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Newbie - Simple question, how long??

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hope I'm posting this in the right forum.. I'm a newbie to smoking and have searched and searched and cannot find a direct answer.

"How long to you actually smoke for?" For example, if I have a 7lb pork butt, how long do I actually smoke vs cook it? Do I keep replenishing wood chips for the full cook time? Also how much wood should you use?

I've read that on some meats you should only smoke for a short interim of the overall process, but cannot find a good guide to any of it. I'm just lost and need some guidance.

Can anyone give me some tips?? Thanks in advance..

post #2 of 21
Welcome to SMF Buckweet. Stop in to Roll call and introduce yourself. I suggest you take the 5 day e-course but here is a link to a post to answer your pork questions.

post #3 of 21
We are your guide here. You ask and we answer the questions so to your first question. A butt smokes for differant times depending on alot of things from the weather to the wind the smoker the size and then the stall how long of one too. So then you have the resting time added in to. But a good rule of thumb is about 1.5 hours per pound. Now as far as your wood chips/chunks you replace them as you need to. Just look at the tray and if they are all burned up replace them with new and you can soak them if you want to. I don't soak them. Now I keep replacing chips all during a smoke but when I foil the meat I quite changing the wood chips. Now as far as the amount of chips just fill the chip pan and you'll be fine. So there you go for now and when you do am=smoke some meat and have a question just post it here and we will answer it too.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gifSo go smoke something.
post #4 of 21
There is no simple answer to your questions because of so many variables.

Fruit Woods like apple , cherry, pecan, grape, are very mild woods so I keep the smoke going all thru the smoke. I have not experienced too much smoke in the meat and only occasionally there is not quite enough.

Hickory is a little stronger so I might keep it going for 4 hours out of a 6 hour smoke.

Mesquite which is quite strong I probably will just use for the first 3 hours or so.

Basically you have to taste the finished product and determine if it did not get enough smoke or got enough smoke or even sometimes if it got too much smoke. Then MAKE A NOTE OF IT. Note the type of meat, the temp you used, the type of wood and how it turned out. All smokers are a bit different. Only by taking notes will you ever get it just right for your smoker. If 3 hours of mesquite was too long but was nearly right cut back a 1/2 hour to an hour and make another note. You will be surprised at how quickly your smokes will begin turning out just exactly how you want them. Each wood is a bit different, you have to make sure that they are cured enough or your results will vary greatly.

In my experience fruit woods can go thru the entire smoke.

The Guru's on here have told me that most of the smoke is absorbed by the meat from when you put it in the heat up until the meat reaches 140F but even after that point the meat continues to absorb smoke just at a lesser rate.

Also if you start the meat at a cooler temperature this gives the meat a bit longer to absorb the smoke before it reaches 140F.

Some folks say that if you can smell the smoke its smoking.

I like to be able to see the smoke coming in a steady stream of thin blue from my smoker. Not always easy to see if its windy.

Billowing white smoke is bad, thin blue smoke is good.

Some folks like to soak their wood but others do not. This is a Huge controversy and I have found its better to stay out of the oft times heated debates surrounding it.

Some folks use a mix of soaked wood and dry wood. The dry starts smoking first giving off its goodness then as it begins to dry out the wet then begins smoking thus giving a longer overall smoking period than just using dry or wet alone. Some folks swear by this method. I just keep adding dry when ever the thin blue begins to lessen out the vent. Works for me.

Your answer then lies within yourself, only you can determine how much smoke flavour you like. Then you have to do a few smokes till you figure out how much time it takes and what kind of wood you like to get to the answer that is right for you. As soon as you do that, a wife, a child, a relative or friend will want it smokier, less smokey, or a different wood. Thus will begin another journey to get it just right for them. It never ends and is part of what makes it all so fascinating.
post #5 of 21
I can only really speak for using hickory or pecan. I don't use mesquite. It's just too strong for my taste. Fruit woods are hard to come by in my area so I have only used them rarely.

I prefer a subtle smoke flavor rather than a bold one so I probably go lighter on the smoke than most people. For butts, I only add chips or chunks for smoke the first 4 hours (more or less). For ribs, just the first 2 hours. BBCs, ABTs, Moinks, etc; I tend to cook indirect more often than not. For indirect cooking, I will normally use 2 foil pouches with 2 heaping handfuls of soaked chips in each.

