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Smoking at higher temps

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    Smoking at higher temps

    I've seen several posts stating that smoking low and slow at 225 is old school. Now it's 250 or higher. Here's my question. By smoking at a lower temp aren't you allowing the meat time to absorb more smoke flavor? After 160 deg. internal temp adding more smoke doesn't change things much. Is this something where it's stick burner vs a vertical propane smoker?

    In my experience, cooking at a higher temp isn't going to take away from the flavor of smoke, as 25-50 degrees is not a huge jump for the length of time that smoke is imparted on the food. You can also stick the meat in the freezer to give it a bit more time to come up to temp - and smoke is attracted to cold surfaces.

    Ultimately I think the temp thing is about practicality; if the majority of the cook is spent pumping energy (heat) into the food, it saves time to cook at a slightly higher temperature with no impact to flavor/end product.
    Last edited by Loren; February 9, 2021, 08:19 AM. Reason: I realized I had some typo's grammatical errors. Wahwah :(


      I think it all depends on how much time you have and actually want to invest in the process. I smoke brisket regularly at 300 degrees with excellent results. Pork butts get the 275 degree treatment. Ribs get 250. I have never noticed any difference in the flavor profile with the difference in temps.


      • Oak Smoke
        Oak Smoke commented
        Editing a comment
        Those are the exact temps I use and I get great results with them. I've experienced too much smoke flavor when I added more wood chunks than I normally do. It was on ribs, they had blue smoke for the whole cook. They were too smokey. Now it's just enough wood chunks to get smoke for about the first hour.

      • Hulagn1971
        Hulagn1971 commented
        Editing a comment
        Oak Smoke I messed up ribs early on when learning the curve as well. I added a chunk every hour till they were done. They were awful

      Again in my case it depends on the mood my BKK is in and the weather/winds.
      I'll give the Keg a shot at maintaining 250 or lower and sometimes it will maintain.
      However it seems to thrive in the 270-320 range so I have adjusted my cooking for those temps.
      Loren point about smoke being attracted to cold surfaces is valid, I now take my pre-brined /rubbed meat right outta the fridge and onto the spit.


        I think a lot of it is the cooker too. I cook a lot at 275-300 on my WSCG and get plenty of smoke. However, if I cooked at 275 start to finish on many of the pellet grills I've had I wouldn't be able to detect much if any smoke. They say time equals tenderness, so the theory is the lower temp gives you more time to get there making for more tenderness. Since every piece of meat is different, the effects of 225 vs 275-300 would be hard to deduce from a tenderness point of view.

        I think 225 is proven to work well, but I wouldn't want to run a lot of stick burners there and try to keep clean smoke and a good coal bed alive. I run my poopers at 200-225 for at least the first hour or two of most long smokes. Sometimes they stay at 225 whole cook, sometimes bump to 250-275 after that first hour or two. I usually base that on trying to hit a particular finish time.


        • jfmorris
          jfmorris commented
          Editing a comment
          This is what I was going to throw out there, but glitchy beat me to it. It depends on the cooker and the fuel as to how much smoke you get at different temperatures. And I'll throw my hat in the ring for using temperature to reach finish times. I've cranked butts or briskets up as high as 325 once they hit the stall, to get them done in time to let them rest for an hour or more before dinner.

        I used to monitor it and fiddle with it everytime it moved slightly. Now, I let the smoker settle in a good temp and let it roll.


          I have not noticed a difference in product cooked at 225° and 275°.


          • Huskee
            Huskee commented
            Editing a comment

          As smokin fool referenced cold meat attracts smoke as does moisture. One Pitmaster, Jim Minion, contends that meat stops taking on smoke when it reaches an internal temp of 140, so I guess a case could be made that the longer the meat stays below 140 the more smoke it will take on. Whether it will be noticeably more is another question.


            I do a lot of cooks of butts or brisket that are intended for Sunday lunch (noon to 1pm), and start those at 9pm and let them run overnight at 225, as I for sure don't want to run out of charcoal before 6:30am, which is my normal wake up time. As soon as I get up, I push the temp up to 275F, depending on where the meat is, and sometimes 300 to 325, so that I can get the meat done and into cambro by 9am or so. Higher temperatures help push through that pesky stall and get to your final temperature.


              glitchy makes a good point about pellet grills, smoke level and temps.

              Aside from that issue, I advocate higher temps for two basic reasons:

              First, I think it's a disservice to the community to pretend that there's something magical about 225F and it's done too often. You see the side effect when people worry about their smoker going all the way to... 250F. Obsessing over perfect temperatures and super tight tolerances makes those things seem like they're critical to turning out good 'cue and they're not.

