Learn everything you need to know about how to smoke a beef chuck roast on your charcoal or pellet smoker with this easy, step by step tutorial.
Chuck roast is a common cut of meat you can find at most grocery store meat counters and it’s often times a very affordable cut you traditionally see used in pot roast (or in this beef Smoked Beef Bourguignon or this slow cooked chuck roast with red wine reduction I made). While pot roast is a comfort food classic I think we can all get behind, my favorite way to prepare this cheaper cut is through smoking it like a “poor mans brisket”.
Why does that saying exist? Because the method for smoking is similar and can give your a great end result in less time and leave more room in the budget for whipping up some delicious sides like this smoked cauliflower mac and cheese or these grilled lemon pepper parmesan brussel sprouts.
Get the full step by step tutorial below and answers to commonly asked questions regarding this cook, tips and techniques, and more. Let’s get to smoking!
- Baking Sheet
- Carving Knife/ Cutting Board
- Food Safe Gloves
- Oven Mitts
- Foil Pan/ Baking Dish
- Aluminum Foil
- Meat Thermometer (for smoking)
Never smoked a chuck roast? Want to take on something a little easier before tackling a full smoked brisket? Give this recipe a try and read through so you can achieve a foolproof and delicious smoked chuck roast.
What is a chuck roast?
A chuck roast is a cut that comes from the shoulder region of a cow. It tends to be a meat cut that loves lower and slower cooking both through roasting and braising (cooking in liquid) to break down the tougher connective tissues into tender, melt in your mouth pieces.
You can find chuck whole in a roast or sometimes even ground into meat. It has more saturated fat and lends to having an incredible flavor when prepared correctly. My 4.5 lb roast from Whole Foods was under $16 for reference.
Can you smoke a chuck roast like a brisket?
Yes, you can smoke a chuck roast similar to how you smoke a brisket. In fact, while I love a good brisket this is a great alternative both in regards to time and cost.
A chuck roast tends to come in 3-5 lb. pieces in comparison to a brisket which could often average between 10-16 lbs. The smaller size (yet still large yield of meat) is a good way to practice your brisket smoking skills on a more forgiving cut of meat.
Keep your charcoal grill or pellet smoker set to low and slow heat (I like to smoke mine at 250 F.). Use wood chips and flavor combinations that your prefer (I used oak for mine) here as well.
How long does it take to smoke a chuck roast?
Every single cook is different, but you have a good 6-8 hour window on average to smoke a chuck roast. While having an ideal time in mind based on how large your roast is, the real indicator for when your chuck roast can be pulled of your smoker is about internal temperature.
A good real of thumb with most smoked BBQ with a lot of denser connective tissue (think smoke pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends etc.) is to check when the internal temperature reaches between 195 F. – 203 F. Check for tenderness and the meat will tell you when its ready!
What is a stall and do I need to wrap it?
A stall is where the internal temp of the chuck roast (or other large cut of pork or beef) hits the 150-170 F. mark and stops going up for what can feel like several hours. If you have never experienced a stall in BBQ, do not panic. Your grill still works and this is totally normal.
One method often used in any BBQ stall is to tightly wrap the meat to help encourage it through this time period and keep those temps climbing (low and slow). With a chuck roast, I like the traditional braising method and place the meat in a large foil pan with beef stock or beef broth, BBQ spices, onion slices, and whole garlic cloves and cover the pan tightly with foil.
This helps break the stall while braising the meat. I did this around the three hour mark for a 4.5 lb. chuck roast. Do not do this until your bark has full set on your meat as well.
Slicing VS. Pulling:
You have two options for serving your chuck roast, and honestly you cannot go wrong with either method!
For Slicing: I chose to slice mine (like a brisket for the poor man’s brisket effect). Slicing works best if you let the bark tighten back up out of the braising liquid for 15-20 minutes on your smoker (credit for this tip goes to my friend Chef Josh).
Once that bark tightens back up a bit, wrap it back in foil (without the liquid) and wrap it in a towel and let it rest for about an hour.
Remove it from the towel and the foil and slice it for serving on a bias (if possible since it’s hard to see where the grains of the meat are when the bark is set) and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Some areas may be a little fattier (most of the fat will render, but some remains).
For Pulling: All that beautiful beef stock comes in so handy for the pulled beef roast. I like to strain mine out and reserve some in the foil pan (discard the large pieces of onion and garlic). Use your hands or two forks to pull the beef and shred it like you would a pork butt.
In the reserve au jus mixture, place that pulled beef back in for serving or add it to the side for dipping (like a dipped beef sandwich or a Chicago Italian beef). Pulled beef is amazing for a BBQ bowl with your favorite sides or on bun or bread (low carb optional) of your choice!
Other tips and techniques to note:
- Start with a room temperature chuck roast if possible.
- Keep your rub simple (I went with salt, pepper, smoky paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder) but use what you like.
- Spray your meat to set your bark every hour until your wrap it with beef broth. This helps smoke adhere and prevents the bark from cracking and keeps it moist.
- Always use a meat thermometer to help you keep track of where your cook is at and when it’s done.
If you love BBQ as much as me, be sure to also check out these popular recipes and save them for your next cook –
- Hot and Fast Smoked Ribs
- Crispy Smoked Pork Belly
- Smoked Pork Loin
- Smoked Spatchcock Chicken
- Crispy Grilled Chicken Wings
How To Smoke A Chuck Roast
- 1, 3-5 lb. Chuck Roast
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp. Sea Salt
- 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
- 2 tsp. Onion Powder
- 2 tsp. Smoky Paprika
- 2 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 Small Yellow Onion
- 6 Garlic Cloves leave whole
- 32 oz. Beef Broth or Stock
- Pre-heat your smoker to 250 F. and set it for indirect heat.
- Remove your chuck roast from the fridge, pat it dry and trim off any large pieces of fat that are easily accessible around the outside of the roast. Coat it lightly all over with the olive oil.
- Combine the salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder together. Coat the chuck roast all over with the rub in a fine layer. Let it rest while the grill pre-heats. A room temperature roast is best before going onto the smoker.
- Smoke your chuck roast for 3 hours, spraying every hour with some of the beef broth/ stock.
- While your chuck roast begins to smoke, prepare your beef broth au jus mixture. Combine large diced onion, whole garlic cloves, and about 3.5 cups of the remaining beef stock into a foil pan and set it aside.
- When the chuck roast hits the stall (see blog post notes above) place it into your foil pan inside the au jus and cover it with foil. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of your chuck roast and return it to the smoker.
- Continue cooking another 3-5 hours as needed. The internal temperature should hit between 195 F- 203 F before it will be tender enough.
- Steps for slicing: Remove from the au jus and reserve it on the side. Place the roast carefully back onto the smoker for 15-20 minutes to allow the bark to tighten back up a bit. Then remove it and wrap it by itself in foil, then in a towel and let it rest about an hour before slicing.
- Steps for pulling: Remove the whole roast and the au jus from the smoker. On a cutting board, pull your chuck roast like you would a pork butt (by hand or with two forks). Strain out the au jus and place the liquid back into your foil pan. Add your smoked and pulled chuck roast back to the pan as well if desired or pour some of the au jus over the meat on a platter.
- Serve it up with your favorite BBQ sides and sauces or eat as is and enjoy!