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Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart – With BBQ Cooking Tips

A meat smoking times and temperatures chart for all the popular cuts of beef, pork, lamb, poultry and seafood. Bookmark this page to use as a reference again and again!

Last Updated: August 28, 2020 | 25 min read

Smoking times and temperatures graphic as a featured image

In this guide, we’re going to share with you smoking times and temperatures for most of the major cuts of beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish and seafood.

There are many reasons why meat smoking times and temps might be important. Sometimes for food safety reasons, sometimes to reach a certain level of doneness. In other cases, it’s trying to achieve a particular look or use a specific technique for imparting or enhancing flavor.

Below, we advise on average temperatures and times for smoking meat on your barbecues, breaking the article down by meat source, and including subsections for some of the key cuts.

Of course, we couldn’t possibly make a complete list of every kind of meat, but this should be enough to cover the majority of the most popular choices for backyard barbecue.

Now then… thermometers at the ready… and go!

Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart

smoking times and temperatures chart

Before We Begin

Before we jump into it, let me explain the format.

You’ll notice that the times I’ve indicated are usually ranges rather than precise times.

Barbecue cooking isn’t like using an oven. There are a lot of variables when it comes to smoking, and it’s impossible to account for them all. Some things have to be figured out as you go along.

For example, the thickness of a cut plays a huge role in how long it will take to get to a suitable temperature and desired level of doneness. And so does fat and moisture content, whether dry aged or not, the amount of connective tissue, and more.

Indeed, temperature is the most important part of barbecue. You absolutely do not want to cut open a piece of meat to check if it’s done. So, the only way to know is by taking the internal temperature.

You can do this by sticking a thermometer in at approximately the right time (or when the meat “feels” done to the touch), or by attaching a thermometer with a remote or wired sensor. The latter is especially recommended for meat that’s smoking for hours.

OK, with all that said, let’s get into the meat of the article.


Beef Smoking Times and Temperatures

Graphic of beef written inside a silhouette of a cow
Beef CutSmoker TempFinished Internal TempTime Required
Brisket225 - 250F203F+1.5 hrs/lb, 10 - 18 hours
Prime Rib225 - 250F130 - 135F35 mins/lb, 3 - 6 hours
Beef Back Ribs225 - 250F203F3- 5 hours
Beef Short Ribs225 - 250F203F6 - 9 hours
Tri-tip225 - 250F130 - 135F1.5 - 2.5 hours
Chuck Roast225 - 250F180F1.5 hrs/lb, 5 - 8 hours
Sirloin Tip Roast225 - 250F135 - 140F2.5 to 4 hours
Rump Roast225 - 250F135F30 mins/lb, 3 to 6 hours
Tenderloin225 - 250F130 - 135F2 to 3 hours
Hamburger225 - 250F160F30 - 45 mins.
Beef Hot Dogs225 - 250F140F+1 - 2 hours

The above times and temperatures chart is for ‘chef recommended’ internal temperatures and doneness, which is mostly medium-rare.

However, not everybody likes their meat done the same way.

For different times and temps, to cook from rare to well done, please scroll down this article to find the particular cut you are smoking, and you will see additional times for different doneness levels.

The preferred smoker temperature is a consistent 225 to 250F across all cuts of beef, but the times and finished meat temperature vary widely.

Brisket

A man slicing barbecue smoked brisket on a red cutting board.
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Thin sliced225 - 250F185F - 195F1.5 hrs/lb, (10 - 18 hours)
Thick sliced, (Chefs Rec.)225 - 250F203F+1.5 hrs/lb, (10 - 18 hours)

You want to cook brisket to a high temperature over a long time to tenderize the meat and render (melt) all the tough internal connective tissue, resulting in an incredibly moist and tender cut with a nice crust.

Now, I know to say a brisket will smoke in between 10 and 18 hours seems unhelpful on my part, but it’s as good as you’re going to get I’m afraid.

Every brisket is different, with a different weight, thickness, amount of marbling, moisture content, and amount of inter-connective tissue. I’ve had briskets of the same weight and size take 12 or 16 hours, it can vary that much.

So how to know when a brisket is done?

The absolute best temp to take it to is 203F+ but can vary between 203F and perhaps even as high as 212F.

The way to tell your brisket is done, is when the whole thing wobbles like jelly when you shake it, and when you prick it with a skewer or a thermometer probe, it goes through easily like a hot knife through butter.

If you do wish to slice it thinly, however, you will need to stop with the temperature of the meat at approx. 185F, else it will fall apart.

Prime Rib

Smoked Prime rib, sliced and pink
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Rare225 - 250F125 - 130F30 mins/lb, 2.5 - 5 hours
Medium (Chef's Rec.)225 - 250F130 - 135F35 mins/lb, 3 - 6 hours
Well Done225 - 250F140 - 145F40 mins/lb, 3.5 - 6.5 hours

A typical prime rib is 3-7 bones and can weigh anything from 4 to 11 pounds or more. Therefore, to give a precise time to smoke is difficult.

