Jack’s Meat Smoking Chart You Can Trust

Do you want to become the master of the pit this grilling season? Make sure you note down my reliable meat smoking chart for future reference!

The weather is about to become warmer, and for all of us dedicated meat lovers, it means one thing only: grilling season is taking off!

Do you want to truly shine this season and become the master of the pit?

I know I do! If your answer is yes as well, first you need a reliable meat smoking chart that will teach you at what temperature to smoke your meat and when to pull it out so that it is not only safe to eat but also as tender and succulent it can possibly be.

Meat Smoking Chart

Even the professionals rely on meat thermometers for this purpose, so it would be a good idea for you to get a good quality meat thermometer to measure the temperature in the smoker as well as in the center of the meat.

Then, a meat smoking chart will be a great resource for information on when the sort of meat you are smoking will be finished and at its most soft. Although cooking time is not as crucial as temperature, I have included it anyway so that you may better manage your time.

Check out my meat smoking chart that you can rely on for whatever you intend to smoke this grilling season!

Why does My Meat Smoking Chart Differs from USDA Meat Smoking Chart?

It is important to honor all food safety measures if you want to avoid serious consequences. When it comes to smoking meat, the USDA provides us with the minimum recommended temperature, the meat should be cooked to and not risk foodborne illnesses. You should comply with it as a rule, but remember that every rule has exceptions.

The USDA guide itself changed a lot over the years. Moreover, it did not bother with the other aspects such as the taste or tenderness of your smoked meat – it is up to you to figure that for yourself.

It is always good advice to listen to the older and wiser – or in this case, the experienced professionals who have gone through the trial and error process and achieved perfection when it comes to meat smoking.

This is the road I have chosen to take as well, and I thrive on making my smoked meat extra delicious and safe at the same time. So, in some cases, the ‘done’ temperatures in my guide will well exceed the ones recommended by the USDA (some will even be lower) since meat can be done but still not ‘ready to eat (at least not to my high standards).

Even if you cook your smoked meat to the USDA-recommended temperature and it is completely safe and done, you should not stop there since a little more cooking time may greatly improve the quality and flavor of the meat. Frequently, it takes longer for the connective tissue, collagens, and lipids in the tougher pieces of meat to melt and become soft and juicy.

The Problems You Might Face When Smoking Meat

There are numerous problems you can stumble over before you learn how to smoke your favorite meat perfectly. There is no definite chart or guideline that will offer you the ultimate, mistake-proof solutions.

After all, a lot depends on factors no guide can predict, beginning with your personal taste in meat, and the equipment you are going to use in the process.

  • The most common mistake newbies make is overcooking the meat. I guess that all of us fear to the risk of poisoning ourselves or our loved ones and rather choose to be safe than sorry. If that happens to you as well, know that not everything is lost.
  • You can aid the situation by returning the meat to the smoker and reheating it on a lower temp thus allowing it to tenderize once again. Even if this trick does not work out, your meat need not be wasted – simply use it to prepare some other dish.
  • If you, on the other hand, discover that your smoked meat is undercooked, smoke it again at a higher temperature. Never eat it before you make sure it is well done, or you risk seriously endangering your health.

Use the meat smoking chart, my or any other, as a guide but consider all the factors that cannot be predicted. No meat is the same – some are thicker, tougher, some have bones – so to calculate how many minutes or hours it will take to cook solely relying on its weight would be a mistake.

The type of your smoker as well as how well it is insulated will influence the final result. The weather plays an important role too – high humidity (snow, rain), strong wind, or extremely high or low temperatures are sure to influence the smoking process.

You may savor the greatest-tasting meat you’ve ever had by selecting the best offset smoker, best propane smoker, or best smoker-grill combo.

Finally, you have the option of smoking your meat either quickly at a higher temperature for a nicer crust or slowly at a lower temperature for meat that is more delicate. You can experiment with the procedure to find what works best for you as long as you make sure that the minimum safe temperature is attained (a dual probe thermometer is the ideal tool for this!).

Jack’s Meat Smoking Chart

1. Beef

Type of Meat The smoker temperature Ready-to-Eat meat temperature Total smoking time
Beef brisket 225-250° F 190-205° F 12 – 20 hours
Short ribs 225-250° F 190-200° F 6 – 8 hours
Back ribs 225-250° F 185-190° F 3 – 4 hours
Spare ribs 225-250° F 190 to 203° F 5 – 6 hours
Prime rib 225-250° F 135° F for Medium 15 minutes/lb
Rump roast 225-250° F 145° F for Well Done 30 minutes/lb
Chuck roast 225-250° F 190-200° F 12 – 20 hours
Tenderloin 225-250° F 130°-140° F 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Whole ribeye 225-250° F 135° F for Medium 25 minutes/lb
Tri-tip 225-250° F 130° F to 140° F 2 to 3 hours
Sausage 225-250° F 160° F 30 – 60 mins

Further Reading: How To Reheat Roast Beef Without Overcooking It!

