Brisket is a tough cut of meat so it needs to be cooked at a low temperature over many hours to break down all the connective tissue so it melts and turns into the tender, juicy brisket we all know and love. If the brisket temperature is too high, all the moisture will escape and it will turn out tough and dry. I wanted to find out what temperature the pros smoke their brisket in barbeque competitions, so I did some research.
On average, most barbeque gurus smoke brisket between 225°F and 250°F. A traditional Texas-style brisket is smoked low-and-slow at 225°F, and this is the safest temperature for barbeque competitions and beginners. Once you have a good understanding of the fundamentals of smoking brisket, you can experiment with temperatures in the 275°F to 300°F range so you can cook a brisket much faster.
|Temperature Range||Recommended For||Notes|
|225°F-250°F||Beginners, traditional Texas-style brisket||Low-and-slow cooking method produces tender, juicy brisket|
|275°F-300°F||Experienced BBQ enthusiasts, faster cooking||Higher temperature will cook the brisket faster, but make sure to keep it moist and consider leaving more fat on it to protect it from the heat|
|225°F (first stage), 275°F (wrapped)||Experienced BBQ enthusiasts||Smoke the brisket at 225°F until it has developed a firm bark and internal temperature of 150°F-160°F, then wrap it and increase the temperature to 275°F to push the brisket through the “stall”|
The Perfect Temperature for Smoking Brisket: What the Experts Say
According to barbecue pitmasters Aaron Franklyn, Meathead Goldwyn, Harry Soo, and Malcolm Reed, the best temperature for smoking brisket is around 225-250°F. This temperature range allows for the slow and low cooking process that is necessary to properly smoke a brisket. Smoking a brisket at the recommended temperature allows the meat to cook slowly and evenly, which helps to break down the connective tissue and fat in the meat. This results in a tender, juicy, and flavorful brisket that is perfect for serving at a barbecue.
To smoke a brisket at the best temperature, the pitmasters recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure that the temperature of the meat stays within the desired range. It is also important to keep the temperature of the smoker consistent, as fluctuations in temperature can affect the final result of the brisket.
Smoking Brisket at 225°F – The Safest Temp
If you are about to attempt your first smoked brisket, 225°F is a good temperature to begin with until you have learned the basics of smoking brisket. There are a lot of techniques that you need to learn such as temperature control, mopping, wrapping, brining, injecting, rubs, bark development and resting, so play it safe when starting out and keep the temp low-and-slow. A 225°F brisket will take most of the day and night to cook, but in the end you will get a tender, juicy brisket if you get all the other techniques right.
Raising the Temp To 275°F – 300°F
If you can’t wait 20 hours for your brisket to be ready, you can try smoke a brisket at temperatures upwards of 275°F-300°F. However, if you are going to going to cook in this higher range, make sure you keep the brisket nice and moist with regular mopping, and consider keeping more fat on your brisket so it’s protected from the heat. Also, place the brisket fat cap down to shield the more vulnerable parts of the brisket from the fire.
Different Weights, Cooking Temps, and Doneness
It is important to note that these are just general guidelines, and the actual cooking time and internal temperature may vary depending on the size of the smoker, the ambient temperature, and the humidity level. Also, every brisket is different and will therefore require different times.
Should You Raise The Temp After Wrapping?
Another method you can use is to smoke the brisket at 225°F then raise the temperature to 275°F after wrapping. Increasing the temperature will excellent the cooking and help push the brisket through the stall. In the first stage of the cook, the brisket will sit in the smoker at 225°F and absorb smoke and develop a nice crust. Once the brisket has a firm bark and the internal meat temperature is about 150°F or 160°F, wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper and raise the temperature up to 275°F.
What Temperature Does Aaron Franklin Smoke Brisket?
