How to smoke a chuck tender roast

Confession time: I bought a beef chuck tender roast by accident. I was shopping for a chuck roast at the time. In the haze and frenzy of grocery shopping, I saw the word tender on the label and thought it was descriptive. In hindsight, that sounds ridiculous, but that’s what happened.

So, you all don’t make the same mistake, I’ll be clear: A beef chuck tender roast is neither tender nor a chuck roast. It is a muscular, lean piece of meat from the cow’s shoulder area.

Sliced smoked chuck tender roast on cutting board.
©Blog Chef.

Fortunately, my plan was to smoke the chuck roast, which is also a reasonable cooking method for a chuck tender. Meat that is naturally tough requires long, slow cooking. Smoking fits that category, as does slow cooking and braising.

Read on for my how-to on smoking chuck tender and how the finished dish compares to smoked chuck roast and smoked brisket.

What to expect: Smoked beef chuck tender

Smoked chuck tender roast on cutting board.
©Blog Chef.

Smoking meat is an art more than a science. I will share the timing in my experience, but you’ll need to use a thermometer as your guide. Your roast could take more or less time to reach the ideal temperature.

  • Taste: Chuck tender has a rich, beefy flavor. I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder as a rub. You can alternatively try any beef rub or make your own to enhance the meat’s natural flavor.
  • Texture: The texture of smoked chuck tender falls short of, say, smoked brisket or smoked chuck roast. It shreds nicely but lacks the fattiness of other cuts. Next time I make this, I’d shred the meat and use it to stuff meaty, cheesy enchiladas.
  • Foolproof factor: Smoking meat always has its pitfalls. The biggest error you can make is promising when you’ll have dinner on the table. Also, don’t try to make this without a meat thermometer. You need that temperature reading to guide you.
  • Timing: Total cooking time for a 2-pound chuck tender should be about five hours. You will want to rest the meat for at least one hour, preferably two, after taking it out of the smoker. Accounting for the time to prep the meat and heat up your smoker, you’re looking at seven to eight hours total.  

Ingredients and cost of smoking a chuck tender

Below is an explanation of the ingredients and how to use them. I’ve also include a text version of ingredients with measurements, which you can copy and paste to make a grocery list. There’s also an Instacart button you can use to load up your cart immediately.

  • Chuck tender: The chuck tender roast is the star of this show. I bought one weighing about two pounds at Walmart. You could alternatively follow these instructions to smoke a chuck roast or a brisket.
  • Yellow mustard: You will coat the outside of the roast with mustard. Mustard tenderizes the meat and helps your dry rub stick.
  • Dry rub: You can use salt, pepper, and garlic powder as an informal dry rub. You can also add paprika for smokiness, chili powder for spiciness, or brown sugar for sweetness.
  • Barbecue sauce: This goes on the meat in the last phase of cooking for additional flavor.

Copy and paste these ingredients into your grocery list:

2-pound Chuck tender roast
½ cup yellow mustard
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

If you needed to buy all of these ingredients, this recipe will cost about $35 to make or $8.75 per serving. Most of that pays for the meat, which is about $7.50 to $8 per pound according to Walmart.

Equipment needed

You will need a meat smoker, meat probe, and aluminum foil to follow this recipe. I recommend a pellet grill, as they can hold a consistent temperature. I’ve had two of them. The one I currently use is a vertical style.

I’ve also used a charcoal smoker, which delivered glorious flavor but required a lot of tinkering to keep the temperature even.

A meat probe that remains in the meat while cooking is essential also. You can’t use an instant-read thermometer for this because you’d have to open and close the grill cover too many times to check your progress. You’ll have better results with a thermometer that remains inserted throughout the cooking process.   

The foil comes into play for the second half of the cook time. Once the meat reaches about 160°F or 71°C, the temperature raise will plateau. At that point, you’ll want to wrap the meat in foil and continue cooking until the temperature hits 201°F or 94°C.

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Sliced smoked chuck tender roast on cutting board.

  1. Take your roast out of the refrigerator. Coat it all over with yellow mustard. Then sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your liking.
  2. Let the meat rest at room temperature for one hour. While the meat is resting, heat up your smoker to 250°F or 121°C.
  3. After the meat rests, insert a meat probe and place the roast in the hot smoker. Leave it alone until the temperature reads 160°F or 71°C. This may take about three hours.
  4. When the temperature reaches 160°F or 71°C, remove the meat from the smoker and place it on a large piece of aluminum foil. Pour the barbecue sauce on top and turn the meat to coat. Close up the foil and place the roast back in the smoker.
  5. Keep cooking the roast until it reaches 201°F or 94°C. For me, this step took almost two hours.
  6. Remove the roast from the smoker and place it in a cooler, still in the foil, for one to two hours. 
  7. Slice and serve.
  • Author: Catherine Brock
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Additional Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Category: Beef recipes
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: BBQ
  • Diet: DiabeticDiet

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 548
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 726
  • Fat: 22
  • Saturated Fat: 8
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13
  • Trans Fat: 1
  • Carbohydrates: 5
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 83
  • Cholesterol: 254

What to do with leftover smoked chuck tender

You might enjoy your leftover smoked chuck tender more than the original version. Try using those leftovers to make a quesadilla, beef enchiladas, or beef sliders.

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