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Smoking in cold weather

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
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Joined Jan 18, 2021
Hi,

I’m new here (obviously) and just had a question about smoking a brisket in roughly 30 degree weather. I don’t have an insulated blanket, so I know it’ll use more pellets, was just curious if anyone could tell me about how much longer it might take.

I have a lower end z grill (450) pellet grill, and am planning on smoking a 3.5 lb brisket. Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke book says to add about 3 hours on the cook time if cooking in cold weather, but I read somewhere it can almost take twice as long.

Anyway, just wondering what people have experienced... Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

TuckersBarbeque

Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
317
300
Joined Oct 29, 2020
A 225 degree smoker is a 225 degree smoker, regardless if the outside is -30 or 75. It may take a lot more fuel, but adding time is something I've never encountered.
The only time I've seen time come in to play in cold weather is when there is wind. The wind will cause huge swings as the PID on the pellet grill tries to keep up with the dynamic environment... because of these swings the average temperature is actually lower than what you set it too. This essentially causes you to smoke at a lower temperature, thus adding more time.

For a cold weather smoke, I'd set the smoker a little higher for a brisket, ~250-275. My two cents though.

Good luck!
 

Bytor

Meat Mopper
186
105
Joined Jan 16, 2020
It may take longer to get the pit to temp, but after that as long as your smoker can be consistent in holding the temp, the cold weather will just have you burning more fuel. The wind can definitely have a direct impact on cooking time though.
 

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
7
Joined Jan 18, 2021
A 225 degree smoker is a 225 degree smoker, regardless if the outside is -30 or 75. It may take a lot more fuel, but adding time is something I've never encountered.
The only time I've seen time come in to play in cold weather is when there is wind. The wind will cause huge swings as the PID on the pellet grill tries to keep up with the dynamic environment... because of these swings the average temperature is actually lower than what you set it too. This essentially causes you to smoke at a lower temperature, thus adding more time.

For a cold weather smoke, I'd set the smoker a little higher for a brisket, ~250-275. My two cents though.

Good luck!
ok, cool. Thanks for the heads up. I was planning on trying it at 225 degrees, but maybe I’ll try 250 instead.

It’s not supposed to be windy, so that should help. ;) Any idea roughly how many more pellets I might burn through?
 

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
7
Joined Jan 18, 2021
Welcome from Iowa! Can't tell you how much more pellets you'll go through... but just wanted to congratulate you for being an ex-vegetarian, thus site will be so much more enjoyable for you! :emoji_blush:

Ryan
Haha Thank you! Yeah, I came back to the dark side a few years ago. Thought it would be a pretty good name on the SMF. 😆
 

TuckersBarbeque

Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
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300
Joined Oct 29, 2020
ok, cool. Thanks for the heads up. I was planning on trying it at 225 degrees, but maybe I’ll try 250 instead.

It’s not supposed to be windy, so that should help. ;) Any idea roughly how many more pellets I might burn through?
Welcome to the site! Truly a great group of people here.

I normally do a brisket at 225, and then up it to 250-275 once I hit the stall. However, in cold weather, a constant higher temperature will help with some of the swings. That's why I recommended a slightly higher temperature.

So the normal burn rate of a pellet grill is usually a pound an hour. This of course has a hundred factors, but it's a good average. For grills on the lower end, this usually means thinner walls, and are much more susceptible to lose heat quickly in colder weather. I would plan to have at least 1.5-2 lbs per hour on hand, and assume a minimum of a 12 hour cook for your brisket flat (I'm assuming flat because 3.5 lbs); Conservatively, this means you should expect a total of 20-30 lbs to complete the cook (most likely closer to 20). If you don't use it all on this cook, you at least have another cook.

If pellet consumption is a concern for you, another option is to smoke it until the stall and then you could wrap it and put it in your kitchen oven for the remainder of the cook.

Happy Q'ing!
 

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
7
Joined Jan 18, 2021
Welcome to the site! Truly a great group of people here.

I normally do a brisket at 225, and then up it to 250-275 once I hit the stall. However, in cold weather, a constant higher temperature will help with some of the swings. That's why I recommended a slightly higher temperature.

