Time & Temperature Chart for Cooking Meat on a Pellet Grill

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 grill temperatures temps are very general recommendations. This chart cannot take into account environmental variables or 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 drumsticks 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 temperature 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 different cuts of beef or pork look, respond, smell and feel when they are thoroughly and safely cooked. You should still use a high-quality meat thermometer, of course. (While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to look up the USDA minimum safe cooking temperature for your food before you fire up the grill.) That way, you are using both your grilling skills and trustworthy implements to whip up masterful creations.

Pick Up A Meat Probe

What Affects Cooking Time?

Have you ever noticed that two steaks that seem to be identical sometimes take different times to completely cook? Finding that perfect medium rare might seem like a magical and mysterious art, but it’s really just about considering the right factors. 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 cut of meat 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. If you’re looking for something that will cook quickly, leaner cuts of meat like chicken breast and sirloin might be a better option.
  • 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.

Meat Temperature Chart

Remember, this temperature guide is intended for cooking meat low and slow on a pellet grill. Cooking hot and fast on a gas grill or charcoal grill requires a different approach and different temperatures.




Meat Temperature

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 Would go great with our Breakfast Frittata Recipe!
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 - Thighs 250° F 1.5 hours 165° F ORANGE CHICKEN
Chicken - Whole 250° F 4 hours 165° F SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN
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 PINEAPPLE BOURBON GLAZED HAM
Hamburgers 225°- 250° F 30 - 40 minutes Until Done NO FLIP BURGERS
Lobster 275° F 5-10 minutes To Taste LOBSTER TAILS & HERB BUTTER
Meat Loaf 250° F 3-4 hours 150° F- 160° F BBQ MEATLOAF
Meatballs (2 inch) 250° F 1 hour 160° F MOINK BALLS
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 BUTT THROWDOWN
Pork Loin 250° F 2.5 hours 145° F PORK LOIN ROULADE
Pork Shoulder 250° F 1.5 hours per pound 198°-203° F PORK SHOULDER
Potatoes 250° F 2 hours approx Until Done Smoked Mini Potatoes,South of the Boarder Sweet Potato Salad
Ribs - Babyback 250° F 5 hours Tender BABYBACK THROWDOWN
Ribs - Spare 225° - 250° F 5 hours Tender How to Trim Spare Ribs
Salmon 225°F 1 hour 145°F SUGAR CURED SALMON
Shrimp 200° - 225° F 15 minutes per pound To Taste Lemon Ginger Grilled Shrimp,Shrimp Bruschetta
Smoked Corn 250° F 1.5 hours N/A CHEESY CORN O'SHANE
Turkey Breast - Bone In 250° F 4 - 5 hours 165° F JALAPENO INJECTION TURKEY
Turkey-Legs 250° F 3 - 4 hours 165° F GRILLED TURKEY
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 Grilling Times for 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, or use our Alpha Connect technology to monitor your pork chops without ever leaving the couch.

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. That could potentially be enough to push your ideal medium rare up to a medium or even a medium well.

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 to ensure that your meat has hit a safe temperature.

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.

A high quality meat probe and/or meat thermometer is a must-have for anybody who loves grilling and smoking. Check out Grilla Grills’ instant read thermometer and meat probe, and know that you’ve gotten the perfect internal temperature every time. 

4. Pellet Smokers Cook via Indirect Heat, so It’s Natural for Foods to Cook More Slowly

Cooking directly over a heat source, like the flame from a charcoal grill or gas grill, will cook your food much more quickly. Pellet smokers, however, use indirect heat to cook food more slowly, evenly and with tons of wood-fired flavor. That doesn’t mean they can’t cook hot and fast, too, but slow cooking via indirect heat is a big part of why many pitmasters choose a pellet grill. If you’re looking for hot and fast direct heat cooking, our Kong kamado grill or Primate gas grill and griddle are both excellent choices.

5. 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. Because you’re cooking via indirect heat, you won’t have to worry about scorching your food. 

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! For more helpful charts and infographics to level up your grill skills, see our grill size comparison and our cookout food planner

Grilla Grills
558 E. 64th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Email: grillmaster@grillagrills.com
Phone: 616-392-7410