Should You Cook "Hot & Fast" or "Low & Slow"?

Your Guide to the Different Smoking Methods

One question that we get a lot at SmokerBuilder is: Should I cook low and slow or hot and fast?

Well, sit back and find out by watching the latest episode of the PitMaster Secrets podcast … or read on and we’ll tell you!

When you talk about cooking barbecue, you typically think about cooking “low and slow”... a long cook at a low temperature that breaks down all the connective tissue in the meat. This gives you a super tender piece of meat — like a pork butt — that practically falls apart when you touch it.

But you don’t always have 12 to 18 hours to be waiting on a piece of meat… in which case the “hot and fast” method might be the way to go. But there’s more factors to consider besides just how long you have to cook. So today we’re going to dive in and talk about the main differences between these two cooking styles.

Low and slow means you’re going to be cooking at a temperature around 225 to 240 degrees. 

When we’re talking hot and fast, that’s generally going to be 300 degrees and higher.

The best way to determine which method to use for a particular piece of meat is to ask yourself: What is my goal here?

If you want to achieve maximum flavor and smoke penetration, you’re going to want to go low and slow. That’s because when you put raw meat on a cooker, it’s only really going to absorb smoke flavor up until it reaches about 140 degrees — so you want to maximize the time it spends below that temperature.

But maybe you’re more worried about your time investment. Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of people coming over in the afternoon and you’d like to get a good night’s sleep without having to do an overnight cook. If you go hot and fast, you could get up at 6:00 and fire up your cooker, get it up to 300 degrees and be eating by 1:00 or 2:00.

As far as your tenderness and moisture levels go — it doesn’t particularly matter which cooking method you use. You can get very similar results using either one. But if you’re really looking for that deep wood smoke flavor, you’ll want to put in the time and go low and slow.

If you're looking for a cooker that can do both, the SmokerBuilder 2040 Patio Model is a hybrid model which means you can cook as a reverse flow or an offset — and the option to go hot and fast OR low and slow is always there. With its lean build, you'll get that wood-fired flavor without investing in a larger cooker. And if you need something more tailored to your needs, check out our Custom-Built Smokers.

2040 Patio Model:

Custom Build Start Up: