When smoking meats, it is important to insure the safety of yourself and anyone who may eat the meat you cook by knowing when the meat is done. Food Safety information is also available on the FSIS Web Site
Two thermometers are needed while smoking meats to ensure the food is smoked safely. You will need a thermometer for the smoker to measure the cooking air temperature, and a food thermometer to determine the internal temperature of the meat or poultry. Oven-safe, instant-read thermometers are excellent for measuring the meat temperature, and they work quickly so you will not lose much heat from opening the smoker door.
How to Correctly Measure the Temperature of Meat
When using the instant read thermometer, insert it into the thickest portion of the meat you are smoking to get the most accurate internal temperature reading. Make sure the thermometer does not come into with contact any bones in the meat because the bones may be hotter than the meat, and a false reading may occur.
Cooking time depends on many factors: the type of meat, its size and shape, the distance of food from the heat, the temperature of the coals and the weather. Depending on the size of the meat, it can take anywhere from four to eight hours, or even more to smoke meat or poultry, so it's imperative to use thermometers to monitor temperatures.
The cooking times provided are for cooking with a wood smoker. Using different types of smokers may change cooking times.
For additional food safety information about meat, poultry or egg products, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555; Washington, DC area, (202) 720-3333; for the hearing impaired (TTY) 1 (800) 256-7072. The Hotline is staffed by food safety experts weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Food safety recordings can be heard 24 hours a day using a touch-tone phone.