How Did You Choose The Temperature That You Barbecue At?

Discussion in 'Messages for All Guests and Members' started by weq2, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. weq2

    weq2 Newbie


    How did you choose the temperature that you barbecue AT, and Why?​

    For Example:
    • Was it through experimenting? (How long did it take you to come up with that temp?)
    • From a book? (Which book, author?)
    • Online? (Which website and who was it?)
    • TV? (Which TV show(s) and who?)
    • A mentor? (Who's your mentor?)
    The reason we (my wife is an important part of our barbecue success) ask these questions is after almost 20 years and our share of barbecue success. We're rethinking: why and how we came up with our method of barbecue that we use.

    Your Friend,

  2. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    I have used cookbooks, videos, TV shows, web search, and a couple of forums. My first smoker, in 1972 was built to preserve kokanee salmon in Montana. Snagging season allowed 75 fish a day, 150 in possession. It was a walk- in wooden box about six feet square, and 6' tall. Cold smoke came from the trimmed dry branches from an abandoned apple orchard. The firebox was concrete blocks about 8 feet downhill, and the smoke was deliverd via dryer vent pipe, through the floor. I had no idea of what the temperature was. Brine recipe and pelicle information came from an old USDA pamphlet. I just smoked the fish over night, and part of the next day ! That smoke house also produced a lot of jerky from productive hunting seasons, as well as smoked wild geese and turkeys, and some nice sausage.
    My equipment has become more sophisticated, but I still kind of cook by feel, and by temperature. ( and in smaller quantities :) )
    I don't try to reinvent the wheel, and use the information provided by others to build a general bank of knowledge. I like to get feedback on my ideas for upcoming smokes, and often get new ideas to try from sites like this one, and elevate the finished product . You can teach an old dog new tricks !
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
  3. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I'm pretty new to smoking (2 years), but I've been grilling for 35+.  Low and slow was a new concept and I scoured the web for insight. Brisket , Butts, and Ribs temp between 225-250.  Poultry 300-350, for the crispy skin factor.  These are the temps that I roll with.  There are folks that are doing hot and fast for the butts and briskets, but I am not in a hurry.  I enjoy the hobby and relish in the long smokes.

  4. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That is cool, Siege... Where in SE Idaho ya located ?
  5. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    I'm in Idaho Falls. How about you ?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
  6. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's cool, I'm just bout 35 miles north of ya in Saint Anthony !
  7. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    For several years, I was cooking on a 22" WSM. It would do very well at around 225* and occasionally I could get it up to 250-260*. I now have a great stick burner and It likes 260-275* when it's settled in. This has worked out much better for the meats that I like and the type of fire that I like. When I am doing chicken, taking it to 300* is no problem and when I need a 225-230* temp for a slower cook, that's no problem either. It's just a matter of fire management and knowing your equipment.

    Good luck with your temps and keep on smokin', Joe.
  8. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What Joe said!

    Seriously, I don't have equipment that allows me to hold temps to a tight range. The MES can come close, but never gets really hot so I tend to use it for butts and brisket.

    I have better luck smoking on my Weber 22" kettle using charcoal in a snake weave, but I find that chamber temps vary 10-20 degrees as the cook progresses. I would love to smoke at 225-230 throughout but usually wind up cooking between 230 and 275. IOW, my equipment more or less dictates the temps I smoke at. When I smoke chickens, I usually get them up to the smoker temp then put them on the grill to get them crispy. I usually barbecue chicken on a hot grill instead of smoking. I just prefer it that way.

    I have the best luck controlling temp with my mini-WSM. I can usually park it to burn between 225-240. I can get it much hotter, but being able to get a low n slow is easiest on this cooker.
  9. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Before I started seriously hot smoking meat just over two years ago I did all my cooking on the stove, oven, or grill.  I've been cooking for other people since I was 19.  I am a self-taught cook, using a Fannie Farmer cookbook to teach myself how to eat better food than the university chow line offered.  That cookbook has more than 40 years of handwritten notes in it.  Although I've probably accumulated more than 60 other cookbooks in the library since that first purchase, that Fannie Farmer cookbook is one of two personal cooking treasures.  The other is a cookbook software that I use daily to input recipes found online or created from the neurons in my brain.  My computer hard drive crashed this past January and my immediate concern was to recover the recipes in my cookbook software backups when a new hard drive was installed.         

