What temp. to smoke brisket

What Temperature should one Smoke Brisket?

During our barbecue last weekend, I was sitting having some cold beverages while waiting for the meat to cook when suddenly I realized that I really did not know the temperature to smoke a brisket.

Do I need to smoke a brisket at a consistent temperature?

In a way, you do need the temperature of the pellet smoker or any smoker you have to smoke the brisket.

However, I also discovered, through simple research that you do not have to stick with one smoking temperature.

There are other options that you can go with when smoking a brisket.

I also wondered whether I can change the internal temperature of the brisket. Does the brisket need to be cooked entirely in the pellet smoker or can I cook it further afterward?

There are also some tricks that can get you to the right internal temperature for the brisket to be safely consumed.

You might be surprised how easy it is to do these tricks.

Once you learn about the temperature that you need, you would want to read the whole post to know for how long to cook the brisket, where to use a meat probe it, should you cook it fat cap up or down, and more!

How To Control Your Pellet Smoker Temperature

This part takes a lot of practice and it actually took me weeks to learn how to control the temperature on my Traeger pellet smoker or grill.

You will have to make a lot of recipes in it to master it.

The best way to do this is to work your way up to the brisket recipe that you want. If you are new to smoking beef or other cuts of meat, it is best to start with something less perishable.

What I mean by that is you will need to start with a recipe that is easier to cook like chicken or smaller cuts of beef and pork. The smoked brisket temperature will depend on your skills.

That is why working your way up to the brisket will benefit you a lot as you will be learning the temperature jumps or shifts on your smoker and learn how to adjust them accordingly.

By practicing, you will also learn how long to cook a certain cut of beef or meat so that you will easily know when and where to probe the smoked brisket temperature for the internal temp.

On average, smoked brisket temperature for cooking is around 225 degrees to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the standard or the most common temperature for smokers to smoke a brisket.

This low temperature makes me wonder how long to smoke the brisket. The cooking time would average from 5 hours and can get up to 7 hours for thicker cuts of beef.

Smoked Brisket WeightSmoke TemperatureSmoke TimeFinished Temperature
Brisket (5 to 10 lbs)225 Fahrenheit5 to 7 hours200 Fahrenheit
Brisket (12 to 18 lbs)225 Fahrenheit10 to 12 hours200 Fahrenheit
Smoked Brisket Temperature Chart

As you can see in the chart above, the recipe, cooking time, and weight depend heavily on each other. Your goal is to prolong or shorten the cooking time to get to the set internal temperature.

There is this other method where you smoke the brisket at a much higher temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit but that is too complicated and will most likely burn the brisket.

This takes a lot of practice and you should only do it if really needed. Even then, this process will still take 4 hours so I think risking it is not worth it and it is better to stay with the lower cooking temperature.

Brisket At 225°F

Smoking brisket at 225 degrees Fahrenheit is one of the most common ways. It is slow but makes sure that the thick cut of meat becomes tender when cooked.

At 225 degrees F, cook the brisket between 1-1/2 hours to 2 hours per pound. This can vary depending on the cut of brisket and the smoker itself but it is the average.

It is best to always check the meat probe to make sure. At this temperature, the brisket needs to be cooked for at least 5 hours and can even go up to 7 hours to reach the ideal internal temp.

Is 250 Degrees The Ideal Temperature For Smoked Brisket?

250 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for some pitmasters, and it is more of an average because of the temperature fluctuations in some smokers.

So see, you can smoke brisket between 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range exist in some old smokers with slight temperature fluctuations.

250 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature to smoke brisket but you can go a little higher if you want the process to go faster.

Brisket At 275-300°F

Cooking brisket at 275 degrees Fahrenheit is still acceptable and even if you go to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the brisket will still cook perfectly with the right timing.

Cook the brisket for 30-45 minutes per pound of meat at this temperature. Use the wrapping technique here so you do not burn the outside of the brisket.

This reduces the cooking time by almost half so this can be your backup if you are behind schedule. 

Hot And Fast Brisket – 300-400°F

Hot and fast brisket are one of the common methods done when you lack time to smoke the brisket for half a day, and it is best done with the fat side down.

This can cut the smoking time by half because of the intense heat. It is important to cook it with the fat side down to make sure that meat is protected from the heat.

