Smoking Meat Basics

Smoking Meat Basics

Smoking meat is something I fell in love with many years ago and have worked very diligently at perfecting this fine art. For those of you who are not sure about the difference between smoking meat, barbecue, grilling, cooking out, etc., I am going to give you a few basics here to get you started on your way.

Smoking meat is cooking food very slowly, usually at temperatures of 225 degrees or less over wood coals with thin blue smoke doing all of the flavoring.

We smoke meat much different these days and for different reasons as well.

In olden times when men first started cooking over fire they did it because it was a great source of heat and although it must have tasted great, the taste was only a bonus.

Nowadays we have natural gas, electricity, propane, etc. as readily available fuels and we choose to smoke meat with wood coals solely because it tastes so good.

I am not a purist by any means.. I do not endeavor to do it just like they did it hundreds of years ago. I happen to like the taste of smoke on my meat and for that reason I will spend hours on end and even all night at times tending a fire for a relatively small hunk of meat.

Grilling which we will no doubt cover later on another page is simply cooking meat or vegetables at a very hot temperature usually in excess of 500 degrees.

Barbecue is used fairly synonymous with smoking meat but true barbecue is usally done at hotter temperatures than 225 degrees.

Every smoker is different and requires different methods for producing wood flavored meat.

The most common type of smoker is the ECB or El Cheapo Brinkmann so dubbed because you can pick them up for less than 50 dollars and they work rather well with very few modifications.

The horizontal smokers with side firebox is also fairly common and does a great job of smoking meat. The Charbroil Silver Smoker would be an example of this type of smoker.

For those interested only in the flavor and have no desire to work hard at maintaining the right temperature or staying up all night, there are numerous propane and electric models which also have the ability to produce wonderful smoked meats.

In other pages I will be discussing the particulars of smoking ribs, brisket, chicken, turkey and even fish to help you learn to smoke meat.

I do want to mention briefly that there is a difference between hot smoking and cold smoking. Hot smoking is what I mainly deal with and is at temperature of 190 to 225 degrees as I have already mentioned.

Cold smoking is not something I get into much but just for your knowledge, it is smoking at temperatures at or less than 100 degrees.


  1. I read your article and was curious about the temperature range you suggest. There are a lot more variables when using what you refer to as a “cheapo” smoker. This pursuit of BBQ taste and the quality of the out come can be made much easier and more consistent when you observe a few basics. For more information about how meat changes its characteristics in response to consistent changes in temperature over time, there is data offered by KSU that can shed some real light on the dialogue. Thanks!

  2. Jim Prater says:

    I am not familiar with cold smoking. I recently bought a single electric burner and am heating hickory over it to smoke some bacon. I read somewhere that only a thin veil of smoke is as a lot of it. Is this correct?

  3. Saras Taveprungsenukul says:

    I am looking a way of cooing Rib bye or
    Steak that econmice and simple way, and great taste.

    Thanks. Have a nice Christ mas.

  4. Gloria pershouse says:

    Why is there a need for a metho burner under the saw dust when sawdust smolders by itself

Speak Your Mind