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Cooking smoked meat in your backyard is fun till the meat turns out black. 

Instead of your stomach, the smoked meat ends up in the trash. It’s pretty disappointing.

But hey we’ll help you figure out, “why does my smoked meat turn black?”

Smoked meat typically turns black because of creosote or excess moisture in the smoker. However, it can also be the result of stale smoke or poor ventilation. Furthermore, if you cook it at a high temperature, it can turn black. It could also be due to excess wood or sugar rub on meat.

Want to know more? Read our segment about smoked meat turning black. And get all our doubts cleared.

Why’s That Meat Black?-Reasons & Its Fix 

You must be excited to take out that smoked meat for the night’s party. And then you realize your smoked meat has turned all black.


That must be a real concern. Try to understand why your smoked meat is turning black. But figure out what you’re doing wrong first.

If you can find out the reasons behind it, you can solve this issue. 

So here are the most common reasons why smoked meat typically turns black. 

Stale Smoke-Is It Turning The Meat Black?

The smoker you’re using to cook the meat might be the biggest culprit here. Have you ever seen your smoker releasing stale smoke?

If yes, then that’s probably the reason behind the black smoked meat. 


Stale smoke is a pretty common problem in a smoker. This happens because the smoker is not clean enough. 

Now this one’s on you. Keeping a clean smoker is not only important health-wise. But it also makes your meat taste and look better. 

So definitely look out for a dirty smoker. Because that’s probably why stale smoke is coming out and ruining your meat.

How To Fix Stale Smoke?

If you want your meat to not turn black the next time, clean up the smoker.  

To clean your smoker, you can use warm, soapy water. 

Just scrub the water on the interior of the smoker with a sponge. And then let it dry. Make sure you don’t use a  metal object to clean it.

If you don’t maintain the cleanliness, you’ll allow a build-up of creosote. We’ll talk about that next.

Creosote Build-up-How Bad Is It?

Creosote is one of the most common reasons why your smoked meat turns black. But what is creosote exactly?

Well, creosote is a thick, oily substance. It’s a residue produced due to high heat in the smoker. This builds up on top of your meat. Further making it taste bitter too.

Now, are you sure it’s the creosote in the meat?

There’s a way to figure that out too. Just put a glass of ice water above the place. Place it where the smoke pours in the smoker. Hold the glass of water there for about five minutes. And if you see any blacks spots on the glass, you know it’s creosote. 

Reasons Behind Creosote Build-up

Now you know that there’s build-up of soot on your meat. So try to figure out why this is happening.

There are mainly two reasons behind creosote build-up. These often go unnoticed.

Filthy Smoker

A filthy smoker obviously causes stale smoke. But it also produces creosote. This is because the smoke lingers in an unclean smoker. This results in oil and dirt around the smoker. As a result, there’s creosote.

Poor Ventilation

Poor ventilation in the smoker can also result in the build-up of creosote. It stops the movement of air within the smoker. 

So while cooking the meat, the soot and carbon stick to it. This gets absorbed by the meat. The meat also absorbs the creosote because of this.

This is why you end up with blackened smoked meat that tastes disgusting.

How To Fix Creosote?

Creosote can also be pretty bad for your health. So it’s quite necessary that you remove it from the smoker immediately. Unless you‘re okay with eating black meat every time. So how to avoid creosote when smoking meat?

Begin with cleaning the smoker completely. Get yourself a good scraper first. And remove the soot from all around the smoker. Try to avoid using a chemical to remove the creosote.


Once you’ve removed the soot, do the creosote test again. If you find no black spots this time, you’ve done it right.

High Temperature & Cooking Time = Black Meat

Have you been cooking your meat for too long in high heat? If yes, you know what’s wrong here, my friend. 

Smoked meat needs to be cooked at low heat for a limited time. Cooking it in high heat will burn the meat and make it too tough. This also makes corned beef too tough.

Moreover, the outside of the meat could be burnt leaving the inside uncooked. This is the reason why you find your smoked meat turning black.

What Temperature & Time To Cook In?

First of all, the rule of thumb for smoking meat is to keep the temperature within 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important if you don’t want burnt, black meat.

While cooking, always remember to control the temperature of the smoker.

Controlling your smoker temperature depends on the type of smoker you are using. Even though the controlling process depends on the type of smoker you’re using. 

However, you can typically control the heat by opening the vents. This will increase the temperature. To decrease the temperature, you do the opposite. You can lower the internal heat and oxygen flow by closing the vent.

But don’t put the meat inside the smoker right away. It’s important to let the smoker sit for 15-20 minutes. This will stabilize the smoker. And let the meat cook evenly without burning.

Here’s a list of the smoking times and temperatures of different meat types.

Meat VarietySmoking TimeTemperature (in Fahrenheit)
Beef Brisket12-20 hours195-207
Short ribs6-8 hours200-210
Chuck roast12-20 hours195-205
Whole ribeye25 minutes135 for medium
Rump roast30 minutes145 for well done
Tenderloin2.5-3 hours190-200

Amount Of Wood

Using too much or too little wood in the smoker can highly affect the meat. People generally use too much wood for smoking. Because they think it’ll cook the meat faster.

