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Smoked Beef Cheeks

For the longest time, beef cheeks have been one of my favorite foods. Any time I go to a restaurant that has beef cheeks on the menu, it is almost always what I choose-Unless they have pan-fried scallops…then who knows what’s going to happen.

Beef cheeks are incredible meat. Nearly inedible when not cooked properly, beef cheeks are the definition of a working muscle. Cows spend almost all their time eating, which means their cheeks spend nearly all their time moving. This makes a super tough piece of meat which must be cooked low and slow for it to be tender. The good news is, that Beef cheeks are highly marbled and massively flavorful. When treated right they will be one of the most tender, juicy, and delicious cuts of beef you will ever experience.

To help the beef, get to this point of tenderness, we are utilizing two separate cooking techniques. The first is smoking, the second is Confit. In this recipe, we are smoking the beef cheek which is going to give us a nice added flavor profile and build a thick exterior bark that is going to be packed full of flavor.

Confit is something that you likely haven’t heard much about unless you have experience in the food industry. Traditionally used as a preservation technique, Confit involves cooking food, fully submerged in oil for a long time at a low temperature. Think of it like low and slow deep frying.

Surprisingly, Confit doesn’t leave the food with a deeply fatty flavor or mouthfeel. Instead, the confit helps to tenderize and add extra flavor to the food. In this recipe, we substitute vegetable oil for beef tallow to add an extra beefy punch to the beef cheeks.

Because this recipe is more of a technique rather than a traditional recipe, I have tried to avoid using measurements. This means you can use it for any amount of beef cheeks (Or other tough cuts of meat)

What you will need

  • Beef Cheeks
  • Pepper and salt rub (9 parts Black pepper, 1 part kosher salt)
  • Beef tallow
  • Spritz liquid-50/50 beef stock and water


1. Begin by trimming beef cheeks thoroughly of all silver skin, any residual skin and thick fat. Beef cheeks have plenty of inter muscle fat, so we want to get rid of anything thick from the outside.

2. Liberally coat the beef cheeks with the salt and pepper rub. Pat the rub gently to help it adhere to the beef cheeks.

3. Preheat smoker to 225-250F and place on a fist sized chunk of your favorite smoking wood. Personally, I like pecan or hickory for this recipe, but anything you like will work great. Place beef cheeks indirectly on your cooker and allow to smoke until the beef cheeks hit an internal temperature of 165F. This will usually take about 6 hours.

4. After the first two hours, begin spritzing beef cheeks about every 60 minutes. This will help you to build up that thick, crusty bark that smoked beef cheeks are known for.

5. Once beef cheeks have hit 165F, remove from the cooker and add to a foil pan or roasting dish big enough to hold them all with some additional head room. Melt enough beef tallow to fully cover all the beef checks and pour into the pan, being careful not to disturb any of our hard-earned bark.

6. Place your tray of beef cheeks in the oven or place back on the smoker at 200F for 15 hours. During this time, the internal temperature of the beef cheeks will get up to about 210F. This is exactly what we are looking for. At this temperature, the intermuscular fats and connective tissues are gooey and delicious.

7. Allow the beef cheeks to rest for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes and a strong, piquant au jus or on toasted bread with pickles and your favorite barbecue sauce.


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Ready to take your BBQ to the next level? Grab your copy of Ten ways to IMMEDIATELY improve your low and slow BBQ below.