So what I’ve done instead is give times per pound, to reach different doneness levels so you can calculate a rough time yourself.

The times I’ve given assume you have 3 ribs or more. A single rib or two will cook in way less time due to being so thin, but then what you really have is a steak.

I strongly recommend cooking a prime rib to a finished meat temperature close to 135F.

This is because taking it to a good medium-rare range allows the internal fat to cookout and render a little more, resulting in juicier meat with fewer lumps of almost raw fat in it.

Also, I strongly recommend taking the meat off a good 10F before you hit your target, resting, then cranking up the heat to give it a good sear to bring it up to finished temp. A flavorful seared crust is essential for maximum enjoyment of this cut.

Beef Back Ribs

Barbecue beef back ribs, some sliced, on a dark background.
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F203F3- 5 hours

You will see many recipes calling for the back ribs to sliced into individual ribs before smoking, and you can indeed buy them this way. However…

I’ve tried separating them and smoking them individually. I’ve also smoked them in pairs, and as 3….4…5 bone…

By far the worst for me was smoking individually. They dry out a tad too much and aren’t as good as when smoked as a larger cut.

However, cooking in pairs can be good if you want to maximize on the amount of crust and rub you get per portion 😉

Beef Short Ribs

Smoked short ribs, sliced on a wooden cutting board
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F203F6 - 9 hours

Beef short ribs are my absolute favorite cut of meat for the smoker!

I describe them as just as flavorful – or more – as brisket, costing way less, and they cook in half the time. What’s not to love?

You can check out my recipe for beef ribs here: Smoked beef short ribs.

Tri-Tip

Sliced tri tip, on a cutting board with a knife and ramekin of chimichurri
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Rare225 - 250F120 - 130F1 to 2 hours
Medium Rare (Chef's rec.)225 - 250F130 - 135F1.5 - 2.5 hours
Medium225 - 250F135 - 145F2.5 - 3.5 hours
Well Done225 - 250F155F+4 hours+

Tri-tip without a seared crust is a sin!

So whatever ‘doneness’ you are aiming for, take it off the smoker a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit before it hits, let it rest a few minutes, then give it a good sear all over to bring it up to your desired finished temp.

Chuck Roast

Raw chuck roast on a chopping board with red chillis
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Sliced Rare225 - 250F120 - 130F1 hr/lb, 3 - 5 hours
Sliced Medium225 - 250F135 - 145F1.25 hrs/lb, 4 - 6 hours
Sliced Well Done225 - 250F155F+1.5 hrs/lb, 4 - 7 hours
Sliced, (Chef's Rec. Temp)225 - 250F180f1.5 hrs/lb, 5 - 8 hours
Pulled Beef225 - 250F203F1.5 hrs/lb, 6 - 10 hours

Many people smoke and eat chuck roast at rare to medium-rare, but in my opinion, it’s just not the best use of this cut.

For me, chuck roast should be taken way past ‘well done,’ and either sliced thick at 180F to mimic a brisket somewhat, or taken to 203F+ and then shredded.

Note: A chuck eye roast, or chuck eye roll is the exception here! This is a wonderful cut that’s best medium-rare and sliced.

Sirloin Tip Roast

A sirloin tip roast, sliced and pink inside
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F135 - 140F2.5 to 4 hours

You are, of course, welcome to cook a sirloin tip anywhere from rare to well done, but medium-rare is the sweet spot and what most people will appreciate with this cut.

And as with most beef: Make sure to take it off the smoker a good 10 degrees under target temp and give it a good sear for added flavor.

Rump Roast

A raw, tied rump roast on a cutting board with rosemary
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F135F30 mins/lb, 3 to 6 hours

Rump roast is a very lean cut, so I do not recommend going past medium-rare unless you like a good chew.

And for the same reason, make sure to slice it very thinly for serving. It creates an illusion of a far more tender cut than it really is when thin sliced.

Tenderloin

A well smoked, sliced and pink tenderloin roast on a cutting board
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Rare225 - 250F120 - 130F1 to 2 hours
Medium Rare (Chefs Rec.)225 - 250F130 - 135F2 to 3 hours
Medium225 - 250F135 - 145F3 to 4 hours
Well Done225 - 250F155F+3.5 to 4.5 hours

Beef tenderloin is incredibly lean and tender…when cooked right.

I strongly recommend keeping this cut between rare and medium-rare. I much prefer medium-rare, where you can still cut it with a spoon!

Rare is also good, but any higher than medium-rare and you lose the tenderness for which this cut is famed.

Hamburger

A hamburger being turned over in a smoker
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F160F30 - 45 mins.

Cooking hamburgers to a minimum temperature of 160F is recommended by most government food agencies, and it is illegal for a restaurant to serve a burger cooked lower than this temperature in many jurisdictions.

By choosing quality meat, and using safe handling techniques, however, many people feel it is acceptable to serve a medium – rare burger. That decision, I’ll leave up to you.

