How to Smoke Beef Cheeks for Tender and Flavorful Meals: Tips, Techniques and Recipes

What are Beef Cheeks?

Beef cheeks, also known as beef maw, are a flavorful and tender cut of meat taken from the facial cheek muscles of the cow. Despite being a relatively tough muscle, when cooked properly, beef cheeks have a melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich, beefy flavor that has made them a popular choice among foodies.

In terms of taste and texture, beef cheeks are similar to short ribs, with a slightly firmer texture and a more intense, beefy flavor. Although they are not as well-known as other cuts of beef, such as sirloin or filet mignon, beef cheeks are highly regarded by chefs and food enthusiasts alike.

One of the most popular ways to cook beef cheeks is through slow-cooking methods like braising or using a slow cooker, which breaks down the tough fibers and creates a melt-in-your-mouth texture.


Beef Cheeks Cuisine

Traditional Mexican cuisine features a classic dish called birria, which involves slow-cooking well-seasoned beef cheeks in a slow cooker set on low heat. French cuisine also makes use of this cut, with the well-known dish boeuf bourguignon which involves braising beef cheeks in red wine, beef broth, and aromatic vegetables. Other popular recipes that make use of beef cheeks include smoked beef cheeks and slow-cooked beef cheeks in red wine sauce.


Why Beef Cheeks is a perfect choice?

Aside from their taste and texture, there are several reasons why someone may choose to cook or eat beef cheeks over other cuts of beef. For one, they are relatively inexpensive compared to other cuts of beef, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals. Additionally, beef cheeks are a great source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.


How to Prepare Beef Cheeks for Smoking


  • 4 beef cheeks
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar


  • Smoker
  • Probe thermometer
  • Butcher’s paper

To get the beef cheeks ready:

  • Trim any excess fat, silver skin, gristle. Cut the beef cheeks into manageable portions (each about hand’s size).
  • Rub the beef cheeks with the combination of kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper.
  • Cover the beef cheeks with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.


How to Smoke Beef Cheeks

  1. Preheat the smoker to 255°F-275°F.
  2. Mix beef broth and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle.
  3. Smoke the beef cheeks for approximately 5 to 6 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 205°F – 210°F.
  4. Spray the beef cheeks with the mixture of beef broth and apple cider vinegar every hour to keep them moist.
  5. When the beef cheeks are cooked, remove them from the smoker and wrap each one individually in butcher paper.
  6. Place the wrapped beef cheeks in a double layer of aluminum foil to keep them warm while they rest for at least 30 minutes.


Additional tips:

  • If you’re using an offset smoker, make sure to keep an eye on the fire and add wood as necessary.
  • When selecting beef cheeks, choose ones that have plenty of marbling for maximum flavor and juiciness.
  • Don’t rush the cooking process. Low and slow cooking is vital for achieving tender and juicy beef cheeks.
  • Serving Suggestions: we recommend slicing them thin for sandwiches or tacos, or shredding them for sandwiches or nachos. You can also serve them up by themselves, as they are packed with flavor!



Are Beef Cheeks Fatty?

No, beef cheeks are not especially fatty. However, you should still trim away any excess fat before cooking them.

Are Beef Cheeks Tender?

Yes, when cooked properly, beef cheeks are incredibly tender and juicy. Slow-cooking methods like braising or using a slow cooker break down the tough fibers, creating a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Are Beef Cheeks Healthy?

Yes, beef cheeks are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, B vitamins, and selenium. Additionally, beef cheeks are low in fat and high in protein, making them a healthy choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.

What Can I Substitute for Beef Cheeks?

If you’re unable to find beef cheeks, you can substitute with another cut like chuck roast or brisket. However, these cuts will not have the same texture or flavor as beef cheeks. For best results, look for a cut of beef that has plenty of marbling. This will help ensure that the meat is juicy and flavorful.

What Does Beef Cheek Meat Taste Like?

Beef cheek meat has a robust flavor, with notes of beefiness and smokiness. It is juicy and tender, and pairs well with bold flavors like garlic, onions, and herbs. Additionally, the fat content of beef cheeks makes them ideal for slow cooking methods that allow the fat to render and the meat to become meltingly tender.

Why Are My Beef Cheeks Tough?

If your beef cheeks are tough, it is likely because they have not been cooked long enough. Slow cooking methods like braising and smoking helpp break down the tough muscle fibers and render the fat, resulting in tender and juicy beef cheeks. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you cook the beef cheeks for an adequate amount of time.

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