Aaron Franklin starts off a brisket at 255°F for three hours, then raises the temperature between 260°F and 265°F. Once the brisket reaches the stall, Aaron holds the temperature at 280°F to 285°F, then drops it to 275°F after wrapping. Once the internal meat temperature goes past 180°F and up into the 195°F range, the collagen in the brisket will have rendered and you should have a tender, juicy brisket.
What Temperature Does Malcolm Reed Smoke Brisket?
Malcolm Reed smokes brisket anywhere from 195°F to 275°F depending on the smoker. When using a pellet grill, barbeque guru Malcolm sets the temperature to 195°F until the wrapping stage, then he raises the temperature up to 250°F until the brisket is done. He holds the temperature at 250°F on a charcoal smoker and 275°F on an offset wood smoker.
World Brisket Champion Harry Soo is now sharing his secrets with his Competition Meat Rubs.
What Temperature Does Harry Soo Smoke Brisket?
In general, Harry Soo smokes brisket at 250°F, however, Harry is the master of brisket experimentation and has a variety of methods. In his Texas-Style Brisket method, Harry begins at 200°F for the first 6-hours and then raises the temperature up to 250°F and in his hot-and-fast Backyard Brisket method, Harry cooks a brisket in 4-hours at 400°F.
Hot and Fast Brisket at 350°F – 400°F
Sometimes you might not have a lot of time to cook a brisket, but you still want it to be tender and tasty. It is possible to cook a brisket quickly, in just 4 hours, by using a high temperature, like 350°F or higher. However, it’s important to make sure you have a good understanding of all the other techniques, like adding extra fat to protect the meat and keeping it moist by spritzing it every half hour. You also need to pay close attention to the internal temperature of the meat, as it will increase quickly when cooking at such a high temperature. While a 4-hour brisket may not win any competitions, it can still be a delicious option if you don’t have all day to cook at a lower temperature, like 220°F. I’ve written an article on this topic: Hot and Fast Brisket vs Low and Slow
Harry Soo’s Quick Backyard Brisket at 400°F
Multiple world champion Harry Soo from the TV show Barbeque Pitmasters has a 4-hour brisket recipe where he smokes the brisket at 400°F for three hours then 275°F in the oven wrapped. Harry normally uses a Weber Smokey Mountain in competitions, but for his quick Backyard Brisket, he uses a kamado style cooker because of their ability to reach high temperatures.
For this recipe, you will need to spray the brisket every 30-minutes and hold the temperature between 350°F and 400°F. After about 3-hours, the bark should be firm. For the last stage of the cook, wrap the brisket in foil and place it in a conventional oven for an hour set to 275°F. Harry teaches his students of barbeque how to know if a brisket is ready by poking a bamboo skewer into a jar of peanut butter. When you poke the brisket, it should feel the same.
What Temperature Is Brisket Done?
A brisket is done once the internal meat temperature reaches 203°F. This is much higher than the recommended USDA recommendations for meat, but brisket has a lot of connective tissue that needs time to render. At 203°F, the brisket should feel like butter when you probe it with a thermometer.
The only way to get an accurate reading on a thermometer is by using a quality leave-in thermometer. A thermometer takes all the guesswork out of smoking and can also help you measure the temperature of the cooking chamber. If you want more info on thermometers, check out our Thermometer Guide. Here’s another article I wrote an article a while back that you might interest you: How Long To Smoke A Brisket?
Wrap Brisket At What Temperature?
Brisket is best smoked unwrapped for the first three to four hours to absorb the smoke flavors. The last few hours are when you want to wrap your brisket in foil or butcher paper to prevent the brisket from drying out. At the three- or four-hour mark of the smoke, the brisket should be a nice mahogany color and the fat should be soft and yellow. At this point, the internal temperature should be about 165°F to 180°F. It is at this point that you should wrap the brisket in two layers of foil. Wrapping the brisket will influence the temperature of your smoker. Normally, the temperature will drop a few degrees after wrapping for up to thirty minutes afterwards. I’ve written an entire article on the subject of wrapping brisket, so if you want to read more on the subject you can check it out here: Wrap Brisket at What Temp?
