What... why... how....

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denver smoker

Original poster
Jan 23, 2014
Ok, so to start I have a 30" electric smoker.  I have had it for more than a year now and when I first got it I seemed to be getting pretty good with it.  Over the last month I have tried smoking three pork butts and they have all been disasters.  the first one I covered it with honey and a dry rub.  I put it on at 235 degrees and let it cook for about 6 hours.  the temp shot up to 175 degrees and then just sat there for about 2.5 hours.  I couldn't get it to rise and when I opened the smoker and checked on the meat it was hard and dry as a bone.  I threw it out and ate frozen pizza...  The last two have been almost identical, although at least edible.  I even tried a brine to get more moisture in the meat.  I cannot get the temp to get up to 200 in the meat, it just seems to platuea at 175-180.  the meat is dry.  I cannot get a good smoke ring.  I have used pecan and hickory woods.  tried smoking for the full duration or half.  nothing seems to be working now.  I use butts that are boneless and about 4-6lbs.
Welcome Denver!

Hard to tell, but here's a couple guesses to your problem.

1) Your smoker may say 235°, but is sounds like it's running much higher. Get a remote probe type thermometer, such as a Maverick, and use that to see what the real temp is inside your smoker. You also might want to consider smoking at a lower temp anyway; somewhere around 220°-225°.

2)  Once your meat hits somewhere from 140°-160°, it is normal for the internal temp (IT) to stall for a couple hours. That is when the tough collogens in the meat are turning into soft gelatins, making your meat moist and tender. Many people will wait until the IT hits about 160°-165°, and then wrap the butt in foil to keep moisture inside, and speed the cooking process.

Good luck!
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The controllers on some electric smokers can be way off. If you're putting honey on the exterior the sugars are curing out and forming a crust. Nothing wrong with smoking at higher temps (I do mine at 250 to 260 all the time) but you need patience. Butts are going to stall, that's just the way it is. But you need to verify your temps with a maverick et732 or similar, because my guess is your meat probe and chamber temp are both reading low. As far as smoke ring....forget it on an electric. And I"m gonna venture a guess on the brand of smoker....Masterbuilt?
I too am leaning toward thermo issues, but I will also add this.... Butts take a long time to cook if you're making PP...  I've had butts take almost 12 hours of cook time before the bone pulled free!

I'm not a proponent of cook "times" but looking at my logs, i show anywhere from an hour per pound to 1.75 hours per pound before the butt was done.  I should add, I cook the butts until the bone pulls out of the meat, that's when I know it's ready to shred...

Good thermos and a LOT of patience go along with butts in the pit...

If you'll sign up for the E-Course, it will solve most of your problems. Its basically inexperience and the E-course quickly brings you up to speed so that you can use the search engine and cook a winner every time, even if you screw up.

But without the Ecourse you are missing the basics. And its always that one basic you missed that bites you in the butt every time!
You won't regret joining this forum, these folks are a wealth of knowledge and will help ya out. Welcome, WHB
I just noticed your post count, might I recommend you post an introduction in the forum section "Roll Call", so you can get your proper due of hellos, you'll get the secret handshake AND the password also! Don't worry no one has been serious hurt by it yet, well there was the one incident but we don't talk about that. And the scar is starting to fade so you can hardly notice from a mile or so away anymore.

And if ya would, please click on the Profile icon above and tell us about about yourself. If nothing else its worth it just to add where you lay your head at night. It makes a big difference so people can help you and realize what you may be talking about in a discussion. 

It will take less time than it took me to write this and we will all appreciate it.
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Also take a look at Todd's site A-MAZE-N products. He has pellet smoke generators that will help. I don'e have an electric smoker but may of the guys that do have them use Todd's product.

Good luck and keep at it... ~Joe
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