Master The Art of Smoking Meats with Butcher Paper

Person wrapping a slab of ribs in Reynolds Kitchens Pink Butcher Paper

How to Use Butcher Paper for Smoking Meats

Barbecue and smoking enthusiasts, get ready to take your smoked meats to the next level! This article will discuss butcher paper’s versatile and practical uses when smoking meats and the best way to get tender juicy results. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about using butcher paper for smoking meats and impressing your guests at your next backyard gathering.

What is Butcher Paper?

Butcher paper is a food-grade kraft paper designed to wrap raw meat and fish from the butcher or market and also popular to use on the smoker when smoking meat.

Pink butcher paper is the top pick for many smoking aficionados. This heavy-duty paper is created to be extra strong to resist leaks and tears, even when exposed to moisture.

What Are the Benefits to Using Pink Butcher Paper for Smoking?

Pink butcher paper is popular for smoking meats because it offers several benefits:

  • It’s breathable: One of the main benefits of using butcher paper is that it allows the smoke to penetrate the meat, giving it that signature flavor.
  • Retains moisture: Meat wrapped in butcher paper allows just the right amount of moisture for some of the juices to evaporate, preventing the meat from drying out and making the meat moist and tender. As a result, the final product will be juicier and more flavorful.
  • Traps less steam: If there is an excess of steam during the smoking process it can lead to a soggy bark, the delectable crust that forms on smoked meat. However, butcher paper can help regulate the amount of steam by allowing heat and air to penetrate the meat, resulting in the perfect bark.
Person placing meat wrapped in Reynolds Kitchens Butcher Paper on a smoker

How to Use Butcher Paper for Smoking Meats

For all types of meat, smoke uncovered during the initial hours to develop a tasty, crispy bark. When the meat reaches the "stall" stage, wrap it in butcher paper. The "stall" is a term used in smoking larger cuts like brisket and pork shoulder, referring to the plateau or drop in internal temperature despite a steady smoker temperature. This occurs when moisture evaporates and cools the meat's surface.

The stall may last for hours and can frustrate novice smokers eager to see the internal temperature rise. However, this is a crucial part of the cooking process for tender and flavorful meat. Wrapping the meat in butcher paper during the stall helps speed up cooking while preventing dryness, and helps you achieve that perfect BBQ combo of crisp bark and juicy tender meat.

How to Wrap Smoked Meats in Butcher Paper

  1. Prepare the butcher paper: Using the Reynolds Kitchens® Pink Butcher Paper easy-to-use built in slide cutter, cut a piece of butcher paper large enough to wrap the meat completely. For larger cuts of meat, overlap two pieces of butcher paper to double wrap the meat for added protection.
  2. Place and spritz: Place meat one end of butcher paper, allowing enough paper on that end that can be wrapped over the top of the meat. Spritz or brush any dry areas.
  3. Wrap the meat: Bring one side of the paper up and over the meat, tucking it tightly underneath the meat. Fold in and overlap both sides, like wrapping a present. Tuck and roll the meat, making sure to wrap it tightly so that the meat is completely covered. Ensure that your meat is fat side up for fatty cuts of meat, or skin side up for turkey or other birds.
  4. Return the meat to the smoker: Once the meat is wrapped in butcher paper, return it to the smoker and continue cooking until it reaches the desired internal temperature.
  5. Let the meat rest: Rest wrapped meat on a baking tray for 30 minutes to seal in the juices.

Expert Tips for Smoking Meat with Butcher Paper

We’ve compiled some expert tips on what temperature to smoke meats, when to wrap, and tricks to make your smoked beef brisket, pork, ribs, and turkey taste juicy and delicious. All smoking times are dependent on the type of meat, thickness of the meat, humidity, outdoor temperature, and the type of smoker, so you may need to add time accordingly. With these tips and Reynolds Kitchens® Pink Butcher Paper, you can smoke like a pro.

How to Smoke Brisket with Butcher Paper

Smoking brisket in butcher paper is the best way to achieve tender juicy meat, while protecting the crisp bark. Using your favorite brisket recipe, like our Smoked Holiday Brisket, prepare, season, rest, and smoke your meat at 225-250°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 160-170°F. This is around the time of the “stall,” when cooking large cuts of meat tends to plateau. Pitmasters also consider the look and feel of the bark, too. It should be crispy, firm, and dark in color. This is when you want to wrap your meat in butcher paper to help speed up the cooking process without drying out the meat.

Continue to smoke the wrapped brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 202°F in the thickest part of the meat. On average, a brisket using butcher paper takes one hour of smoking time per pound. A 12-pound brisket will take 12 hours or more. When your brisket reaches the stall, at about 160-170°F or 5-6 hours into the smoking time, it’s time to wrap your meat in the butcher paper to lock in the flavor.

Smoking Pork with Butcher Paper

Smoking pork with butcher paper delivers delicious results and is easy. Simply choose a cut of pork suitable for smoking, such as pork shoulder or pork butt. Ensure the meat has enough marbling (fat) for moist and flavorful pulled pork. Follow the directions from your recipe (try Misty’s Smoked Pork Nachos) to prepare the meat by adding a dry rub and/or a brine to the pork to infuse it with flavor.

Smoke your meat for several hours at 225-250°F. When the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160-165°F and your bark is firm and beginning to crack, your pork is ready to wrap. For an 8-pound pork shoulder, this is around the 6-hour mark.