    I typically followed recipes obsessively for times, temps, and techniques.  All that changed when I started hot smoking meat.  There was such a huge range of times, temps, and techniques for hot smoking any one cut of meat that I experimented with each and every step of the process.  By using the instincts developed from four decades of cooking and not wanting to babysit a smoker all day or night, I put my own time, temp, and technique processes together.  Meat in general, no matter what the cut or what people claim is gospel, can tolerate a wide variety of times, temps, and techniques.  All that matters is what works for you individually.            
  10. I end up cooking at what ever my low cost smoker goes to. usually it's around 225-275 depending on the day, wind etc.
    boboso likes this.
  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I started out around 225iah but have slowly made my way up to 300+ for most things.  Exception would be any beef product that I want rare to midrare.  I prefer a nice, consistent edge to edge color on these smokes so I run 225ish or lower on them to attain that.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
  12. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
  13. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    I still like low and slow, 225 and under, when I can get my cheap equipment to cooperate with me! But I'm seeing more and more that people are kicking butt and taking names with hot and fast! Makes me rethink things a bit, done in 3-5hrs vs 10-16hrs!
    That's the beauty of this hobby, there are a lot of ways to get the same results, you just have to figure out what works for your lifestyle.
  14. bigd3077

    bigd3077 Meat Mopper

    I'm still somewhat new, but I started low and slow. After the last 3 smokes I found myself getting nervous cause the meat was not done, and had my wife complaining. This is putting it in at 5am. So, I have 2 shoulders in right now and I'm trying at a little higher temp cause I want these done, and well rested. Last time I had to pull it out at 203* and only a few minute rest. Drove me nuts.
  15. weq2

    weq2 Newbie

    So what temp are you trying today?

    Most of all barbecue should be relaxing, not stressful. 
  16. weq2

    weq2 Newbie

    Do you beleave that the process of barbecuing is as important as eating the final results?
  17. I was going to put a pork picnic shoulder in the smoker today but i checked the times it would take (10-12 hours) and decided it's going in the pressure cooker instead and i'll add some liquid smoke for flavour.  From one extreme to the other.  Waking up a 4am to get the smoker going wasn't in the cards today.  I'd rather use the charcoal for ribs, chicken or pork loin or a smaller beef roast, get more out of the bag that way.
  18. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Smokin is / was low and slow . 225 - 235 and an all day / night affair.

      Then along came competition smoking.. You have to turn in brisket ribs and chicken in 6 -7  hours.

    No way you can prep  cook and plate a packer brisket in 6 hrs and ribs in 4 at  225 - 235

     that's when high temp speed smoking came along

    350 - 375 degrees or more . smoking is not  the same and the temps are way up.

     do some research on speed brisket or high temp brisket

    It works  but you have to change your way of thinking about smoking.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  19. alamojoe

    alamojoe Fire Starter

    I guess through experimentation and research, I wound up with different temps for different meats.  The bigger and fattier the meat, the lower I like to go - so pork or lamb shoulder, I do at 225-230.  Spareribs I also like to do low.  Chicken, baby backs and pork loin, I like to do at 275+.  No matter what I'm smoking, I usually fill the extra space with chuck roasts and I find they come out great at a wide variety of temps.  

    The only meat I've ever cooked where I really felt like experimenting with temperature has been brisket because my briskets always come out so "meh" and temperature is the only reason I can think why.         
  20. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    @Noboundaries (But you doesn't has to call me Johnson! LOL)

    Care to share the name of the software you use to corral recipes and cooking notes?

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