Am I missing something? Meat wont cook.

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Fire Starter
Original poster
Feb 10, 2010
Hey everyone. I'm a newb and tried cooking for my second time today. You all have been extremely helpful since I signed onto this board!

I am frustrated with this though and hope someone can tell me what the heck I am doing wrong. Here Goes.

I am trying to smoke Pork Butts to start. Today was a 2.5lb pork butt. It was about 25 degrees out all day. Here is my gas rig.

I have no prob getting the temp to 225 in the cold. However, the meat will NOT cook. It took over 6 hours to get a 2.5lb pork butt up to about 153 degrees in temp. I have a digital probe through a piece of wood right next to it. I verified accuracy of the probe with boiling water. Also I calibrated the door temp it too says 225 or so.

What could be going on? I noticed all the smoke just pours out of the two doors instead of the top stack (but heat level seems fine). I leave the top stack fully open and side vents cracked slightly.

I guess, if my temps say 225-240 why the heck isnt the meat cooking??
Theres no real seal, just a small metal lip. I am cooking the meat after it is room temp. I first thought maybe seal but my temp readings are in the 225-250 range no problem?? I think any lost heat is simply replaced by the burner.
Butts will stall it seams for hours while the conective tissue breaks down then the temps will rise again. Frustrating but you will figure it out after a few smokes. Even a good old analog thermometer is good to keep around to check the temp of the meat itself, probe deep but try to not hit bone, you might get a false reading. Hope this helps.
good luck figuring it out, somehting isnt right. butts even on my cheapo gasser when i used it in the cold took 2 hours pe lb.

Also i didnt know butts that small were sold. its boneless Id guess.
If the temps at grate level are 225-240 then it should be smoking. A general rule of thumb is it should take around 1.5 hours per lb. Thats just an estimate and your doing the right thing in checking it with a thermometer. Several other things come to mind if your opening the door you may be loosing a lot of heat. Is there a water pan in your smoker? As Meateater says meats will often times stall but that should be after the meat has gotten over 140 degrees if after that point you notice the temperature just sitting at the same temp for awhile thats a pretty normal thing and its best to do nothing except keep the heat and smoke going the same and ride it out. I would suggest going from fridge to smoker for food safety reasons. Basically stated the rule says if you puncture the meat like placing a thermometer probe in it you then have 4 hours to get the meat from 40 degrees to 140 degrees.
Do not let the meat set out to go to "room temp"! You need to remove it from the fridge and season/rub and get it in the smoker. Do a quick search on the Danger Zone and you will learn alot right there. You only have a few hours to get the meat to around 135 - 140.

Meateater is correct. there is a stall period that can seem to take forever. A good sized brisket can stall for about 3-4 hours. When it get's into the stall, the meat is going from tough to tender and using the heat energy to do it. After the stall comes the rendering of all the fat that is left in the meat. This is when the butt will start raining juices. As the meat increases in temp, the smoker stays the same so the difference in temps becomes less. This is where the slow cooking comes into play. With the temps you show, the difference is only around 70 degrees or so. At that rate, it takes along time for the meat to heat up to pulling temp..
Ok my question for you is. Do you have a temp probe in the meat yet. You did say that you had one in the smoked itself but do you have one in the meat too.??? Thats my question.
If you've had a long stall and the roast takes several hours longer than you had planned on. The tendency of most newbies when you finally reach the correct temp is to immediately slice or pull the meat. This is a fatal error. You have to have even more patience. Let it rest in foil a minumum of another half hour at least. If you cut into it right away all the tenderness you have waited so long for will come gushing out as the juice is released. It absolutly needs to rest in a cooler for that half hour. It can be very hard for a newbie not to just say the hell with it and go for the gusto.

The solution is to start the meat a couple hours early, if its done early you can wrap it in foil and a couple of old towels and into a cooler ready to serve right on time. If you haven't given yourself this extra cushion of time you just have to bite the bullet and serve it to an angry crowd.
I don't see where you feel like your not cookin. I've never had a butt get done in less than 10 hours and 12 is more the norm. I do a lot of pastrami and they also take 10 hours or so and they are only around 3 pounds. If your internal temp of your smoker is correct at 225 to 250, your smokin at that temp regardless of how much smoke is escaping around the door. The only time smoke comin out of the cracks is an issue is if you can't reach smokin temp. or your having trouble controling your heat. Other than that it is just part of the air flow. You just have to sit back and realize that to smoke meat at low temps, it takes awhile to get to supper man. From readin your post, I just don't see where you are that far off on your time versus temp. Forget the lb per hour thing and just go by your internal temp. If your smokin a butt, keep it between 225 and 250 ( I prefer 250 myself ) and wait an hour to probe and your good to go. If your probes are correct your gonna have pulled pork in about 12 hours. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
Although it doesn't pertain to you original question, I wonder why you don't get any smoke out of the stack.
I thought about that too, Dan. Ryan, sounds like just a bit more patience for the butt, and then try another and see what IT does. Back to the stack...are you sure its clear? Nothing plugging the hole, butt isnt up against it, etc....?!
Yea, it is wide open and clear. Maybe the wind blowing is sucking the smoke and heat right out??

I have two side vents at the bottom and then the stack on top. Should the side vents be open or closed??? I had them both cracked.
To answer some other questions.

Yes I have a probe in the meat. It was a 2.5 lb but with a bone, I think the butcher just cut one in half. I rubbed it and set it in the fridge the night before. Yes there was water in the pan.

I understand the idea of the stall and that this takes patience. But this seems odd for such a small quantity of meat no?

I dont understand how 2.5lbs can take 6 hours and only get to 150? It seems like and awful lot of wood and gas and time for such a small quantity of meat.
A slab of pork back ribs usually comes in at three pounds and is routinely cooked for 6 or more hours. They are only an inch or so thick at the thickest end. Getting up to temp isn't the goal, rendering the meat is. If you put that same butt in the oven at 350 and cook until internal is 165 or 170, I'll bet you couldn't pull it with a pair of pliers.

I agree 100% with this..

My last one took about 9 1/2 hours..
Thanks pit. I understand it takes patience. Yours was a huge butt and mine was only 2.5lb. It was on pace to take as long or longer than 9-10 hours. Maybe Im cooking too small of quantities??
I'm fairly new too, and one of the lessons I learned is to use the full cuts of meat, not the smaller ones. I thought it would be eaiser to learn and test things out on smaller peices of meat. In reality, the larger pieces are more forgiving and give you more room for error. Traditional size cuts also give you a nice internal volume with which the juices can simmer after you get a bark developed on the outside.

I hear ya on fuel spent vs food produced; another reason to go with a full cut of meat.

I would say that the time spend melting the connective tissue would be higher per pound on a smaller cut. The tissues need to be at the warmer temp and be exposed to it for a few hours regardless of the size of the meat.

Bottom line if your chamber temp near the meat is appropriate, you just have to wait it out.
now yer commin' 'round.......load that bad boy up!
fwiw - i keep my side vents 1/2 open on my gasser..........
I've cooked some 4-1/2 pounders that usually take 9 hours to get to 195° in a 250° smoker.

The 1.5 hours per pound is an estimate only and is not linear. If you have a 5 pound butt cooks in 9 hours, cutting it in half to 2.5 pounds won't make it cook in 4.5 hours. Cutting it into quarters won't make it cook in 1 hour and 15 minutes. There is a certain amount of time required for the connective tissue to break down regardless of the total size of the cut.

Just give it more time and put more meat on the smoker to make it worth your while. Pulled pork freezes and reheats well.

Dave is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads