Winter Smoking

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Original poster
Mar 2, 2014
Got a Newbie here, not new to eating smoked food thought. After going back and forth on what I should start with I went out a bought the Masterbuilt Pro Electric Smoker from Home Depot. Simply because I'm new to this and the set and forget made it seem like I wouldn't be in over my head. Any way yesterday I seasoned the smoker as suggested, it was 32 outside and the smoker had no issue getting up to temp of 275. So I figured why not a try rack of ribs on Sunday for Dinner. Well I woke up this morning and it was 12 degrees outside with a fresh 4" of snow. Its Buffalo in March what can I say? So I'm think it has to be too cold out right? I figured why not give it a shot anyway. So I set the temp higher than the 225 I was going to smoke the ribs at and the smoker got up to 240 in less than 30 min. So I open the door and the temp obviously immediately drops, I put the meat in and close the door, in goes the chips instant smoke and consistent smoke. Problem I'm seeing is now the temp is taking a good amount of time to get back to 225 and its been 30 min. Its currently sitting right at about 207  and slowly climbing, I know pork needs to be cooked to about 160 so after the long intro my question is should I be worried about the meat drying up, or too much smoke because of the added time getting temp back up?
First off, welcome to the forum. I don't have or have not used a MES, but there's a lot of folks on here that do. I'am sure they will be along to help ya soon. That being said, as long as your temp is still climbing albeit slow you should be ok, I would not be concerned about too much smoke or your ribs drying out. I have a pellet grill and it takes a few to get back to temp if door has been opened for a bit. Just my 2 cents, hope it helps. Justin
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Welcome from Minnesota! Have no fear your temp will come up and your pork will be fine! I have two homemade smokers and smoke in the cold all the time, actually I would rather smoke when it is cold! Yesterday it didn't get above Zero and I smoked two turkeys and three pheasants. Low and slow!

Welcome aboard BuffaloSmoker!  

First off, you have to be careful trusting the factory temp probe in that MES...they have a reputation for being off, sometimes by a significant amount.  Most of us who have used an MES get a remote digital thermometer to monitor the temps of both the smoker and the meat.  The Maverick ET-732 is a good, reliable choice.  

Most smokers will struggle to maintain temps in extreme weather.  It helps to use some sort of wind break, and if you have an old welding blanket you can provide a little more insulation by wrapping it around your rig.  You've already figured out that every time you open the door, you lose your its best to leave it closed up until the ribs are getting close to done.  The old axiom: if your lookin', your not cookin'.  

If you are using the chip loader to add wood chips, you can continue to add smoke for as long as you want without losing the heat out of the cooking chamber.  It takes baby backs around 5 hours to get done at a smoker temp of around 225*...if you're worried about oversmoking them, stop adding wood chips after the first hour or hour and a half.  The amount of smoke flavor is a personal preference, so you'll have to do many trial and error smokes to figure out how much smoke to apply for you own "sweet spot".  

Its pretty hard to cook ribs to a target internal temp, mostly because its hard to measure an accurate meat temperature in ribs (because of all the bones).  You can tell if they are done in a couple of other ways: first, the meat will shrink, and "Pull Back" from the ends of the bones.  A pull back of 1/2" to 1" is a good indication they are done.  Second is the "Bend Test".  Here a short article that explains how to use the bend test to tell if ribs are done:

I hope any of this helps...Good luck!  Be sure to let us know how they turn out.

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 I live west and little north of you in Ontario Canada, along the 403 corridor, we got the 4 inches of snow also.  Anyway,like the others have said, windbreak, extra insulation all work for a winter smoke.  I use my MES 30 inch all the time in my shed with the doors opened.
Thank you so much for the advice im glad to see im not the only one willing to go out in the cold to get some good smoked meat. So far so good, ribs have been in for about 3hrs 30min, pulled them got a good health coat of the wife home made bbq sauce, foil wrap and back in for another 1hr to 1hr and 30min. I will be reading the link on the bending test thank you for that. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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