Smoked Bone Marrow Recipe | From a Backyard Bash to Culinary Delight

August 17, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

My obsession with smoked bone marrow (AKA meat butter) started at this epic backyard bash just before COVID hit. I was getting fancy, trying to replicate some of those cooking school tricks.

We fired up the BBQ pit and carefully picked the perfect bones for the marrow dish. Then I gave the marrow some sprinkle of spices. I made the bones hit the grill and let the smoke work its magic. Then the marrow warmed up, and the flavors mingled. That night, we gathered around. We slathered that buttery marrow on toasted bread in an unforgettable dinner before the world changed. 

I've cooked this recipe countless times since then, and it keeps getting better. So, in this article, I'm spilling the beans on that secret smoked bone marrow recipe. I'll also be answering all your burning questions about smoking bone marrow. 

smoked bone marrow

How to Make Smoked Bone Marrow? 

I can't hoard them anymore! Here's the full recipe for my smoked bone marrow:

Ingredients

  • Marrow bones (preferably beef or veal)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Your favorite spices or herbs (optional)
  • Crusty French baguette bread, sliced (for serving)
Raw Bone Marrow on a Wooden Tray

Instructions

Step 1: Clean and Soak Your Marrow Bones in Saltwater 

Start by cleaning the remaining meat off each bone. If the marrow bones weren't cleaned at the butcher, soak them in salt water for 12 to 24 hours. I like to do this anyways, regardless of whether I think they're clean enough. This is also a bit like you're curing them to make the meat butter develop a better taste. 

Step 2: Preheat the Grill

Preheat your grill or smoker to a low and steady temperature of around 225°F (107°C). This low heat will ensure the marrow cooks slowly and absorbs that smokiness.

Step 3: Prep the Marrow Bones

While the grill is heating up, prepare the bone marrow bones. Split them lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the marrow within. Season generously with salt, pepper, and any additional spices or herbs you fancy.

Step 4: Place on the Grill

Place the seasoned bone marrow bones directly on the grill grates, and cut side up. Make sure they are arranged in a single layer and not too close together.

Step 5: Smoke Them

Close the grill or smoker lid and let the bone marrow smoke for about 1 to 2 hours. Note that the exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the bones and your desired level of smokiness.

Step 6: Keep Watch 

Keep an eye on the beef marrow bones, ensuring they don't overcook or burn. The bone marrow should have soft tissue and be easily scoopable when done. The internal temperature here is around 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

You'll need a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature. Any type you have will do but these days, there's nothing like digital models like the Alpha Grillers Instant Read Thermometer. Once you have your thermometer, insert it just inside the marrow tissue, away from the bones.

Step 7: Remove From the Grill

Once the bone marrow is cooked to perfection, remove them from the grill. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Step 8: Serve and Enjoy 

Serve the smoked bone marrow with slices of bread. Use a small spoon, thin butter knife or Georgian knife to scoop out the luscious smoked bone marrow and spread it onto the bread like butter.

Enjoy the smoky, buttery goodness of your smoked bone marrow with a satisfying crunch from the bread. It's a flavor explosion like no other.

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow

What's the Best Bone for a Marrow Recipe?

When picking the best bone for my smoked bone marrow recipe, here are my go-to choice. My butcher knows what I'm up to when I ask for one of these. 

  • Beef Femur Bones: These beef bones are a classic for marrow enthusiasts. These are the thigh bones – the longest, strongest, and largest bones of the cow. So they have plenty of rich, fatty marrow inside. The good thing is beef femur bones are commonly available. You can find them at your local butcher or grocery store. 
  • Veal Shank Bones: Now, if you can't find thigh bones or you're looking for a more delicate and tender marrow, veal shank bones are where it's at. They're smaller in size compared to beef femur bones, though. But don't let that fool you. Veal marrow has a milder flavor and a velvety texture.
  • Lamb Leg Bones: For those who want a unique flavor experience, lamb leg bones are worth a try too. They have a slightly gamey taste. But they pair beautifully with the smoky notes from the grill or smoker. Lamb bones can be a bit smaller. But don't underestimate the punch they pack in the flavor.