Unlike with whole beef cuts like steaks, E. coli can get right into a lump of ground beef because the exterior of the meat is blended with the interior during the grinding process.

Many people firmly believe it OK to serve burgers cooked to lower temperatures, so long as the butcher correctly handled the beef, and it came from a clean slaughterhouse.

I’ve provided guidelines for well – done, and this is how I always cook them. It is, however, up to you to decide how you want to cook your burgers.

Beef Hot Dogs

beef hot dogs lined up in a smoker
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F140F+1 - 2 hours

Beef hot dogs are pre-cooked, so it technically doesn’t matter how long you grill or smoke them as long as you hit a good 140F for a length of time to kill surface bacteria.

However, to maximize the flavor and have a really enjoyable hot dog, a bit of heat (and smoke) goes a long way.


Pork Smoking Times and Temperatures

graphic of pork written inside a silhouette of a pig
Pork CutSmoker TempFinished Internal TempTime Required
Pork Butt225 - 250F205F+1.5 hrs/lb, (8 - 15 hours)
Pork Shoulder (Sliced)225 - 250F175F1.5 hrs/lb, (5 - 9 hours)
Pork Shoulder (Pulled)225 - 250F205F+1.5 hrs/lb, (7 - 12 hours)
Spare Ribs225 - 250F190 - 203F5 - 7 hours
Baby Back Ribs225 - 250F190 - 203F3.5 - 5 hours
Ham (Fresh or precooked)225 - 250F145F3- 5 hours
Crown Roast225 - 250F145F1.25 hrs/lb, (7 - 12 hours)
Loin225 - 250F145F2 - 4 hours
Tenderloin225 - 250F145F1 - 2 hours
Belly (whole)225 - 250F195 - 203F5 - 7 hours
Sausage225 - 250F160F1.5 - 2 hours
Whole Hog225 - 250F200 - 205F7 mins/lb, 4 to 18 hours

Most people think to take pork above 160F internal temperature because historically undercooked pork was a source of trichinosis, and this minimum temperature was needed to kill it.

However, thanks to advances in modern pork farming, this is no longer the case, and the USDA revised the safe temperature for pork down to 145F.

This is great news! At 145 degrees Fahrenheit internal temp, pork is still a little pink, a lot more moist and tender, and a greater pleasure to eat!

Many people still argue that 160F is safer, and through many years of cooking this temp actually prefer it. I guess the choice is yours?

As with beef, the smoker temperature is a consistent 225 to 250F across all pork cuts, but the finished meat temperature and the time it can take varies from cut to cut.

Pork Butt

Pork butt, smoked and shredded for pulled pork
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F205F+1.5 hrs/lb, (8 - 15 hours)

Many people will argue that the temperature you cook your butt to will depend on whether you plan to slice it or pull it.

For our purposes, I’ve assumed you’re going to pull it. And if you do want sliced, I recommend a pork shoulder instead (not a butt), as they have less connective tissue and are better at a lower slicing temperature.

For sliced, cook to 185F and adjust your time accordingly, though I do recommend going higher and pulling.

To know when your pork butt is ready for pulling, It should be a MINIMUM 195 degrees Fahrenheit throughout, usually higher. It should be absolutely tender throughout, giving no resistance when a skewer or probe is inserted.

Pork Shoulder

barbecue pork shoulder, sliced on a cutting board, with rosemary and chilis
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
Sliced225 - 250F175F1.5 hrs/lb, (5 - 9 hours)
Pulled225 - 250F205F+1.5 hrs/lb, (7 - 12 hours)

The pork shoulder is often confused with the butt, with many people using the terms interchangeably. However, as discussed in more depth in our article on pork butt vs shoulder, they are a very different cut but can be used the same way.

Nice when sliced, great when pulled, the choice is yours, and we’ve provided smoking temps and times for both.

Spare Ribs

bbq spare ribs, with a thick glaze and roasted cherry tomatoes
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F190 - 203F5 - 7 hours

In our article on how long to grill ribs, we covered extensively how to know when your ribs are done. But here’s the summarized version:

They should come away from the bone easily, but not be ‘falling off the bone.’ You still want some ‘bite’ there.

The Bend Test  – Use tongs to pick up your ribs in the middle. Gently lift, and if you see the meat start to crack and break away from the bone, they’re probably done. 

The Toothpick Test – All you do is stick a skewer or toothpick into the meat between the bones. It should go in with almost no resistance whatsoever. Just make sure to check in multiple places.

All ribs are different, and some may be ready at 190F, while others need to go up past 200F. I know, annoying, right? Just start to bend and probe at 190F, and keep checking every 15 minutes after until they feel done according to the two tests above.

Baby Back Ribs

barbecue baby back ribs on a white plate
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F190 - 203F3.5 - 5 hours

Baby back ribs cook similarly to spare ribs (above), but because they are smaller and thinner they take a fair bit less time.

Use the same tests for doneness as with spares – the bend and toothpick tests described above – to know when they are ready.

