Jack’s Meat Smoking Chart You Can Trust

Do you want to become the master of the pit this grilling season? Make sure you note down my reliable meat smoking chart for future reference!

The weather is about to become warmer, and for all of us dedicated meat lovers, it means one thing only: grilling season is taking off!

Do you want to truly shine this season and become the master of the pit?

I know I do! If your answer is yes as well, first you need a reliable meat smoking chart that will teach you at what temperature to smoke your meat, and when to pull it out so that it is not only safe to eat but also as tender and succulent it can possibly be.

Even the professionals rely on meat thermometers for this purpose, so it would be a good idea for you to get a good quality meat thermometer to measure the temperature in the smoker as well as in the center of the meat.

A meat smoking chart will then serve as an excellent reference that will provide info when the type of meat you are smoking is going to be done and at its most tender. Cooking time is not as important as the temperature, but I have included it as well so that you can plan your time better.

No matter what you plan to smoke this grilling season, check out my meat smoking chart you can trust!

Why My Meat Smoking Chart Differs from USDA Meat Smoking Chart?

It is important to honor all food safety measures if you want to avoid serious consequences. When it comes to smoking meat, the USDA provides us with the minimum recommended temperature the meat should be cooked to and not risk foodborne illnesses. You should comply with it as a rule, but remember that every rule has exceptions.

The USDA guide itself changed a lot over the years. Moreover, it did not bother with the other aspects such as the taste or tenderness of your smoked meat - it is up to you to figure that for yourself.

It is always good advice to listen to the older and wiser - or in this case the experienced professionals who have gone through trial and error process and achieved perfection when it comes to meat smoking.

This is the road I have chosen to take as well, and I thrive to make my smoked meat extra delicious and safe at the same time. So, in some cases, the ‘done’ temperatures in my guide will well exceed the ones recommended by the USDA (some will even be lower) since meat can be done but still not ‘ready to eat’ (at least not to my high standards).

Even if you reach the USDA recommended temperature, and your smoked meat is 100% safe and done, it does not mean you have to stop there as some extra cooking time can significantly raise its quality and better its taste. Often the tough cuts of meat require more time for the connective tissue, collagens, and fats, to melt and it becomes tender and juicy.

Check out this 5 tips for Smoking Meat video!

The Problems You Might Face When Smoking Meat

There are numerous problems you can stumble over before you learn how to smoke your favorite meat perfectly. There is no definite chart or guideline that will offer you the ultimate, mistake-proof solutions.

After all, a lot depends on factors no guide can predict, beginning with your personal taste in meat, and the equipment you are going to use in the process.

  • The most common mistake newbies make is overcooking the meat. I guess that all of us fear to risk poisoning ourselves or our loved ones and rather choose to be safe than sorry. If that happens to you as well, know that not everything is lost.
  • You can aid the situation by returning the meat in the smoker, and reheating it on the lower temp thus allowing it to tenderize once again. Even if this trick does not work out, your meat need not be wasted - simply use it to prepare some other dish.
  • If you, on the other hand, discover that your smoked meat is undercooked, smoke it again on a higher temperature. Never eat it before you make sure it is well done, or you risk seriously endangering your health.

Use the meat smoking chart, my or any other, as a guide but consider all the factors that cannot be predicted. No meat is the same - some is thicker, tougher, some has bones - so to calculate how many minutes or hours it will take to cook solely relying on its weight would be a mistake.

The type of your smoker as well as how well it is insulated will influence the final result. The weather plays an important role too - high humidity (snow, rain), strong wind or extremely high or low temperatures are sure to influence the smoking process.

Choose between the best smoker-grill combo, the best propane smoker, or the best offset smoker and enjoy the best tasting meat you have ever had!

Finally, you can choose between smoking your meat at a higher temperature for less time and a better crust, or low and slow for more tender meat. As long as you make sure that the minimum safe temperature is reached (and the best way to determine that is dual probe thermometer!) you can play with the process and discover what works best for you!

