Smoke ring vs. smoke penetration

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Sep 26, 2006
I hear alot of talk about smoke ring. I've seen alot of food, and pix thereof that show a thin band of red to pink around the edge, and have even read articles that say that it maxes out @ about 1/2"

I learned to cook Q through trial and error along with input from pro's and old time amateur. No one ever told me that you were only supposed to get a "ring" and I always thought the idea was to try to get complete smoke penetration to where the meat is pink clear through. Most of the time I achieve that with ribs, brisket, the whole flat, but never the entire point.

Does anyone cook for penetration as opposed to ring? If so, what tricks do you know for deeper penetration? (oops, I guess I left that one wide open)

Season's Smokings,

I have a pellet smoker(traeger). To get more penetration I throw in some "blue pills" to get the job done.

All joking aside, a smoke ring through a brisket flat is worth a pic! 1/2" is the best I can do on a brisket.
i smoked a 9.08 pound pork shoulder butt roast last night. it was almost total penetration. i had smoke going the whole time it was in the pit though.
Tim, I look at this in another way, it's the smoke penetration that reacts with the sodium nitrates and nitrites in the meat that creates the smoke ring. This reaction takes place during the early part of the smoke (around 140* internal temp). beyond this point smoke saturation takes place and no longer has any bearing on the smoke ring. In theory, the slower you can bring the meat to the 140* mark the thicker the smoke ring. The smokiness of the meat is based on the smoke saturation. I get PM's from folks that tell me that when the meat reaches 140*, they foil it and then complain that the meat does not have the smokier flavor that they are looking for.
Just couldn't resist, could you?
Where've you been Dutch? Actually, my post was designed to "smoke " you out of hiding (no pun intended).

Your post coupled w/ Chris' post may tend to support my theory that a stick burner is the only way to do "real Q", in that ther is smoke as long as there is heat. Chris says that he "Had smoke going in the pit the whole time", when you cook on a stick burner, that's the only way it can happen.

Smoke on Brutha,

tim, i meant that i had it in the smoke the whole time, ie no foiling- until i pulled it to rest. i usually foil it at 170°.
what was the result of smoking it the entire time, and what type of wood won't get overpowering by doing so? when i first started out, i would over-smoke with too much hickory/mesquite. i've since backed off (smoking only up to 140º, using more fruit wood) and now would like more smoke flavor.

if i'm reading correctly, lots of smoke as it's slowly brought up to 140º will cause more penetration, and then if you keep smoking after that you're just magnifying the smoke flavor itself? i want more smoke flavor but don't want to ruin another piece of meat!

propane GOSM. the main meat i noticed that didn't have much of a smoke ring was the fatty. the pulled pork and ribs were fantastic, but could have used a little more smoke. you could definitely taste the cherry smoke, but it didn't have that smoky kick like mesquite. should i use mostly fruit chunks, but then every time i change them out add a few chips of mesquite?

Stay with what you like ... by all means mix'em up! Mesquite is wonderful but strong ... if you like it what else matters?
For me I like to start with it then go to apple, cherry, maple, pecan, alder and hickory.
thanks, i'll try the method of using mesquite first, then switching to something sweeter, sounds good.

also i noticed that some of my wood chips got what looks like mold on them.
(i thought they'd be ok just sitting out, we have 20-40% humidity year round)

is it safe to use still, or will it have a bad flavor?
i use mostly mesquite. i also have oak, pecan, and some silver maple. i use those when i have no ready mesquite.
I've had 100% smoke penetration to the bone every time I've smoked pork ribs using my offset reverse flow woodburner. Using the 3-2-1 method @ 200F-210F using 80% hickory, 20% cherry. I was specifically trying to figure out a way to get Less pink!! Though they're not as tender as I'd like, flavor's great- the ribs just appear undercooked and almost unappetizing no matter what I do- similar to eating a terribly undergrilled hamburger. I suppose some of you'd give your right arm for all pink, huh? I'm guessing it's all mental- I'm not a big rare-meat eater... My guess is one of two things---1. Wrap the ribs in foil early for less pink, or, 2. Boil the damned things before smoking. (I refuse to boil my ribs, sorry.)

Whenever I run across moldy wood, I pre-burn down to hot coals. The mold is LONG GONE!! Pre-burning is a helluva good way to go if you've the wood supply.

Hmm, my ribs are pink somtimes also, but is not because they are "rare" just that the smoke ring per say is all the way through. As far as them looking undercooked I'm wondering if it is somthing to due with the rub color or lack there of, or are you just not cooking them enough. For bb's I usually go 2-2-30min and for sparres closer to the 3-2-1

BTW..... Good thing you don't boil your ribs
That will get you tar and featherd in some parts of this country!!!

No, I didn't mean to make you think I thought they were rare, I know they're not, as I use an internal thermometer and go a good 6 hours. They just appear rare cuz the pink's (smoke ring) permeated the meat and that's all there is. The rub's brown sugar, sugar, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic, and a little paprika. I'm certain the rub has no effect as last time I smoked, the rub went on 5 minutes prior to insertion into the smoker as opposed to the usual overnight refrigeration.

I'd rather eat pink ribs than get tarred and feathered any way you look at 'em!

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