Ham

A smoked and sliced glazed ham
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F145F3 - 5 hours

Great when warm, great when cold, nice as the main part of a meal, or sliced for a weekday sandwich, ham is a a wonderful cut that you can flavor in so many different ways with your choice of brine ingredients, injections, glazes and more.

I recommend wrapping your ham after the first two hours or so of smoke, as this will help keep the moisture in and result in a far more tender and juicy ham.

Crown Roast

A pork crown roast in a white shallow bowl, with mixed veg
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F145F1.25 hrs/lb, (7 - 12 hours)

To say a crown roast takes 7 to 12 hours is a crazy margin for error, right? Can’t I be more precise? Sadly not.

This cut can weigh anything 5 to 10 pounds, and if you stuff it – which I recommend you do – then this weight has to be taken into consideration too.

1.25 hours per pound is a reasonable guesstimate and easy enough to calculate once you have the total weight, including stuffing.

Loin

Smoked and sliced pork loin on a festive looking table
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F145F2- 4 hours

Pork loin has a tendency to dry out, so keeping your smoker truly low and slow, and cooking it to 145F and barely a degree over is key.

Tenderloin

pork tenderloin held in tongs in a smoker
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F145F1 - 2 hours

Pork loin and pork tenderloin are not the same cut, should be cooked differently, and cannot be used interchangeably.

Pork tenderloin is a far smaller cut from an entirely different muscle of the animal. It’s also leaner, incredibly tender, and dare I say it? Lacks a bit of flavor compared to most pork cuts.

So I recommend going wild with a wet brine or marinade, a bit of dry rub, and definitely a quick sear after smoking. So make sure to stop smoking before your target temp to allow for some extra grilling.

Pork Belly (Whole)

Smoked and sliced pork belly
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F195 - 203F5 - 7 hours

You will find many recipes that say to cook the pork belly to 165F or so. However, I find that the meat and particularly the fat is far from tender at this point, which is why I recommend going much higher.

At about 185F+, the fat really starts to render and soften, creating the juiciest piece of pork you can get from a hog.

So take my word for it and smoke the belly until it gets up past up 195F. At this point, probe it for tenderness, and it’s done when an inserted toothpick meets no resistance all over.

Also, unless you want to broil or pour over screaming hot oil when it’s finished in order to make crispy crackling, I recommend removing the rind/skin. Otherwise, it will be rubbery, chewy, and not all too pleasant after smoking low n slow.

Sausage

A collection of smoked and grilled sausages
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F160F1.5 - 2 hours

Although wieners are almost always precooked, many pork sausages are not. For that reason, you need to cook to a safe temperature.

Most regulatory bodies recommend 160F for pork sausage, though some people stop at 150F.

As long as the casing stays mostly intact, the juices will remain inside at the higher temperature, and it’ll be a perfectly tasty sausage!

Sausage cooking is full of conflicting philosophies: some people boil them first, some score them, some poke holes, some grill directly.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what you prefer, but I’m inclined NOT to prick the skins and to take the time and do them slowly over indirect heat for the juiciest result.

Whole Hog

A whole hog on a rotisserie, with scored skin and a man about to slice it
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F200 - 205F7 mins/lb, 4 to 18 hours

It has to be said that cooking a whole hog isn’t the way to get the best out of each part of the animal. However, it’s a show-stopper for sure, and an impressive feat if you can pull it off right.

The problem lies in the fact that different parts of the animal are ready at wildly different temperatures, such as loin and tenderloin being best at 145F, and shoulder and butt being ready at 195 to 203F. Pretty much impossible to achieve when cooking the whole animal at the same time.

So the best way to handle a whole hog is to smoke the whole thing up to 200F+, then shred it and serve as pulled pork.

Now onto the smoking time: 7 minutes per pound, and 4 to 18 hours. I know it sounds ridiculously vague. But a whole hog can be anything from a 20 lb suckling pig, right up to a 150lb whole hog, which will obviously take wildly different times.

So, the rule of thumb is:

Take the weight in pounds, and multiply by 7 minutes to get a rough estimate of time. Then, no whole pig will ever take less than 4 hours, regardless of its size. So use whichever is the greatest time of 7 minutes per pound, or 4 hours as an estimate.

This means any pig 35 pounds and under will be ready in about 4 hours, a 50-pound pig will take 5.5 to 6.5 hours, and a 150-pound pig will be ready in about 17 to 18 hours.

 


Lamb Smoking Times and Temperatures

graphic of lamb written inside a silhouette of a lamb
Lamb CutSmoker TempFinished Internal TempTime Required
Leg225 - 250F145F3 - 4 hours
Shoulder250 - 300F195 - 205F5 - 6 hours
Rack225 - 250F135 - 140F1 - 1.5 hours
Chops225 - 250F135 - 140F45 - 75 mins
Shank225 - 250F195 - 205F4 - 5 hours

Most lamb, mercifully, is cooked safely at medium doneness, at about 145F.

