Smoking Times and Temperatures

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Smoker Thermometer - Smoking Times and Temps

Smoking Times and Temperatures

To get the most consistent, best tasting and safe to eat BBQ you need to have a good understanding of the times and temperatures needed when smoking different food. The times are generally a very rough number that can vary greatly, but the internal smoking temps of the meat are what are really important when it comes to safe and tasty meat. Always use temperature to determine whether your food is ready. Keep reading for a complete guide to smoking times and temperatures.

Beef Smoking Times and Temps

Cut of MeatSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Brisket225-240 °F190-200 °F12-20 hours
Steaks210-220 °F135 °F (medium)30-45 mins
Burgers225 °F160 °F1 hour
Meatloaf225-240 °F160 °F3 hours
Chuck Roast225-240 °F190-200 °F12-18 hours
Rump Roast225-240 °F135 °F (medium)30 mins/lb
Back Ribs225-240 °F190 °F4-5 hours
Prime Rib225 °F135 °F (medium)4-5 hours
Short Ribs225-240 °F190 °F6-8 hours
Spare Ribs225-240 °F190 °F5-6 hours
Tri Tip 225-240 °F135 °F (medium)3-4 hours
Tenderloin 225-240 °F135 °F (medium)3-4 hours
Jerky140 °FN/A3-4 hours
  • For rare take 10°F away from the internal temperature.
  • For well-done add 10°F to the internal temperature.
  • You can take your steaks to around ¾ done in the smoker then transfer to the grill to finish them with a hot sear. We recommend infrared grills as the best way to sear your steaks.

Pork Smoking Times and Temps

Cut of MeatSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Pork Butt225 °F190 °F12-14 hours
Baby Back Ribs225-240 °F180 °F 5 hours
Spare Ribs225-240 °F180 °F 6 hours
Loin225-240 °F145 °F 3-5 hours
Tenderloin225-240 °F145 °F 2 hours
Ham (with bone)225-240 °F160 °F1.5 hours/lb
Belly BaconLess than 100°F140 °F6 hours
Sausage225-240 °F165 °F1-2 hours
Whole Hog225-240 °F205 °F16-20 hours

Poultry Smoking Times and Temps

Cut of MeatSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Whole Chicken275-300 °F170 °F2-3 hours
Chicken Legs275-300 °F170 °F1-2 hours
Chicken Thighs 275-300 °F170 °F1-2 hours
Chicken Wings275-300 °F170 °F1-2 hours
Chicken Quarters275-300 °F170 °F1-2 hours
Chicken Breast 275-300 °F170 °F1-2 hours
Whole Turkey275-300 °F170 °F4-5 hours
Turkey Breast275-300 °F170 °F3-4 hours
Turkey Legs275-300 °F175 - 180 °F3-4 hours
Turkey Wings275-300 °F170 °F2-3 hours
Quail or Pheasant225 °F165 °F1 hour
Cornish Game Hens 240 °F165 °F2-3 hours
Whole Duck225 °F170 °F3-4 hours
Whole Goose225 °F170 °F30 mins/lb
  •  Did you know it’s also possible to fry a turkey? Check out our review of the best turkey fryers.

Lamb Smoking Times and Temps

Cut of MeatSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Lamb Shank225-250 °F160 °F4-5 hours
Lamb Leg225-250 °F160 °F4-8 hours
Lamb Rack220-250 °F140 °F1-2 hours
Lamb Shoulder225-250 °F160 °F5-6 hours


Venison Smoking Times and Temps

Cut of MeatSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Venison Roast200-225 °F160 °F1.5 hours/lbs
Venison Tenderloin225-250 °F160 °F1.5 hours/lbs
Venison Steak225-275 °F140 °F (medium)30-60 mins
  • Like with beef, take away 10°F for rare and add 10°F for well-done.

Seafood Smoking Times and Temps

Type of SeafoodSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Whole Salmon200-225 °F145-150 °FWhen it starts to flake
Salmon Filet220 °F145 °F1 hour
Whole Trout225 °F150 °F1 hour
Tilapia Filet220 °F145 °F1 hour
Lobster Tails225 °F140 °F45 mins
Crab225 °F140 °F45 mins
Oysters225 °FN/A30-45 mins
Scallops225 °F145 °F1 hour
Shrimp225 °FN/A20-30 mins
  • Salmon is generally better under cooked than over cooked.
  • Do not overcook scallops.
  • Shrimp will be bright pink when ready.
  • Oysters are recommended to be removed from the shell when being smoked. They are ready when the edges begin to curl.

