When it comes to cooking brisket, we all want to have that juicy meat and crispy bark.
To achieve this, you need to know the optimal internal temperature for brisket. That way you know when to pull it from the smoker.
Many people can’t decide on what temperature to pull their brisket.
Knowing the answer to this is essential for cooking a brisket successfully.
I have tested many combinations of different timings, temps, and wrapping brisket at various stages.
I am now ready to share my insider knowledge below.
When to Pull Brisket off The Smoker
The BBQ legend Aaron Franklin has said that 195°F is the temperature at which you should pull brisket.
Whereas professionals in the industry have insisted that 200°F is best.
While some other pros insist that between 180°F and 190°F is best for brisket.
My personal opinion is that; brisket will be perfect if you smoke it until an internal temperature of 204°.
As you can see he answers can vary from one pitmaster to another.
Every individual has his style when it comes to brisket.
If you want to know when your smoked brisket is done you can try the hang or pull test. While its something you can only do once you have pulled and sliced your brisket (so not very practical). You let a a slice of brisket hang off your fingers. The brisket slice should not fall apart from its own weight but should break apart if you pull on it.
What Temperature Should You Cook Brisket At?
You should cook brisket at 225°F according to meat smoking legend Meathead Goldwyn
Cooking low and slow allows that collagen and connective tissue to breakdown and leaves you with delicious juicy meat with that smoky flavor.
The Optimal Internal Temperature for Brisket
The best internal temperature for brisket is between 195°F -204°F, that is when it ready to be pulled from the smoker.
Reaching this internal temp will allow the connective tissue (which is composed of collagen) to break down into gelatin during the cooking process, this is what gives the meat a juicy and succulent texture.
The texture of brisket plays an important role when deciding on whether its ready to pull from the smoker.
But if you’re new to the cooking game (and not sure what texture the brisket should be) it’s always safe to go with the internal temp of the brisket as your indication to pull it.
So smoking your brisket based on the internal temperature, will not only give you the best results but will also save you from under or overcooking it.
I recommend and use a leave-in instant-read thermometer to monitor the brisket internal temp. I also like to use the thermometer that have two probes, that way you can put one in the flat and one in the point.
Does The Flat and Point Reach The Optimal Temperature at Different Times?
You might find that the point and the flat will show different temperatures, and that the flat will reach 204°F before the flat.
Some people remove the whole packer brisket from the smoker, then cut the flat from the point and return it to the smoker. Otherwise you can separate the point and flat before the smoking process.
How Long Will Your Brisket Take?
The average packer brisket is 11-18 pounds. It is a large cut of meat, it has two muscles and a fat cap. Meathead Goldwyn suggests smoking brisket at 225°F over indirect heat.
I went with his suggestion and created this calculation for working out how long to cook brisket.
It will take 1 hour and 30 minutes per pound (lb) of brisket at 225°F (or 107°C)
A brisket I smoked last weekend was 9lb. Here is the actual cooking time
9lb brisket x 1.5 hours = 13.5 hours with a cooking temperature of 225 °F
What If Your in a Hurry and Want to Cook at 300°F?
You can cook your brisket at 300°F – 350°F and it will take less time to cook. If your in a hurry this is a good option however you do run the risk of overcooking your brisket and you won’t get the same smokiness that you would at 225°F
What About Wrapping it?
A popular technique to try if experience the stall during your brisket cook is the Texas crutch. This method of wrapping your brisket in butchers papers is also highly recommended by Aaron Franklin.
In this method, you need to pull the beef brisket from the heat when it reaches 185 – 195 and wrap brisket in butcher paper or foil tightly.
Steps to Wrapping Your Brisket
Here’s how you can wrap your brisket to achieve the perfect texture
- Use good-quality aluminum foil or butcher paper to wrap your meat. However, using butcher paper minimizes the risk of overcooking, so it’s a safer option than foil.
- Wrap the meat tightly. You don’t want any juices leaking out.
- Place the probe inside the meat after wrapping it to keep an eye on the brisket internal temp.
Should You Be Resting Your Brisket?
Another important part when it comes to smoking a brisket is the rest period
When brisket is cooking, the protein fibers uncoil and then coagulate, recoiling and becoming firm.
As the protein starts to become firm, again it pushes out the moisture.
Once it’s removed from the heat, the protein fibers start to relax and reabsorb some of the moisture that was lost.
So if skip resting you’ll lose all those delicious meat juices when you cut into it
How to Rest Your Brisket?
Once your brisket has been pulled from the smoker, wrap it in butcher’s paper and then in a towel.
Place the brisket in a cooler. You want to bring the internal temperature of the brisket down from 200°F to 140°F over a 4-hour period.
My Hot Tips for Smoking A PERFECT Brisket
Want some of my own insider tips on smoking brisket?
These are little nuggets of information I have learned over many years of cooking brisket.
- Put the fattier end towards the heat source
Having the fatter end towards the heat source helps insulate the meat and prevents it from drying out. If your heat source is from comes from above place the brisket fat side down. This can also help the fat rendering on the brisket.
- Should you use the point or the flat (or the whole brisket)
The piece of meat I like to use is the point. I find it has more marbling in the muscle which means a more flavourful, tender brisket.
- You can use mop sauce
It has been tested and proven that wet meat can more smoke. You can spritz or mop if you like. We have used beer, water, beef broth, and apple juice in previous cooks.
- Always Use a Rub
I like to create a rub for my brisket with just kosher salt and white pepper. I think white pepper has a better flavor than black pepper.
Slicing Your Brisket (This Can Be Tricky)
Slicing your brisket can be tricky and it has taken me years to master.
It deserves its whole own page, so you can read about slicing your brisket perfectly here.
You Need to Practice!
No matter what anyone tells you, the most important technique to follow when making a juicy brisket is to PRACTICE.
You can’t cook the best brisket on your first try. It takes time and patience to achieve a delicious brisket.
The best way of becoming successful in your attempts is to take notes on the mistakes try to improve.
It can be really tough to smoke brisket well.
After this, I hope there isn’t any confusion as to what temp to pull brisket.
If you still have some questions just reach out I am always here to help
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 nature with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork)
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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