Have you ever wondered how to best estimate how long cooking a whole brisket will take?
Lots of cooking guides will instruct you as to how to tell when the brisket is done.
If you don’t know, brisket should be taken off the heat when it reaches an internal temperature of 203°F
However, this leaves you stuck waiting. And you’re left constantly checking the temperature throughout the entire cook.
It’s nice to have a rough guideline of how long a whole cut of brisket will take to cook depending on its size and weight.
Luckily, there’s an actual way to do that.
Keep on reading to find out how to work out the cooking times for a brisket per pound.
How Long Should You Smoke a Brisket per Pound
To be able to calculate this, you will need to take into account all of the different variables. For example, you have to think about the size of the meat, the weight of it, and of course the temperature of the smoker or grill you’re using.
Let’s say that your smoker is set to 225°F (that is what pro pitmasters reccomed)
If so, you can estimate that for every pound of meat, it will take an hour and a half to two hours to cook the brisket without it drying out.
Of course, this is just a general rule of thumb. It is not the golden rule. And it will not always be applicable.
The key to knowing how to smoke your brisket perfectly is a thermometer. That way you know exactly the internal temperature of your meat.
How Many Hours of Smoking for Each Pound of Brisket?
You might be wondering why the rule is so dependent on ‘per hour’ or ‘per pound of meat’.
Well, we use this form of measurement because it’s always easier to round times up the nearest hour. Plus, briskets are always sold by the pound. (Unless you’re relying on the metric system, of course.)
Regardless, the cooking duration per pound is completely reliant on the method of cooking and so on. Therefore, you might need to allocate anywhere from half an hour to two hours per pound of meat.
But we’ve come up with a quick and helpful guide to help you. We have simplified to these three general rules:
- You’ll need around 1.5 – 2 hours/pound if your smoker temperature is set to 225 ℉
- You’ll need around 1.5 hours/pound if your smoker temperature is set to 250 ℉
- You’ll need around 0.5 hours/pound if your smoker temperature is set to 300 ℉
This means that a 10-pound brisket being smoked at 250 ℉ will take around 15 hours before it’s done. This guide is just a way for you to develop a rough estimate for your cooking times.
Be sure to keep an eye on the smoking situation and alter the times as you see fit.
Calculations for How Long to Smoke a Brisket (All Sizes)
To make things simpler for you, we have also curated a simple smoking guide for you to follow. Of course, as cooking circumstances constantly change, you’ll have to tweak this guide a little to match any differing factors.
We’d like to keep this cooking cheat sheet concise. Hence, we’ll keep the cooking temperature to an average of 225 F.
With that in mind, please alter some of our instructions if you’re dealing with a slightly hotter or cooler grill.
The general calculation includes multiplying the weight of your brisket by 1 ⅓ hours to total your overall cooking time.
– Cook a 1.5-pound brisket cut for approximately 2 hours.
– Cook a 2 pound brisket cut for approximately 3 hours.
– Cook a 2.5 pound brisket cut for approximately 4 hours.
– Cook a 3 pound brisket cut for approximately 4 hours.
However, this calculation isn’t the golden rule.
So, if you’re dealing with larger cuts then you’ll need to set aside some more time for your smoking sessions.
For example, you should …
– Cook a 4 pound brisket cut for approximately 6 hours.
– Cook a 5 pound brisket cut for approximately 7.5 hours.
– Cook a 8 pound brisket cut for approximately 10 hours.
– Cook a 10 pound brisket cut for approximately 12 hours.
– Cook a 14 pound brisket cut for approximately 16 hours.
– Cook a 15 pound brisket cut for approximately 17 hours.
– Cook a 16 pound brisket cut for approximately 18 hours.
Of course, we assume that you’ll allow the meat to rest and wait until it reaches room temperature before you begin your cook.
And if you decide to wrap your brisket, then you might also be looking at a shorter cooking time.
So the KEY to smoking the perfect brisket is to use a probe thermometer and monitor your temps!
Are There Other Things You Will Need to Keep In Mind?
The temperature setting of your smoker or grill isn’t the sole variable that will affect the cooking time of your brisket.
The fat and meat content of the brisket will also come into play. For example, the higher the fat content, the faster it will cook. In turn, if the brisket is quite large and has a higher content of lean meat, then it will take a while for the heat to penetrate through the entire thing.
The weather will also affect the cook. Let’s say, you’re using a gas grill or an electric grill for your smoke. You can certainly bet that the outside temperature will affect the unit’s internal temperature.
So, during winter, you might have to deal with longer cooking times than usual. And during summer, you might experience a faster cook.
How Should You Cook the Fatty Side?
If you’re wondering whether cooking the piece of meat with the fat side up or down affects the timing, it doesn’t.
This is more of a personal preference kind of thing. However, it is a good idea to have the flat side facing down if you’re cooking with a conventional grill.
This is because the heat comes up from the bottom. The fat can even help to keep the brisket from sticking onto the hot grill grates.
However, if you’re preparing the brisket in an oven, then it’s a good idea to have the flat side facing up. This will ensure that the fat breaks down nicely to keep the meat moist and tender.
What if You’re Working With a Small Brisket?
We don’t have much advice to offer here. However, the logical thing to keep in mind is that smaller briskets will call for a shorter cooking time. To works out if you’re using a “small” brisket the average brisket weighs 10-16 pounds.
And it’s also always important for you to pay even more close attention to the meat as it’s cooking. This is because it’s easier to accidentally overcook a small brisket. After all, you don’t want the brisket drying out in the process of it all!
Here’s What You Can Do to Cook It Faster
Sure, smoking your brisket with your own two hands is always a rewarding experience. The long waiting times are tough to deal with. It’s especially tough if you have hungry mouths that are just waiting to be fed.
Hence, everyone is always on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to shorten the cooking time. The most common mistake that rookies make is to take the instinctive approach of turning up the heat.
Sure, cooking your piece of brisket at 280 ℉ or 300 ℉ may cook it faster. A hot smoker or grill will also inevitably dry out your meat.
And you might end up wasting the precious meat. Which would be a great shame, considering that briskets aren’t exactly cheap cuts of meat.
So, what are some other solutions to this dilemma?
You can always use this method known as the ‘Texas Crutch’. It’s extremely easy to do, and it always yields great results. It just involves wrapping your piece of meat as soon as you notice the meat’s internal temperature begins to stall.
The meat stall occurs around halfway during a cook. This is when the internal meat temperature appears to stop rising. This is due to the condensation that begins to form around the meat. The tiny water droplets are what’s responsible for causing the meat to lose heat.
So the temperature won’t begin to rise again until all of that water evaporates off.
For the Texas Crutch method, you just have to take it off the heat and wrap it in either aluminum foil, butcher paper, or parchment paper. Then you’ll want to place it right back on the hot grill to continue cooking. The wrap will reduce the cooking time because it prevents any evaporation from occurring.
If you’re worried about the wrap affecting the outcome of the bark, then we have a suggestion. You can always unwrap the meat towards the end of the cook, and place it back on the heat for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp the bark a little bit. This will also help give it a smokier flavor.
Make sure you allow you time for the brisket to rest in the cooler before you slice it.
Some Extra Advice
An estimate of how long it’ll take for you to smoke your brisket is great, but you’ll always need to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat. Take it off the heat as soon as your instant-read thermometer reads 203° F, and you’ll be left with delicious brisket every time!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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