You can take it higher if you want, though I don’t know why you would?! But, if that’s your thing, go to between 145F and 155F for medium to medium-well. Higher, and it takes away some quality in my opinion.

Smaller cuts can be grilled beautifully in just minutes, but if you really like a smoky taste, go ahead and fire up the smoker. However, lamb takes on smoke very easily, and it’s easy to over – smoke. So use only a little!

Some cuts, though, such as the shoulder and shank, are great for pulling. For these you want to smoke them until they are almost falling apart at around 200F.

Leg

Man slicing a smoked leg of lamb
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F145F3 - 4 hours

For the ultimate leg of lamb, smoke it for 3 to 4 hours until it hits between 130 to 135F, then remove from the smoker. Then broil or blast it with high heat over 450F to sear the outside and add an incredible, flavorful crust.

Shoulder

Pulled smoked lamb shoulder with veg
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
250 - 300F195 - 205F5 - 6 hours

Lamb shoulder can be served sliced, but if that’s your goal, I suggest a leg instead. It’s just better.

However, for pulled lamb, the shoulder is the choice…and it’s fantastic!

Smoke it until when probed the meat offers no resistance, showing it’s tender throughout. Then rest for 30 to 45 minutes before shredding.

Great in rolls, pita bread, or on a bed of couscous with pomegranate and salad.

Rack

Two smoked racks of lamb
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F135 - 140F1 - 1.5 hours

I’m not one to tell people how to eat their meat…actually, I am. I guess that’s what this website is about? So…

Do not smoke your rack of lamb past a finished temp of 140F, including resting and carryover cooking. It can get quite tough and takes away some of the quality you’ve paid for with this cut.

Chops

Some smoke roasted lamb chops
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F135 - 140F45 - 75 mins

Lamb chops aren’t a common choice for the smoker, but they can be done. Some may prefer to take them out early and finish with a sear on the grill.

I certainly do this as any chance to add flavor should be taken advantage of.

Shank

A smoke roasted lamb shank, on a bed of mash with greens
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F195 - 205F4 - 5 hours

You can smoke a lamb shank all the way through to the finished serving temperature, but I prefer to smoke and then braise them. Smoked alone is great, but can be a little dry, whereas smoked then braised is another level of flavor and moistness, and is FANTASTIC!

So I recommend smoking for a good 3 hours, then braising in a mix of stock, dark beer, and herbs until they come to the target temp of 195 to 205F, and when they are just falling apart.


Poultry Smoking Times and Temperatures

graphic of poultry written inside a silhouette of a chicken
Poultry CutSmoker TempFinished Internal TempTime Required
Whole Chicken275 - 350F165 - 170F2 - 3 hours
Chicken Breasts275 - 350F165F1 - 1.5 hours
Chicken Legs275 - 350F170 - 180F1.5 - 2 hours
Chicken Drumsticks275 - 350F170 - 180F1.5 - 2 hours
Chicken Wings275 - 350F170 - 180F1 - 1.5 hours
Whole Turkey250- 300F165F15 - 25 mins/lb, 3 - 6 hours
Turkey Breast275 - 325F165F2.5 - 4 hours
Turkey Drumsticks300 - 350F165F2 - 3 hours
Whole Duck275 - 300F165F2.5 - 3.5 hours
Cornish Hen225 - 250F165F1.5 - 2.5 hours

A lot of attention is given to grilling hoofed mammals, but let us not forget our feathered friends!

From whole turkey for holidays to smoky drumsticks anytime, grilling and smoking are great ways to cook up a bird.

Various “safe” temperatures are provided for cooking chicken:

  • The USDA tells us that all poultry products are safe when cooked to a minimum temperature of 165F.
  • In the U.K., the government says to go to 180F.
  • Canadian guidelines go both ways (of course they do) – 165F for poultry cuts, and 180F for whole birds.

The danger with poultry is salmonella.

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, Salmonella causes a million illnesses a year in the U.S. alone, all thanks to contaminated food.

That’s second only to the Norovirus among all food – borne pathogens. And though Norovirus occurs five times as frequently as salmonella, more people are hospitalized, and more people die from salmonella every year.

So please, do follow the guidelines of taking all poultry to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit internal.

Chickens come in many different sizes, so of course, your cooking times will vary accordingly. Just make sure you nail that temperature!

In this poultry time and temperatures chart, the temp of the smoker varies from cut to cut, so do make sure to read the info presented properly.

Whole Chicken

A smoked whole chicken on a chopping board
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 350F165 - 170F2 - 3 hours

The generally accepted ‘low n slow’ smoking temperature is 225F. However, if you cook ‘skin on chicken’ at this temp, the skin becomes rubbery, and a bit gross, and the chicken tends to dry out as it’s cooking for too long.

So, for chicken, we set our smoker temperature to 275F minimum.

For me, the best results come when I smoke chicken closer to a pit temp of 350F, because the meat tends to stay juicier with the quicker smoking time and the skin has a chance to crisp. However, there is less time for a smoky flavor to develop.

