learned a lesson about filling a smoker with lots of meat .

  • 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.


Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jul 1, 2021
i've had a longhorn combo for almost a year . i've used the offset side mostly and always started with a chimney of hot coals and added splits for the actual cook . i've cooked 1 and 2 pork shoulders on it at a time and never noticed a difference in cooking times . i tried to stay around 275 but temps varied a LOT when adding wood , but everything typically turned out pretty good .

anyhow .... i got a new oklahoma joes bronco barrel smoker a few weeks ago because i needed to cook 4 shoulders for a family reunion . been wanting one for a while but the boss said no .... but now that i had the good "excuse" that "i can't cook 4 shoulders on that small offset" she gave me permission to get the bronco :) . so i assembled and seasoned it the day after it arrived , played with the vents and adjusting temp and temp stability worked just as well as it did for folks in youtube videos , very nice ! so i did a single shoulder on it a few days later . fired it up about 9 pm and put the shoulder on at 10 and it stayed almost perfectly stable at 225 till i went to bed about 12 midnite checked it a few times during the night when i went to the b-room and it was stable and everything turned out great the next day .

soooooo .... i got a second grate for the bronco and friday night i started it at 9 and put on 4 shoulders (2 top and 2 below) at 10 . 3 shoulders were almost 11 lbs and 1 was 9 1/2 . put the 2 biggest on the lower rack and the other 2 on top . had to open both vents to almost 2&2 to get the temp up to 225-235 (not quite 1 1/2 did fine for the single shoulder) came out about 2:30 and it was fine , sprayed apple juice on them and went back to bed . about 5:30 it had dropped down to 190ish , sprayed apple juice and opened the vents to 2 1/2 each and in about 15 mins the temp settled a little under 250 , close enough . dozed on and off with the dogs on the couch checking the temp several times and doing a few additional AJ sprays and did a probe about 7 and they were a little low . about 8 AM they were all above 170 so i wrapped them in HD foil , put them back in and had to open the vents to about 4&4 and about a hour later opened them all the way to stay above 200 . took them out about 10:30 when they were 195-205ish , got a shower and started shredding them about noon . the bones took a little effort and had meat on them so i knew the weren't fall apart tender :( . shredding with claws wasn't getting it (getting upset at this point!) wound up slicing them and then shredding and hand tearing them . they tasted fine ... but I KNEW they wern't tender like they should be :( :( . everyone at the reunion complimented me and most wen't back for seconds and some 3rds and i was asked to make them again next year so it wasn't a real failure .

anyhow , i learned a lesson that when filling my bronco to it's max it's gonna take a few more hours to cook before wrapping and i'll probably get the bronco pro charcoal basket before next years reunion . i did use wally world expert grill charcoal for the seasoning and added apple wood chunks for the first shoulder . i used kingsford cherry with cherry wood chunks for the 4 shoulders .

i thought i'd shar my results for others to see and i welcome suggestions for future big cooks or smoking on a drum in general .
take care , jeff
It sounds like they were just a little under cooked, can't really go by temp, you should be able to stick a probe through them like butter and be able to bone out easily which usually happens in the 203-205 temp range, sounds like they were a hit though.
Sometimes a feature of a smoker looks good, but it's not always practical in the real world. My drums are about 6" taller than the standard 55 gallon style and came with two grates. I did a few cooks using both grates, but did not like the top-to-bottom rotation of the meats, plus it really knocked the pit temp down. So I stuck with cooking on the upper grate, and eventually removed the grate supports for the lower grate. BTW, I did super-size my charcoal baskets and although I don't always need the extra room.... it's handy 3 or 4 cooks each year.

It looks like you figured out what was happening with your shoulders and frankly, there are so many individual muscles to deal with you have a lot of options when they are not tendering up as much as you want them to. There is nothing wrong with serving some sliced or chopped pork if that works best for a particular muscle.
thanks for the replies folks


  • 20210709_223247.jpg
    76 KB · Views: 21
  • 20210717_102353.jpg
    222 KB · Views: 20
  • Like
Reactions: SmokinEdge
Yeah, the meat acts like an ice cube in your drink. Four shoulders effectively drops the cook chamber temp. A lot of moisture is being released as well. A full cooker will definitely take a while longer to finish.
  • Like
Reactions: bill1 and JeffB1961
I’m real surprised at how many new guys show up here all cooking at that “magical” 225* and having problems In small cookers. 225* is simply not enough heat. Target 250* and life will get much easier.
By the way, you did a fine job and you made it work, no shame there. Just up the temp a little and try your luck there, I promise.
thanks , the single shoulder a few days before came out great at 225 . next time i fill it up i'll shoot for 150-275 , but that'll probably be at next July's reunion . i'll have the a bigger charcoal basket then also ..... and i'll also have a years worth of experience cooking with the bronco . BTW . putting sea salt on 3-4 hours before adding the killer hogs and letting that set for 3-4 hours really made the KH much better than just KH ...... IMO .
Damn near everything can be cooked at 275F. Ribs cooked at 275-300F don't even need to be wrapped because they won't stall. The only thing to keep in mind when cooking at higher temps is that the finish temp of the meat will be a few degrees higher as well.
Thanks , I'll shoot for 275ish on my next cooks on the bronco . I always shot for 275-300 on the offset and it came out fine ..... after I learned to manage the fire/smoke so stuff didn't come out bitter
  • Like
Reactions: JWFokker
SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads