melt-in-your-mouth delicacy that we all love.

A classic roast beef recipe works amazingly with lean cuts like rump roasts, chuck roast, and eye of round roast. Here’s a flavorful giveaway though – the secret to delicious roast beef is that it should be cooked on the bone.

Whether it’s a rib roast or a sirloin joint, the bone is what enhances the depth of flavor and conducts heat around the meat. However, you can always use your favorite bone-free cuts to cook slowly inside the electric smoker.

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1.  Choosing the Best Cuts for a Smoked Roast Beef

Raw Red Grass Fed Chuck Beef Roast

There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy finger-licking roast beef if you have an electric smoker sitting on your deck. Roast beef generally cooks on a high temperature to caramelize the outside and then on a lower temperature to melt the meat. Here are our top-recommended cuts for an aromatic and sumptuously tender smoked roast beef.

1. Beef Brisket

A beef brisket tops the list for most people because it’s certainly the best cut for smoking roast beef. As the king of BBQ, this cut has it all. Tender yet tough and oozing with luscious flavors, a brisket forms a tasty coat of bark on the top as it cooks inside a smoker. It doesn’t require brining or a lot of flavors because the flavor is all in the meat cut itself.

When choosing a brisket, look for a cut that has a good layer of fat, strong graining, and is tender on the inside. Those make the best, juicy roast beef.  

Click here to read our article on How To Smoke A Brisket In A Masterbuilt Smoker.

2.  Chuck Roast  

This is a cut from the cow’s shoulder. It is a flavorful but tough cut that is often used for hamburgers. As a highly exercised muscle, it has a high ratio of fat, which makes it a great choice for cooking in an electric smoker.

Making for a fattier beef roast, the chuck self-bastes and melts inside the smoker and comes out delectably moist and tender. Unlike a brisket, the good thing about using chuck is that it doesn’t need to linger for longer in the smoker. Boston cut, Crosscut, and English Roast are other popular choices for smoked roast beef.  

3. Rump Roast

If you prefer a leaner cut of beef, rump roast is your next choice. Like chuck, this one is also a well-exercised flavorful muscle to smoke. It is a triangular cut from the bottom round and a tougher part of the leg. For this reason, rump roasts need to be cooked slowly at a lower temperature. Luckily, the terrific temperature control of an electric smoker allows the cut’s connective tissues to melt and soften nicely.  

4.  Top Round Roast

Another great choice is a top round roast from the upper thigh of the hindquarters of the beef. It’s not a heavily worked muscle, making the roast extremely tender and flavorful. This one cooks fairly quicker than other cuts in an electric smoker and holds up the juices well.  

5.  Sirloin Tip Roast

The Sirloin tip roast comes from the hindquarters of the beef, adjacent to the sirloin. It can be tough to cook, but it holds up the flavor. Just like other lean meats, it doesn’t need much time in the smoker and should ideally be marinated a few hours prior to cooking.

6.  Beef Ribs

For juicy, succulent meat on the bone, beef ribs are the perfect choice. They are many different cuts sold under “beef ribs,” but for this dish, you need ribs from the chuck plate. They ideally take 5-6 hours in the electric smoker to melt nicely.

Now that we’ve listed down the best cuts to choose from, let’s proceed to the next crucial step – understanding temperature control.

1. Smoked Beef Roast Temperature Guide

When it comes to smoking roast beef in an electric smoker, you have to be extremely cautious of the internal temperature of the meat. If you like it rare, the desired temperature is 130 Degree F; however, if you like it medium-rare, the ideal temperature is 140 Degree F.

Medium roast beef is ready at 150 Degree F and well-done at 170 Degree F. While these are general temperature readings, different meats cuts will require different temperatures.

You should ideally use a meat thermometer to get the readings right. Simply pierce the skewer into the beef for a few seconds to record the temperature once it has been cooked. The juices will run red for rare, clear for well done, and pink for medium.

It is extremely important to allow the beef to rest for at least an hour. This allows all the juices to be absorbed and the temperature to settle. If you slice or carve it sooner, you will end up with dry, rubbery roast beef.

2. Preparing the Marinade

Once you’ve chosen your preferred beef cut, it’s time to prepare the marinade. This recipe uses chuck roast as it’s a fattier beef and doesn’t too many hours in the electric smoker. You should ideally cook it down to medium-rare for the best flavors and juices. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 lbs chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup BBQ dry rub (or as preferred)
  • Salt and pepper to taste  

The BBQ rub may be a little salty, so make sure you check the meat for seasoning before popping it into the smoker. Mix in all the ingredients and rub them nicely into the chuck roast so that all the flavors seep in. Keep the beef in the fridge to rest.

Click here to read our article on Ten top dry rubs for smoking beef.