Learn To Control Temperature On Your Smoker
It is important to have a good understanding of how your smoker works. If you are new to smoking, think about building up to a brisket. Practice on a chicken or another cheaper cut of meat. Once you feel you can control the temperature of your cooker, have a go at smoking a brisket. Another idea people recommend is to do a few dry runs with your smoker. Monitor the temperature shifts, learn how to adjust the vents.
Brisket Fat Cap Up Or Down?
Brisket contains a fatty top layer called the fat cap. When smoking a brisket, always lay the brisket on the grill fat cap down. The fat cap will absorb the heat and protect the more vulnerable parts of the meat. It’s a good idea to trim some fat from the top of the brisket, because it won’t render and it will block the smoke from absorbing into the meat. Brisket is thick at one end and narrow at the other, making it a challenge to cook evenly. With the fat cap facing down, place the thicker, muscly part of the brisket (the point) directed towards the flame. By placing the thick end towards the fire, the point should cook evenly with the thinner flat of the brisket. For more on brisket placement, check out another article I’ve written: Should I Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
Wrapping Brisket In Foil Or Butcher Paper
Briskets are best smoked unwrapped for the first 3 to 4 hours to absorb the smoke flavors. The last few hours is when you want to wrap your brisket in foil or butcher paper to prevent the brisket from drying out.
At the 3-4 hour mark of the smoke, the brisket should be a nice mahogany color and the fat should be soft and yellow. At this point, the internal temperature should be about 165°F to 180°F. It is at this point that you should wrap the brisket in two layers of foil. Wrapping the brisket will influence the temperature of your smoker. Normally, the temperature will drop a few degrees after wrapping for up to thirty minutes afterwards.
If you’re interested in learning more about wrapping brisket, I’ve written an in-depth article on the subject. You can find the article here: What Should I Use To Wrap Brisket?
The Best Butcher Paper For Brisket
How To Choose A Good Brisket For Smoking
The first step in smoking a good brisket is learning how to select a good piece of meat from the butcher. Knowing how to choose a quality brisket is crucial if you want to get excellent results. You’ll get better value for money if you buy a whole brisket or ‘packer’ brisket. The brisket has two parts, the point and the flat. Try to purchase a brisket with a thick flat for a more even cook. To avoid excessive trimming, choose a brisket with only an inch of fat on the top layer, otherwise you are wasting money. Select a brisket with nice marbling–the fatty collagen within the meat.
Marbling is very important when selecting a brisket and can make all the difference. For a deeper understanding of brisket marbling, you might be interested in reading an article that I wrote on marbling on brisket. You can find the article here: Marbling on Brisket.
- Brisket is a tough cut of meat that needs to be cooked at low temperature for a long time to become tender
- Most BBQ experts smoke brisket between 225°F and 250°F
- A traditional Texas-style brisket is smoked at 225°F, which is also a good temperature for beginners
- Once you have a good understanding of smoking brisket, you can experiment with higher temperatures (275°F-300°F) to cook brisket faster
- When starting out, it’s best to stick to a lower temperature (225°F) and focus on learning the basics of smoking brisket
- To cook a brisket faster at higher temperatures (275°F-300°F), make sure to keep the brisket moist and consider leaving more fat on it to protect it from the heat
- Another method is to smoke the brisket at 225°F, then wrap it and increase the temperature to 275°F to push the brisket through the “stall”
Standard Barbecue Rub
I found this great rub recipe through How To BBQ Right. I use this recipe and alter it slightly depending on what I'm cooking. Made by the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply: https://townsendspice.com/
- - ½ Cup Paprika
- - ½ Cup Salt
- - ½ Cup Sugar
- - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
- - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
- - ¼ Cup Chili
- - ¼ Cup Cumin
- - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
- - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
- Store rub in rub shakers
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