Moreover, there’s another common misconception people have. Many people think that the meat stops absorbing the smoke after a certain period. And that’s why they put too much wood to produce more smoke.


This is where they go wrong. Too much wood in the smoker causes the meat to turn black. Because the extra smoke gets absorbed till the meat is cooked. This either burns the meat both on the outside and inside. 

And then you’ll end up removing the smoke flavor in the meat. You sure don’t want your meat to end up in the trash.

How Much Wood To Use?

Now it’s important to put the right amount of wood into the smoker. This will save you from the hassle of ending up with too much smoke.

But there’s a catch-

There’s no fixed rule for the amount of wood put into a smoker. But the rule of thumb is to start with about two ounces of wood. And then adjust accordingly.

So it’s safe, to begin with, a little amount and work your way up. This will ensure there’s not too much wood inside the smoker. Hence, the meat will not be black. 

Rather you’ll have nice delicious meat straight out of the smoker. That you can enjoy for the night.


Type of Wood

The kind of wood you’re using for the smoked meat is also vital. This is because different wood has a different effect on the texture. Moreover, it affects the flavor and surface of the meat. 

Moreover, not all wood is good for all sorts of meat. You should also know how to use a smoker safely. Different woods work in favor of different smokers.

However, using dry wood can also be the reason behind the black meat. This is because dry woods have no moisture in them. So it burns too hot and fast. As a result, it becomes difficult to control the temperature. And also the smoke inside the smoker.

What Type Of Wood To Use?

If you don’t know already, it’s better to use wood with high moisture content. This enables the wood to burn slowly at low heat. So you’ll be able to slow cook your meat. Furthermore, there’s less chance of the meat turning black.


And that’s why you need to know the right type of wood used in the right smoker. Things can go wrong otherwise. You must ensure the wood has enough moisture. Make sure the flavor itself isn’t overpowering. Otherwise, it’ll infuse in the meat and it’ll not taste good.

However, if you don’t know, here’s a brief of the wood types.

Wood TypeMeat TypeProperty 
PecanBeef, Chicken, PorkGood for shorter smoke, strong, sweet, and smoky flavor 
Apple Chicken, PorkGood for smoking, sweet flavor
HickoryBeef, chicken, porkGood for smoking, strong flavor
Oak Beef Burns slow and even
Maple Beef, pork Good for smoking, mild in flavor

Excess Moisture

Too much moisture in the smoker is a major reason behind the meat turning black. Now how does the moisture build-up?

This happens usually when the ventilation is poor. If the vent is completely closed, the heat can’t escape. As a result, the smoker produces steam. So there’s moisture build-up.

But that’s not all. The moisture can’t escape either. So it piles up at the surface of the smoker. And at some point, falls on the meat. 

As the meat absorbs the moisture, it slowly turns black. 

How To Reduce The Moisture?

Now if you want to reduce the moisture, let your smoker breathe. Allow the moisture to escape by opening the vent from time to time. 

Moreover, keep the inlets and inside dampers slightly open. This will allow proper ventilation. So you won’t have burnt meat. 

Sugar-Based Rub

It’s pretty obvious that you want delicious, finger-licking meat for dinner. But don’t overdo the meat because of that. So don’t go overboard with the sugar or salt rub in the meat. 

Adding too much sugar-based rub will result in the meat turning black. Wondering how?

Well, too much sugar rub stimulates burning inside the smoke. So the meat will burn if the heat is high. You might even end up with black soot on the meat.


How Much Sugar Rub To Put?

It’s ideal to put as little sugar rub in meat as possible. If you can, just avoid it. This will keep you on the safe side. 

However, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar for a sweet flavor. Or you can go for the safer version. Just brush in a little bit of maple syrup or honey at the end. This will avoid the meat turning black.

Smoldering Wood

There’s a possibility that the fire in the smoker is smoldering instead of burning. This means that the fire is burning slowly without any flame.


This can happen because of too much wood inside the smoker. Or if you’re trying to burn wood that’s not supposed to burn like cedar, pinewood etc. Or because of poor ventilation. As a result, there isn’t enough air to reach the fire.

This can be bad for the meat as the soot is absorbed by it. Hence the blackened meat.

How To Burn Instead Of Smolder?

Well, there’s a lot of reasons behind wood smoldering. To avoid this, you must ensure proper ventilation first. Moreover, put a limited amount of wood inside the smoker.

Now all these reasons have been mentioned previously. So if that can be avoided, the problem won’t come this far. And you’ll be able to enjoy your smoked meat.


Should you clean the inside of a smoker?

Yes, cleaning the inside of the smoker is necessary even if it sounds unimportant. Otherwise, there’ll be a build-up of creosote which is bad for the meat.

How do you de-grease a smoker?

you need to keep the smoker in regular maintenance to de-grease the smoker. Keep it clean and wipe away all the residue and sauce.

How do you keep the meat moist in the smoker?

You can apply dry-brine in your meat or rub ½ teaspoon of kosher salt to keep the meat moist and juicy.

Wrapping Up

Keep all these in mind while smoking your meat. We bet it’ll turn out great. 

Furthermore, avoid using too much oil on the meat. If the oil drips, it could cause the blackening effect.

Anyway, we hope we have covered everything about why does my smoked meat turn black. Let us know if it worked for you.

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