Beef cheeks are one of my favourite things to cook. They have so much flavour, they are great on the BBQ or slow-cooked in the oven and even though they have gotten more expensive of late as every hipster restaurant serves beef cheeks they are still cheaper than most steaks! If you are a fan of beef cheeks and want to see how I make these smoked beef cheeks pitas then read on and enjoy my friend! These beauties were cooked on my Masterbuilt BBQ - but more on that later!
Why I Love This Recipe
- cheaper than most steaks
- feeds a crowd
- leftovers for another day
- the smell in your garden is AMAZING
- they are simply delicious!
It's true, beef cheeks aren't something you are going to whip up in a matter of minutes. They require love and patience but the results are truly worth it. This recipe for smoked beef cheeks is one you will start to cook early in the day, enjoy the kids playing in the garden as you sip on a cold one and come early afternoon there will be an epic meal to feed a crowd!
The smell will entice your neighbours to come knocking (so let's hope you like them!) and if you are like me smoked a little more beef cheeks and you can freeze them to heat up another day for pizza, beef cheek hash or some epically good smoked beef cheeks quesadillas!
Making Homemade Pitas
I love making homemade pitas! I first started making them about 2 years ago and I think I've only ever used shop-bought once (and we have eaten them a lot!). They are lighter, fluffer and simply WAY tastier. They do take a little time as you need to let the dough rest/rise but the actual active part doesn't take long at all.
Simply mix dried yeast, sugar and warm water together (the water should be about 37-41c), cover and leave the yeast to do its thing (get frothy) for 5 minutes.
Next, simply add flour, salt and olive oil and either knead by hand or if you are smart use a stand mixer with a dough hook. Turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead by hand for about 2-3 minutes until smooth. Pop some oil into the mixer bowl and add the dough back in. Cover and leave for 1 hour to rise.
Next, knock the dough back - simply punch it! Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide it into 6-8 pieces and using a floured rolling pin roll them until they are about 1/2cm thick.
To cook them - simply heat a cast iron pan until it's smoking and drizzle a small amount of canola oil into it. Cook for about 1 minute, flip and cook for a further 30 seconds. Keep warm under tinfoil and repeat with the rest.
TRUST me - it's 100% worth it!
Sriracha Pineapple Slaw
This is what brings the smoked beef cheeks pitas all together! Keeping it simple with this one I just mixed sriracha, mayonnaise/aioli and a little lime juice together. Alternatively, you can buy spiced mayonnaise in your local grocery store or if you want everything to be homemade check out my chipotle aioli recipe HERE!
For the slaw element, most stores have ready-made bags in the fridge section of the fruit/veg department but if like me you always have red cabbage & coriander in the fridge for making tacos then you may as well whip up your own. I used red cabbage, carrots, coriander, spring onion and some grated pineapple. The pineapple adds a lovely freshness and sweetness to the dish so I would thoroughly recommend it. Simply chop it or grate it using a box grater and mix it through.
Smoking Beef Cheeks
Now, for the main show! Smoked beef cheeks. Smoking meat is way easier than you realise. Once you have your Masterbuilt BBQ set up then it pretty much does the job for you.
Start by making a rub or using your favourite shop-bought one. I used a combo of salt, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne. oregano and brown sugar. Spread it evenly over your beef cheeks.
Set your masterbuilt smoker to 110-130c using your favourite wood chunk - I'm a fan of cherrywood but each to their own. Smoked the beef cheeks for approx 3-4 hours spritzing every 45mins to an hour for the first 2 hours. Once the meat has reached approx 75c internal temperature wrap in butchers paper or foil. At this stage, I like to add some honey, brown sugar and butter to the cheeks when I wrap them.
Continue cooking them until the internal temperature is about 93-95c. The internal temperature is just a guide as some smoked beef cheeks may need a little longer to cook. You are looking to be able to probe the cheeks as if they are soft like butter. At this stage, remove the cheeks, wrap them in an old towel and into a cooler bag for 30 minutes to rest. Gotta let those juices redistribute!
Pop on some "trendy" black gloves (with a thicker pair underneath) and pull those smoked beef cheeks - if you have followed the steps it'll take mere seconds to do so!
Tips, Tricks & FAQ's
You sure can! I like to also use chuck steak, boneless short ribs or if you wanted a different type of meat lamb shoulder, lamb shanks or pork butt will all work just fine.
Yes and no! They won't be smoked beef cheeks in the oven but you can definitely cook them low n slow in the oven. Typically when we cook beef cheeks in the oven we do so in a liquid of some sort. We call this braising. My advice is to rub the cheeks in your fave rub and then place them in a baking tray on a wire rack. Fill the tray with liquid - beer, ginger beer, flavoured water and then cover with foil. Cook slowly for 3-4 hours @ 150c and you will have tender beef cheeks
Generally, when smoking meats we look for an internal temperature of about 93-95c. This is just a guideline. The best way to check if your smoked beef cheeks are cooked is to probe them. If your probe slides through like butter then they are cooked. If not, leave them another 20-30 minutes and check again. DON'T FORGET TO WRAP THEM TO REST!!