3. Prepping up the Electric Smoker

If this is the first time you’re using an electric smoker, you need to season it. The heating process eliminates all the dust, solvents, and odor that could seep into your food while smoking.

Simply spray the racks with good quality cooking oil and switch on the smoker at 250-275 Degree F for 2-3 hours. Allow it cool completely before using it.   

Make sure the smoker is plugged in properly and then turn it on. By doing so, you will put the smoker to standby mode until you actually pre-heat it.

4. Adding the Woodchips

For smoking chuck roast, hickory and pecan are the best smoke wood choices. Compared to oak, hickory has a stronger flavor that really helps in bringing out those juices you want in a roast beef. You can also use pecan wood chips, which have an even stronger sweet yet smoky flavor.

Pecans are actually better for short smokes, making them perfect for a lean cut like chuck roast. If you heat them up for too long, the flavor gets overpowering. In any case, oak is still the safest choice as it burns slow and has a milder flavor. If you’re confused about how many wood chips to add at a time, here’s a tip—use 4 cups every 3-5 hours.

Add the first batch before switching on the pre-heat settings. Pull out the tray of the electric smoker and place the chips over it. Slide the tray back so that they drop into the internal heating system.  

5. Preheating the Smoker

Now it’s time to set up the smoker. Preheat it at 235 Degree F to keep the temperature around 225-250 Degree F while smoking. This is the ideal smoking temperature to produce a succulent and moist chuck roast. Light your smoker approximately 30 minutes before you pop in the roast beef. In the meanwhile, take the beef out of the fridge and wait until it reaches room temperature.  

6. Smoking the Roast Beef

Once the wood chips start smoking, place the chuck roast inside the electric smoker. From all the quick things to smoke in a smoker, chuck roast is frankly the most delicious and juicy. Smoke the meat for a total of 6-8 hours or until it is nice and tender.

Your chuck roast needs to reach an internal temperature of 180-205 Degree F for a nice, tender texture. It will get softer and mushier the longer it cooks, so keep monitoring the temperature with a meat thermometer.

Check the beef’s temperature every hour after it has been smoking for 3 hours. It will ideally be ready after 5-6 hours, but you can keep it in for longer, depending on your preference. During the smoking process, keep adding wood chips as and when needed.

7. Taking out the Roast Beef

Take the beef out and turn off the smoker. Wrap it in a clean sheet of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least an hour. If you cut the meat straight out of the grill, the juice will seep out. This hour-long period is necessary to allow the meat to relax and the flavors to redistribute nicely.

Make sure to remove the chuck roast when the temperature increases to 180-190 Degree F if you want to slice it and 205 Degree F if you want to shred it. Be very careful and use a glove as the smoker could be very hot.   

8. Cutting against the Grain

Once the roast beef has settled, it’s time to slice it up. You’ve probably heard of the “cutting against the grain” rule. Here’s why: when you slice the roast beef in the opposite direction of the grain, you’re breaking up the strength of the muscle grain. This results in smaller, less chewy, and deliciously juicy slices of meat.

Carefully look for the lines that are running from one end to the other on the meat. Then, take a good meat knife and slice the roast beef in the opposite direction. The chuck roast slices can be enjoyed as is, over a sandwich, or as a beefy pie filling.

Once that smoky and moist slice of meat melts in your mouth, you’ll never want to cook a roast beef in any other way than in an electric smoker. This recipe of smoked roast beef can easily feed 8 people, which is why it is a great party dish!

Bonus Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Electric Smoker

Cooking beef in an electric smoker unearths the most delicious and subtly smoky flavors that you will never forget. Here are some tips for an electric smoker to get the job done quickly and easily!

·  Don’t Soak the Wood Chips

Soaking wood chips isn’t necessary at all. If you wet them, they will have to get rid of the moisture before they can produce smoke. You might think it’s smoke they’re emitting once you toss them in, but in reality, it is steam.  This can disrupt the temperature settings you’ve already pre-set. Hence, it’s fine if you skip the step completely.

·   Cover the Grill Racks with Foil

Smoking the roast beef will produce juices and fats that are likely to drop off the racks. Therefore, in order to make cleaning easier, cover the grill with a foil before switching on the smoker.

Another great option for easy cleanup or to collect dripping juices for gray is to make a foil tray to place on the rack below you roast beef. Form your foil tray around a pan or box that will fit on your rack and allow smoke to circular freely around all sides.

disposable foil tray

·  Don’t Overdo It

Although this recipe for chuck roast requires fewer wood chips, if you’re cooking a brisket, you might be tempted to add in many wood chips at the same time. However, overdoing it will make the meat taste bitter. Keep a close eye on the smoke as it should flow in a gentle stream instead of billowing out.

Using an electric smoker can make cooking your favorite meals infinitely easier. Follow the recipe and instructions word-for-word to make a sumptuously moist, tender, and unforgettable roast beef for your friends and family! 

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