Smoked chuck roast recipe (Pit Barrel Cooker)

This is how I smoke a chuck roast in my pit barrel cooker, but the same principles apply to other beef roasts and types of smokers as well. But forget the BBQ sauce the results are so good you will not need any.

Chuck roast is cut from the shoulder area of the cow, It could be labeled chuck roast, 7-bone roast, shoulder steak, boneless chuck roast, or chuck shoulder pot roast. When I can find them the 7-bone roast is my favorite piece of meat. No matter the name your beef chuck roast could have more internal fat content and have more connective tissue than brisket or round roast. Since chuck has a very beefy flavor some people call it poor man’s brisket.

As much as I love smoked brisket unless I am cooking for a large group it is hard to justify cooking a huge brisket.

What kind of smoker gives the best results for smoking chuck roast?

I know that I will upset some purists with what I am about to say but you can get good results on almost any kind of smoker. They all have pros and cons. As long as your smoker is capable of cooking with indirect heat and holding low temperatures for a couple of hours it will work. It really comes down to how much attention you want to give to the cooking process.

Charcoal grill: As long as it has a lid and is capable of holding heat and smoke it can work. It will require a lot of attention and you will need to add more charcoal and or wood during the cooking process.

Pellet smokers: They are great choices for those who do not want to spend less time fiddling with a cooker. Especially the ones that have automatic temperature control. You can set them for a low temperature and the cooker will hold that setpoint. The pellets come in a variety of wood types allowing you to get the smoke flavor that you want.

Electric smoker: Yes you can get good results with an electric smoker. You will need to add wood chips but that is a small detail. But without the wood chips, it will turn out more like a classic pot roast. They are a great alternative for people in areas with no open flame rules. Some electric smokers need a water pan to keep from drying out the meat.

Stick burners: The OG (original gangsters) of smokers. They do require some attention during the cooking time but not too much. Lots of people with a lot more BBQ experience than I have argued that stick burners give you the best flavor.

Pit Barrel Cooker: This is what I am using today. It requires some attention but not very much. I have been very happy with everything that came out of mine. Is it the best way to cook a large cut of meat? I prefer not to answer since feuds have been started over less.

Slow cooker: You do not expect to get a smoky flavor from a crockpot do you? Cook your beans in the crockpot.

Do not stress over the best cooker. Cook with friends and family and have a good time. BBQ is about low and slow. Low heat and lots of time. The time should be with friends and family not stressing over who has the best smoker.

Seasoned roast on a plate

Dry brining your chuck roast.

Dry brining your roast is a great way to ensure a nice crust, add great flavor to the meat, and even help it become more tender. It is best to dry brine your cut of beef one day and then cook the next day. But on this cook, I only dry brined for a few hours.

In a small bowl make your dry rub or spice mix. I make a very simple rub of equal parts sea or kosher salt, black pepper, and granulated garlic (or garlic powder). Optional ingredients: Onion powder, brown sugar (I eat low carb so I do not use sugar), paprika, or Cajun seasoning. If you like it on beef feel free to use it.

First step: Use some paper towels to remove moisture from the surface of the meat.

If the roast has excess fat use a sharp knife to remove most of it. Sprinkle your spice rub onto the roast including the sides of the meat. Optimally place the roast onto a wire rack and then into the fridge. It’s a good idea to one hour before cooking remove the roast from the fridge and allow the surface of the meat to come to room temperature.

For good results, you do not have to brine. I have friends who take the meat out of the fridge, rub all sides of the roast with olive oil, yellow mustard, or dijon mustard, hit it with a little bit of rub, and right into the smoker.

Hand holding a piece of wood with smoker in the background.

On to the cooking.