2. Pork

Type of Meat The smoker temperature Ready-to-Eat meat temperature Total smoking time
Pork butt 225-250° F 205° F 1.5 hours/lb
Spare ribs 225-250° F 180-185° F 5 – 7 hours
Baby back ribs 225-250° F 180° F 5 hours
Belly Bacon less than 100° F 140° F 6 hours
Loin 225-250° F 145° F 4 – 5 hours
Whole Hog 225-250° F 205° F 16 – 18 hours
Tenderloin 225-250° F 160° F 2 1/2 – 3 hours
Sausage 225-250° F 165° F 1 to 3 hours


3. Lamb

Type of Meat The smoker temperature Ready-to-Eat meat temperature Total smoking time
Lamb Rack 200-225° F 135°-140° F 1 1/4 hours
Lamb’s Leg 225-250° F 140°-150° F 4 – 8 hours
Lamb’s shoulder 225-250° F 170° F 5 – 5 1/2 hours
Lamb shank 225-250° F 190° F 4 – 5 hours

4. Poultry

Type of Meat The smoker temperature Ready-to-Eat meat temperature Total smoking time
Whole chicken 275°-350° F 170° F 2 – 3 hours
chicken quarters 275°-350° F 170° F 1 – 2 hours
Chicken wings 275°-350° F 170° F 1 1/4 hours
chicken thighs 275°-350° F 170° F 1 1/2 hours
Whole turkey 275°-350° F 170° F 4 – 5 hours
Turkey leg 275°-350° F 170° F 2 to 3 hours
Turkey breast 275°-350° F 165° F 4 hours
Turkey wings 275°-350° F 170° F 2 – 2 1/2 hours
Pheasant 225° F 165° F 1 hour
Whole duck 225°-250° F 165° F 4 hours

Extra advice: Stick to a turkey that is up to 14 pounds heavy!

Further Reading: Learn How To Reheat Pulled Pork Without Sacrificing The Original Flavor!

5. Fish and Seafood

Type of Meat The smoker temperature Ready-to-Eat meat temperature Total smoking time
Whole trout 225°F 145°F 1 hour
Whole salmon 200° F 145°F When it becomes flaky
Salmon Filet 220°F 145°F 1 hour
Tilapia Filet 220°F 145°F 1 hour
Oysters 225°F 30 – 40 min
Scallops 225°F 145°F 45 – 60 min
Shrimp 225°F 20 – 30 min

How to Control the Temperature Inside Your Smoker

Do not panic! This is the greatest advice one can give you when it comes to maintaining the desired temperature inside the smoker or a grill. I have seen it ever so often – people panic at the first temperature spike, and everything goes downhill from there.

You maintaining a fire requires patience and the right equipment. If you have these two, you are set to go!

  1. First set up the internal ‘ambient’ smoker temperature, let it stabilize for about twenty minutes, and then add in the meat. Use the thermometer to monitor both the temp inside the smoker and the one in the center of your piece of meat.
  2. Try to restrain from sudden hasty moves such as closing all the vents and completely choking off the fire but instead make small adjustments to the valves and allow for some time for the changes to take place. Placing a pan full of water inside the smoker chamber can help you avoid sudden temperature spikes by absorbing some heat too.

Avoid the Danger Zone

Maybe you have some really annoying neighbors or relatives, but you still do not want to poison anyone, do you?

Smoking meat can become a danger zone and lead to such horrid scenarios as meat is required to linger at lower temperatures (140- 160°F) becoming prone to harmful bacteria attacks.

Therefore a 4-hour limit has been set (with some exceptions) as a time allowed before you enter the danger zone.

Besides honoring the 4-hour limit, you should also follow the subsequent rules:

  • Do not add frozen meat to the smoker
  • Keep the meat refrigerated while marinating it and never reuse the marinade
  • The poultry needs to be cooked to at least the USDA minimum recommendation or above.

Use my meat smoking temperature charts as a starting point and try to find what works best for your taste and the equipment you have. You will surely have to try out several scenarios before you reach perfection and then make sure you note everything down for future reference!

Feel free to comment and share, but above all stay safe!

Bon Appétit!

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