How Long to Smoke a Brisket?

If you’re planning to smoke a brisket, it is essential that you know how long it will take. Since it is such a tough cut of meat, tenderizing brisket requires long and slow cooking times in order to achieve optimal results.

While it can be tempting to peek inside the smoker, doing so can negatively impact its cooking time. Opening it too frequently could result in meat temperatures plateauing and taking hours for it to return back up again.


To achieve a truly outstanding brisket, it takes an appropriate smoker. An effective one will hold its temperature between 250-275degF for an even and consistent cook, featuring a wood-burning fire at its base to circulate smoke freely during its time spent smoking. By having this option available to you, ensuring an evenly cooked product.

Dependent upon its size and connective tissue content, smoking time for beef brisket may take between 6-8 hours before reaching its optimal state; for optimal results it could even take 22 hours of smoking!

To ensure tender meat, foiling it at some point during the smoking process can help retain moisture in the meat while simultaneously steaming it to enhance tenderness. A digital thermometer can help determine when this should happen; once its internal temperature reaches 195degF you should remove from the smoker and let it rest in a cooler to reduce carryover cooking.

Wrap your brisket in heavy-duty aluminum foil; thicker is always better. Allow it to develop its rich, dark bark for the first three to four hours of smoking before beginning to wrap it as soon as its exterior has taken on a deep mahogany hue. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer handy, simply place a paper towel between your foil and meat for more control.


To achieve a perfect brisket, it’s crucial that the right temperature and timing is chosen. This requires setting your smoker to 225F and smoking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195F. Throughout this process it’s essential that a digital thermometer be placed at the thickest part of the flat so as to monitor progress; once finished it must rest for at least an hour so its juices can return after cooking has completed.

Brisket can be tricky to cook at the ideal temperature due to what’s known as “the stall,” when internal temperature levels stop rising as it plateaus around 165F due to surface evaporation. To combat this situation, wrap your brisket in foil as soon as it reaches 165F and add liquid such as beef broth for moisture preservation and added moistness.

Once your brisket is cooked, it’s important to wrap it in foil and allow it to rest for one hour afterward. This allows it to absorb all of its lost juices during cooking – skipping this step will result in dry and tough meat!

When using a kamado or kettle smoker, it can be helpful to add a water pan as part of its temperature management plan. Not only will this enhance smoke flavor and boost humidity levels in your chamber smoker; but it will also make for more succulent brisket.


Establishing the ideal temperature and smoking time are essential to creating delicious brisket. Don’t cut corners for optimal results if that is your goal!

Start with low and slow cooking to allow the natural sugars in the meat to caramelize and produce that familiar crackled bark associated with smoked meat, while creating flavor profiles so sought-after by diners.

As soon as your smoker reaches 225 degrees F using indirect heat and hardwood smoke, place room-temperature brisket fat side down inside it. For larger smokers such as Kamados or kettles, adding a water pan will help increase humidity during the cook and maintain it during its entirety.

After several hours of smoking, your meat should begin to stall – this is completely normal and due to sweating from evaporation of moisture from the meat vaporizing into vapour. While this might look daunting at first glance, don’t panic; that is why there is the Texas Crutch; by wrapping brisket in it you can prevent sweating from transpiring through and experiencing stall.

Once your brisket reaches the high alarm, take it out but keep the thermometer inside, wrapping it back up, and rest it for four hours in its packaging before cutting against the grain for best results. Doing this shortens muscle fibers for tender texture.


Steps for smoking a brisket may differ depending on who’s doing the cooking, but general guidelines should be observed. Start by selecting high-grade beef with good marbling; using dry brine as this will help retain moisture and flavor; for optimal results prepare it the night before cooking it!

Brisket should be prepared in a smoker that has been preheated to between 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit, using a meat thermometer as necessary; the process should take up to two hours until its desired internal temperature has been achieved.

Once the brisket is finished cooking, it should rest for 45-60 minutes to allow its juices to redistribute throughout the meat, creating a more tender and flavorful final product. Furthermore, this resting period allows its internal temperature to reach its optimal point without overcooking.

To prevent overcooking of brisket, it’s essential that it is wrapped in foil at just the right moment. When adding smoke and spices, wrap at around halfway point. This should produce a beautiful bark on its exterior.

For optimal smoked brisket results, make sure it is well-trimmed and contains a healthy layer of fat. Trim away excess fat from both sides, as well as any silver skin present – this membrane prevents rub flavors from penetrating the meat’s cells; to do this effectively use a sharp knife to peel back layers of fat until the membranes are gone.


As your brisket smokes, it loses moisture. Therefore, it is vital that you carefully monitor the temperature of your smoker and keep its lid as close to closed as possible. Opening and closing lids frequently can obstruct smoke circulation which reduces smoking time as well as quality. If time becomes an issue during cooking, use a probe thermometer and place your brisket in a pan of water so as to prevent overcooking.

Once your brisket reaches an internal temperature of approximately 195deg F, it’s ready to rest for four hours. Be sure to leave its temperature probe still attached; this allows the meat to relax, rehydrate and redistribute its juices evenly while warming in its residual heat from the smoker.

Be wary of what’s known as “brisket temperature stall.” This phenomenon, whereby your meat doesn’t rise in temperature as quickly, occurs because muscle fibres squeeze moisture to the surface where it evaporates and cools the meat slightly, can be extremely confusing and lead to frustration when first starting out with smoking brisket, but don’t fret; it’s normal!

As soon as your brisket is finished, remove it from the smoker carefully – without unwrapping or opening the smoker – so that its temperature is maintained. Once it’s completely cool, start cutting. For optimal results, slice against the grain using pencil thin slices for best results and prevent dry or crumbly meat. It may be useful to place a damp paper towel or foil beneath it as you cut to catch any drippings as you cut.

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