Can You Smoke Frozen Meat? (6 Helpful Tips)


All meat lovers love it even more when it’s smoked, and I can’t blame you; it’s delicious! When you prepare for your smoking session and notice that you have forgotten to thaw your meat or want to try to prepare it from frozen, the question begins to rise. Can you?

This article will teach you everything you need, whether you can smoke frozen meats, and I’ll dive more into smoking, cooking, and meats later, but first, can you smoke frozen meats?

In general, smoking frozen meat isn’t recommended because the meat is approximately 70% of water, therefore smoking frozen meat will damage the texture and dilute the flavor. However, many people have reported that smoking properly from frozen meat will have considerably bigger smoke rings.

Having big smoke rings on the meat can be more important to some people than having the maximum moisture retention etc.; therefore, it really is a matter of choice and preference.

Let’s look at why you shouldn’t smoke frozen meat and then why you maybe should. Before that, take notice that the restaurant industry, in general, doesn’t recommend smoking frozen meat but on the other hand, who cares what anybody says, and if you like it, then you should do it.

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Now, let’s start with why you shouldn’t smoke meat that is frozen.

Why you shouldn’t smoke frozen meat

There are reasons why culinary institutes and other restaurant industry facilities don’t recommend smoking meat frozen. These reasons are texture, taste, and safety. Let’s take a look at all 3 individually.

1. It will loose texture

The first reason that will most likely happen is that the meat you are about to smoke will lose texture. This is because the water content on meat, depending on the type, is in the booth sides of 60% and 70%. That’s a lot of water content, and if all of it becomes frozen, it will have effects.

Think about it. When water becomes frozen, it expands. And when the water continent expands in your piece of meat, it will break the meat’s cell walls, allowing the water content to escape.

If you have ever cooked something frozen and you begin to cut the meat, that’s when you see a lot of the meat’s juices escaping to the cutting board, which won’t happen nearly as much if the meat was cooked fresh.

However, meat’s cell walls aren’t made from glass, and they are quite elastic actually; therefore, it isn’t guaranteed that the meat’s texture will drastically alter when smoked from a frozen state. Nonetheless, it would be best if you considered it.

Finally, there is a way to prevent, or at least reduce, the expanding and breaking on the cell walls but more on that in the proper freezing method below.

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2. Taste can be diluted

As you can imagine if the meat’s juices get’s to escape from the cell wall rupture, the flavor will also escape with it.

When you season your meats before smoking with salt, pepper, marinara, and maybe with your favorite rub and garlic, it will get absorbed into the meat when the meat is cooking. However, if the cell walls are ruptured, and the juiciness get’s to escape, there will be considerable amounts of flavor that go as well.

3. Greater safety risks

Finally, cooking frozen meat has some safety risks as well. If you don’t check the meat’s temperature from the thickest part after you think it is ready with a proper thermometer, it can be left uncooked, and that in itself is a safety risk.

If you are a passionate smoker, you already know that meat needs to be cooked at 160°F (71°C), and poultry to 165°F (74°C) so you can be sure that they are safe to eat.

However, if they don’t reach that point, it leaves the possibility for food poisoning, salmonella, and other harmful diseases. But if you use a thermometer every time smoking frozen meat, you shouldn’t have a problem!

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Why you maybe should smoke frozen meat

Now, many smoke cooking enthusiasts swear on the name of frozen meat smoking, and as many people say, there are good benefits to smoking frozen meat. Let’s check these reasons out!

1. Smoke rings can be a priority

If you smoke your meat from frozen instead of fresh, the smoke rings will likely be much larger! This is because the cell walls may be broken, and more steam can get in, and the fact that it usually spends 1-3 hours longer in the smoker!

2. Taste for certain people is better

If you’re a huge fan of that smoked taste, as I suspect that you are, if you are smoking your meat, then you might like to smoke it straight from the freezer.

However, if you do that, be sure to add your seasoning before freezing the meat, or if you are a fan of seasoning your cutting board, not meat, you can definitely do that.

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3. If you use proper freezing method

This is a really important part if you want to have those beautiful smoke rings without sacrificing the meat’s juiciness.

To achieve that, you need to freeze the meat as fast as possible, also called flash freezing. If you freeze the meat fast, the water crystals that appear on the meat’s water content won’t become as big; therefore, the chances of the meat’s cell walls breaking have been minimized!

The best way to do this is to prepare an ice bath with added salt for the meat. Fill your sink or a large container with cold water, salt, and ice. Then, bag your meat into a freezer bag and let the meat be in the water as long as it reaches 40° F (4° C), and then you can transfer it into the freezer.

And if you really want to minimize the chances of cell wall rupture, you should vacuum seal your meat into the freezer bag before flash freezing it. This is done with a vacuum sealer, but you can also use a mini vacuum sealer with vacuum seal bags. You can also do it with ziplock bags by packing your meat there and trying to get as much air out as possible.

With these things in mind from both camps, you should be able to decide whether smoking frozen meat is a no or a go for you! Now, let’s take a look at some additional things about smoking and cooking meat!

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Can you cook frozen meat on pellet grill

You definitely can cook frozen meat on a pellet grill. However, you should first sear the steak to that beautiful and juicy look and afterward place your meat higher on the grill than usual because it can overcook from the outside before it’s properly done from the inside.

How long does it take to thaw a frozen rack of ribs

In general, ribs take around 24 hours to defrost completely. Even when that is a long time, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you remember taking them out of the freezer in advance. If you defrost them at room temperature, you should cook them as soon as the ribs have thawed to prevent bacteria growth.

How long does it take to cook a frozen brisket

In short, it takes around 1 hour per 1lbs (0.45kg) of meat to cook from frozen to finished. Of course, this depends greatly on the temperature you are cooking and the thickness of the brisket. If you cook a typical brisket of 6lbs (2.7kg) frozen, be prepared to cook it even close to 8hours.

Does meat have to be thawed before smoking

Meat doesn’t need to be thawed before smoking. Even if it may lose some of its texture and flavor, smoking frozen meats gives more smoke flavor by resulting in bigger smoke rings, and if it is frozen right, the texture and flavor loss can be minimal or non-existing.

Conclusion

In this article, we learned that smoking meat isn’t advised; however, it isn’t a total no-no either, and there can be some great advantages to it! If you only have tried smoke fresh meat, I highly suggest that you try smoking frozen one because the smoke rings really are way bigger! Be sure to use a thermometer tho!

I hope that this article brought you great value, and you at least know whether you will only stick with smoking fresh meat or that your curiosity was intrigued, and you will try smoking some frozen meat. Be that as it may, happy cooking moments!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS and while I love working in a busy restaurant, I also enjoy more peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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