At this temperature, you will only need to cook a large brisket for around 3 hours to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking Brisket At 400°F

This can be the ceiling temperature for smoking a brisket. When I use 400°F, I usually do it in an oven as it can be tricky with a smoker.

That does not mean that it is impossible, and just make sure that the source of heat from the smoker on the opposite side of the brisket.

Your brisket should be able to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 and a half hours.

But do you stop at an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit?

Internal Temperature Of The Finished Brisket

The ideal internal temperature of a cooked brisket is 195°F, which means that the meat’s interior has been cooked perfectly and is already tender.

However, you have to keep in mind that the brisket can continue to cook by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit even when removed from the smoker.

That is why I habit removing the brisket from the smoker once the meat probe reads 190°F instead of waiting for 195°F which can overcook the brisket.

Some can go up to 200°F and you might actually like that better. Do tests and see which one results better for you, personally, I would stick with the juicy and tender result at 195°F.

Do I Smoke Brisket Fat Cap Up Or Down?

There are some arguments or different opinions on the supposed internal temperature of the smoked brisket when done. Some suggest that it should be 170 Fahrenheit, some 180 Fahrenheit.

Personally, I prefer getting the smoked brisket’s internal temperature to hit 195 degrees Fahrenheit when done before serving it so it surely has melted the collagen and it is perfectly juicy.

One of the other common arguments you will find is whether to smoke the brisket with the fat cap up or down. 

There are no wrong answers here as I personally have smoked brisket with both the fat cap up and down. You just need to know these few simple tricks so the brisket does not burn.

The more recommended way to smoke a brisket is to smoke it with the fat cap down.

This way, the layer of fat will protect the other more delicate parts of the brisket.

If the brisket is smoked with the fat cap facing up, you will have a juicier result but you need to make sure that you place it properly.

When there is no layer of fat protecting the brisket, make sure to position the brisket in the smoker where the thicker part faces the fire.

That way, the thinner part will cook evenly with the thicker ones when done.

Always Wrap And Rest The Brisket

In order for you to get to the right internal smoked brisket temperature, you need to wrap the brisket when done by the smoker to increase the internal temperature.

This is what I mean when I said that you do not always need the smoker to cook the brisket. Yes, you do need the smoker but you do not necessarily need to finish the recipe inside the smoker.

As you can see in the chart above, the smoke temperature should be consistent but even after you are done in the smoker, the smoked brisket temperature can still go up.

Allowing the brisket to rest will allow the temperature to go up and reach the finished temp like on the chart. Not only that but it will also develop a juicy finish when you let it rest.

When do you wrap a brisket?

You can wrap the brisket even while you are cooking. Usually, I smoke brisket at night so I can leave it for hours overnight without it needing to be looked after all the time. 

If you do this process overnight, make sure that your cooking temperature is consistent like on the chart above so you do not burn the brisket.

For the first 3 hours, you will need to smoke the brisket unwrapped so it absorbs as much smoke flavor as it can and then wrap it with foil or butcher paper for the remaining hours.

The thickest part of the brisket is where to probe it so you get an accurate internal temperature. The internal temp should be 165 to 180 Fahrenheit before wrapping it with foil or butcher paper.

When you cook thicker cuts of beef or brisket, you can leave it in the smoker overnight as long as the temperature is consistent. Wrapping the brisket will keep the moisture in and make the finish really tender and juicy.

Choosing The Best Brisket For Smoking

Regardless of how good you might be at smoking meat, if you do not know how to choose the best brisket for smoking, all your skills will be put to waste.

The first step to smoking a brisket is to select the right and best brisket.

You should know the best qualities of brisket in order to make the perfect smoked brisket. Knowing these will also save you time and money as you get the best value for your budget.

Always choose the brisket that has a thick flat part so that it can cook evenly and then choose a brisket that has at most an inch of the fat cap so that you can avoid trimming too much.

If you need to trim out more excessive fats, then you did not really get the value for money there.

You will also need to make sure that the brisket has enough marbling and collagen in it so the results will be juicy and tender once you smoke it in your backyard smoker!

Hooping these tips help you understand the best temperature to smoke brisket and the best way to cook one!

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