Which shelf to use

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by allen9980, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. Hey guys,

      I am pretty new to all this and have a question that maybe some of the other "newbies" may be asking. I have a 30" MES and wanted to know if there is a rule of thumb on which shelf you should use to smoke  a particular cut or type of meat?  Basically how should I lead this thing.

    I have read an awful lot of your posts from all kinds of topics and have learned a tremendous amount already. Thank you...newbies like me really appreciate all the information.
  2. schlotz

    schlotz Meat Mopper


    As you probably know, smoke rises, so towards to top you will get more surrounding your meat.  One thing that you should do is check the temp difference at the grate level for each rack.  Depending on the equipment the temp at the top may be different vs the bottom grate. Good to know the differences so you can adjust the temp to achieve what you want up there.  Bottom line, smoking generally is a low (temp) and slow process. One can get good results regardless of location provided the temps are understood and consistently maintained.  

    A good cut to get your feet wet with is a 7-9# pork Butt. It's very forgiving from a smoking standpoint.  I smoke butts all the time, some on the top others on the bottom and sometimes top and bottom simultaneously (when using both I monitor the meat temps as usually one gets done before the other).

  3. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    If I only need one shelf in my MES I use the 2nd from the bottom but I also use a probe thermometer on that shelf and adjust my temp setting to the thermometer reading not the MES reading. I would say you are fine using any shelf just make the bottom your last resort as it is the hottest.
  4. Thanks Matt and bmaddox for the info. Looks like I'll be buying another thermometer or two though.

  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always take out the top shelf because I typically smoke no more than a single roast or two racks of pork ribs. I want the meat closer to the smoke source which for me is the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS) with wood pellets. So I use the 2nd and 3rd racks (no matter what I'm smoking) leaving the 4th rack empty with the empty water pan foiled over.

    The only time I use the top three racks is when I'm cold smoking cheese because I smoke 3 pounds at a time using mozzarella and sharp cheddar.

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