              Secondly, I usually comment on it when people say 'this cook is taking/took forever!'. Sometimes that doesn't matter, but often times the length of a cook DOES make a difference to quality of life. If I can get a brisket done and tasting great in 12 hours, why do it at a lower temp that takes 16 or 18? Even more common, if I can do ribs in 4 hours, why take 6 or 7?

              Add in that most charcoal smokers are pretty easy to dial in at 250-275 and actually pretty hard to keep at 225.

              I think this is one of the appeals of pellet grills to backyard smokers - you can put meat on at 9pm and it will be done by noon the next so even with a rest, you can easily eat at dinner time. But if you have a charcoal smoker, you have to worry about coals burning down, etc.
              Last edited by rickgregory; February 9, 2021, 10:57 AM.


              • Clark
                Clark commented
                Editing a comment
                rickgregory Sorry, but I disagree about your comment re charcoal smokers being hard to keep at 225. I currently have a SnS Kettle which loves to cook for hours at 225. I have had others that would cook at 225 but sometimes took a little attention and periodic minor adjustments to vents.

                A big part of the joy of cooking with charcoal is overcoming those challenges and winning the game.

              • rickgregory
                rickgregory commented
                Editing a comment
                Ive got a weber kettle with SNS and it's much easier to keep at 250 or so than 225. It's not that I CAN'T but it's harder, at least in the summer. And since there's no detectable advantage, why fight with it? I don't smoke to take on challenges, I smoke for the food.

                NOW - that's me. I'l never have an offset because I don't want to baby sit the thing. Some people love that. So nothing I'm saying should be taken as "My way is right, all others are wrong."

              • Clark
                Clark commented
                Editing a comment
                rickgregory I, too, cook for the food but that is the reward for winning the challenge.

              With charcoal cookers running at higher temps typically yields cleaner smoke from the wood. I never run below 240 and typically run my cookers in the 250-300 range and get great results.

              I run my stick burner in the 250-280 range. That’s just the range it needs to run clean.
              Last edited by JeffJ; February 9, 2021, 08:38 PM.


                Great advice above. But I don't think it's as linear of a question as what you're asking. Propane smoker, stick burner, electric, pellet- they all will have vastly different smoke flavor, airflows, and fuel combustion characteristics. I think it benefits the discussion to talk about one particular smoker type at 225, 275, or 300, instead of several. But regardless, smoke flavor stops (slows drastically) accumulating on the surface of meat once that surface gets hot and dry, it's less a factor of the meat's IT, unless there's some correlation between the two but I suspect it's rather anecdotal based on each type of meat. More particles are in smoke from a lower temp or a smolder, typically not wanted too much in stick burners but very desired in pellets. In a stickburner the size of the fire is where the temp-vs-clean/dirty smoke fun comes in to play. You can build a teeny tiny HOT fire to keep your cooker at 180, or a HUGE smoldering fire keeping your cooker at 180. So temp isn't always a more smoke/less smoke thing in a stickburner. Assuming you have a properly managed fire, you could theoretically get a slightly less smoky quicker cook from a hotter fire, yes. But not guaranteed.

                Too long didn't read: Experiment to find what works best for you and your cooker!


                  My schedule determines my smoke temp. I smoked some ribs last week for 9.5 hours. Typically they go on later in the day and smoke for about 5 hours. Both turned out fantabulous.


                  • Huskee
                    Huskee commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Same. I've done 20hr lower-temp ribs once as a test, my buddies LOVED them but they were too jerky-like for me. 90% bark.

                  Huskee makes a great point about the differences between cookers as it pertains to temperatures. I’ve found that all of my smokers cook a bit differently.
                  Last edited by JeffJ; February 9, 2021, 11:22 PM.


                    I agree with Huskee and think the type of cooker you have plays a big factor in temps but I also think that the type and quality of the fuel plays an even bigger part, along with even the ambient temp your cooking in.

                    I can get my 22 & 26" kettles to pretty much run anywhere I want them too. On Saturday I ran my 26" at 220F (Brisket) for almost 8 hours straight without ever touching the vents and used it again on Sunday for some ribs at a rock solid 285F for 4 hours. Saturdays cook was with B&B briquettes and Sunday I used B&B Lump.

                    As far as which is a better way.......they both are!! I do think low and slow helps render a tad more fat and connective tissue, but hot and fast can really speed up a cook and push big hunks of meat through the stall.
                    Cooking hot and fast you have to watch the sugar content of the rub, the bark can have a tendency to have that scorched flavor if you run too hot too long IMO.



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