The Best and Cheapest Cuts of Meat to Smoke

Smoked meats are terrific because they do not have to be the fanciest cut to taste great. In fact, barbecue is rooted on the knack for turning cheap cuts into mouthwatering masterpieces. If you are on the hunt for your next smoked barbecue meal, you do not have to empty your wallet for a successful turnout. Instead, focus on using traditional cuts of meat that are top in quality and cheap to buy.

Continue reading to learn some of the best picks for your upcoming barbecue!

Smoked Meat Dinners 317-688-7290

Smoked Meat Dinners 317-688-7290


Chicken is as traditional as it comes when it comes to cheap cuts of meat. Not only can you purchase all sorts of different varieties of chicken (i.e. cage-free, organic, corn-fed, etc.), it is one of the cheapest and most cost-effective options. Smoked chicken is an easy cut of meat to smoke, making it perfect for beginner smokers. Furthermore, you can cook chicken in an endless array of spices, seasonings, marinades, and flavors. Currently, you can visit your local grocer and purchase a whole chicken for an average of $1.09 per pound.


Poultry is cheap, and well suited for the smoker, so it should be no surprise that turkey is another option on the list of top quality cheap meats. Turkey is a great candidate for smoking because it absorbs flavors well and cooks evenly. It is inexpensive, and can be seasoned any way you like. Right now, your local grocer is selling turkey for an average of $2.19 per pound.


If you love beef, but cringe at the price of your favorite steaks, brisket is the way to go. Beef brisket is simply divine out of the smoker, and fortunately, still one of the most inexpensive cuts of meat that are also high in quality. Currently, you can pick up a 3 pound brisket for less than $25, as they sell for around $7.99 per pound.


When looking to smoke a good cut of pork, ribs will certainly deliver. Not only are they easy to cook, everyone loves them. Just be sure you choose a cut that has a lot of meat and little fat. Right now, you can purchase St. Louis style pork ribs for around $1.79 per pound, and boneless pork ribs for around $5.99 per pound. Beef ribs are actually a great, inexpensive choice too, at around $2.69 per pound.

Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder has been one of the most admired cuts of meat to smoke for centuries. Its natural deliciousness and versatility makes it easy to work with and difficult to turn down. Whether you go for a picnic roast or a Boston butt, pork shoulder is a reliable, inexpensive, top-quality cut to use for pulled pork sandwiches, roasts, and more. Right now, you can buy a full 2-part pork shoulder for around $3.49 per pound.

🍅 Prices derived from Kroger® Grocery

Looking for a Great BBQ Meal Near You?

Rackz BBQ Carmel, IN 317-688-7290

Rackz BBQ

If you are craving delicious barbecue smoked meats and homemade side dishes, come to Rackz BBQ in Carmel for authentic flavors and great prices! We offer a wide selection of barbecue classics, house-made sides, and tasty desserts, all prepared using the freshest local ingredients. We also offer call ahead and take out ordering and catering! Call 317-688-7290 to learn more about our current menu selections and specials, anytime.

Which Meat is Best for Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is a great place to start your culinary learning curve of smoking and barbecue. Not only is it relatively inexpensive and incredibly delicious, it is a forgiving meat that can still taste good even if you serve it slightly over or under-cooked, unlike cuts such as brisket and ribs. These reasons and more makes pulled pork one of the easiest smoked meat recipes to learn as a beginner.

Although it may seem intimidating at first, anyone can “pull off” a pulled pork dinner. But the first step to a good pulled pork is selecting the proper cut of meat. Continue reading to learn which cut of meat is the most popular for pulled pork and why.

Smoked Pulled Pork Dinners 317-688-7290

Smoked Pulled Pork Dinners 317-688-7290

Pork Shoulder is the Good Choice

By far, the most popular cut of meat to use for smoking pulled pork is pork shoulder. This is for a few good reasons. First, pork shoulder is pretty affordable compared to other cuts; you can purchase quality pork shoulder for a little more than $3 per pound.

It is also readily available at most grocery stores, butcher shops, and artisanal meat shops. At grocery chains, pork shoulder is generally sold in two cuts: pork butt and pork shoulder. At your local butcher, you can request a whole shoulder (which can weigh between 12 and 16 pounds) or a custom cut if you like.

Another reason why pork shoulder is a great choice for pulled pork is that it doesn’t dry as quickly as other pieces of meat. If you accidentally overcook it, you can still serve it and enjoy it with your favorite sauce. So long as you maintain within safe temperatures, you can even get away with under-cooking it a bit.

Also, the amount of collagen and fat in pork shoulder help a lot. The collagen breaks down into simple sugars during the smoking process, making the meat sweet and delicate. And the amount of fat that melts away gives the meat a tender and juicy consistency that builds a flavor without using any rubs are sauces.

Pork Shoulder Vs. Pork Butt

Pork shoulder makes up the whole front leg and shoulder of a hog. If you are shopping at the neighborhood grocery store, you can expect to find pork shoulder divided into two cuts. These two halves are the pork butt and pork shoulder, also referred to as the “Boston roast” and the “picnic roast.”

Pork butt is also known as “Boston butt” because it is the thicker section of the hog shoulder where there is more concentrated marbling, or fat running through the muscle. Sometimes pork butt contains shoulder blade bone, but most of the time, it does not. These monikers are where many people get confused. Pork butt actually comes from the shoulder of the hog, not the rear end. The term, “butt”, in this sense, is used to describe a blunt or thick end of something, like a gun or cigar.

The actual pork shoulder is from the same cut that the pork butt comes from, but at the thinner, triangle-shaped end. It has more bone than Boston butt, but will weight around the same, which is between 5 and 6 pounds. Picnic cuts can come without bone, but it is recommended to get one with the bone. As for champion pulled pork, pork butt is the top choice cut to use. Picnic cuts work just as well, but some compare it to unprepared ham.

Get Ready to Try Some Pulled Pork!

Pulled Pork Dinner at Rackz BBQ

Pulled Pork Dinner at Rackz BBQ 317-688-7290

Visit Rackz BBQ in Carmel, Indiana for delicious pulled pork entrees, hand-crafted barbecue sauces, and homemade side items, like peach baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and more. From appetizers and sandwiches, to salads, entrees, and desserts, there is much to choose from on our comprehensive BBQ menu, so be sure to try them all! Contact us at 317-688-7290 to ask us about our menu prices, weekly specials, and more. We accept call-ahead and takeout orders too!