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Sep 8, 2008 10:42 PM

For BBQ Experts: How do I "cheat" smoking meats?

I love my smoker and have made some really good meals, but am still a virgin compared with real experts.

My question is about timing and re-heating.

I like throwing lunch time events, so it’s challenging to smoke things for serving earlier in the day, given that many things take 6, 8, 10 + hours to cook low and slow. Either I’ve got to stay up way late and start the cooking the night before, or get up really, making me a tired host. Dinner is no prob, as I can put things on at 10 am and they start getting ready at 6 pm or so. Serving lunchtime meals is the challenge.

In a perfect world, the meat would come off the grill and served when ready and hot. But for early meals, what about smoking something the day before, with the intent to serve it the next day?

Would you be fine with cooking ribs, brisket or turkey to the right temp, then putting it in the fridge and reheating the next day? Would you then put it back on the smoker to return to a decent temp? Or would you bring it back to heat a bit more quickly (like on a direct grill)? I'm not suggesting to stop the cooking process before it's complete, taking a long break, then starting it up again. Rather, what can be cooked to completion the day before, put in the fridge, and then brought back to a warm temp?

I actually prefer some things that have cooled off and served much later. Cold smoked turkey is fantastic. That said, guests love the fact that you’ve taken the time to cook something for many hours, so it’s nice to present them something as if it’s right off the smoker. It’s a mystery to most.

I'm guessing the "day before" concept is fine with some types of food/meat, but not with others. Your thoughts?


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  1. I have never had issues with reheating the next day. Something I sometimes do when I'm having problems controlling the temp levels on my smoker is pull the ribs after a couple of hours being drenched in smoke then wrap them in aluminum foil (heavy duty) and finishing them in the oven. Had to do that last time I smoked ribs because I could NOT get the temp to stay up high enough (usually I have problems with it being too high, it was weird).

    I have -no- problem with smoked meats the next day. I think they taste just great. :) and I don't see any reason why you couldn't smoke them, fridge 'em, then reheat in the oven wrapped in foil. I do that all the time.

    1. We do a lot of smoking. Here is what we do with great results. Take the meat up the day before save all the smoking juice in your drip pan wrap the meat in plastic wrap very tight while still hot it seals in the juice. chill down in fridge. Also chill the pan Juice. Alot of fat should come to the top of the chilled pan juice. When you are ready to serve unwrap meat put in a shallow baking dish discard fat off of pan juice pour over meat you may need to add a bit of water to thin out the juice then pour it over your meat and cover with foil. Bring back up to temp, on about 225 degrees in your oven. It will taste rich and smokey and be very tender.

      1. one of the purposes of smoking meat is to infuse "smoke" flavor into whatever you're cooking. once smoked, that job is done and the meat may be reheated foiled in an oven or on the grill without sacrificing the flavor. important to remember though is that you are reheating the food, not cooking again... nobody likes mushy bbq!