First pork butt cook underway - temperature concerns


Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
Hi folks. Currently 20 minutes into a cook of a 7 pound pork butt. Lid temperature measures right around 225º, Meater probe is reporting ~200º ambient temperature. It's a nice day outside; 45º, with the WSM in the shade and little to no wind. Lit about 30 briquettes and used the minion method with 3 chunks of smoking wood. All four vents are fully open at this point.

My previous experience with ribs taught me a hard lesson in overreacting to low temperatures. Right now I'm (correctly, I think) taking no action. At what point should I be concerned that the temperature of the cooker is too low? And if that gets to be the case, what should I do about it?

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
There are times to worry and times to relax and just wait, this is one of the times to just let things do what they are designed to.
I don’t get concerned until things drop to around 180, some folks get tuned up about a ten degree window, I am not one of that school of thought. Light it up, close it up and just wait. A butt is a very forgiving product, you will be fine, take a nap, wash dishes, crack a beverage and wait.if it drops under 180, kick the base a little, you might have some ash build up. If that doesn’t help after ten minutes or so, open the door and add some charcoal (not lit) and give that twenty minutes to catch and just wait.
Really a 7# butt is a good size to learn with, given the outside temperature, you might have eight to possibly even ten hours for things to finish up.
Don’t worry, it will be fine.

Keith P

New member
Pork shoulder is really forgiving to temp, but will take a long time to cook at the temp your MEATER is showing. If you are planning to have that pork later today you may want to open up the vents and push the temps up.

Let us know how it goes, good luck


It should continue to slowly rise in temperature. Is the meater probe at the grate level? I usually aim for about 240-260 and when the grate probe reaches about 230 I'll close all the vents halfway and see what happens. If it starts dropping open one up some more. I like to adjust them evenly until I get it pretty close. From experience, I know that I'll eventually close one completely. Usually I end up with two vents open about 1/3 open.

If you find it's taking too long to heat up, open the door for a few seconds at a time and then close it and see how it settles. Pork butt is pretty forgiving so if it spikes too high like about 300 just close all the vents and let it drop to about 250 and then reopen them a little until it's stable.

I have the 14.5 WSM and always add water to the pan.
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My last one I adjusted the vents around 2 hr into the cook and never touched them again until it was done. I wrap mine around 165F and cook to 205 or tender. Sometimes after wrapping I need to close then vents since too much air gets in during the wrap time.


TVWBB Platinum Member
You’ve got expert advice above here. That cook temp of 240-260 is magic for a butt. Too low and you’ll be doing a 12-16 hour cook.


TVWBB Hall of Fame
Personally, I would just watch the lid thermometer temp. As already mentioned above, pork butt is very forgiving.

I would be more concerned about choking the fire down too much vs having it get a little warmer. I would not be at all concerned with any lid temp from 220F to 325F when smoking a pork butt.

As far as the temp, the lid temp is 260F, adjust the lower vents a tiny amount and check it after 15 mins. Make small changes, then let it go for 15 mins and see how that change did. I think the thermometer in the lid will reflect changes in temp faster than the meater ambient probe will.


DanHoo makes a good point about choking the fire too much. I've found that when the temperature is too low the burning process creates a lot of thick smoke which tends to thin out once the temperature goes up. This is why I suggested you to open more vents/prop the door.


TVWBB Hall of Fame
I'm my opinion if it's holding anywhere near 260 leave it alone.
I agree.

What I meant to write but did not was, if the temp has been rising, and appears to still be rising, and has gotten up to 260F, make a small change to a lower vent to stabilize the temps. If it settles in at 265, or 270, or anything near that, just leave it. If if keeps climbing, make another small change to stabilize the heat. If it starts to drop, you've gone too far and closed it off too much.

Good luck, and post pics when it's done.

Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
We’re back down to about 230. Looks like I might have hit the stall. Graph is below. I think I might crack open the cooker at 6 hours and take a look at the bark.


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