Where to Buy Bones for Smoked Bone Marrow?

There are a few ways I get my hands on marrow bones for smoking:

Local Butcher

While planning for a marrow bone dish, I like to pay a visit to my friendly neighborhood butcher. They're the experts when it comes to all things meat and bones.

Ask them if they have beef marrow bones available or if they can hook you up. I know most butchers like to sell their meats with bones for lovers of bone-in cuts. But maybe, just maybe, if you talk to them, they might trim out the meats for sale and hand you the bones.

They might even be able to give you some recommendations on what the best cuts for smoking are. 

Online Retailers

The internet is a treasure trove of shopping opportunities. Hop online and search for reputable online meat suppliers. They usually have a range of options available, and some even offer specific cuts for smoking.

What I like about this option is the retailers know what you're using it for. So, most have it split into two for you already. Now you won't have to fret over the splitting of rock-hard bones.

Whichever retailer you're buying from, make sure to read reviews and check their shipping policies before hitting that "buy" button.

Specialty Meat Markets

Check out specialty meat markets, steakhouses, or gourmet food stores in your area. These places often carry a wide variety of high-quality meats, including beef marrow bones. Give them a call or swing by to see what they've got. 

Local Farms

If you're into the farm-to-table scene, consider reaching out to local farms or farmers' markets. They might have grass-fed animals and be able to provide you with beef marrow bones straight from the source. Plus, supporting local farmers is always a win!

Raw Uncooked Beef Bone Marrow

Best Wood for Smoking Bone Marrow

When it comes to infusing that irresistible smoky flavor, a few woods really hit the mark. Hickory is a classic choice for me. It delivers a robust and slightly sweet taste. If you're after a milder, fruitier vibe, go for applewood. Mesquite is another popular option, packing a punch with its bold and earthy profile. Now, if you're looking for some easy shopping, here are a couple of products to get you started:

Jack's Hickory Wood Chips

You'll get that classic, robust hickory flavor with these premium wood chips. They're perfect for infusing your bone marrow with a smoky flavor.

Weber Applewood Chunks

You can add a touch of fruity sweetness to your bone marrow with these applewood chunks. You can't miss it with these wood chunks. They'll give your dish a delightful, mellow smokiness. 

Is it OK for Humans to Eat Bone Marrow?

Yes, absolutely! Humans can chow down on bone marrow without any worries. By the way, humans have been munching on that stuff for millenniums. The prehistoric humans, I read, ate bone marrow as if it were canned soup as far back as 400,000 years ago, and it's a big deal in many cuisines worldwide.

I know we're no longer Neanderthals. But bone marrow is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients that are good for you. The collagen in it helps to maintain joint, skin, and bone health.

We're talking of essential fatty acids, vitamins like A and B12, minerals like iron and riboflavin, and a bunch of other goodies. 

Also, healthy bone marrows release more blood cells into the bloodstream. It helps the body produce the white cells needed to boost immunity. 

No wonder folks go gaga over it!

The good thing is you can enjoy bone marrow in various ways. Roast it, braise it, or hey, smoke it if you're feeling adventurous. When you're done, slap that meat butter on some crusty bread such as a French baguette or toasted sourdough. You can even mix it into sauces, make it as bone broth, or toss it into hearty stews and soups. The possibilities are endless!

Now, listen up. Moderation is essential here. Bone marrow is somewhat fatty and calorie-packed, so don't go hog wild on it. Just keep it balanced. And if you have any specific dietary concerns or medical issues, it's always wise to chat with a healthcare pro. Better safe than sorry, right?

Conclusion

The beef bone and its marrow is something we often overlook.  But when smoked, this is a unique and epic culinary attempt. The rich, buttery flavors and the velvety texture always make it taste different.

I've spilled the beans on the smoking secrets, dished out tips for nabbing the perfect bones, and even thrown in an easy-peasy smoked bone marrow recipe for you all to try at home. So gather your pals, fire up that grill, and see what the experience is and what it tastes like by 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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