So if a more robust smoke flavor is your goal, then down closer to 275F pit temp will be right for you…but now lower!

Chicken Breasts

Smoked and sliced chicken breast on a cutting board with cherry tomatoes
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 350F165F1 - 1.5 hours

As we all know too well, chicken breast tends to dry out if not cooked correctly, so you really do want to monitor and nail the temps here!

If skinless, smoke at 275F, if ‘skin on’ then smoke closer to 350F to crisp it.

And with breast, remove the meat from the smoker when it hits approximately 160F and not a degree over! Then rest in foil for a good 5 minutes+, and the internal temperature will rise to 165F or more, at which point you can serve it.

If you leave it on the smoker until 165F internal is hit, it will rise up past 170F while resting and can dry out a little.

Chicken Legs

Smoked chicken legs with herbs, sausage and tomato
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 350F170 - 180F1.5 - 2 hours

Compared to the white meat of breast, you want to take the darker meat of legs to a higher internal temperature, help to render out the fat and connective tissues, and crisp the skin more.

So for legs, aim for an internal temp of approximately 175F for best results.

Chicken Drumsticks

3 smoked chicken drumsticks on a wooden board
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 350F170 - 180F1.5 - 2 hours

Similarly to the leg (because a drumstick is part of the leg!), you want to take this darker meat to an internal temp of approximately 175F for the best results.

Chicken Wings

Two rows of crispy smoked chicken wings with 2 dips
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 350F170 - 180F1 - 1.5 hours

The best chicken wings have a smoke infused flavor, but textured crispy skin, and unfortunately that’s not going to happen at the low temperatures of traditional smoking alone.

So to get the best wings: Smoke them between 275 and 350F for a good 45 minutes, then hit them with some 450F+ heat by turning up your smoker temperature, or moving them to a grill or your oven, until they hit approx. 170F, so they rise to 175F to 180F while resting.

You can smoke them the whole way through at a lower temp, but you just won’t get that fantastic crispy skin.

Turkey – Whole

A whole smoked turkey on a tray with herbs and cranberries
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
250- 300F165F15 - 25 mins/lb, 3 - 6 hours

When smoking a whole Turkey, it’s recommended to only do a bird that weighs 13 to 14 pounds or less total. This is because if larger, it will take so long to cook, that it sits in the food danger zone for too long where bacteria grow and can result in disaster.

If you have a bird over 14 pounds, it’s best to spatchcock it and cook it flat, or to butcher it into smaller pieces.

So…here we go again with the seemingly unhelpful wide ranges! 15 to 25 minutes per pound, and 3 to 6 hours to cook? Let me explain:

A decent sized turkey can weigh anything from 6 to 14 pounds for smoking, and you can smoke it at anything from 250F up to 300F, so the time can vary wildly.

If smoking at 250F, you will need approximately 25 minutes per pound. If smoking at 300F, you will need about 15 minutes per pound.

So weigh your bird, choose your pit temp and multiply the two to get your average time. Make sure to keep your smoker temp stable, and then away you go!

Turkey Breast

Close up of a smoked and sliced turkey breast
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 325F165F2.5 - 4 hours

For Turkey breast smoking at around 300F, you’re looking at about 25 minutes per pound smoking time. A little more if at 275F, a little less if at 325F.

I strongly recommend wet brining your turkey breast before taking it to the smoker. This is the best way to end up with deliciously moist turkey breast, and avoid feeling like you’ve licked a carpet with every bite!

If you don’t know how, then check out our guide to wet brining.

Turkey Drumsticks

Three smoked turkey legs on brown paper
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
300 - 350F165F2 - 3 hours

I recommend cooking turkey drumsticks at slightly higher temps than some others suggest. Turkey drumsticks can be enormous, and you want to be sure they’re cooked through to the center.

Plus, cooking to a higher temperature should leave the skin nice and crispy, but the inside tender and moist.

Duck – Whole

A whole smoked duck on a wooden board
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
275 - 300F165F2.5 - 3.5 hours

Once I again, I like to smoke my duck at higher temperatures of 275 to 300F, compared to many who suggest smoking at 225F.

The reason being, is that duck is VERY fatty, and the higher temperature tends to render out far more of the fat and results in crispier skin.

However, smoking a duck is not enough, in my opinion, if you want crispy skin…and crispy duck skin is divine, so you should strive for it at all costs!

So take it off the smoker a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit before your target temperature (remove at 155F) and then grill or broil it all over to really crisp up the skin and bring it up to the finished temp of 165F.

Cornish Hen

Three Cornish hens in a barbecue smoker
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225 - 250F165F1.5 - 2.5 hours

Cornish hen tastes a little gamey, a bit strong, but in a good way! Kind of like a ‘chicken concentrate.’

Not much to say here, except to smoke and enjoy!