I fill the charcoal basket with charcoal. I then take enough charcoal out to halfway fill up my charcoal chimney. Place the basket into the bottom of the cooker. Then start a fire under the chimney with paper etc. When most of the charcoal in the chimney is red, dump them on top of the charcoal in the basket, and add a few wood chunks. Run my temperature probes into the cooker, (one probe thermometer is for monitoring the temperature of the smoker and one is a meat probe to monitor the internal temperature of the meat). and place the rebar and the grill grate. Close the lid to the cooker (slightly ajar) Adjust the damper to almost fully closed.

Now I go get everything else that I will need including the meat. This is usually when I ask my wife to run to the local grocery store to pick up something that I forgot.

Seasoned roast in the cooker with an onion.

I insert one probe into the meat and then place the chuck roast onto the grill grates. Some people use the hooks to hang the roast but I get nervous about it falling off. Then I close the lid tightly and watch the internal temperature of the cooker. At this point, it is usually 270 to 300 degrees f. But it should start to fall off. Once it is stable you may need to adjust your vent or recheck your lid. For the best results, you want to cook between 225 to 250 degrees f.

Half cooked chuck roast in cooker with and onion.

At an internal temp of 150F, I flipped the roast over.

Half cooked roast sitting on parchment paper.

What is the Texas Crutch?

As part of the smoking process, your meat will render out the fat and the connective tissue will break down. This is good for getting a good bark but can also dry out the inside of the meat. By wrapping the meat in aluminum foil or butcher paper you create a moist environment that will turn a tougher cut of meat into a tender piece of meat. It is recommended to wrap when a digital thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160 to 175 degrees f. The higher the temperature before wrapping gives more of that nice crust. The lower the temperature when wrapping the more moist the meat will be. You will need to balance that out. When the crust looks good wrap your roast.

I wrapped my chuck roast at 165F. Due to the recent move and ongoing kitchen remodel I was not able to find my butcher paper or aluminum foil. So I used parchment paper.

If you want very tender meat something along the lines of a smoked pot roast place the roast into a foil pan with some braising liquid (beef broth / red wine etc) cover it with a few layers of foil and return it to the cooker.

So after wrapping I cooked my roast until the internal temperature reached 195F. This is a good temperature for slicing. For more of a pulled beef situation cook to 205F. Cooking time will vary greatly depending upon ambient conditions but this cook was just over five hours.

Cooked and rested roast on parchment paper.

After taking the meat out of the cooker it needs to rest. At this point, it is hard to resist just digging in but a thirty-minute to one-hour resting period will allow the juices to redistribute making the perfect Sunday dinner.

During the rest period if you wrapped your meat with paper leave it wrapped tight. If wrapped in foil loosen it up a little so that steam can escape.

Cooked and sliced roast on paper.

This is what mine looked like on the inside. It had a nice bark and was tender and juicy inside.

A great side to serve with this chuck roast would be this easy corn casserole found at Splash of taste.

I had a little bit left over so I used it to make chili rellenos.

You might also enjoy these Pit Barrel Cooker recipes for beef brisket and pulled pork.

Cooked and sliced roast on paper. This is a pin for pinterest.

If you enjoyed this recipe then please share it with your friends.

Cooked and sliced roast on paper.

Smoked chuck roast

This recipe tells you how to use a pit barrel for smoking a chuck roast or poor man's brisket in your very own backyard.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: keto
Keyword: cuck roast, pit barrel cooker, smoked
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 409kcal
Author: James Strange


  • 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Granulated garlic


  • Dry brining od chuck roast
  • Mix together the salt, black pepper, and granulated garlic.
  • Season the meat with the spice blend then place the meat into the refrigerator until ready to use. Take out one hour before cooking.
  • Build a fire and preheat your smoker.
  • If using place your temperature probe into the meat
  • Add the meat to your cooker / smoker and close the lid
  • Cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 to 150 F then flip over.
  • Cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 to 170 F. Then wrap the chuck roast. Place back into the cooker.
  • Cook until the desired internal temperature of the meat has been reached. (195 to 205F)
  • Rest the meat for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Slice and serve.


Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 378mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @james_strange_eats or tag #james_strange_eats
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