Vegetables Smoking Times and Temps

VegetableSmoker TempInternal TempSmoking Time
Corn on the Cob225 °FN/A1.5-2 hours
Whole Potato 225 °FN/A2-2.5 hours
Whole Sweet Potato225 °FN/A2-2.5 hours
Tomatoes225-240 °FN/A1 hour

 

For a beginner smoker temperature charts can be a brilliant guide to help you get quick and easy time and temp readings. Just remember these are all approximations of typical low and slow smokes. It’s possible to use higher temperatures and smoke for shorter times and you’ll still get great results but they’ll differ from the low and slow times and temperatures we’ve provided.

There are also other factors that can affect the smoking times. These include:

  • Ambient temperature.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Size of the cut of meat – a larger than average thickness will need more time.
  • Whether the meat has a bone it in or not. If the bone is still in the meat, it will have to be smoked for longer.

As long as you keep to the recommended internal temperature of the meat then a lot of these factors shouldn’t be a problem. When you start to gain more and more experience then you’ll be able to find the best time and temperatures depending on the exact cut of meat you are smoking.

 

How to Measure Meat Temperature

To get an accurate reading of the internal temperature of your meat, it’s very important to use a high quality and accurate digital meat thermometer. Ideally use a dual probe smoking thermometer to give you accurate readings of the internet temperature and the temperature of the smoker for the most accuracy. There are thermometers out there that are able to notify you in several ways when your food has reached the optimal temperature. We’d definitely recommend reading our guide to the best digital meat thermometers to give you a good understanding of what they can do and what you can get for your money.

ThermoPro TP-20 Wireless Meat Thermometer BBQ Accessory - Smoking Times and Temperatures
ThermoPro TP-20 Wireless Meat Thermometer

If you’re not ready to invest in a dedicated smoker thermometer then there are alternatives. An instant read thermometer such as the Kizen Digital Thermometer or the more expensive (but very good) Thermapen are a great choice. These will give you the temperature of your meat in a few seconds and are generally very convenient.

These are also very good for more delicate pieces of meat, such as fish. Leaving in a probe from a smoker thermometer simply won’t work if you’re cooking a piece of salmon. Instant read thermometers generally have a thinner probe and are only in the meat for seconds so they will likely not affect it at all. We’d recommend picking up an instant read thermometer for all cooking, not just smoking.

 

How do you use the thermometer?

A very important part of being able to read accurate temperatures is the placement of the thermometer probe. If you’re using a dual probe set up and have a probe on the outside of the meat then we recommend keeping it around 2” away from the surface of the meat and about 1” above the grate. You can change this around slightly to see what works best for you but you’ll see some surprisingly drastic changes in temperatures with very little movement of the probe.

When it comes to measuring the temperature of the insides of a piece of meat then it’s important to take the reading in several places. Always read the lowest temperature and try to go past the center with the probe. Insert and remove the probe nice and slowly and keep an eye on the readings.

 

How to control the Smoker Temperature

Keeping a nice constant temperature inside your smoker is vital to be able to get your food up to the correct internal temperatures. If you’re using a pellet smoker, an electric smoker or even a gas smoker then they are fairly easy to maintain very even temperatures. A lot of the time you’ll have to simply set a time and temp and leave it as these smokers are capable of doing a lot of the work automatically.

If you’re using a charcoal or wood smoker then it’s still simple to maintain constant temperatures, but you might have to put in a bit more work.

Just remember:

  • Use a chimney starter or an electric starter to get the fire going.
  • Use the vents on your specific smoker to allow the recommended amount of air inside.
  • If you’re using a water pan make sure it’s filled to the recommended level. A water pan will help deflect heat to allow you to maintain low and slow temperatures.
  • Allow the smoker to stabilize before adding any meat. The best way to do this is to simply leave it after the fire has started for around 20 minutes.
  • Make very small adjustments to the vents if the temperature isn’t optimal. Remember that it is easier to heat up your smoker than it is to cool it down, so try not to let it get too hot.

If you want it even easier than that, then think about investing in an automatic temperature controller. We’ve had a look at the best automatic temperature controllers for charcoal smokers which we recommend reading if you’re thinking about buying one.

 

We hope you’ve found this information useful it getting you smoking. Remember that these charts are just a guide and with a bit more practice and experience you might not need to use it.

Thanks to Alison Mickelson on flickr for the featured image.

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