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First smoke ever - babyback ribs - mixed results!!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Inherited a Brinkman horizontal Smoke-n-Pit with my new lakehome.  Never used one before, but it seemed in good shape.  Never smoked meats before, so thought I would try a new tradition with the family at the lake.  Bought some babyback ribs from Walmart.  Made a rub with paprika, onion, red/black pepper, basil and garlic.  Read as much as I could on this forum on how to light the smoker (minion method), how to use a chimney starter, 3-2-1 method for fall-off-the-bone ribs, foil packs with mesquite chips for TBS, etc.  Started the process at 7am this morning.  Wrapped up around 3:30 this afternoon with mixed results.  The ribs were not completely done as I would like.  Still seemed a bit under-cooked, and didn't quite pass the bend test.  But I was out of charcoal, so I moved them into my propane grill and finished them off there.


The thing I had the most trouble with was keeping the heat at 225-250 for the duration.  It started out fine and stayed in range for 3 hours or so.  Then started to drop.  I opened the damper until it was all the way open, but couldn't get the temperature back to the 200s.  So I threw in a few new briquets, and it rose to around 180, then dropped again.  So, finally used the chimney again and emptied what I had left of the coal into it, started it, and put it in.  Best I got was around 190 or so.  Finally, with everyone hungry, I finished it off in the grill.


I'm looking for some tips on how to regulate the temperature better.  I believe that was the reason why I couldn't get the ribs cooked and tender enough in the smoker.  Didn't keep it at 220-240 for 5+ hrs. 

(1)  Did I start with too few briquets?  Since they lasted 3 hours, maybe I just needed to empty the bag of coal in the first setup itself.

(2)  Is it normal to need to completely replace the first load with another during a 5-6 hour cooking session?

(3)  What is the temperature zone I cannot fall below to smoke a good batch of ribs?  If I see the temperature falling, what are the quick things I can do to bring it back up again short of a complete reload of coal?


I plan to try again next weekend, so any tips/tricks you can offer a beginner meat smoker would be deeply appreciated.



post #2 of 5



Is this the rectangular vertical Brinkman?  I've got that same one, and used to have the same problems keeping the temps up.  The main problem is the charcoal pan -- is it solid?  It helps to drill a bunch of 1/4" or so holes in it, bottom and even sides, but the best luck I had was when I replaced the pain with a stainless steel veggie grill basket (like a mesh).  Those Brinkman charcoal pans simply don't get enough air flow to get your temps up to the 225 degree sweet spot.


Since I did the smoker mod, I've had phenomenal results with the 3-2-1 method.



post #3 of 5

yea that is a long time to cook ribs

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Pigeyex - it is not a vertical.  It is a horizontal with an offset firebox.  The charcoal pan in the firebox is a grate, so there should be plenty of airflow below and around it.  Thanks for the response though.  Glad you figured yours out.

post #5 of 5

Not familiar with your smoker, but someone who has one will be along shortly to help you. In the meantime you could use the search box & type in Brinkman Smoke-n-Pit mods. & see what comes up. Also, welcome to SMF.

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