Cooking capacity question.

Discussion in 'Reverse Flow' started by jimmyh, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. I've searched far and wide on this forum and I haven't been able to find what I should be able to expect for capacity on a reverse flow smoker. I have a freezer build thread on that page and find that it works well for cold smoking sausage and bacon and cooking sausage and bacon as well but now am looking to build a smoker for bbq. I have a 40 gallon tank about 17 3/4 inch inside diameter and 37 1/2 inch in length (not including the domes on the ends). I have looked at the calculators and other build threads on here and am confident I can fabricate a nice smoker out of it. Now I am wondering what the cooking capacity in bone in shoulders and or butts and picnics I should be expecting out of it. How closely would I be able to fit everything in? Is is reasonable to put 10 average sized butts in there?
  2. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you're lucky, you should be able to get 6 butts on your grate. If you are cooking full shoulders, that goes down to about 3. If you have some time and some resources, I would search for a 100-120 gallon tank and use the one that you have for the fire box. A 100 gallon tank is about 24"x50".
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with above. A Butt is about 8" Square, Picnic's run bigger end to end. With 2" space between you can fit 3 across and maybe squeeze in 2-3 more staggered...JJ
  4. I think I'm going to shy away from building the smoker too large. Its main intent is to be a smaller unit for my backyard and not really do a lot of large cooks. If I need I can pre-cook and vac-seal and then reheat for serving. I've found a great deal of good advice on this forum for that practice.

    Thanks for the advice. I think I would be hard pressed to cook more than 2 butts at a time on average but might want to serve more people on occasion. A smaller smoker seems like it would use a lot less wood than a big smoker on those days when I am only cooking a few butts.
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The single greatest advice I got when I got here..." Figure out what size smoker you need...Then go One Bigger. " To your benefit, you have the ability to Fabricate and build a bigger unit when needed...JJ
  6. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    I agree with's nice to have a little extra room. If you decide you want to do pans of food on your smoker they take up quite a bit of room. I always like smoking a pan of beans with my butts.
    If your worried about burning to much wood build an insulated smoker.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
  7. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've never heard of anyone wishing that they had a smaller smoker. That's what my 22" Weber premium grill is for.

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