Last 20% of my cooks take forever! Help please

WOwens

New member
Last 20% of every cook take forever! Help please

I have had Weber gas and charcoal performer for years. I have also had a pellet grill for about 2 years. I enjoyed the ease of the pellet pooper, but wanted something that was charcoal, nothing beats charcoal/real wood flavor, and also would be a little more hands on when not using a fan to regulate temp in the cold months. After lots of research and loving my previous Weber’s, I got a WSM 22. My first cook was an 8 lbs pork butt. It took 12 hrs and 10 min. I smoked it at 225. Normally this temp and butt would have been done on my pellet after about 8-10 hrs. I figured no but deal, every hunk of meat cooks different.

The woman wanted some ribs. So I got 2 monster baby back slabs and figured easy 3-2-1 method as she loves her falling off of the bone. I did them as normal, and they had just about a perfect amount of pull for me lol. But they were definitely not fall off the bone which seemed crazy as this timeframe had always produced that texture. I assumed it could have been that they were bigger than normal size. (Each rack was 2.75 lbs precook)

Yesterday I put a 3 bone slab of beef short ribs on. With the temp at 275* for this cook I assumed the normal 5-7 hrs. After 7 hrs they were at 180*, I then wrapped in butcher paper (wanted to wait u til 190, but couldn’t wait longer) and they took 4 more hrs to get to 203*?!?!? That is 11hrs at “275” ***? Good thing I only had 1 friend over because we had to grill burgers for dinner instead!

So, I am NOT going by the temp gauge in the dome. I have a bbq guru cyber Q to regulate the temp. The clip to check grate level temp it in, is placed 2” from the meat. I have tested the cyber q temp probes against my older Weber iGrill 2 and my ThermoWorks MK4. So then while these ribs were taking forever last night I put my Weber iGrill probes within 3” of the cyber Q temp probes and had almost the exact same numbers. I am completely stumped. Since I have used the Weber to make sure that the grate temp on the cyber Q, which is regulating my temp is correct. Then that rules out the cyber q keeping my grill cooler than the temp that it is saying. As of right now it seems the WSM is at the temp I want, but for some reason the last 20-30% of my cooks are taking 2-3 times as long as they should for my meat to get the last 10-30*. All 3 of the cooks I have done on this WSM have taken 2-5 hrs longer than the previous time I have smoked the same cuts of meat within the same parameters of weight, at the same temps, on a different smoker. so it doesn’t make sense to me. Does anyone have any thoughts? I have been racking my brain after each cook. Thanks in advance everyone.
 
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Lew Newby

TVWBB All-Star
Welcome to the forum and the acquisition of the big WSM. Outstanding first post. I'm afraid that the meat is going to dictate when it's done and that's one reason this is never boring. I had an 8.5 lb. Butt take 22 hours to get done and that was summer in Central Fl. It was in my first year with a WSM and that cook drove me nuts. Your outside temps are a lot lower up there and that could contribute to the time. I don't cook short ribs but the Pork times are not out of line with what I get here. When I'm working against a hard meal time I plan for a long rest time and adjust the cook temp if I seem to be falling behind. A cooking log tells you how you're progressing compared to previous cooks and the internal temp after x hours. I may eat into the rest time but I'm on time for dinner. Hang in there. Even the mistakes taste great.
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Yea I second a Welcome!
If you think about it a freezer works more efficiently when fully loaded vs 1/2 or 1/4 loaded. ( less cubic inches for the cold air to circulate)
Same thing can be said on the big boy WSM. Add one 8# butt or two racks of ribs and you have a lot more empty area to heat up.

Tim
 

MartinB

TVWBB Super Fan
Yep, it's done when it's done.
I've had briskets take anywhere from 10.5 to 22 hours.
Oddly enough, my fastest cooking briskets were the largest ones..... About 17 lb.

And the pork butt generally takes 12 - 14 hours I would say for a 8-10 lb butt, I don't wrap them.

I've had drastically different times with ribs as well. Anywhere from 4 to 7 hours.

temperatures aren't uniform inside and while you might be measuring temperature one thing and one spot on the other side of the grate it may be completely different, maybe 20 degrees lower. rotating the grate (I just turn my shell on the bottom bowl) periodically and repositioning the temperature probe would be a good idea. And it's usually substantially cooler above the meat, maybe 50 degrees or more going by the thermometer in the dome.

Where you put your thermometer in the meat obviously makes a difference too. I smoked pork loin yesterday and while my meat probe was reading 137 the other end of the loin was already 150 by thermapen.
 
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WOwens

New member
I appreciate the feedback fellas. I do understand that the meat will take until it hits the correct temp until it is done and that is that. It is just a head scratcher how ALL 3 things that I have cooked have taken a bit longer to way longer than they have previously. And since all 3 cooks with my WSM were slower I figured there could be something I wasn’t noticing and that you guys might be able to get me headed in the right direction. I have been messing up my eat times since I got the WSM lol. So hopefully I can get a better handle on finish times moving forward. I will have to start earlier and if they get done quicker, then rest things longer until I get a handle on the timeframe with this smoker. I left anyone has any other ideas, as always I will appreciate the feedback.
 

MikeS in Alaska

TVWBB Fan
Since every oven is different, I would bump the temp on your ATC by 5° to 10°. That's assuming you set up the hardware and the cooker the same as your previous cooks.

Just a thought.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Super Fan
Personally I think the WSM is just prone to inconsistent temperatures inside. I've got a suspicion that a horizontal smoker is more consistent around and especially above the meat than the top rack of a WSM. I've considered lowering my top rack a couple of inches to see if it improved that, as well as using a pizza pan to make another baffle to spread the heated air out that's coming up the walls
 

BFletcher

TVWBB All-Star
Welcome, W. My only thought for some additional input is whether or not you're certain your pellet smoker was truly cooking at 225 or 275 as opposed to some higher-than-reported temp. Regardless, I hope you get this worked-out to your satisfaction because--as you noted--the WSM with charcoal and wood produces some beautifully-flavored food!
 

WOwens

New member
Previously I had only used a cheap oven thermometer inside the old pellet grill, not a digital at grate level. It was always dead nuts on so i quite using it. But I will smoke something on it and use one of my digital probes this weekend. I also thought maybe it was cooking higher than anticipated. Or that since it would just dump pellets in once the temp got low (opening the lid or something) that it would get back to temp quicker than my giant 22 WSM. And that since I am in northeast Ohio, the time it is taking to get this huge WSM back to temp is adding more time than on the smaller 820 sq inch pellet. We will see. I will continue to triple check things and report back all info I corral. Once again I continue to appreciate all feedback and thoughts. I will most likely have to do a smoke with both the pellet and the WSM. Same meat, same temp, a digital at grate level on each of them and see the result by the “down ness of both meats. I know the WSM will taste better. Lol. If everything seems the same but somehow the WSM is less done, like it had been. I’ll just add a bit of time and or temp moving forward. But hopefully that will settle things.
 
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