So the normal burn rate of a pellet grill is usually a pound an hour. This of course has a hundred factors, but it's a good average. For grills on the lower end, this usually means thinner walls, and are much more susceptible to lose heat quickly in colder weather. I would plan to have at least 1.5-2 lbs per hour on hand, and assume a minimum of a 12 hour cook for your brisket flat (I'm assuming flat because 3.5 lbs); Conservatively, this means you should expect a total of 20-30 lbs to complete the cook (most likely closer to 20). If you don't use it all on this cook, you at least have another cook.

If pellet consumption is a concern for you, another option is to smoke it until the stall and then you could wrap it and put it in your kitchen oven for the remainder of the cook.

Happy Q'ing!
Thanks for the help. The smoke went well, and I only ended I’m up using aboit 7-8 lbs of pellets. (5 hour smoke). The sun came out and it even got up to the mid-30s! 😆 The meat was a little tougher than I was expecting... but maybe because I used a higher temp (250) for the about half the time then bumped it down to 225... Tasted delicious tho!

Thanks to the folks that made this forum. I’m looking forward to being a part of it, doing some research and perfecting the art of smoking. 😉
 

TuckersBarbeque

Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
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300
Joined Oct 29, 2020
Glad it was successful! So it was about 1.5 lbs/hr pellet consumption.

Did you do the probe test or go by temp alone? Did you hold it for a few hours? What temp did you cook it to?
I wouldn't blame the 250 degrees... a 5 hr smoke seems awfully quick for a brisket. I've done brisket at 275 and still went 10 hours and wasn't tough. Aaron Franklin, a guy who is famous for his briskets starts at 250 and creeps up to 285 and back down again at some point in his cook.

Welcome and enjoy!
 

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
7
Joined Jan 18, 2021
Glad it was successful! So it was about 1.5 lbs/hr pellet consumption.

Did you do the probe test or go by temp alone? Did you hold it for a few hours? What temp did you cook it to?
I wouldn't blame the 250 degrees... a 5 hr smoke seems awfully quick for a brisket. I've done brisket at 275 and still went 10 hours and wasn't tough. Aaron Franklin, a guy who is famous for his briskets starts at 250 and creeps up to 285 and back down again at some point in his cook.

Welcome and enjoy!
No, I just went by temp, and I didn’t do the probe test. (Rookie mistake). I let it rest for an hour. That’s good to know for the future.

Just finished up a second brisket this time. Found a 10 pound packer brisket at Costco and put it on early this morning. Let it go for about 9 hours at 225°, to when it skewered easily with a kabob stick. Final temp was right around 210° and it was nice and wiggly. 😀
E522DC1A-0D0C-4A9B-94DE-3B205CA72EB4.jpeg


I’m letting it rest for a couple hours, so it should soak up some of the juice. I’ll post again about taste and texture. 😉
 

ex-vegetarian

Newbie
11
7
Joined Jan 18, 2021
That looks amazing! Well done sir.
Thank you! It turned out really well! Good texture and the taste was good too.. I might have even slipped into a food coma. 😆

I only wish it had more of a smoky taste, but maybe that’s because it had a pretty thick cap of fat (about a half inch), and I was using Traeger hickory pellets which I’ve read don’t have as much flavor as others. At some point I might try Lumber Jack... maybe a competition blend or something.
5B9823C9-C8E2-44CE-8529-0F999951C690.jpeg
 

ryalued

Newbie
1
1
Joined Feb 13, 2021
Cold Weather Smoking! I live in Madison, WI, current temp outside is -5, tomorrow is suppose to be colder yet! Smoking up some bacon, so no need for heat retention. However, the purchase I've made to date (minus the Traeger) is going to Harbor Freight and buying an 8' x 8' Welding blanket. I double it up, drape it over the smoker and tuck it behind the handle. Negative temps, temp is what the control module is set at!! $20 bucks, well worth it!!
 

smokinstubbs

Fire Starter
44
18
Joined Jul 4, 2008
HF also has a smaller 4 X 6, go read the review about people using them to stabilize heat in pellet smokers. The same would apply with any heat source. The cold/wind zaps the heat out of the unit, blankets help keep it warm. Good Luck
 

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