Smoking Multiple Meats at Once

ribs and chicken

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This is a question I get pretty often and it's a good one to consider.

I got this question from Gene yesterday:

Hi Jeff, for the Holidays I would like to smoke a spiral pre-cooked ham and a Prime Rib together, have you ever smoke two different meats at the same time, if so can you offer me some advise. Thank You, Gene

Smoking on Multiple Grates or Levels

The first consideration is how you place things if they are going to be on multiple racks and there's a chance they could drip on other pieces of meat.

I always place chicken below everything else then pork on top of that. Beef is generally the safest thing to have on top.

In Gene's case, he is smoking prime rib with ham. The spiral cut ham is already cooked and he's just adding more smoke flavor to it so in this instance, it should go on top and the prime rib below.

Getting Everything Done at the Same Time

When smoking meat, ideally you want everything to be done at the same time so you just have to estimate how long you think it will take and subtract that time from what time you want it done.

Here's a time and temperature chart that should help with the estimation

For instance, a smoked prime rib will probably take about 5 hours if you are maintaining a smoker temperature of about 225°F (107°C) and we we normally double smoke spiral cut hams for around 3 hours at that same temperature.

If you want to eat Christmas dinner at 5 PM then the prime rib goes in at noon and the ham goes in at 2 PM.

Prime Rib: 5 PM minus 5 hours = 12 PM
Ham: 5 PM minus 3 hours = 2 PM

Does Smoking Multiple Meats Take Longer?

Depending on the size of your smoker, smoking multiple things in the same smoker should not increase the cook time by a significant amount.

I recommend preheating the smoker to a slightly higher temperature than you would normally and then once you put the prime rib into the smoker, you can turn it down to what you really want to cook at.

If you are using a pellet smoker, here's some special tips that should be helpful

I like to fill the smoker up with multiple items if I can especially around the holidays when I am doing the entree as well as appetizers.

As long as the heat and the smoke can move freely in the smoker and there’s a little space between the items, it should not be a problem.

It never hurts to add 30-60 minutes to your estimated cook time to give the meat time to rest at the end before you slice into it.

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  1. We purchased our first pellet smoker just before Thanksgiving. We have smoked a chuck roast (wonderful), full rack of pork ribs (good), and a turkey breast (wonderful).
    Having the meat on one level made it much easier to also add vegetables and fruit at the appropriate time. We previously had an upright smoker with4 racks but we can smoke the same amount of meat at one time with the pellet smoker. Thank you Jeff your a good teacher.

  2. Excellent review for all of us, and I would add that the opening and closing of your smoker more will also increase the smoker time. I always add an extra hour in there just for this, as you mentioned some extra time to be safe Jeff. Kudos.

    1. Yes.. I haven’t tested the theory but most claim that every time you open the door of your smoker, it adds 10-15 minutes to the cook time.

      I often baste the meat a couple of times during the cook but if it’s a really cold, windy, rainy day and I’m having trouble maintaining the temperature in the smoker, I’ll skip the basting.

  3. A couple questions.
    1. I have heard that the fattest meat should go on top so that as the drippings come off it, it bastes the meats below it.

    2. Would you ever space meats out so that they aren’t directly below one another (considering that there’s room) on different racks?

    1. 1. This is generally true..chicken should always be on the bottom and then pork and/or beef can go over that. If you are cooking a brisket or pork butt which are both really fatty, it wouldn’t hurt to have that dripping down on what you’re cooking below it. I guess the exception to this would be if you wanted to keep the flavors “pure”. For instance you had a pork appetizer on the bottom and a brisket on top, you may not want the pork appetizer tasting like brisket.

      2. The exception in #1 above sort of covers this but the only reason I can think of to space things out so they aren’t directly below one another is if you did not want the drippings falling on something so you could maintain a certain flavor profile.