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Time & Temperature Cooking Guide

Looking for more precise cooking temperatures and a range of times for items like grilled chicken and T-bones? Remember that your Kong will give you more of a temperature range than an exact setting, whereby other Grilla Grills offer a bit more heat precision.

Please note all times and temps are very general recommendations.  This chart cannot take into account environmental variables, the size/weight/shape of the specific piece of meat you are cooking.  Plus, you will absolutely want to let your meat sit after cooking to seal in flavor and bring out the juices.

 

Cooking on a pellet grill is part art and part science. The art has to do with your ingredients and how you arrange the flavors. The science comes into play when determining how long to keep your food in your smoker.

Figuring out the proper pellet grill cooking and smoking times can seem challenging, especially if you’re new. That’s why we’ve developed a foolproof guide to get you started.

Read on for some grill cooking temperature tips and reminders.

Also, note that a cooking temp of 250 degrees was chosen for most items in this list.  This was done to provide a medium baseline temp to work from.  If you prefer to cook at 225 your cook will obviously take a little longer and just as if you prefer to cook at 275 or more your cook will take less time.

Pellet Smoker Grill Cooking: A Lot of Science Mixed With Art

How long do you cook chicken legs on a grill? At what temperature should you low-and-slow cook a large beef brisket slab? These are some of the countless questions that people new to the art of working with pellet smoker cooking and cooking times have.

The answer is that there can be a lot of variety to the time it takes to finish the perfect spatchcocked turkey or pork tenderloin. Still, as the chart below shows, the internal temperature needs to hit a certain point before you can say “Come and get it!” to your guests!

Although it might seem strange to modern cooks, when it came to cooking, humans spent most of their culinary time throughout history playing the guesswork game. Whether they were working over an open pit or making food in a wood stove oven, they had to use their best judgment when it came to doneness.

Thankfully, now we have equipment and tools to help us ensure all our meats, poultry and seafood are properly prepared. However, as pitmasters know, some of that ancient intuition can come in handy.

Over time, you will definitely get to know the way certain cuts of beef or pork look, respond, smell and feel when they are thoroughly and safely cooked. You should still use a high-quality thermometer, of course. That way, you are using both your grilling skills and trustworthy implements to whip up masterful creations.

What Affects Cooking Time?

Have you ever noticed that two steaks that seem to be identical sometimes take different times to completely cook? Consider this to be one of those great mysteries of grilling. Of course, the term “mystery” is a bit of a misnomer. Actually, the issue is that plenty of influences can affect the cooking time of meat or poultry:

  • Weight. In general, the heavier an item is, the longer it will take to cook. The only caveat to weight is that sometimes a heavier ingredient can also take longer, as in a rack of ribs. Therefore, the heat and essence from a smoker grill might not take too long to make it to the bone.
  • Bone in or out. A bone-in piece of meat tends to take longer to cook than a boneless breast or steak. Again, though, this depends on the thickness of the item.
  • Fresh versus frozen. If you are throwing a frozen, rather than thawed, piece of meat on your Grilla grill, you can expect it will take longer than its fresh counterpart. After all, the heat and smoke has to reach to the core of the frozen meat.
  • Fat content. We love fat and hope you learn to see it as an asset in your grilling and smoking! At the same time, you want your fat to melt, rather than staying in a solid lump. If you have just enough marble in your steak or fat on your St. Louis spare ribs, you will have to cook the items for a longer time than if they had barely any fat. Believe us, though — your patience will be worth it.
  • Marinades and rubs. Sometimes, adding rubs and marinades can speed up or slow down cooking depending on whether the seasoning brings out or seals in moisture.

