Smoke ring in BBQ Meat

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Jul 16, 2006
Northern NY (Adirondacks)
Howdy Folks,

Over the past few days a number of members have asked about the formation of a "Smoke Ring" in BBQ meats. I did a little poking around the net and found this document. I wish to credit the author, Joe Cordray is the Meat Extension Expert at Iowa State University’s nationally renowned Meat Lab, located in Ames, IA. He has been writing for The BBQer since Fall of 2001 as the source of the article.

This article is a little technical, but does explain the thing rather well. Hope you enjoy it.

Take care, have fun, and do good!


That was a great article,thanks for posting Meowey
Nice article. It also mentioned something near the end that has been going around this forum lately, with regard to wet wood. He confirmed what others have mentioned that wet wood does in fact add humidity to the smoke chamber.
Great info! Explains why sometimes I don't have a smoke ring. When I first started smoking I always used soaked wood, I've since changed to dry and sometimes don't have any ring at all, but still have good smoked flavor.
That is a great article thanks for that Meowey! That has answered many of my questions but...... am I the only one still trying to figure out why electric smokers like my MES don't produce smoke rings? Sorry if thats a dumb question.
I have no clue. Hopefully someone else can weigh in on that.

If I were to take a WAG, it would be that you are not burning a large volume of wood in your MES. I get more "smoke ring" with my CG burning charcoal and wood chunks than I get with my GOSM burning propane and wood chunks smoldering.

Take care, have fun, and do good!


I have the MES...and fully agree with Meowey....not enough wood being used during the smoke to be able to produce the ring ( it's not designed to use a large volume ) it does give the desired smoke flavor ....just not the ring .
"Sometimes the smoke ring is mistaken for undercooking in chicken." Sounds like my wife has been snooping around the smoker.
I'm with Meowey on tis one. I've found there's more smoke ring with charcoal and wood than propane and wood. AND I think it tastes better too!
Not to sway too far off course here, but this thread reminds me about a "Good Eats" episode where Alton Brown built a ceramic smoker out of less than 50 bucks worth of terracotta pots (I think someone on this forum has tried that as well...not sure who). Anyhow, in the start of the show, he mentioned about propane creating water vapours that keep the smoke from penetrating the meat (this is the part relating to this thread). I'm assuming this would effect the smoke ring; which I'll admit, I don't place too much stock in. I place more stock in, "wow Josh! them thare are the best darn ribs I ever done had!"

Anyhow, here's the transacript of the Good Eats show I'm talking about:
I can get a great smoke ring in my ECB, but I have to absolutely assault the meat with smoke for the first hour. If I do that, I get a rather bitter flavor, so I don't worry too much about the ring anymore either.
Thanks for the link, it is a keeper!
I had a nice looking partial ring on the butt I did about 2 weeks ago. Looking back at the pics, it's pretty pink on the top side, which is of course where I did all the spritzing. Maybe I should flip it next time...

Anyway, do you use the water pan in your GOSM? I have used mine since day one and gotten some okay rings so far.
I always got a ring with my GOSM. I found that with the CharGriller I get one that's a bit more pronounced. On my last smoke I sprayed my beef back ribs a couple extra times to keep the outside moist. The ring went all the way to the bone. Don't know if it was the extra spray or the cut of meat - tasted absolutely fantastic.

Take care, have fun, and do good!


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