Why Your Smoked Meat Tastes Bitter and How to Smoke Better

Posted on: January 17, 2023

One of the absolute joys of having a smoker at home is the ability to prepare some delicious smoked meat. Whether it’s for your family and friends or just a night by yourself, you can’t really go wrong with smoked meat… or can you? By not keeping some key points in mind while smoking the meat, it can become bitter, and that’s something no one wants to eat. Not only that, but bitter meat ends up leaving a rather tingly and unpleasant sensation in your mouth. That is something you definitely don’t want to do for yourself, or if you have someone over.

Why Is the Meat Bitter?

While you might have tried your best to make everything perfect, a few mistakes do often happen. Some smoked meat tends to become bitter because of the formation of a substance known as creosote. Creosote is a rather thick and oily coating that covers the meat when smoking has gone on for too long.

To strike a balance between heat and time is the ultimate key to getting the right amount of smoke. Due to a lack of airflow, while the meat is being cooked, the smoke is trapped and starts to rest on the surface of the meat. Due to this, creosote is formed. The black, greasy, and oily substance then adds a pungent flavor to the meat.

While this is the most common reason your meat tastes bitter, there are other factors as well, such as using a dirty smoker. Brushing away any excess or old ash can help. In addition, check if the meat has not gone bad. Another common reason is that expired meat may lead to an unpleasant taste.

How to Smoke Better

Now that you understand why your meat might be coming out bitter, let’s try to fix it. To start with, open the exhaust vent in your smoker. Most modern smokers have exhaust vents, and all you have to do is open them while cooking. This will create a passage for the smoke to be released, leaving no creosote to form.

Secondly, make use of aluminum foil and wrap the meat in it. However, while it saves the meat from coming into contact with excess smoke, it can take away some of that smoky flavor because it is now wrapped in foil. Lastly, try using less wood in your fire. This directly affects the creosote build-up because the more wood there is, the more smoke and creosote.

When it comes to cooking, smoking not only adds a distinct flavor to the meat but also makes the meat extremely tender and provides even cooking throughout. Among all the types of meats, brisket is often regarded as the most difficult kind of meat to smoke. This is because of its sheer size and the amount of meat. The entire cut needs to be properly cooked in the right amount of time. Otherwise, as we discussed earlier, it can leave the meat chewy or lacking in flavor.

The best cuts of meat to smoke are those with relatively high-fat content, such as pork shoulder and ribs. Since the smoking process can sometimes dry out the meat, the fat content becomes important. The fat renders, leaving the meat juicy and tender, so the juicy goodness is still there even after being smoked.

Other cuts and pieces such as brisket, porterhouse steak, or other roasts should ideally be infused with some wood. In addition, they should also be cooked for a longer period, and you need to be careful with the timing, as mentioned above. If you are a beginner, start off by smoking a cut of meat that you can afford to get wrong. These could include meats and cuts like poultry, fish, and even sausage.

If you want to cook something with a higher fat content to bring out the flavor and to render the fat, pork is your best option on a budget. It’s a great way to learn the timing, temperatures, and how smoking works overall. Once you have perfected these meats, you can then move on to more expensive cuts. It’s best to gain a good understanding first. Rubbing some seasoning or injecting it into the meat are two of the most popular ways to marinate meat.

Want your smoked meat to taste better? Check out our entire catalog of articles on brining and curing your meat like the experts here!:

What’s the Difference Between Pickling, Brining, Marinating, and Curing?
Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
Directions On Brining And Curing Your Meat For Food Smoking

And there is something that you need to understand, and will definitely change your food smoking game, read it here: Food Smoking Versus Cooking Food with Wood, What is the Difference?

Final Thoughts

Ensure your meat is in good condition. You can do this at the supermarket before you buy it. Furthermore, make sure the smoker is clean. Then, by following the steps mentioned above, you’re all but guaranteed to get the most delicious, smokey, and scrumptious meat to enjoy right at home. For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.