Item
Temperature
Time
MeatTemperature
Our Notes & Recipes
Bacon
250° F
45-60 min
N/A
Time is more dictated by how you like your bacon, whether chewy or crispy.
Beef Jerky
180°- 200° F
1 - 2 hours
N/A
Time is dictated by thickness of cut and the texture you prefer.
Beef Prime Rib
250° F
Roughly 15 mins per pound
135°
Recommend finishing with higher heat to sear the outside for a nice crust.
Beef Short Ribs
250° F
4 - 6 hours
198° - 205°
Recommend wrapping the ribs at some point to braise for tenderness.
Breakfast Sausage
250° F
2 hours
165° F
Brisket (Sliced)
250° F
1.5 hours per pound
203° F
You can do brisket much faster by smoking at 235 for 4 hours, wrapping for 2-3 hours until internal temp goal is met.
Chicken - Leg Quarters
250° F
2.5 hours
165° F
Depending on thickness of skin you may want to cook at a higher temp for better skin texture.
Chicken - Leg Quarters
250° F
2.5 hours
165° F
Depending on thickness of skin you may want to cook at a higher temp for better skin texture.
Chicken - Thighs
250° F
1.5 hours
165° F
Chicken - Whole
250° F
4 hours
165° F
Chicken - Wings
275° F
2 hours
185° F
Finish with high heat for better skin.
Ham
225°- 250° F
1.5 hours per pound
170° F
Hamburgers
225°- 250° F
30 - 40 minutes
Until Done
Lobster
275° F
5-10 minutes
To Taste
Meat Loaf
250° F
3-4 hours
150° F- 160° F
Meatballs (2 inch)
250° F
1 hour
160° F
Pork Butt (Pulled)
250° F
1.5 hours per pound
200° F
You can do butts much faster smoking at 235 for 4-5 hours, wrapping for 2-3 hours until internal temp goal is met.
Pork Butt (Sliced)
250° F
1.5 hours per pound
185° F
Pork Loin
250° F
2.5 hours
145° F
Pork Shoulder
250° F
1.5 hours per pound
198°-203° F
Potatoes
250° F
2 hours approx
Until Done
Ribs - Babyback
250° F
5 hours
Tender
Ribs - Spare
225° - 250° F
5 hours
Tender
Salmon
225°F
1 hour
145°F
Shrimp
200° - 225° F
15 minutes per pound
To Taste
Smoked Corn
250° F
1.5 hours
N/A
Turkey Breast - Bone In
250° F
4 - 5 hours
165° F
Turkey-Legs
250° F
3 - 4 hours
165° F
Turkey-Whole (15 lb)
250° - 350° F
3.5 hours
165° F
225-250 for the first half hour, then 325+ until it reaches target temp throughout all parts of the turkey.

Pellet Smoker Cooking Times Reminders

Want the lowdown on understanding smoker cook times and how they affect your meat? Check out these essential reminders.

1. Environmental Variables Affect Pellet Grill Cooking

Some pellet grills allow you to set a specific temperature. Others give you a general temperature. All grills can be affected by outside influences, including climate.

As a result, you may need to adjust your temperatures throughout your smoke. Plan to return to your pellet grill regularly just to check in.

2. Smoker Cook Times Do Not Include Carryover Cooking

Carryover cooking happens after an ingredient has been removed from the pellet smoker. While resting, the ingredients usually continue to cook. For instance, meats may heat up an additional 5 or 10 degrees.

You’ll want to take this factor into consideration when you’re figuring out how long to keep your food on the pellet grill, especially if the temperature matters because of food safety or your doneness preference.

3. Smoked Meats’ Temperatures Still Need to Be Measured Internally

You’ve been smoking your brisket for hours and hours. Why bother with the meat probe, right? Wrong. You still need to check.

Many types of meat will hit a stall period during a low-and-slow smoke. During the stall, the meat’s internal temperature doesn’t budge for a while. Never assume that meat has reached its safest level of doneness.

4. Smoking Temperatures Tend to Hover Around 250 Degrees

In a moment, you’ll be able to check out our Grilla Grills smoker cook times chart. We’ve developed the chart as a starting point for your pellet grill smoker cook times.

It’s important to know that most smokes happen at around 225 to 250 degrees. If you’re in a hurry to get to your BBQ faster, you can bump up the heat to around 275 degrees and shorten the overall cooking time.

Ready to cook and smoke your ingredients to perfection? Use our guide as a jumping-off point. You’ll feel more confident every time you accept a new pitmaster duty!

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