Some people use the boat method. This is where they finish the cheeks in a foil tray with a liquid that is covered in foil. This helps to retain moisture and cook them through. Personally, I like to wrap them and leave the cheeks moist through the cooking process but not covered in liquid as I'm all about the sriracha or chipotle sauce!
Buy a cheap watering spray thing from your local grocery store and fill it with water. The water sprayed onto the meat helps the smoke to stick to the meat giving you more of that lovely pink hue you see on smoked meats!
Barbeques Galore & Masterbuilt
So, recently I paired up with the guys from Barbeques Galore and Masterbuilt BBQ here in Australia. This recipe was created using my Masterbuilt 560 digital charcoal grill + smoker. If ever there was a BBQ you should own it's this!
After lighting it, the Masterbuilt BBQ gets up to temp in a matter of minutes making it just as convenient as a gas BBQ but the added bonus of that charcoal flavour. It has a built-in fan (much like your oven) that helps regulate the temperature which means if you are looking to cook low n slow or sear the (insert bad word) out of a steak this baby has you covered.
I have cooked on mine about 30 times now and every cook has been pure perfection!
Alternative Beef Cheek Recipes
Inspired to cook my smoked beef cheeks or just want more beef cheeks in your life? Then check out some other recipes on my site and by fellow food bloggers too!
Beef Cheek Ragu by Yours Truly
Beef Cheek Rendang by Allison Jones of 'Electric Vitality'
Asian Slow-Cooked Beef Cheeks by Yours Truly
Slow-Cooked Thermomix Beef Cheeks by Julie Carlyle of 'ThermoKitchen'
Sous Vide Beef Cheeks by Michelle Minnaar of 'Greedy Gourmet'
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!!
- 1.5 kg beef cheeks
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- brown sugar
- 240 g 00 flour extra for kneading
- 300 ml warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 7 g packet dried yeast
- canola oil
- 1 spring onions
- 100 g red cabbage
- 100 g pineapple
- 100 g carrot
- 1 handful coriander
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 4 tbsp sriracha
- 100 g mayonnaise
- Chef Knives
- Chopping board
- cast iron pan
- mixing bowl x 2
- Measuring utensils
- esky/freezer bag
- meat thermometer
- Set your BBQ to 130c for smoking using whatever your preferred wood chunks to be
- Mix all the rub ingredients together, oil your beef cheeks and gently pat the rub onto the beef cheeks
- Once your BBQ is at temperature and smoking add your beef cheeks to the BBQ on indirect heat *see tips*
- Smoke the beef cheeks for 3-4 hours until internal temperature is about 75c – spritzing the beef cheeks after 1 hour *see tips*
- Once the cheeks are at 75c remove form the BBQ, wrap in foil or butchers paper with a sprinkle of brown sugar, drizzle of honey and a knob of butter. Continue to cook for approx. 2 hours or until internal temperature is approx. 93c *see tips*
- Remove from the BBQ, wrap in a towel and place in an esky/freezer bag to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Once ready to serve pull using obligatory black BBQ gloves 😉
- Place the yeast, sugar and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer, cover and leave in a warm place for 5 minutes
- Add the salt, flour and oil and using a dough hook knead until it comes together
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic
- Oil the stand mixer bowl and place the dough back in. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour
- Punch the dough back (literally punch it)
- And turn out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and cut into 8 equal sized pieces
- Flatten/roll out until they are a couple mm thick (don’t worry about them being a perfect round shape)
- Drizzle a VERY HOT cast iron pan with 1 tsp oil and fry the pitas in the oil for 1 minute per side
- Grate the pineapple & carrots
- Finely slice the red cabbage and spring onions
- Combine all the vegetables/fruit
- Mix the mayo ingredients together and toss the slaw in some of the mayo reserving some to drizzle on the pita
- when cooking the beef cheeks the approx. internal temperature should be 93-95c but test the meat with a skewer/probe. You are looking to be able to push the probe through like butter. They may need a few minutes longer if not soft enough
- beef cheeks take approx. 5 hours to smoke but sometimes can cook quicker or longer. My advice is to start a little earlier as you can leave them to rest wrapped in foil/tea towel in an esky for up to 2 hours
- when cooking the pita you want the cast iron pan smoking hot and you need to add a drizzle of oil to each cook
- feel free to use shop-bought aioli/mayo and shop-bought pitas to make the recipe a little easier but once you try the homemade ones you won’t want shop bought again 😉
- you can make the pitas in advance and leave them covered in the fridge until ready to roll out