Jack’s Meat Smoking Chart

1. Beef

Type of Meat

The smoker temperature

Ready-to-Eat meat temperature

Total smoking time

Beef brisket

225-250° F

190-205° F

12 - 20 hours

Short ribs

225-250° F

190-200° F

6 - 8 hours

Back ribs

225-250° F

185-190° F

3 - 4 hours

Spare ribs

225-250° F

190 to 203° F

5 - 6 hours

Prime rib

225-250° F

135° F for Medium

15 minutes/lb

Rump roast

225-250° F

145° F for Well Done

30 minutes/lb

Chuck roast

225-250° F

190-200° F

12 - 20 hours

Tenderloin

225-250° F

130°-140° F

2 1/2 to 3 hours

Whole ribeye

225-250° F

135° F for Medium

25 minutes/lb

Tri-tip

225-250° F

130° F to 140° F

2 to 3 hours

Sausage

225-250° F

160° F

30 - 60 mins


2. Pork

Type of Meat

The smoker temperature

Ready-to-Eat meat temperature

Total smoking time

Pork butt

225-250° F

205° F

1.5 hours/lb

Spare ribs

225-250° F

180-185° F

5 - 7 hours

Baby back ribs

225-250° F

180° F

5 hours

Belly Bacon

less than 100° F

140° F

6 hours

Loin

225-250° F

145° F

4 - 5 hours

Whole Hog

225-250° F

205° F

16 - 18 hours

Tenderloin

225-250° F

160° F

2 1/2 - 3 hours

Sausage

225-250° F

165° F

1 to 3 hours


3. Lamb

Type of Meat

The smoker temperature

Ready-to-Eat meat temperature

Total smoking time

Lamb Rack

200-225° F

135°-140° F

1 1/4 hours

Lamb's Leg

225-250° F

140°-150° F

4 - 8 hours

Lamb's shoulder

225-250° F

170° F

5 - 5 1/2 hours

Lamb shank

225-250° F

190° F

4 - 5 hours


4. Poultry

Type of Meat

The smoker temperature

Ready-to-Eat meat temperature

Total smoking time

Whole chicken

275°-350° F

170° F

2 - 3 hours

Chicken quarters

275°-350° F

170° F

1 - 2 hours

Chicken wings

275°-350° F

170° F

1 1/4 hours

Chicken thighs

275°-350° F

170° F

1 1/2 hours

Whole turkey

275°-350° F

170° F

4 - 5 hours

Turkey leg

275°-350° F

170° F

2 to 3 hours

Turkey breast

275°-350° F

165° F

4 hours

Turkey wings

275°-350° F

170° F

2 - 2 1/2 hours

Pheasant

225° F

165° F

1 hour

Whole duck

225°-250° F

165° F

4 hours

Extra advice: Stick to a turkey that is up to 14 pounds heavy!


5. Fish and Seafood

Type of Meat

The smoker temperature

Ready-to-Eat meat temperature

Total smoking time

Whole trout

225°F

145°F

1 hour

200° F

145°F

When it becomes flaky

Salmon Filet

220°F

145°F

1 hour

Tilapia Filet

220°F

145°F

1 hour

225°F

-

30 - 40 min

225°F

145°F

45 - 60 min

225°F

-

20 - 30 min

Further Reading: Canned Salmon Recipes

How to Control the Temperature Inside Your Smoker

Do not panic! This is the greatest advice one can give you when it comes to maintaining the desired temperature inside the smoker or a grill. I have seen it ever so often - people panic at the first temperature spike, and everything goes downhill from there.

You are maintaining a fire requires patience and the right equipment. If you have these two, you are set to go!

  1. First set up the internal ‘ambient’ smoker temperature, let it stabilize for about twenty minutes and then add in the meat. Use the thermometer to monitor both the temp inside the smoker and the one in the center of your piece of meat.
  2. Try to restrain from sudden hasty moves such as closing all the vents and completely choking off the fire but instead make small adjustments to the valves and allow for some time for the changes to take place. Placing a pan full of water inside the smoker chamber can help you avoid sudden temperature spikes by absorbing some heat too.

Avoid the Danger Zone

Maybe you have some really annoying neighbors or relatives, but you still do not want to poison anyone, do you?

Smoking meat can become a danger zone and lead to such horrid scenarios as meat is required to linger at lower temperatures (140- 160°F) becoming prone to harmful bacteria attacks.

Therefore a 4-hour limit has been set (with some exceptions) as a time allowed before you enter the danger zone.

Besides honoring the 4-hour limit, you should also follow the subsequent rules:

  • Do not add frozen meat into the smoker
  • Keep the meat refrigerated while marinating it and never reuse the marinade
  • The poultry needs to be cooked to at least the USDA minimum recommendation or above.

Use my meat smoking temperature charts as a starting point and try to find what works best for your taste and the equipment you have. You will surely have to try out several scenarios before you reach perfection and then make sure you note everything down for future reference!

Feel free to comment and share, but above all stay safe!

Bon Appétit!

Jack Davidson
 

Jack went from part-time freelance tech assistant to a food blogger and all-things-tech guy for Barb and Catherine. He loves his dog and treats her like his own child. On the other hand, working on Kitchen Byte has awaken his love for food.

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