50 LBS of Boston Butt - How long/How many smokers

Discussion in 'Pork' started by flipperscr83, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. flipperscr83

    flipperscr83 Newbie

    Hey guys,

    Have my son's 1 year birthday party coming up. We are having about 40-50 people over for a party/BBQ.

    I have smoked 18lbs a few times before of boston butt, and it was amazing. Took about 20-21 hours to do. My current smoker will only do that much butt, so I was thinking of going and buying another one, about 2 times the size.

    My question is, if I buy a smoker, big enough to fit about 36lbs (two things of BB), would it take twice as long as the 18 lbs? Or would it be the same because the cuts are the same (about 9lbs per cut of meat).

    If it is going to take 2x the time, would I be better off just getting two other smaller ones to save on time?

    What do you guys think?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    if you want to be able to do more smoking at one time..look into a MES 40 Master built.. ive had mine loaded with just about anything and you can do a ton of different things at one time.
  3. danielh

    danielh Meat Mopper

    Just go ahead and get a WSM..  You can thank me later.
  4. tom c

    tom c Smoking Fanatic

    I may be wrong, but if your smoker is at 225 to 235, and there is enought space between the butts for the heat to circulate each butt should take 1 to 1 1/2 per pound to cook. Each 9 pound butt should be done in 9 to 15 hours not 20-21. The main point is the heat must have room to circulate and temp 225 to 235..
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  5. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    Here is a WSM with about 40 pounds of butt on the top rack... Can't go wrong with a WSM

  6. flipperscr83

    flipperscr83 Newbie

    @Tom C It was at 220 roughly for that many hours, but that was for a full 18lbs, 2x 9lb cuts.

    @tyotrain how long did that 40lbs take? Thats some nice butt.

    I was kinda thinking possibly getting an electric smoker due to the time it was going to absorb. But not sure on the flavor and still, with 50lbs in 1 smoker, its going to take a total of 50-75 hours? Or will it be based on how its cut? ie, if i get 6 9lb cuts, would it only take 9-13.5hours with a consistent heat?
  7. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

  8. tom c

    tom c Smoking Fanatic

    There are many here with more experince than I have but it  I would say you cooked two 9 pound butts forget the 18 pounds, so it should of taken 9 to 14 hours plus a little more for two . I'm sure 20 to 21 hours is not unheard of but it is longgggggggggggg for two 9 pound butts.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    20-21 hours is not at all unreasonable for 8-9lb pork shoulder cuts smoke in the 225* range, especially if cooked entirely on open grates (no-foil smoke). I had one run 25.5 hours recently, and while that may not be common, 18-21 hours is pretty normal for me. Chamber humidity can play a role in the time, as well as convection efficiency of the smoker. Lower humidity and higher air flows while maintaining the desired target temp range will translate into faster cooking for a given weight/cut of meat.

    Flipper, what is your current smoker? Vertical square brinkmann charcoal? Horizontal with side fire box? Can't really tell you what you can do if we don't know what you're cooking with.

    Also, you may consider smoking it all ahead of time (foil/wrap in towels, rest and pull it as normal), then, bag it all up and toss in the freezer until a couple days before the party. Thaw in the fridge and reheat in roaster ovens, crock pots and/or covered roasting pan in the oven @ 225-250*. I've done that for larger gatherings and for meals during work meetings. Pulled pork reheats fine...only difference is if your after a heavy, crisp bark, you won't get that with reheating...it will soften up. This may not sound like an appealling venture if you have a small charcoal smoker, but with electric or propane, there's not nearly as much tending required to keep things on the straight and narrow for long smokes, especially if doing multiples weekend after weekend, to get it cooked and into the freezer...just some food for thought.

  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]    Glad to have you with us!
  11. flipperscr83

    flipperscr83 Newbie

    @forluvofsmoke - Current is a POS offset firebox (http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=13056699) my mother-in-law got me. I am not opposed to getting an electric smoker if thats needed, what I am more concerned about is if I get a large electric smoker, does it go by lb by cut, or total amount of meat in the smoker. For example, if I get 6x 9lb cuts (totaling 54lbs) is it going to take 54-81 hours or is it only still going to take 9-13.5hours.

    Does that make sense?
  12. tom c

    tom c Smoking Fanatic

    As I said before, "There are many here with more experince than I". I would expect  the 13.5 to 16 not  54-81.  I would plan 1.5 to 2 hours because when you load the smoker down with that much meat it's going to take some time for it to get back to your cooking temp.

    I am planing to do 50 pounds later this month in my "Highly Modified" Char-griller pro w/sfb. My plan is to preheat to a higher temp around 250-275, than load it as fast a possible then adjust the temp down if I need to.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  13. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    I've been told this bad boy will hold a bunch of meat. This one just got here today....gotta work one more night then I can put it together, season it then smoke something big!


    (for some reason the HTML code for a pic isn't working so here's the link)

    I have a masterforge gasser that I left at my parents place because I got sick of hauling it back and forth.....so I needed a new one for my house. This was my choice.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ah, yeah, it's a pretty small small rig...probably OK for a slab or spare ribs or a couple birds, but they still need tuning plate mods to get anywhere near full use of the cooking grate. Was think about grabbing one of those about a year ago, just for something to tinker with, but capacity is just to small for me...usually cooking for about 8 peeps or more...and, I have enough toys for now, if that's possible...ha-ha!

