HELP! Meat way too smokey!

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Dec 4, 2006
Guys this is my first post on this web site so here go's:

I purchased a New Braunfels smoker about a month ago. It is the standard smoker w side fire box. I have smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, and a pork tenderloin. Most of the meat has ended up in the trash so far!!!

I can smoke the meat for 1hr. or 4hrs. (finishing in the oven or wrapped in foil) and the outcome is always the same: bitter, over smoked flavor.
I am wondering if I have too much smoke???? I hear guys talking about "thin ribbons of smoke". That is not the case as I have "tons of smoke" billowing out. Should I be using less smoke????

I need to know how to keep the smoke down and the heat up?
By the way, I start w/ lump charcoal, let that burn down and then put my wood on (1 small log split up) followed shortly by the meat. I then continue to put more wood on pretty often. Please advise! -Thanks
XTexan, Does that smoky taste leave your mouth and tongue feeling slightly numb? If so, your problem might be that you're smoking with green wood or wood that hasn't seasoned completly. If it justs tasted over smoked, reduce the amount of wood that you place on you lump charcoal. I don't use splits like you use, instead I use 3-4 pieces of wood chunks (think "hockey puck" size) on my charcoal when I use my ECB. When you split the log, use a couple of pieces at a time. When you no longer see the "thin blue" add a couple more splits.
Actually Dutch I think i am the one that is "too green"(ha ha) I do not even know what ECB is.

Actually i have used the bagged hickory and mesquite from Kroger, I assume that is all seasoned right?
I'm going to jump out and say that its the hickory. Hickory is a terrible strong smoke. I wont even use it.
Thanks opus. I had heard that before. But what about the other wood not working out? (oak, mesquite and cherry)

Could it simply be that i have too much smoke?
Also Dutch, I never see a thin blue smoke. It is always thick and white, lots of it!
As I mentioned in an earlier reply, cut back on the amount of wood you are using. It will start out as a billowing white cloud of smoke but is should settle down to a thin blue smoke.
We dont have too much Mesquite or Oak growing in Montana. ;) Havent tried much Cherry. I basically stick to Alder, due to its "soft" smoke quality. I do mix in some fruit wood here and again though.

I dont hot smoke, not sure if that really matters though.

Got pictures...that might help some?

You're not throwing in a whole cord of wood at a time, are you? :)
Thanks again Dutch and opus!

I think I (you) found the problem. my smoker never "settles down" to a "thin blue ribbon". it is ALWAYS a thick white billowing smoke, ALWAYS.

How do you maintain the heat w/ out adding a ton of wood. Start w/ a bigger bed of coals????? I use lump charcoal, is this good?

I am so green on all of this. Do you guys recommend any type of "smoking 101"????
Get you a charcoal chimney and preburn your lump in it then dump it in your firebox. Add however many it takes to get through the cook. It will depend on ambient temp and cook time mainly.

Check out TulsaJeff's 5-day eCourse for smoking 101. Lot's of good info sent right to your email box over 5 days. Good stuff!!!

Hope this helps XTex.
like everyone else has been saying, you should be cutting down on the amount of wood. Use the lump charcoal for the heat, adding lumps as required, and use the wood chunks sparingly for flavor only, not as the heat source. This should make a huge difference, not only in the amount of smoke produced, but also in the resulting flavor as well.

Good luck
I had the same problem a couple of times when I first started smoking
meat. I had gotten some hickory that was green(WHICH i DID NOT KNOW) and I loaded my fire box with way too much of it. The wood just
kind of smoldered , and I had thick , almost grey smoke, and the meat
came out way too smoky,it was not good. I still use hickory but less of it,
and I make sure its seasoned, and the meat turns out great. I also get the thin blue smoke. It just takes a little practice at first to figure out
your smoker and how much wood you need.
Trial and error goes along way here (although costly).

With a NB Smoker, making my "Burn Barrel" would resolve all your problems.......PERIOD. However, it does require an adequate supply of wood and the ability to fabricate it (not difficult).

I beleive I need to submit a post that can be reffered to for all the "Stick Burners" on this site so I don't have to constantly re-type proper heat and smoke control. I will try to get this out by the weekend, so keep your eyes open for it, I'm sure it will assist you.

The best thing I learned was how to keep a clean fire. Its hard to do, because you need your cooking area to stay a certain temp, but you need your fire hot enough to cleanly combust the wood.

Unless your wood is burnt down to coals, it should be burning with flames in the firebox. When you see flames its burning cleanly. A smoldering log will put out tons of thick white smoke which will overpower your food.

You'll read lots of tips for how to keep your wood burning cleanly:

1. Preheat the wood - just stick the logs on top of your firebox 20-30 minutes before putting them in the fire. The wood will heat up and might even start smoldering a little. When you add it to your firebox it should burst into flames pretty quickly if it is well seasoned.

2. Use a burn barrel - I did this for a while but it is very labor intensive. If you like sitting around a fire then this method is right up your alley. Preburn all your cooking wood down to coals and just shovel the embers into your firebox.

3. If adding wood directly to your firebox, put it near the air intake. I like to move some coals over towards the air vent and then set my wood on top of the coals, trying to leave plenty of room under the wood for air to travel. This helps it burn cleanly being so close to the air vent.

4. This is a personal preference, but I usually try to avoid burning bark. The bare wood seems to burn better for me than the bark, and the bark seems to smoke a little more.

Hope this helps!
Very good advise, Pyre. BTW, is that like a Funeral Pyre? Just curious.

Your right, my Burn Barrel IS labor intensive. But Man, does it produce great "Q. IN fact, at my latest Christmas bash, I cooked half in the "Stick Burner" using my Barrel, and the other half in my GOSM BB, I could tell you without lookin' which piece came from where! Later, when I pointed it out to Mrs. SoFlaQuer, she said............."Why are they so different?"

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Hey Jeff,

I've been an internet junkie for years and Pyre or Pyrenus was the handle I've always used for myself. That was the name of my bowling team back when I was 14 years old. Haha.

Yeah, preburning would be ideal. On the shows where they visit some of the most famous BBQ places in the US, you'll see the guys shoveling hot coals into their smokers. Seems that they prefer to preburn their wood also. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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