An Eye Opening Recipe: Smoked Eye of Round

Back when I was in culinary school, money was tight but I couldn't completely let go of my love of smoking. This is when I figured out how to prepare smoked eye of round roast. The great thing about this cut is that it is affordable and since not many people know enough about it to buy, you can always find it!

Here is your guide to smoking this underrated cut of meat!

Understanding the Eye of Round Roast

The first thing that I want to get into is what the eye of round roast actually is. After all, this isn't the most popular cut of meat around and I would like to show what it is all about before moving onto the recipe.

It comes from the round subprimal cut, near the rump and legs. The muscles in this part of the body get quite a bit of exercise. As a result, this eye of round roast beef ends up being quite lean and tough.

eye of round roast plated

This may sound off-putting, but when cooked properly, the eye of round roast is a flavorful and delicious dish. So, let's figure out how to make this smoked beef to perfection!

And, as an added bonus as far as nutrition, calories, and saturated fat content goes, this cut scores pretty well!

Should You Brine Eye of Round Roast?

As I mentioned, this cut of meat can be pretty dry and tough. This is why many people wonder if it can benefit from some brining.

Now, as long as you pay close attention to the smoking process, you should be able to get this dish just right. However, brining it beforehand certainly can't hurt, you simply have to prep the eye of round roast beef earlier.

While you can use a wet brine, I would say that you are better off with a dry brine, particularly when dealing with larger cuts. All you have to do is to sprinkle kosher salt on every inch of the meat and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or even overnight.

Then, simply take out and continue with your preparations as dictated by the recipe.

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Smoked Eye of Round Roast Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5lb eye of round beef roast

Herb Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary, chopped finely
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, chopped finely
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs. of coarse salt
  • 2 tbs. of black pepper

Method

Step 1

Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.

Step 2

Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the eye of round roast.

pouring sauce on smoked meat

Step 3

Combine all the ingredients of the herb seasoning in a bowl.

Apply liberally to the roast. You can use a pastry brush if you like but make sure that the entire cut is coated in an even and thick layer of the paste.

Step 4

Place the eye of round roast in the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees F. This may take anywhere from an hour and a half to 3 hours so monitor temperature closely.

Take the meat out and place on a cutting board. Let rest for 45 minutes.

Prepping the Eye of Round Roast

Here are some tips for getting the eye of round roast ready for the smoker:

Roast Size

For this recipe, I have used a 5lb cut of beef. This is great for a larger crowd so if you only want enough meat for a one off dinner, then you may want to consider using a 2.5lb to 3lb cut.

This can also be a good option if you want to cut down on smoking time. Prep two smaller eye of round roasts and you can have the same amount of meat ready in a shorter period of time.

Just make sure to keep a close watch on the temperature of each hunk of meat. Don't presume that they are smoking at the same rate. With these beef roasts, you really can't run the risk of overcoming them.

And naturally, you will also need to increase the amount of herb seasoning accordingly.

Seasoning Paste vs. Dry Rub

Usually when smoking beef, I am all about the dry beef rub. As you will have seen with this recipe, though, I have used an oil-based paste instead, so what gives?

Well, the reason that I did this has to do with the particular texture of the eye of round cut. As it tends to be on the drier and tougher side, I found that a wet paste, in particular one containing oil helps to retain moisture and taste a bit better.

Now, does this mean that you can't use a dry rub? Not at all! It is all down to personal preference. You can make one up with kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, etc.

I would suggest using olive oil or mustard as a binding agent, though. Apply 2 or so tablespoons over the roast and then sprinkle on the dry seasoning. This way, it will form a better crust.

Setting Up Your Grill or Smoker

Here are the tips for making sure your grill or smoker is perfectly set for this smoked roast beef recipe:

Prepping Your Charcoal Grill

If you are using your charcoal grill as a smoker, then you already know to create two cooking zones - one side with direct heat and the other one with indirect heat.

round charcoal bbq grill

As this roast beef needs to be cooked on the lowest temp possible, make sure that the section with indirect heat really has no coals or few coals. It is important for the meat to be as far away from the heat as possible.

The Wood Chips

In case you are using a pellet grill, then you have to choose the right wood flavor for this smoked eye of round. I would say that hickory pellets are your best option here.

As this smoked roast beef will have a nice, beefy flavor, it will hold up well to the stronger, smokier notes of hickory. This is especially true for larger cuts of beef roast.

If you aren't feeling quite so adventurous, then oak will work just as fine. However, stay away from the fruit woods as they don't really do much with this kind of cut.

The Smoker Temperature

I can't stress this enough: low and slow is the only way to go with smoked eye of round. I know that when it comes to other types of roasts, people tend to fiddle around with the smoker temperature.

For instance, they may go high all the way to ensure faster smoking. Or, they may start off high and then go low or vice versa.

This is not something that you should try with this roast beef, however. Due to its toughness, it needs to be cooked at a low temperature for a longer period of time. This gives the muscle fibers the opportunity to break down.

To add to this, the meat has to be cooked to medium rare. So, if you go too high, there is a greater risk of overcooking it.

In this instance, a little bit of patience goes a long way. If you really do want to hurry up the process, go with two smaller portions instead.

Smoking the Eye of Round Roast

Here is how you can guarantee that your smoked eye of round is cooked properly:

Setting Up the Roast Beef

As I mentioned earlier, the eye of round needs to be far away from the hot coals. So, if you are using a charcoal grill, make sure that set it up on the further end of the grill.

Oh, and if you want to avoid making a mess, lay down some aluminum foil on the grill grates. This makes it easier to remove the roast beef once it is done grilling.

Avoid Basting the Meat

I have seen some recipes where you are advised to baste the eye of round as it gets closer to being done. This isn't necessary, however.

I am not a fan of this method for two reasons. First, at the temperature inside the smoker, the liquid is going to evaporate off the smoked roast beef pretty quickly. Second, basting will wipe off that deliciously crust undoing what the smoking process has done.

Checking the Internal Temperature

As I have said, it is important to watch the internal temp. carefully. Thus, before placing the eye of round in the smoker, place a thermometer in the thickest portion of the cut. This will ensure that you get an accurate reading.

Now, this roast is perfect medium rare - this is when the internal temperature reaches between 130 and 135 degrees F. If you wish, you can keep it a little longer until it is cooked to medium doneness - 135 to 140 degrees F, but I wouldn't advise it.

roast beef burger

The thing to keep in mind, though, that even when you take the roast out of the smoker, it continues to cook. It will typically go up by 10 degrees after being removed from the heat.

This is why I like to remove the roast when it registers at 125 degrees F. This ensures that I don't overcook it.

I know that there are some people who like to take the meat out at this target temperature and then reverse sear it in a cast iron skillet. Personally, I don't feel like the eye of round roast s cut out for this cooking process.

Resting the Smoked Eye of Round

As this cut can be pretty tough, it is important to let it rest for as long as possible. I would advise you to leave it alone for at least 45 minutes before you cut into it. Otherwise, your risk undoing all of your hard work.

Slicing and Using the Smoked Roast Beef

Make sure that the smoked eye of round is sliced thin as possible. This will make it taste juicier and more tender. In short, the thinner the better.

My favorite way to use up with this smoked cut is to make smoked roast beef sandwiches with horseradish cream sauce.

For the sauce, mix half a cup of mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish, and 1 teaspoon of mustard powder.

For the sandwiches, use steak rolls, swiss cheese, and thinly sliced onions to top things off!

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it - a fantastic recipe for the most delicious smoked eye of round you can imagine. Now that you know how to get the job done, go ahead and try these tips and techniques for yourself!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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