, pub-3283090343984743, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe
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Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Beef cheeks brushed with melted beef tallow and coated with SPG seasoning before slow smoking for a few hours. Then the meat gets braised in beef broth with onion and garlic for a couple more hours until the smoked beef cheeks are pillowy soft and super juicy. Then, we set up a street taco bar making the softest of soft tacos and absolutely loaded with flavor. Scroll down to see this step by step, pic by pic, foolproof smoked beef cheeks recipe:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

What are Beef Cheeks?

Simply put, beef cheek meat is the cheek muscle of the cow. The cow uses the muscle to chew and we know cows chew a lot (see cud) which makes the meat rather tough and chewy without proper cooking. Beef cheeks contain a fair amount of sinew which necessitates a significant amount of trimming. Beef cheek meat requires a lengthy cook to render fat and collagen to make them soft, savory, and remain juicy. Beef cheeks are rich in flavor similar to beef short ribs.

Where can you buy beef cheeks?

We sourced the the beef cheeks for this recipe from two different sources. We purchased from a nearby club warehouse store a while back which were hiding in my freezer. While the others we obtained from a great grill/BBQ store called Collinsville BBQ Supply which came from a local outfit known as Korte Meat Processing. Although, I don’t have any pics of the packaging or pre-trimmed cheek meat from the club store. Sorry.

Here’s a look at the cheeks from Korte. Indeed, the marbling is spectacular and the trim was perfect (and well worth the extra cost):

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

This is one of the cheeks that required quite a bit of a trim:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Between the waste and time to trim, the extra cost is worth it.

Now that the cheeks are trimmed, let’s get to the beef cheeks recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe Ingredients

Beef Cheeks Ingredients:

  • 6 beef cheeks
  • 1/2 cup melted beef tallow (substitute vegetable oil or mayonnaise)
  • SPG Seasoning (Salt, Pepper and Garlic)

Braise Ingredients:

  • 2 disposable aluminum pans
  • 1 white onion, sliced thin
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, skinned
  • 32 ounces of beef broth – Reserve a few ounces for spritz
  • 2-3 ounces of Tiger Sauce hot sauce

Street Taco Bar Ingredients:

  • Shredded Smoked Beef Cheeks
  • Corn and flour street taco tortillas
  • Chopped raw white onion
  • Sliced spicy peppers-we used serrano’s but jalapenos would work just fine
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Cotija cheese grated
  • Lime wedges-’cause it’s not a taco without lime according to Danny Suarez NASCAR Driver
  • Assorted Street Taco Sauces-didn’t know these were a thing but discovered them at the grocery store.
  • Juice from the braising pan–oh yeah! it’s special.

While scouring the web for the smoked beef cheeks recipe of others a wealth of information was revealed. However, my primary inspiration came from an IG reel by Malcom Reed of @howtobbqright who was inspired by a beef cheek recipe/cook from Matt Pittman of @meatchurch. Suffice it to say, that in the food blogger world ‘inspiration’ can be synonymous with ‘borrowing, stealing. or pilfering.’

Thus, this particular recipe ‘pilfered’ many aspects from several recipes. Thanks gents!

This Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe is not a Short Cook

Be prepared for a long cook. In order to get the cheeks super tender, while keeping them juicy, a long slow cook is necessary. Indeed, this can be done in a crock pot, dutch oven, or our favorite method, in a smoker. a pellet smoker.

Now that we have trimmed our beef cheeks, let’s get to the meat of the recipe (pun intended)

First, apply a binder.

I used melted beef tallow, although mustard, mayonnaise or vegetable oil would also work:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Second, administer a heavy coat of the BBQ rub. i used a commercial SPG seasoning (salt, pepper, and garlic):

Smoked Beef Cheeks

This smoked beef cheeks recipe was cooked lakeside on our annual, extended family vacation. I was grateful to my great nephew, Blake, for hauling his portable pellet grill along. For smoke, we used a blend of hickory, cherry, and oak pellets. If using a charcoal grill, I suggest using oak.

On a side note, Blake is an accomplished hunter and pitmaster. Check out his bacon wrapped quail bombs recipe.

Also, if you don’t have any oak, this extensive list of smoke wood lists the proteins each wood pairs well with. Tap the link and find a wood you have access to that pairs well with beef. We’ll wait.

How to Make Smoked Beef Cheeks

The cheeks go on a 275F smoker (our Green Mountain Grills travel cooker) and a temperature probe is inserted (which is built in to the GMG Travel cooker – Bonus!)

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Notice the small pieces in the front?

Those tidbits/scraps came from trimming the club store product, and thus became an early pitmaster’s sample.

Total cook time should be 5-6 hours at 275F. Specifically, 3 hours in the smoke and 3 hours in the braise.

Seeking an internal temperature of 200F-210F or when very probe tender. That means the probe thermometer goes in and out of the meat like a hot knife through butter.

Spritz for Added Smoke Penetration and Better Smoke Ring

Most recipes researched (pilfered) suggested a spritz throughout the cooking process to moisten the meat and attract smoke and this was going to be no exception to that.