Seafood and Fish Smoking Times and Temperatures

graphic of seafood and fish written inside a silhouette of a fish
 Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime Required
Salmon - Whole225F145F2 - 4 hours
Salmon - Filet225F145F1 to 1.5 hours
Trout - Whole225F145F1.5 - 3 hours
Trout - Filet225F145F45 to 75 mins.
Tilapia Filet225F145F1 to 1.5 hours
Lobster Tails225F145F45 - 60 mins
Shrimp225F145F20 - 30 mins
Oysters200 - 225F145F30 - 45 mins
Scallops200 - 225F145F45 - 60 mins

You might think that seafood is perfectly OK to eat raw. After all, people go for all-you-can-eat sushi regularly, and they live to tell the tale!

However, while many kinds of seafood are fine when eaten raw, there are possible dangers.

Seafood has to be handled very carefully after it’s caught – many fish and shellfish begin to deteriorate quickly after they’re dead, and they can become hosts to parasites and bacteria.

Besides, this is a barbecue site, not a raw food site! Grilled and smoked seafood is a treat and a nice departure from the usual barbecue fare.

It’s safest to cook your seafood to an internal temperature of 145F. However, there are plenty of reputable chefs and cooking resources that suggest lower temperatures for improved flavor.

If the fish or shellfish was packed and stored properly, lower temperatures should be fine.

To learn more about selecting, storing, and cooking seafood, check out this comprehensive resource from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Salmon – Whole

A whole hot smoked salmon with lemon and tomatoes
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F2 - 4 hours

Salmon loses its moisture rapidly, so keep a close watch and don’t overcook it!

It’s ready when it ‘starts to flake,’ at approx 145F. Go much over that temp, and it can become dry quite quickly.

Salmon – Filet

two hot smoked salmon filets
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F1 to 1.5 hours

How long it takes to smoke will vary significantly with the thickness of the cut.

And once again, do make sure not to overcook it, as it will dry out and not be as pleasurable to eat as it could and should be.

Trout – Whole

Two whole smoke trout on a black surface sprinkled with chopped herbs
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F1.5 - 3 hours

Trout is particularly wonderful on the grill or smoker.

How long you smoke it will depend on the size and thickness of the fish, which can vary a lot. If the skin is on, leave it there; you can eat it, and it will crisp up nicely.

Just remember that fish skin reflects heat; if you take the skin off, reduce your cooking time.

Trout – Filet

Two hot smoked trout filet on a wooden board
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F45 to 75 mins.

Try brining your trout filet in a simple salt and sugar solution before smoking, to add sweetness and moisture to the end product.

Smoking time will vary depending on thickness, and if you keep the skin on or off.

Tilapia Filet

Smoked tilapia filet in a bowl with red and yellow peppers
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F1 to 1.5 hours

Tilapia is a very mild tasting fish, takes on smoke well, but will benefit from a flavored brine or marinade for a couple of hours before smoking.

Lobster Tails

smoked lobster tails surrounded by lemon and herbs
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F45 - 60 mins

Lobster tails are absolutely fantastic when smoked…as long as you don’t overcook them!

If you take them anything past 145F finished internal temperature, they can become a bit ‘rubbery’ in texture, which would be a sin! So monitor your temperatures closely.

If you buy them still in the shell, leave them in for a natural cooking container.

Note: Many people like their lobster tails smoked to between 135 and 140F. It’s certainly more tender in this range.

In my opinion though, all fish and shellfish should be taken to 145F minimum to meet the USDA safety guidelines, just in case.

Shrimp

Smoked shrimp on a banana leaf on a plate
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
225F145F20 - 30 mins

Shrimp are easy to overcook, and they dry up if you do so.

You can tell your shrimp are cooked when the shells turn bright pink, the flesh is white and opaque, and the internal temperature is up at 145F.

Do watch temperatures closely, as you do not want to go much beyond 150F unless you like dry, chewy shrimp.

Oysters

A bowl of smoked oysters
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
200 - 225F145F30 - 45 mins

The best way to smoke oysters is to shuck them, then smoke in one half of the shell.

It isn’t easy to take the temperature of an oyster (or clam or mussel) as they are so small. So for this one, you’ll have to use your eyes. They are ready when the edges begin to curl up.

However, if you wish to attempt taking an internal temp, 145F is the minimum to aim for.

Scallops

A bowl of smoked scallops
Smoker TempFinished Internal TempTime required
200 - 225F145F45 - 60 mins

Scallops are fantastic smoked, but they are easy to overcook and ruin. So again, please monitor your temperatures closely, aim for 145F, and do not go past 150F finished internal temperature.


These Charts are Only a Guide

There’s no single right temperature to have your smoker when it comes to barbecue, there’s only personal preference and ‘mostly agreed norms.’ You can smoke at any temperature between 200 and 375F.

Many people prefer to smoke ‘low n slow’ at around 225F, while others prefer to smoke ‘hot n fast’ at closer to 375F. Both ways can produce excellent food, and one way isn’t necessarily always better than the other.

