What Temperature to Pull Brisket (Timing, Internal Temp & Wrapping)

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 and exactly what temp to pull the brisket from from the smoker. You will get the juiciness and tender brisket by smoking it low and slow until you reach an internal temperature of 195°F-205°F.

It might seem like a big temperature range but brisket is cooked perfectly when the connective tissue has broken down. It allows the tough piece of meat to become a juicy, tender cut that we all know so well. That’s is why you need to cook to within a temperature range rather than a cook time or specific temperature.

Their is a lot of debate between pitmasters, backyard cooks and chefs about the when the optimal temperature to pull brisket. But knowing that you need to cook it between 195°F – 205°F is essential for cooking a brisket successfully. Below we will look at the factors that affect this range as well as expert opinions and what temperature they cook to. .

I have also tested many combinations of different timings, temps, and wrapping brisket at various stages. I am now ready to share my insider knowledge below.

The brisket we smoked last weekend

What Internal Temperature 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°F.

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.

I have used the method above for my Brisket on Pit Boss Pellet Grill, Traeger smoked brisket and have always ended up tender, juicy and fall apart brisket as well the perfect crispy bark.

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 brisket in the smoker

What’s The Best Brisket Internal Temperature?

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 gelatine 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.

This Using The Internal Temperature of Brisket The Best Ways of Knowing It Ready?

The best way to tell the doneness of brisket involves checking its internal temperature and tenderness. When the brisket reaches an internal temperature within the range of 192°-208°F, it’s time to test its tenderness.

The ideal indicator of doneness is the resistance felt when probing the meat. The brisket is considered done if a probe thermometer slides into the point, the flat and the thickest part of the meat with minimal resistance, similar to warm butter. If you find that there is some resistance between 191°F – 195°F allow the brisket is smoke longer. This test can be conducted even if the brisket is wrapped, by simply inserting the probe through the wrap.

Why Does Brisket Get Cooked to a Higher Temperature?

You might be wondering why you need to cook brisket low and slow to a minimum temperature of 190°? It has to do with the amount of connective tissue in the brisket. But you might be wondering what we really mean by the connective tissue affecting the tenderness and doneness, I will explain in more depth below.

Slicing my smoked brisket

What is Brisket and What Makes it So Tough?

Brisket is a primal cut that comes from a cow’s chest. When muscles are worked a lot that have a lot of connective tissue. Supporting the cows weight and constant movement means the brisket has a significant amount of connective tissue.

The brisket consists of two distinct parts: the flat and the point, when they are left together it is called a packer brisket. The flat is leaner with a thick fat layer on top and minimal interior marbling, while the point has more internal fat. The muscle fibers in these two parts run in opposite directions to each other, contributing to their unique textures and cooking requirements.

Considering the different marbling and grain directions in a full packer brisket, it’s common to separate the flat and the point for easier cooking and serving. The flat, being leaner, typically finishes cooking before the point. Separating these parts can lead to better results in both cooking and serving the brisket.

How Does Smoking Breakdown The Connective Tisse?

To get the tender, fall apart texture of brisket you need to cook it low and slow and using smoke is a good way to achieve this and its adds good flavor. If brisket is cooked too quickly or at high heat, the collagen tightens, resulting in tough meat. The low and slow technique ensure the collagen softens and melts, which usually happens between160°F and 205°F. After being slowly heated the collagen will turns into gelatin, which is the jiggling, clear substance you will be able to see on the meat or as a liquid.

The connective tissue won’t fully breakdown until it reaches 200°F. So why are some people pulling it off the smoker at 190°F? Well you need to consider the carryover cooking. This when the internal temperature will continue to rise around 5ºF-10°F even when its pulled from the smoker. Even after the meat is pulled from the smoker, the carryover cooking continues so if you pull it at 195°F it may continue to rise until 205°F-206°F.

Can You Overcook or Undercook Brisket?

Yes you can overcook and undercook brisket. Lets start undercook brisket. If you cook to the USDA minimal standard of 145°F it will be safe and edible however it will be chewy and really tough. All the connective tissue and fat will not have broken down which is why its still tough.

If you overcook brisket the gelatin that is breakdown from the connective tissue can evaporate. This can leave you with dry and tough meat making it unpleasant to eat.

Why Does The Internal Temperature of The Brisket Stop Increasing?

When smoking brisket, you might notice a temperature plateau, this often occurs between 150°-170°F, and is known as the “stall.” This can be nerve wracking for first-timers. The stall occurs as moisture evaporates from the meat’s surface, this affect the temperature in the smoker.. To counteract this, wrapping the brisket in food-grade paper or aluminum foil can help. This method encloses the meat, aiding in overcoming the stall and allowing the internal temperature to rise again.

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

  1. 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.
  2. Wrap the meat tightly. You don’t want any juices leaking out.
  3. Place the probe inside the meat after wrapping it to keep an eye on the brisket internal temp.
what temp to wrap brisket

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, which will take less time. If you’re 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

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 2-4-hour period; this is how long you can rest a brisket in a cooler. Make sure you go by temperature not time, just monitor the temperature and remove it from the cooler when it reaches 140°F

pork butt resting in cooler with the wrap

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 use a brisket 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.

when to take brisket off smoker
Slicing our brisket after letting it rest

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

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

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 recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

4 thoughts on “What Temperature to Pull Brisket (Timing, Internal Temp & Wrapping)”

  1. Thanks Charlie. I’m always testing new methods and making notes. Just a month ago, I made an awesome tasting brisket, but then yesterday, I tried a few variations, and it bombed. Dry as a catcher’s mit. You’re right, you have to keep trying it until you find what works for you. I found that, for sure, pulling at 195 and cambro for 2-3 hrs is money brisket. Ditched the foil a long time ago, and only use butcher paper. Much more consistent results.

    1. Hiya Matt!! 1000% testing is the best way to create an epic brisket! What was the variations you tried out the other day?? Also curious do you wrap your brisket in a towel when you use a faux cambro? cheers!!

  2. Love the article! You certainly seem to know your stuff when it comes to turning out great briskets. You are definitely right about the internal temperature not being the only condition that determines when a brisket is done but is definitely a great place for new cooks to begin! Keep up the great posts!

    1. thanks so much Josh, your right I love nothing more than getting the smoker fired up smoking a brisket, especially when we have some delicious sides prepared as well and some family and friends to share the food with! Smoke on!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *