Whats special about 225°

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Nefarious

Master of the Pit
Original poster
Oct 10, 2021
1,618
1,310
Seattle WA
I see it often here where someone asks about how to smoke.something and the general response is to smoke it at 225° for a time range, and an IT to shoot for. Sometimes it is recommended to smoke higher.

My question is, is there magic in the 225° or is a temp like 215° just as good but will take longer? Is there some reason that smoking lower can cause a problem?

Just trying to understand. I like the smoke from my smoker at 215°.
 
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Nothing special about 225. Some things I like that temp. Some things I want higher. The only real downside to below 225 is the extra time it will take to reach desired IT. Another concern with smoking below 225 is the possibility of not getting the meat out of the danger zone 40-140 within 4 hours
 
It's always been something of a mystery to me. Having said that, I've never had a smoker that would do low temps like that so maybe I'm a little biased.
My offset likes to go between 250 and 290 (depending on weather) to keep the "thin blue" and everything comes out just fine.
I personally think it's akin to an "Old Wives Tale". I'm sure others disagree......
 
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Nothing special about 225. Some things I like that temp. Some things I want higher. The only real downside to below 225 is the extra time it will take to reach desired IT. Another concern with smoking below 225 is the possibility of not getting the meat out of the danger zone 40-140 within 4 hours

If my cook will never take longer then 4 hours, I dont have to worry?

Or if the IT will also not be above 130, I'm safe? Is there a different time constraint to get to IT 130°, or is it still 4 hrs.
 
If my cook will never take longer then 4 hours, I dont have to worry?

Or if the IT will also not be above 130, I'm safe? Is there a different time constraint to get to IT 130°, or is it still 4 hrs.
You can use whatever temp you want if you are doing a cook that's less than 4 hours. As long as you are meeting the USDA recommended temps for particular meat. So anything ground, or pork, or chicken will always have to be above 140 in 4hrs. Beef can be consumed rare so that rule doesn't really apply for it
 
I will also add you'll never get ANYTHING to 140 in 4 hours if your smoker temp is 115. If you cook at 115 then that will dictate your meat to not ever be warmer than that. Would be the equivalent of trying to boil water at 150. It will never happen
 
I have a propane smoker and I let it settle into what ever temp its happy with that day. A lot of it will depend on environmental variables, as well as what I'm cooking. This temp can be anywhere from 225-300 degrees. As long as I'm getting good smoke out of it and its not running crazy temps i just let it roll. And I agree with Jake totally. Also If I may suggest...Get a good remote thermometer. If your going by the factory thermometer you may not even be close to the temp showing.
Jim
 
When I first started I only did 225 because I thought that was true bbq and anything high 275+ people didn't know what they were doing. I took this mindset to comps and won one award.
At that temp. After attending Myron school where we cooked brisket at 350 I noticed how appearance in meats improved as well as anlot less time without sacrificing flavor. I then Played around and since then always cook 275-300 and have closet full of trophies since I switched

i am not saying 225 is wrong but think others should try hot and fast and compare. You may be shocked at results

on rare occasion ill go real low but its due to fact wife made plans that night that I didnt want to go to so the whole “need babysit smoker all night” excuse works with low temp and long cook times
 
Just trying to understand. I like the smoke from my smoker at 115°.

I really hope this is a typo.

As for 225* being special. Besides the above stated safety concerns. The only other reason is it serves a time guideline for certain meats. Sample 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 for spares and babyback ribs. The amount of smokey flavor may be affected somewhat, but I really don't think you'll see much difference in a pork butt smoked at 215, 225, 250 or even 300*. As long as all other variables are the same.

Chris
 
Yeah, my kettle grill likes to run at 350F and my bullet smoker seems to be comfortable at 250-275F so I just go with rather than drive myself crazy for the whole grill/smoke forcing a different temp. Haven't ruined any meat or made anyone sick yet!!
 
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I will also add you'll never get ANYTHING to 140 in 4 hours if your smoker temp is 115. If you cook at 115 then that will dictate your meat to not ever be warmer than that. Would be the equivalent of trying to boil water at 150. It will never happen

Yes, 115 was a typo, sorry about my fat fingers.
 
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I really hope this is a typo.

As for 225* being special. Besides the above stated safety concerns. The only other reason is it serves a time guideline for certain meats. Sample 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 for spares and babyback ribs. The amount of smokey flavor may be affected somewhat, but I really don't think you'll see much difference in a pork butt smoked at 215, 225, 250 or even 300*. As long as all other variables are the same.

Chris
Yes, sorry about that. Fat fingers on my tablet and didn't proof read.
 
If my cook will never take longer then 4 hours, I dont have to worry?

Or if the IT will also not be above 130, I'm safe? Is there a different time constraint to get to IT 130°, or is it still 4 hrs.
If you are smoking whole muscle meat that has not been disturbed (studding with garlic, injection, deboning etc.) you only need the surface to be >140° in 4 hours or less.... which is easy even at some low pit temps.
 
I see it often here where someone asks about how to smoke.something and the general response is to smoke it at 225° for a time range, and an IT to shoot for. Sometimes it is recommended to smoke higher.

My question is, is there magic in the 225° or is a temp like 215° just as good but will take longer? Is there some reason that smoking lower can cause a problem?

Just trying to understand. I like the smoke from my smoker at 215°.
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Oddly enough, the answer relates to the boiling temperature of water. But we need to take a ride on the 'way back' machine to get the whole story. Before modern day rubs, or injections, and way before meat was engineered.... the old barbecue men cooked low-n-slow, and taught low-n-slow methods. The methods were handed down from generation to generation. Open pit barbecue was the predecessor to the evolution of modern day cookers, and nearly every barbecue man basted (mopped) the meat.

Smoky Hale, one of the self proclaimed 'Old Basters' in the world of barbecue, and a great story teller, cooked most things at low pit temps. He defined barbecue this way:
Barbecue
Meat cooked in the dry heat of wood coals at temperatures around the boiling point of water (212*F at sea level). An essential distinction from other forms of cooking is the temperature at which it is cooked. The lower temperature allows the meat to become tender while preserving its natural juices and the exterior does not dry out before the center becomes done. The long cooking period allows for myriad savory seasonings and provides ample opportunity for pleasurable activities. The consummate barbecuer excels in the latter as much as the former.


The problem with this philosophy is that in the 20's, 30's, 40's and so on..... thermometers were rare. Heck, I didn't have a pit with a proper thermometer or a fast read thermometer until maybe 25 years ago. Anyways, the old school barbecuists cooked by sight, by listening to the meats sizzle and by feel. Barbecue was very hands on. And by the way.... my Grandfather and Great Uncle were both open pit barbecue men. So I learned from a good one.

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The problem with the boiling point of water and listen to it sizzle approach is that at altitude that point can be much too low, roughly 10F lower than at sea level for every 5,000 ft in elevation. I'm right around 6,000 ft and my boiling point is around 202F, only a few degrees above the normal pull temperature for most roasts, a little higher in elevation and I could be sitting in a stall when I should be pulling the meat. Not only need a thermometer but I absolutely have to test for tenderness as I near when I think I should time out.
 
View attachment 518194
Oddly enough, the answer relates to the boiling temperature of water. But we need to take a ride on the 'way back' machine to get the whole story. Before modern day rubs, or injections, and way before meat was engineered.... the old barbecue men cooked low-n-slow, and taught low-n-slow methods. The methods were handed down from generation to generation. Open pit barbecue was the predecessor to the evolution of modern day cookers, and nearly every barbecue man basted (mopped) the meat.

Smoky Hale, one of the self proclaimed 'Old Basters' in the world of barbecue, and a great story teller, cooked most things at low pit temps. He defined barbecue this way:
Barbecue
Meat cooked in the dry heat of wood coals at temperatures around the boiling point of water (212*F at sea level). An essential distinction from other forms of cooking is the temperature at which it is cooked. The lower temperature allows the meat to become tender while preserving its natural juices and the exterior does not dry out before the center becomes done. The long cooking period allows for myriad savory seasonings and provides ample opportunity for pleasurable activities. The consummate barbecuer excels in the latter as much as the former.


The problem with this philosophy is that in the 20's, 30's, 40's and so on..... thermometers were rare. Heck, I didn't have a pit with a proper thermometer or a fast read thermometer until maybe 25 years ago. Anyways, the old school barbecuists cooked by sight, by listening to the meats sizzle and by feel. Barbecue was very hands on. And by the way.... my Grandfather and Great Uncle were both open pit barbecue men. So I learned from a good one.

View attachment 518195
This is my research as well. 225* is very old school, and here is a little more on why.

Meat IT tends to lag 15-20* behind the pit temperature. We know that an IT of around 205* gives us “perfect” pulled pork, fall off the bone ribs and succulent brisket. 205+15= 220* pit temp. So this is a way to perfectly cook meats and leave them in the smoke sauna for the longest time and never really over cook the meat.
In my estimation, the boiling point of water is irrelevant, because my brisket, ribs, PP, are all perfectly done at around 205* IT at 6500’ elevation just as it is at sea level, and we all know water boils at different temps between the two elevations.

I BBQ everything somewhere between 250-300*. It’s timely and just plain works. 225 does too, but it is minimum and most time consuming, with little flavor benefits, IMHO.
 
I BBQ everything somewhere between 250-300*. It’s timely and just plain works. 225 does too, but it is minimum and most time consuming, with little flavor benefits, IMHO.

then you are saying the difference is time on the smoker does not yield more opportunity for more smoke flavor to be added to the meat?
 
then you are saying the difference is time on the smoker does not yield more opportunity for more smoke flavor to be added to the meat?
Not enough to make it worth my while. It does add for sure, just not a value to me. I’ll also say it’s questionable as to how much the extra time actually improves flavor. Time to me is valuable. I need something measurable for it. 225* does not deliver that for me or anyone I know in relation to BBQ.
 
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