Prior to wrapping, some pitmasters like to spritz their meat with apple cider vinegar. For the most tender and easy-to-shred meat, we recommend smoking the wrapped pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 202-205°F. The meat temperature is key, but a rough estimate of total smoking time is about 90 minutes per pound, or 12 hours for an 8-pound pork shoulder.

Smoking Ribs with Butcher Paper

If you want tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs, you’ll want to use butcher paper. The butcher paper locks in the moisture lets the ribs soak up all that smoky flavor. To prep, we recommend trimming the ribs and removing the membrane on the underside of the ribs. This ensures that your ribs have a relatively uniform thickness which will help them cook evenly. Once you’ve added your favorite dry rub and allowed the meat to rest for about 30 minutes, you’re ready to get smoking.

Want competition-worthy ribs? We recommend the 3-2-1 method. Smoke the ribs for about 3 hours until they stall at an internal temperature of 165°F. Before wrapping, some barbecue enthusiasts swear by lightly spraying the butcher paper with warm water, apple cider, apple juice, beer, or any liquid you wish to seal in even more moisture and flavor. Smoke the wrapped ribs for 2 hours in butcher paper and then finish them off for 1 hour unwrapped over direct heat and baste with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Smoking a Turkey with Butcher Paper

Whether it’s the holidays, a special occasion, or casual backyard gathering, smoked turkey is a favorite among smoker buffs. Start with a fresh or thoroughly thawed turkey before smoking. Each smoked turkey recipe may call for different ways to prep, smoke, baste, and brine. For an even cook, many barbecue experts recommend spatchcocking your turkey. Also called butterflying, this is a method of cutting your turkey so it essentially lies “flat”.

How do you spatchcock a turkey? Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity. Place the bird breast side down on a sturdy cutting surface. Cut along both sides of the backbone, using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, starting at the tail and working toward the neck. Flip the turkey over. Using two hands, press down hard on the breastbone to flatten the bird. Your bird is now ready to baste, brine and season as desired.

Because it’s a leaner cut of meat, you can smoke turkey at a higher temperature for a shorter time. Bring your smoker to a temperature of 240-275°F. (Please note, butcher paper should be used in less than 300°F temperatures) A whole bird turkey takes about 30-40 minutes per pound to cook completely. Like the other cuts of meat, wait until your turkey reaches the stall at an internal temperature of approximately 150°F and the bird has a golden-brown crispy skin before wrapping (about 2-3 hours into the smoking time). Because of the size and weight of a turkey, we recommend using a double layer of butcher paper. Before wrapping in butcher paper, many barbecue chefs like to baste the turkey for more moisture. When the wrapped bird reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Are There Butcher Paper Substitutes for Smoking Meat?

Aluminum Foil for Smoking

Can I substitute aluminum foil for butcher paper for smoking?

Yes. In the pitmaster lingo, it’s called the “Texas Crutch.” When your meat is partially through the smoking process and hits the stall, you wrap the meat in aluminum foil. This method concentrates heat, speeds up cooking, and reduces evaporation. The aluminum foil keeps the meat ultra-moist, controls the color of the bark, but it is not breathable like butcher paper. Smoke can’t penetrate the foil, so you'll lose the benefit of the smoky flavor. Experts note that you shouldn’t leave the meat in the foil too long. The excess moisture can soften the bark, making it wet and mushy. The bark should remain crispy and crunchy. While all Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil products are grill-safe and smoker-safe , we recommend Reynold’s Wrap® Pitmaster’s Choice as a substitute for when you don’t have butcher paper on hand.

Parchment Paper for Smoking

Can I substitute parchment paper for butcher paper for smoking?

No. Reynolds Kitchens® Parchment Paper should not be used for smoking or grilling. However, you can use it to wrap your meat during the “rest” stages prior to and after smoking.

Freezer or Wax Paper for Smoking

Can I substitute freezer or wax paper for butcher paper for smoking?

No. Reynolds Kitchens® Freezer Paper is designed to be used for freezing food and cannot be used for smoking or grilling. Reynolds Kitchens® Cut-Rite® Wax Paper is also not suitable for exposure to the heat of a smoker or grill.

Now is your chance to take your smoking game to new heights. Discover the magic of using butcher paper for smoking your favorite meats! Pink butcher paper helps to infuse your brisket, pork, ribs, turkey or other meats with that irresistible smoky flavor, and locks in moisture, keeping your meat from drying out, while protecting the crisp bark. Transform your BBQ with Reynolds Kitchens® Pink Butcher Paper—a versatile and practical choice for any smoking enthusiast’s toolbox. So, fire up that smoker and get ready to explore new techniques for the ultimate mouthwatering backyard barbecue!

Butcher Paper Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

Butcher paper is ideal for wrapping smoked meats partially through the smoking process. It’s a tough paper that gets even stronger when wet and offers many benefits, like speeding up the cooking process and keeping moisture in the meat.

Pink butcher paper offers many benefits: it’s breathable and retains moisture, yet traps less steam. Overall, it makes your meat more flavorful and juicier while retaining the tasty bark.

To wrap meat in butcher paper for smoking, cut a piece of paper, place the meat on one end, spritz it, tightly wrap the meat, fold and overlap both sides, and tuck and roll it until it is completely covered. Finally, return the wrapped meat to the smoker and cook to the desired internal temperature.

No. We do not recommend using parchment paper for smoking. However, you can use it to wrap your meat during the “rest” stages prior to and after smoking.

Smoker pros recommend a wide variety of meats that are best for beginners. By far, the easiest are sausages and chicken thighs, followed by pork shoulder/butts, whole chickens, brisket, ribs, and turkey.