Vertical smokers are great for cooking large cuts of meat, such as brisket or pork shoulder.
As their name suggests, vertical smokers are designed to cook foods vertically, meaning they sit upright on a shelf above the heat source. This allows them to cook meats evenly without having to flip them over.
Here, we’ll take a look at the best way to arrange meat in a vertical smoker to get those perfect results every time.
What Is A Vertical Smoker?
A vertical smoker has two main parts: a firebox and a chamber. The firebox holds the coals and wood chips that provide the heat. The chamber contains the food being cooked.
The firebox is typically made from cast iron, steel, or ceramic. It can be freestanding or attached to a wall. The firebox should be placed directly under the chamber so it heats up quickly.
Wood chips or chunks burn slowly and produce smoke. To create a smoky flavor, you need to place the wood chips or chunks close enough to the food to get good smoke penetration.
You can use hardwood or softwood chips or chunks. Hardwoods like oak give off more smoke than softwoods like pine. You can also add hickory or mesquite chips if you want a stronger smoke flavor.
Three Factors: Size, Type, And Cut
Start with the size of the meat you plan to smoke. Smaller cuts of meat require lower temperatures, while larger cuts of meat require higher temperatures.
For example, a chicken breast requires about 200°F (93°C) to cook through. A whole turkey takes much longer to cook, so you might need to raise the temperature by 50-100°F (10-38°C).
Next, consider what type of meat you want to smoke. Brisket and pork shoulder are both tough cuts of meat, so they benefit from cooking for a slow period of time.
Brisket needs to reach an internal temperature of 190°F (88°C), while pork shoulder needs to reach an internal temp of 210°F (99°C).
Finally, think about the cut of meat you have chosen. Pork butt, for instance, is a thick cut of meat that benefits from being smoked low and slow.
Pork loin chops, on the other hand, are thin slices of meat that benefit from high heat and short cook times.
Select a temperature that works well for the size of meat you have chosen to smoke. For example, if you are smoking a small piece of beef, you probably don’t want to set the temperature too high.
Once you have achieved the proper internal temperature, you can move on to arranging your meat.
Arranging Your Meats
Lay down the largest pieces of meat first. These will take the longest to cook, so you want to put them at the bottom of the chamber.
Second, stack smaller pieces of meat next. As these pieces finish cooking, they will release juices into the drip pan below.
This liquid helps keep the large pieces moist during the smoking process.
Third, place the smallest pieces of meat last. They will finish cooking the quickest, so you want to position them near the top of the chamber.
After you have arranged all your meat, cover the lid of the vertical smoker. This prevents the meat from drying out as it cooks.
Now you can wait patiently for your meat to cook. Once the meat reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker and leave it to rest.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know When My Meat Is Done?
The easiest way to tell whether your meat has reached the desired internal temperature is to look at the color.
When the meat is properly cooked, it will be evenly browned throughout.
When you pull the meat off the smoker, let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The meat will continue to cook after you slice it. This will lock in the flavor and produce juicy meats.
Then, the best step of all, give it a taste! You can either eat it right away or refrigerate it for later consumption.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Meat?
It takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to smoke a single pound of meat.
Depending on the size of the meat, the type of wood you use, and how hot your smoker gets, this time frame could vary greatly.
For instance, if you are using a very hot smoker, it might only take an hour to smoke a pound of meat.
On the other hand, if you are using cool temperatures and a slow cooker, it might take 4 hours to smoke a pound of food.
So, the answer to “how long does it take to cook meat in a vertical smoker” really depends on the size of the piece of meat you are smoking, the type of wood used, and how hot your vertical smoker gets.
Don’t worry about how long it takes to smoke meat; just make sure you follow our instructions above and you’ll get great results every time.
Do I Need To Season My Meat Before I Smoke It?
Yes, you absolutely must season your meat prior to smoking!
To season your meat, simply rub it with salt and black pepper.
You can also add garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, or any other seasoning you would like to really amp up the flavor.
Once you’ve seasoned your meat, put it into the refrigerator until you’re ready to smoke it.
How Much Charcoal Do I Need To Smoke Meat?
To figure out how many briquettes you need to smoke meat, multiply the weight of your meat by the number of pounds per briquette.
For example, if you have one pound of beef, then you’d need 1 x.5 0.5 lbs of briquettes.
This means that you should buy enough briquettes to smoke 1 lb of meat.
We hope you feel a little more confident when cooking with a vertical smoker and have a better understanding of the best way to arrange your meats, as well as other external circumstances that you can adjust for the best results every time!