Smoking lower for longer adds a stronger smoky flavor, and typically renders more fat and connective tissues, whereas smoking hotter results in a milder smoke taste, and food being ready to eat in a fraction of the time.

So please do see the above meat smoking charts as a mixture of being a guide only, what many people accept as best, and a sprinkling of my own personal preference.

As you become experienced, you can and almost certainly will vary from what you see above. That’s fine, and I encourage it! But the smoking temperatures seen above are a good starting point for most.

Why My Smoking Time Estimates are Sometimes so Wide

It’s impossible to give an accurate time for pieces of meat to smoke because we cook to a finished temperature, not a preset time, and many factors can affect how long a piece of meat will take to come up to the finished temp.

The size, thickness, cross-sectional area, and overall weight of any particular cut can vary wildly and will affect the smoking time.

How much intramuscular fat (marbling) a cut has, how much moisture it contains, and whether bone-in or boneless also plays a part in the time needed to cook.

Plus, environmental factors such as how stable you keep your pit temp, the humidity inside your smoker, and the airflow through your smoker also all play a part.

Not to mention that the ‘done’ temperature of certain cuts – brisket, pork butt, ribs, and more – can be anything from 195F all the way up to 212F. You can only tell by look and feel, making sure they are tender throughout.

So if my sometimes wide time estimations have you baffled (Brisket 10 to 18 hours for example), these are the reasons why. It’s unavoidable, I’m afraid.

USDA Safe Finished Temperatures Vs My Recommended Internal Temperatures

Please see here a table taken from the USDA website, showing the safe minimum internal temperature of most meats.

Below the table, I explain why my ‘ready to eat’ internal temps are different:

ProductMinimum Internal Temperature
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb, (Steaks, chops, roasts)145 °F
Ground Meats160 °F
All Poultry165 °F
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)145 °F
Fully Cooked Ham, (to reheat)Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F.
Fish & Shellfish145 °F

The reason for the difference between the USDA safe recommended temperatures, and the internal target temperatures in my meat smoking guide, is that just because a piece of meat is safe to eat, does not mean it will be pleasurable!

The USDA temps are just for food safety, indicating when the meat has cooked to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria, parasites, and pathogens. That is all.

However, if you cooked brisket or some pork ribs to the safe level of 145F and served it, they will be incredibly tough like boot leather, and you would not enjoy eating them. You need to cook these to a far higher temperature where they become tender and a joy to eat.

On the flip side of that, the USDA recommends all beef be cooked to at least 145F. The vast majority of people would go nuts if you served them a steak overcooked to this high a temp! Most people prefer a temp of 130 to 135F.

But despite this being under the USDA recommended, it’s OK.

The bacteria on whole muscle cuts of beef are only on the surface. And the surface is exposed to temps of 225F+ in your smoker, killing all bacteria, so you can safely eat the meat when the internal temp in the center is under the recommended.

How to Accurately Measure Temperatures

Instant read thermometer taking the temp of chicken

The only way – yes, the ONLY way – to accurately measure temperatures is with a decent digital meat thermometer.

Many cooks can and do ‘cook by eye’, but if you want consistently good results with your barbecue, you want to be able to accurately measure and control both the temperature of your smoker and the internal temperature of your meat.

When it comes to ‘doneness,’ a difference of just 5 degrees Fahrenheit can have a dramatic effect.

We recommend people to use a good, dual probe digital smoker thermometer.

A dual-probe model will allow you to set one probe up to read the ambient temperature inside your smoker, with the second probe inserted into your meat so you can monitor your food as it cooks. Precision – and no guesswork!

For your pit probe: Sit it at grate level, at least a couple of inches away from the meat, so it is out of the cool air generated close by to the cold meat. This position will give the most accurate reading of your smoker temperature where the meat is actually cooking.

For your meat probe: Insert it right into the center of the thickest part of your meat, making sure it’s in muscle, not fat, and is also away from any bone. You want to take the temperature of the meat in the very center of it’s thickest part, which is where it takes longest to cook.

Some items of food are just too small to have a ‘leave-in probe’ inserted though. Things such as thin steaks, fish fillets, or oysters.

For these foods, we recommend using a good instant-read thermometer instead. You will have to monitor and inspect the temperature of the food manually, and regularly, catching it at the right temp to remove from your smoker.

Conclusion

Don’t you feel so well informed now?

If you didn’t memorize everything, that’s OK. Our smoking times and temps charts will always be here if you need a refresher!

Cooking meat to just the right temperature and doneness is part science and part art. A good thermometer is essential, of course, and so is a keen eye and experience.

If you don’t have any of those things, don’t worry too much. You can buy the first thing, and the second and third will come with time and practice.

Should you already have the experience part of the equation down, please feel free to comment below or share your thoughts with us. We like to know what parts rang true, and also anything you might disagree with.

Any tips and tricks are always eagerly welcomed within the barbecue community too!

Thanks for checking in with us for all your barbecue news and information – see you ‘round the grill!

 

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