    Regarding your concerns about cooking times with multiple pieces, you can base the estimates on the weight of the largest piece, then add 10-15% when using a vertical smoker. I also like to rotate grate positions from top to bottom and 180* rotations after several hours to help even-out cooking from one end of a piece to the other, as well as individual pieces. I've used 3 different vertical smokers and they have grate temp variations from top to bottom, and sometimes from side to side, but you can use these variances in your favor by placing heavier sections of the meat over the warmer areas. Trick is finding out where and how much the variances are...oven rack thermometers work great, and aren't expensive...I think I still have 10 of them from a couple years back when I was doing mods to my (now retired as a smoker, used for grilling) SnP 40 brinkmann horizontal sfb.

    Another trick I learned a long time ago about verticals is that anything large which you place on the lower grate positions can baffle heat getting to the upper grates, so I put the biggest on top, smallest on bottom, but it also depends if the the bottom is hottest or not. Most propane/electric verticals I have seen or used have a grate spacing of about 4 to 5" between positions, so it takes a double-space between for butts and briskets. My Smoke Vault 24 is no exception...has 5 grate positions, but if I load it up with large heavy cuts, I can only use 2 grates, 3 at best. Also, I tend to bump temps up 15-20* to compensate for the reduction of flow of air through the smoke chamber due to being loaded up more with food...seems to help in most cases with vertical smokers.

    My double-stacked brinkmann gourmet charcoal now has 3 grate positions, with the lowest being quite a distance above the water pan...I could take it to 4 if I wanted. It has enough room to slam it with 3 turkeys or large butts with a nice gap of several inches from the top of the meat to the grate above it...that's what you need for proper circulation of heat and smoke.

    Oh, anything close to the water pan (if equipped) will get more steam than smoke, and this is usually the coolest grate position as well, due not only to the baffling effect of the pan itself, but water evaporation causing a cooler and more humid layer of air.

    Hope that eases your mind about cooking times, anyway...largest cut for estimate by weight, then add a bit of time for reduced efficiencies/air flows through the smoker.


    EDIT: don't know how you feel about wally world, but the 20" wide GOSM (great outdoors smoky mountain) model 3405BGW, now manufactured under the Landman label would handle 4 butts nicely on 2 grates with double spacing...it's $148.00 now...I'd buy one myself if the price drops again. Those are pretty decent smokers...I have a (almost) 9-year old 3405GW (smaller version @ 16" wide), and the only reason I haven't used it lately is that the chrome finish wore off of the cooking grates...refinish the grates or replace with new or custom-made grates and it would be ready to roll again. If you already have a propane grill, you'd be set for a propane tank.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  15. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Long time
  16. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    I have an electric, it takes about 10 hours for a pair of 8 lb butts.  It takes me about 12 hours for four butts.

    I agree with what TomC & forluvofsmoke said - focus on the size of the biggest butt, then add 10-20% more time.

    However, the key to answering your question is that more meat requires more btu's (heat) to cook.

    So whatever smoker you use, if the smoker can put out enough heat to quickly maintain the desired temp (220 or so), then just add 10-20% more time.  If it cannot, then it will take longer.

    FYI, my electric has a small heat element, and cannot keep up the temps when its below freezing or I have a lot of meat cooking. So I simply put an old cast iron frying pan inside (I raised it up 1/4" above the heating element) and add a dozen charcoal briquettes every hour, that compensates for the extra heat production I need.

    Also remember that if you're lookin you aint cookin...  every time you open the door it adds to your cook time, perhaps significantly. Minimize openings and time opened!
  17. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    I have a gosm wide body and love it great smoker with a few mods.[​IMG]
  18. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Flipper,you can smoke several at at time , as is shown in my pictures.Your smoker is probably smaller and can't hold what mine does-


    and I had room to spare. I kept them at 225*f for 18hrs. with no peeking. When I took them out the bones pulled out easily and they practically fell apart and were very juicy.

    I would rather do a smoker full of meat than a piece or two. Helps me save wood and the simplicity of it is great.


    See how tender and juicy?
  19. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yep a full smoker is a thing of beauty!

    Pineywoods used to have his avatar photo of his Lang with butts filling up the whole thing.

    They were almost touching each other & they looked just like the one's in Stan's smoker.
  20. flipperscr83

    flipperscr83 Newbie

    @forluvofsmoke - I went with your idea and bought the 3405BGW. You think that thing can handle about 4, 9lb butts easy enough? What about throwing an extra 2 in there? Total of 6 butts?

    I'm pretty excited! I'll definitely be posting pictures. Now I see that the reason it took so long with my old smoker was due to probably airflow, temperature constant, and that they were too close together, it most likely didn't stay at the 225 it should have been at. I'm guessing that's a lot easier with a gas smoker?

    Am I going to need as many chips/charcoal with a gas smoker?
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011

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