Chocolate Orange Ox Cheeks

We’ve gone a little experimental with this rub. The thought process behind the flavour combinations involve how they all compliment each other – beef, chilli, orange and chocolate.  These combinations are found in thousands of various recipes from cuisines around the world, but rarely found in one single recipe.

You’ll find our recipe for BBQ Baron’s Magnificent Seven chilli powder elsewhere on our blog.  Alternatively make sure you opt for a good quality chilli powder.  The cocoa powder alongside the raw cocoa nibs add a subtle hint of chocolateness.   No sugar necessary – the natural sweetness comes from the orange rind.

Technically, there is not much to this recipe – its pretty straight forward – all that is required is a little patience. Ox cheeks are a tough cut, and only really lend themselves to low and slow cooking. They contain large amounts of collagen which require longer cooking times in order break down the meat into a rich and tender gelatin.  Try to keep your temperatures as constant as possible during the cooking process.  Any fluctuations will impact the way the meat cooks.

The finished product are fantastic just eaten on their own, a little BBQ snack as a treat.  However, include them in a chilli, casserole or stew and they will add an extra dimension to any dish.


  • 2 x ox cheeks


  • 1 rind of an orange, grated
  • 2 tablespoons raw cocoa nibs
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of BBQ Baron’s Magnificent Seven chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


Firstly, prep the meat by trimming any large chunks of fat that look like they may not render during the cooking process, plus any silverskin that may have been left on by your butcher.  Meanwhile, combine the ingredients of the rub and roughly blend in a spice grinder. Now rub generously into the meat evenly.  Put aside and leave the meat to settle at room temperature.

Now its time to fire up your smoker.  For this cook lets go low and slow, aim for a temperature of 250°F/121°C, but go lower if you wish – just remember to keep the temps constant as much as possible.  Go with a strong flavoured wood to complement the beef – try hickory or oak. If you can, insert a thermometer probe into the meat, so that you can keep an eye on the internal temp of one of the cheeks.  You’re aiming for a finished internal temperature of 205°F/96°C, afterwhich remove from the smoker and let rest for at least half an hour.  These little chunks of juicy meatness took around five hours to cook, but this can be variable depending on your conditions and the size of the cheeks.

Once nice and rested, you can either pull or slice the little nuggets of beef.  Remove any remaining layers of fat that might not have melted, and pick away at your hearts content.


4 thoughts on “Chocolate Orange Ox Cheeks

  1. Good thing I was searching your link to add it to my link section! It had been too long since my last stop over here! What a great recipe this one! I really want to try it! Sounds pretty interesting and I wanted to make some ox cheeks for a while now!


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