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Smoking Tempertures

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I own a Brinkman electric barrel type smoker. Most smoke recipes call for 225 degrees. I am finding the heating element, at its lowest setting, produces temperatures at 250 degrees producing meat which is overcooked. Is there a method(s) which can help reduce the cooking temperature to the desired 225 degrees. I am presently using a digital thermometer with an internal probe which I assume is accurate.

post #2 of 17

Welcome to the SMF Family...We need more detail as to what you mean by Overcooked? We all smoke at a variety of Temps depending on the meat and Smokers we have. 250°F is a Very common temp to smoke at with great results. You can test your therm by putting the probe in Boiling water and or Stirring a 75/25 mix of Ice and water...JJ

post #3 of 17

Welcome to the group!!!   First off you will save yourself a lot of headaches by worrying less about the smoker temp and pay more attention to the Internal Temp of the meat you are cooking.   I typically smoke at 250F and sometimes even higher depending on results I desire.  I look for Internal temp exclusively.   Also different cuts of meat take longer or's something no one can really pinpoint via time. 


There are tons of threads on proper (and safe) internal temps for all cuts of meat.  Search them and you will be a happy camper and will not have to worry much about what temp your smoker is at. 



post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

 Thanks Scott. I have smoked 15 # Turkeys and 7+# briskets successfully at 250 degrees, but it appears I am entering into another orbit with pork ribs. Internal temp measurements are hard to gauge consistently. I was using the 3 step smoking method trying to adhere to the time lines in the instructions. I probably would have had better results by backing off on the cooking time and done some taste testing also. Thanks again.

post #5 of 17



      Ribs are a tough nut to crack.  You are correct that IT is not a viable option for ribs.  When I do ribs I don't foil them and find they are damn good ribs that have a little pull to them when eaten.   I don't hesitate to open the smoker box and do a little probe test to see if done.  Most of the time my babybacks are done in around 4 to 5 hours at 250F.   Although some have come out great in 3 hours.....just depends on the darn cut of ribs. 


     Might be a trial and error thing until you really get a feel for your smoker and how it cooks.  With your unit I am not sure you can adjust the temp in it so adjust the time.  Remember time is a starting point and a suggestion and not a be all end all. 


Happy smoking!!!



post #6 of 17

If your ribs are overcooked you I am guessing you did the 3-2-1 method correct? If they are Baby Back Ribs 2-2-1 is more like it. 250 is a good temperature for just about everything. The other thing that you might think about is the thermometer on your smoker. The ones that come on those smokers are notorious for giving false readings. I have seen them 50 degrees or more off right out of the box. Get yourself a good reliable thermometer setup like a maverick or similar. Or check whatever you do have for accuracy. Boiling water is 212 degrees give or take depending on altitude. Super icy ice water is 32 degrees. The smoker temperature is important as well as internal temp. Now you are right it is impossible to go by internal on ribs. That is where the bend test and the toothpick test come in. I can tell when my ribs are about right just by the pullback on the bone, but if you pick your ribs up with tongs in the center they should bend all the way to nearly breaking in the center and then you know they are close. Stick a toothpick in the thickest part of the meat. If it slides in with no resistance you are ready to eat. During the foiling process I like to use some liquid. Some folks just use apple juice for this. Some go much more elaborate. I have even used beer. This helps keep the ribs moist. The main thing is to not get discouraged and keep on trying. You will get it down to a science in no time. Happy smoking. timber. 

post #7 of 17

Ok I re-read your post so you can skip the thermometer part.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks JJ for the tip. I was smoking pork ribs which are a different animal than fowl or beef brisket. Internal thermometers are not consistent. I was using the 3 step smoking method. By stating they were over-cooked I meant they turned out extremely dry. So dry, that the basting liquid and a BBQ dripping sauce could not over come. The ribs had a good taste, but were not "fall of the bone" tender. Probably should have taken them off the smoker earlier and will try that next time. I am thinking smoking pork ribs is a learned experience.


Also, I have been told there are 2 methods that would aid in lowering cooking temps. One was covering the heating elements with lava rock to absorb more of the heat, and the other was to use an extension cord between the power source and the heating element plug. Have not tried either of these  yet. Thanks again.

post #9 of 17

If they are dry they are overcooked. Please read my post. It will help you. 250 is great for pork, or anything for that matter. If you are that worried about the temp. Put a water pan in there. Water boils at 212 and the water pan acts as a heat sink to stabilize temperature and will keep your temp down a little bit. It does not add moisture to your meat. I use very hot water when I use the pan so the recovery time is shorter.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 



These pork ribs were not baby backs. They were probably about 50% larger in size. Some people call them St. Louis type ribs. I was using a Maverick Redi-Chek thermometer. Probably need to check it. You are correct about me using the 3-2-1 cooking method. I will use your tips next time I make a go at ribs.

post #11 of 17

I got this on E-Bay; "Router variable speed controller" $23.77 (free shipping)


There are several people who have used this to make their heating element variable. I ordered it yesterday, so I can't say 100% that it works, but I'm going to try it.

post #12 of 17

I have a fridge build with element on the bottom this will only go to 220 but I find that if I close the dampers it can get up to 225 also.


Works great good luck and let us know. 


A full smoker is a happy smoker 



post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 



Thanks for the suggestion. I assume this unit just splices into the existing power cord. What kind of low-end temp number do you experience? Maybe 175 to 200?



post #14 of 17

That unit will go from 30* - 220* and you can set it with a plus or minus 1* so let say if you set it for 175* if it gets to 173 it will kick on if if gets to 177 it will shut off, I like this one cause you don't have to babysit it. Let me know and I can get you some pics of my smoker set up. 



post #15 of 17

You will still need to get a extra therm to check them both I have seen flaws in my reading sometime but not by much 5* or so but I can never tell if it is in a draft area or something.



post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 



Good info. I can live with +/- 5 degrees. I not much of an electrician, but I think I can handle hooking this up. Also, pics would be nice.


RonD @



post #17 of 17

I just sent you a e-mail let me know if you need anything else. I am no electrician either and this was easy as pie. 


A full smoker is a happy smoker 



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