You won’t find a dry chuck roast here! Smoked chuck roast is the best alternative to the big boy (smoked brisket) for pulled beef. It’s smaller, generally much more affordable per pound, and it takes significantly less time to cook.
Smoked Chuck Roast: Guide To Delicious Pulled Beef
Tacos, sandwiches, or just a fork. It really doesn’t matter what you use to transfer the food to your mouth, this pulled beef tastes incredible. The process is pretty straightforward but there are some simple steps below to make sure that you’re not disappointed the next time you fire it up.
Perfect Pulled Beef
This guide is going to show you how to take chuck roast and make the most flavorful pulled beef. Sometimes I’ll use a chuck roast as a replacement for sliced brisket because I’m feeling lazy. That guide is here: Smoked Chuck Roast, Lazy Brisket.
Smoking a chuck roast low and slow will help break down the tough connective tissue through the beef. This is a similar process to brisket, beef ribs, and other tough cuts. Patience pays off, you will have incredibly tender and moist shredded beef.
Why Choose Chuck Roast?
You might be surprised that you’re not seeing a brisket, shoulder clod, beef cheeks, or another cut. Let’s break down the reasons why we use chuck roast for smoked pulled beef:
- Just the right amount of fat. It’s much more difficult to make smoked pulled beef with leaner roasts, like the eye of round or bottom round. Beef cheeks are SO delicious, but their fat content isn’t pleasing to everyone. Yes, brisket points work very well, but there are a few other reasons we’re not using those.
- It’s cheaper. Usually, chuck roast is cheaper than most of the other cuts you’ll find. There are times I’ll find brisket points on sale for a price that’s similar, but I’d still prefer to use a chuck roast.
- The right size. The muscle fibers are shorter, meaning that when you shred the chuck roast to serve as pulled beef, you don’t have 6-8″ meat fibers that you have to cut. Some larger cuts, such as brisket points, will have much longer fibers which will cause additional work.
- It’s more accessible. Looking at stores around the country, chuck roast is one of the most common cuts with the correct amount of fat.
- Easy to cook. Aside from the occasional spritzing, and wrapping up with some broth, there’s absolutely nothing to this. There’s almost no prep work.
- Ready to go. I’ll reinforce the fact that there’s almost no prep work. Do you want simple? Here you go. Maybe you have to trim a little silverskin on the outside, but these are mostly ready to be seasoned, smoked, and turned into the best, shredded beef.
The Secrets for Moist Chuck Roast
Maybe these aren’t really secrets, but they are definitely some hot tips that will help you meet your goals: tender, moist, pulled beef.
How to Smoke a Chuck Roast
- Low and slow. 250°F for the first half, and wrapping for the second half.
- Spritz! Keep a spray bottle nearby, and hit that beef with some mists of beef broth every hour to keep the outside from getting dry.
- Broth, onions, and steam. Similar to brisket, chuck roast tends to plateau with its internal temperature at 165°F. Place the chuck roast in a skillet or foil pan, add some broth and sliced onions before increasing the temperature to 265°F. You’ll be cooking it like this the rest of the way until about 200-205°F.
- Use your judgment. This is critical, you’ll need to go by feel. Stick the thermometer into the beef once it’s around the 205°F mark. It should go in with very little resistance. Think about how it would feel to stick the thermometer into a jar of peanut butter – the feeling should be the same when checking to see if the chuck roast is ready.
Customize your flavors.
There are so many opportunities in the process to customize the flavor profile of your chuck roast. The seasoning, the spray, and the braise. Play with combinations that you feel could be a hit! I like to mix it up and spray it with coffee for a darker, bolder flavor. Try adding warm spices, or smashed garlic into the broth for additional aromatics.
You can’t beat the classic salt & pepper if you’re not sure. Texas definitely knows their flavors when it comes to BBQ beef.
My Top Recommended BBQ Blends
Sometimes we just want a bottle to grab and go. There are SO many options, here are my top few when it comes to smoked shredded beef:
- Bourbon Prime: This umami-packed blend has the smoky profile of bourbon-infused spices, designed specifically for beef. It will pair so well with the combination of beef stock and onions when smoking.
- Brisket Bomb: Simple with only 3 ingredients, carefully chosen. A perfect ratio of salt & pepper with a hand-picked roasted coffee from the Pacific Northwest. It’s not just for brisket, it’s also for smoked pulled beef.
- Korean BBQ Blend: Spicy, funky, and will absolutely transform your expectations. Stick with beef broth and add some kimchi to the pot. You’ll be amazed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cook it longer. BBQ isn’t about strict rules, you have to use intuition. It should be probe tender when it’s ready to shred. Every piece of meat is slightly different.
I let mine rest at room temp (still covered) for 30 minutes, which allows some of the juices to retreat back into the muscles and also cools it off enough to handle.
Let it cool down to about 180°F, still in-tact, and then you can wrap the container in a warm cooler which should keep it warm for quite a while. Do not shred ahead of time, that will cool it off.
Try this recipe!
Now that you’re mastering the shredded beef, try out a variation: Beef Suya Shredded Beef Sandwich