Of course, each person's taste preferences are different. Some like strong smoke flavor, some like less. As I said, I prefer a mild, subtle smoke flavor. My suggestion would be to start with something basic like hickory or pecan & go light on the smoke at first. If you find you want a stronger flavor, then go longer with the same wood on your next cook. Once you find your preferred taste point, then try experimenting with other woods/flavors.
post #6 of 21
Most people on the forum smoke by temperature, that being said I mean to "doneness". The time per piece of meat can vary greatly espically when doing certain types of meat. Beef seems to have a longer "plateau or stall" than other types of meat and that is why most people use a thermometer to tell when a piece of meat is done.

I think your other questions have been answered, and if not clear enought yet just be patient or ask again and we'll try again.

If you haven't already go to roll call and interduce yourself and your equipment and it will give us a better angle on answering your question. We have people on this forum that smoke in just about anything from underground to a trash can, to a UDS, (55 gal drum).

Welcome aboard.
post #7 of 21
This is one of those matter of taste kinda questions. Everyone has their own way of doing it. I usually only smoke for the first 4 hours of a smoke in the MES but in the Okalahoma Joe I'll keep just a little wood smokin past the 4 hour mark.

The one thing I will advise is to start with less than you think you want and move up instead of trying to back off too much smoke. It's just easier to find that spot that your happy with going from that direction. Works that way with seasonings too. When I first started I walked around with the back of my tongue numb for weeks before I realized what I was doing.
post #8 of 21
Welcome to the SMF. I moved your thread to roll call so that everyone has the chance to welcome you. Smoking doesn't work on a time window very well, there are many variables. I suggest you read around the forums, and get a ball park figure. Then you'll have the fun of trying it out until it's just where you like it. It's all good my friend.
post #9 of 21
Very good answer. points.giffor taking the time to help a newbie.
post #10 of 21

Welcome, Glad to have you with us. This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

For Those of you New to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.
Click Here it's "FREE"... 5 Day eCourse

Everyone here enjoys seeing the Qview so be sure to post plenty of pics...

Large ones that us old people with bad eyes can see.

How to post Qview to Forum:

When you uploading to Photobucket I always use the Large IMG setting, 640 x 480 it is a nice size...

For Step By Step Instructions On Posting Qview Check Out This Tutorial


post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.. I knew there wasn't a sure fire answer, but now at least I have somewhere to start.. Meat isn't cheap, so I want to make sure I am in the right area before I start to throw money away :)

Thanks again!

post #12 of 21
What kind of smoker are you using?
post #13 of 21


Welcome to SMF ! Cook by a temp guage and not by pure time . Times vary . Good Luck and be sure to Qview
post #14 of 21
Welcome to SMF. Glad you joined us.
post #15 of 21
I think it also depends on the cut of meat. If I'm smoking ribs, chicken, or fish, a couple of hours of smoke seems to be enough. But if I'm doing a butt, I like to smoke the entire time up to foiling so I get a nice bark to mix with the pulled meat.
post #16 of 21
welcome to the forum. you should find most everything you need to know here for successful smoking. If not just ask! Enjoy your smoker
post #17 of 21
Howdy & Welcome!!
post #18 of 21
I concur that you should smoke to temperature and not time. Invest in a good thermometer. I have this one


The 1½ hours/lb is a good rule-of-thumb, but I just smoked two 2.8 lb chuck roasts yesterday and one took 10½ hours and the other took 10¾ hours. They both had a really long plateau/stall. I was able to pretty well keep my temperature in the smoker (at grate level by the meat) in the 220-250°F range for the first 7½ hours. After that, I spritzed them down well with apple juice and double wrapped them in foil and finished them in my oven (set at 250°F). I carried both roasts to an internal temperature of 195°F.

(For what it's worth, they were AMAZING)

I am only telling this entire story to indicate that 10½ hours for 2.8 lbs is about 3¾ hours/lb. Perhaps it took this long because I injected the meat very well with a garlic and herb marinade (and thus probably really increased the roasts' weight by doing this).

So, again, smoke to temperature not time. Just like I have to tell my wife almost every time I smoke something ... "it'll be done when it's done" (i.e., when the thermometer says so ... not the clock).
post #19 of 21
Welcome to SMF. It's a great place to be!
post #20 of 21
Welcome to the SMF. All good answers above. Keep reading and smoking all you'll be a pro in no time. PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif
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