Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Get ready to sink your teeth into tender, succulent beef cheeks infused with smoky flavors that will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Our smoked beef cheeks recipe is a showstopper, slow-cooked to perfection and bursting with rich, savory goodness.

Whether this is your first time making smoked beef cheek or you’re a seasoned pro, you have to know it’s about to become one of your favorite cuts to throw down on your grill. I find this to be a fairly quick cook (compared to my pellet smoker brisket recipe or even these smoked beef ribs), but it still yields an incredibly tender texture that’s similar to shredded short ribs. 

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Flavor: Beef cheeks are a well-marbled, tough cut of meat that benefit from low and slow cooking methods like smoking. Smoking the beef cheeks imparts a smoky, rich beefy flavor that permeates the meat, creating a unique taste experience.
  • Texture: When smoked properly, beef cheeks become incredibly tender and melt in your mouth, making them a delicious and satisfying meal. In fact, this beef is known for its signature stickiness because the fat just melts into this beef so wonderfully. 
  • Versatility: The shredded beef can be served in a variety of ways, from simple beef cheek tacos or sandwiches to more elaborate dishes like stews or casseroles (like this incredible smoked beef cheek barbacoa recipe)
  • Affordability: Beef cheeks are a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, making them an affordable way to create a flavorful, impressive meal for family and friends.
Smoked Beef Cheeks on the smoker

What Are Beef Cheeks?

As the name literally suggests, this beef cut is part of the cheek muscles of the cow and contains a lot of dense connective tissue and excess fat. Because of their high collagen content, this secondary cut of beef is ideal for slow-cooking techniques such as braising, stewing, and of course smoking. When cooked properly, they become incredibly tender and flavorful, with a uniquely rich and buttery taste that makes them a popular choice for many different recipes.

Despite their natural toughness, beef cheeks are a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, making them an affordable option for home cooks looking to experiment with new flavors and techniques in the kitchen. This may not be a common cut unfortunately found at your local grocery store (unless you’re in the South West U.S.). I usually purchase mine at my local butchers or from an online delivery service. 

Supplies Needed:

  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Spray Bottle 
  • Tongs
  • Meat Thermometer


  • Beef Cheeks 
  • BBQ Rub (Use a classic kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder mixture, or a commercial rub of your choice for this recipe) 
  • Olive Oil (I prefer this for the binder in this recipe)
  • Beef Broth or Beef Stock 
  • Butter or Beef Tallow 
Raw beef cheek meat

How To Prep Beef Cheeks For Smoking:

  1.  Remove the beef cheeks from the packaging or butcher paper and pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  2. Use a sharp knife for trimming any silver skin that’s exposed on the top or bottom of the beef (if you have a good butcher, most cuts of beef will already come pretty well trimmed). 
  3. Lightly coat each beef cheek all over in a thin layer of olive oil for binding the dry rub. You can also use yellow mustard if you prefer. 
  4. Next, coat a layer of the dry rub all over each piece and let them rest. 
Prepped beef cheeks in dry rub for the smoker

Smoking Instructions:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 225-250 F. (this recipe is great for pellet smokers and charcoal smokers alike) and set it for indirect cooking.  
  2. Once the grill comes up to the proper temperature, place each beef cheek directly onto the grill grates and let them smoke for about three hours. During this time, spray the outside of the beef with beef stock or broth every hour to help build the outside bark and help the smoke adhere more to the meat. 
  3. When the beef cheeks reach an internal temp of 170 F. you can begin basting them with melted butter or the better choice, beef tallow. This creates a nice bark as they continue to cook, for an additional 2-3 hours or until they feel tender and soft when using a temperature probe and reach a final internal temperature of about 195-205 F. 
  4. Once the beef cheeks are completely tender, place them in an aluminum foil pan with a little more melted butter or tallow and tent the pan with foil and let them rest for 30 minutes, and then shred the beef cheeks and serve.
Beef cheeks smoking on the charcoal smoker grill

How To Serve Smoked Beef Cheeks:

  • Slice the beef cheeks: Once the beef cheeks are fully cooked and have rested for at least 20-30 minutes, use a sharp knife to slice them against the grain instead of shredding them.
  • Serve with sides: Consider serving the smoked beef cheeks with one or more sides, such as mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, rice, or salad, to help balance out the rich, smoky flavors of the meat.
  • Drizzle with sauce: To add even more flavor and moisture to the dish, consider drizzling the sliced beef cheeks with a complementary sauce, such as barbecue sauce, chimichurri, or horseradish cream.
  • Garnish: A simple garnish like chopped fresh herbs or a sprinkle of smoked paprika can add a pop of color and flavor to the dish.
Smoked beef cheek meat smoked into homemade barbacoa

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long do beef cheeks take to smoke?

Every cook will vary based on the size of the beef cheeks, the temperature of the grill, the beef, and the marbling and collagen that runs through each cut. That being said, these cuts take on average about 5-6 hours in total to smoke. 

What internal temperature do beef cheeks cook to?

Smoke beef cheeks until they are probe tender and soft, usually between 195-205 F. internally. Always go by feel and use temperature monitoring to help guide you through the process. 

Do I need to wrap the beef cheeks in aluminum foil or butcher paper?

You always can choose to wrap the beef cheeks to speed up the process, but I prefer this cook uncovered for the entire process unless you braise in liquids. It’s a fairly forgiving cut and does well fully uncovered in my opinion. 

What wood is best for smoking beef cheek meat?

Beef can take stronger flavors of wood, but it always comes down to preference. You can use lighter wood like pecan wood chunks or apple wood or use oak, hickory, or even mesquite if desired.

More Smoker Recipes To Try:

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: BBQ, Grilling, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: smoked beef cheeks recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Servings: 12
Calories: 85kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach


  • 4 Beef Cheeks trimmed and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup BBQ Dry Rub use your favorite commercial beef or brisket rub
  • 4 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Beef Stock
  • 4 tbsp. Butter or beef tallow- melted


  • Preheat the smoker to 225-250 F. and set it for indirect heat.
  • Prep the beef cheeks by removing them from the packaging and pat them dry with paper towels. Trim any silver skin or large pieces of fat off the cheeks.
  • Cover each cheek all over in about 1 tbsp. of olive oil then add a layer of BBQ dry rub to each beef cheek as well.
  • Place each beef cheek onto the grill grates of the smoker and smoke for 3 hours. Each hour, lightly spray the outside of each cut of beef with beef stock to help build the bark and adhere more smoke to the meat.
  • When the beef cheeks continue to smoke and reach a temperature of around 170 F., switch from the stock to brushing on melted butter or melted beef tallow over the bark until they hit a final internal temperature of around 195-205 F. While temperature is a great guide, also use a temperature probe to feel for tenderness.
  • When the smoked beef cheeks are probe tender, remove them from the smoker and allow them to rest tented under foil for at least 30 minutes before slicing or pulling.
  • After the resting time, slice or pull the smoked beef cheeks and serve as desired.


Use these smoked beef cheeks to make smoked beef cheek barbacoa. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 85kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 76mg | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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