Keeping the spritz simple: beef broth, just beef broth. About 6 ounces or so. After the first hour, and the seasoning has adhered to the beef, the spritz was applied every 20-30 minutes:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Shortly after the 2 hour mark the cheeks temp at 170F indicating it’s time to braise. Although, this occurred sooner than expected so perhaps these particular beef cheeks were a bit smaller than most:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

This is why we always suggest cooking to temp, not time. Smaller or larger beef cheeks, weather conditions, fat content, and a myriad of other reasons can hasten or delay a cookout. Also, if you don’t have a built in probe thermometer, grab a Thermopen like the one in the pic above.

Time to braise

Combine the braise ingredients in a double layer of disposable aluminum pans:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

2-3 ounces of Tiger Sauce is approximately half a bottle. Might be a bit heavy but pouring with one hand and photographing with the other can result in an over pour from time to time.

Although, Tiger Sauce has a lot of sweetness to balance the heatness (not a word, but it rhymes and that never stopped Shakespeare). Therefore, the extra Tiger Sauce does not hurt much:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Then, drop in the smoked beef cheeks to the braising pan:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Next, pour more beef broth into the pan until the liquid smoked beef cheeks are half submerged:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Then, cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil and slide the pan back into the pellet smoker:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Note: Bark had developed quickly during the smoking phase. After 2 hours in the braise I decided to flip the beef cheeks and give them another dusting of rub, foiled back up and into the pellet grill for the final phase. After doing this I’m thinking ‘Did I just screw up the bark?’ We’ll see.

Five hours into the cook the internal temp of the smoked beef cheeks is 190F and the probe is going in and out well, but not well enough. Cheeks are a really tough cut of meat, thus we need to go north of 200F. To get there took close to another hour:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

After checking the temp and the tenderness of the beef cheeks, remove the pan from the pellet smoker and put the foil back on the top to let the cheeks rest for 30-45 minutes

While the beef cheeks rest, set up the street taco bar:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Then, shred the beef cheeks which should only involve squishing the meat up with fingers inside insulated gloves.

Smoke ring anyone?

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Finally, assemble the smoked beef cheek tacos:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

My son, Scott, presenting his taco masterpiece:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

How was it? This is how Scott reacted:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Note Scott’s shirt. Indeed, very appropriate:

Smoked Beef Cheeks

You can buy the shirt here

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe Rundown:

The feedback from the family, especially from the Texas crew, was ‘two thumbs up!’ Therefore, I’ll be making these again soon. In fact, I’ve already purchased the beef cheeks.

Note: The extra juice remaining from the braise is worth saving. It’s loaded with maximum flavors from all the ingredients. Why save it? The next time you make burgers add that glorious liquid to your grind and your dinner guest will thank you for a burger like no other.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.

Additionally, if you could leave us a great review that would be most appreciated!

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Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Beef cheeks, seasoned and slow smoked for a couple hours before being braised for a few hours until the cheeks are pillow soft in this smoked beef cheeks recipe
Course BBQ, Beef Cheeks, Entree, Main Course, Tacos
Cuisine American, American Fare, Barbecue, BBQ, Beef, Beef Cheeks, Beef Cheeks Tacos, Street Tacos, Tacos
Keyword Beef Cheek Tacos, Beef Cheeks, Beef Cheeks Tacos, Braise, Braised, Breakfast Tacos, GMG, Green Mountain Grills, Pellet Cooker, Pellet Grill, Pellet Smoker, Smoked Beef Cheeks, Street Tacos
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 8 People
Author Greg Thomas



Beef Cheeks Ingredients

  • 6 Beef cheeks
  • ½ cup Melted beef tallow Substitute mayonnaise, mustard, or vegetable oil
  • SPG Seasoning

Braise Ingredients

  • 1 White onion Sliced thin
  • 8-10 Garlic cloves, peeled Give each clove a slight smash
  • ounces Beef broth
  • 2-3 ounces Tiger Sauce hot sauce

Street Taco Bar Ingredients

  • Smoked beef cheek meat Shredded
  • Tortillas
  • 1 cup Raw white onion Chopped
  • Spicy pepper Sliced
  • 1 bunch Cilantro Chopped
  • 1 cup Cotija cheese Grated
  • 2 Limes Sliced into wedges
  • Assorted taco sauces Use what you have available
  • Juice from the Beef Cheek braising pan


  • Prepare the smoker for 275F (+/- 25F)
  • While the grill comes up to temperature, trim the sinew and fat away from beef cheeks
  • Brush the beef cheeks with melted tallow and coat with SPG seasoning
  • Place the beef cheeks in the 275F smoker. After an hour in the smoke and the seasoning has set on the meat, spritz with beef broth every 20-30 minutes
  • Smoke the beef cheeks until they reach an internal temperature between 160F-175F. Remove the cheeks from the pellet smoker and set aside while preparing the braising pan
  • Layer two disposable aluminum pans on top of each other and add the sliced onion and smashed garlic cloves and set the smoked beef cheeks on top. Then add the Tiger sauce and beef broth until the beef cheeks are submerged halfway up the sides of the beef. Top the pan with aluminum foil.
  • Place the braising pan back in the smoker until the cheeks reach between 200F-210F and, more importantly, the temp probe goes in and out of the meat like butter.
  • Pull the pan from the grill and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes with the foil left on top.
  • Shred and serve with the tacos, making sure to spoon a little of the braising juice over each taco


Additional Pics of the Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

Smoked Beef Cheeks

The post Smoked Beef Cheeks Recipe first appeared on GrillinFools.

Author information

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas