Cooking Barbecue to the proper Internal Safe Meat Temperature...

Dear BBQ Friend:

Here's a chart containing the proper internal temperatures for cooking barbecue for various meats. Approximate cooking times are also included. This chart assumes you are cooking around 220 deg F bbq spareribson a slow smoker using indirect heat (not grilling). Of course, this is just a rough guide for cooking barbecue and there are a lot of other factors involved. As a matter of fact, there are millions of different ways to slow smoke a piece of meat. You can alter the cooking temperature, you can cook to a different internal temperature, you can change the cooking time, you can use different woods, you can choose from 100's of different rubs, marinades, brines, and sauces, etc, etc. So, if you want to get a better idea of how to improve your barbecue cooking, we have a book available for you entitled "Competition BBQ Secrets". This book will show you how to cook "competition quality" brisket, ribs, chicken, and butts. You can do this right in your own back yard too!

Just a quick word about wood flavors for barbecue cooking... pork usually does well with a hickory or oak wood smoke flavor. Beef does well with hickory, oak, or mesquite. Poultry goes good with a sweeter smoke like apple, cherry, or grapevine. Same thing with lamb. With fish, you may want to use a combination of several woods like oak and cherry. In the end, it's really up to you what smoke flavor you want to use with your barbecue cooking. For a complete list of the different BBQ woods and their pairings, visit the BBQ Wood Newsletter.

* Note: Some of these temperatures are just the minimum "safe" temperature for that meat. i.e. I usually cook chicken thighs and ribs by time and not internal meat temperature.


Cooking Time

Internal Temp/When it's Done

Pork Butt & Shoulder

1 - 1.5 hours per lb

195 deg F

Pork Spareribs

4 - 6 hours

165 deg F*

Pork Loin

3 - 5 hours

145 deg F

Pork Sausage (raw)

2 - 3 hours

165 deg F

Beef Boneless Roast

1 hour per lb

140 deg F

Beef Brisket

1 - 1.5 hours per lb

190-195 deg F

Beef Tri-Tip

1 hour per lb

135 deg F

Beef Prime Rib

1 hour per lb

140 deg F

Beef Short Ribs

3 - 4 hours

Meat pulls easily from bone


1.5 - 2.5 hours

150 deg F


1 hour per lb

160 deg F in thigh


2.5 - 3 hours

160 deg F* in thigh


4 - 6 hours

160 deg F in breast

Cornish Hen

2 - 3 hours

160 deg in thigh

Leg of Lamb

1 hour per lb

140 deg F


2 - 3 hours

150 deg F


2 - 3 hours

Smoke until the flesh starts to firm up and just begins to flake

Shellfish, prawns, shrimp

1/2 - 1 hour

Firm to the touch

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Bill Anderson