Brisket Internal Temperature: A Guide to Brisket Target Temperature

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To whip up a perfectly smoked brisket, you need to know the optimal internal temperature to pull it from the smoker. Pitmasters and BBQ champs recommend an internal temperature of 195°F and 200°F. I believe 200°F is the perfect internal temperature for a brisket; here’s why.

What is the Best Internal Temperature for Brisket?

The perfect smoked brisket should be smoky, juicy, and tender in the middle, with a caramelized outer and crispy bark. To achieve all these characteristics, I believe the best internal temperature for brisket is 200°F.

Pulling your brisket from the smoker at this point allows for carryover cooking, where the temperature can rise up to 10°F after you pull it from the smoker. But just as important, I am checking the texture. When my temperature probe slides into the meat like softened butter, it is ready.

We’ll show you the internal target temperature you want to reach, how to get there, and how to measure it. 

The Target Temperature for Brisket You Need to Reach Before Pulling It

The target temp for brisket is 200°F before you should pull it from the smoker. If you’re a beginner, avoid going by the texture or appearance. Always use a temp cooking probe or meat probe to get an accurate reading and ensure the brisket is done.

BBQ experts often debate about the perfect temperature. Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin Barbecue, recommends a magic number of 204°F to achieve the perfect smoked brisket.

This temperature for brisket is where the collagen is rendered down, and the meat is tender. We recommend pulling the brisket off the smoker wrapping it, and placing it in a cooler until it comes down to 140°F.

Using a leave-in instant thermometer probe to monitor the internal temperature without pulling it on and off the grill is best.

How Long Does It Take For Brisket to Reach 200°F?

Depending on the size, the cooking time for brisket can take up to 18 hours to smoke a brisket at 225°F to 275°F. That’s because breaking down the connective tissue into juicy gelatine takes time.

Don’t Want to Wait? You Can Raise The Temperature

By raising the cooking temperature between 300°F and 350°F, the cooking time can be reduced to only a couple of hours; this is known as hot and fast. However, there’s a greater risk of overcooking, and it won’t have the same smoky flavor as slow-cooked beef brisket.

Also, slow cooking has the advantage of helping to ensure that the smoke flavor from the pellet smoker is absorbed into the meat. 

What’s the Optimal Cooking Temperature for Smoking Brisket?

Most barbecue experts like Aaron Franklin recommend smoking the brisket between 225°F and 275°F.

How to Wrap a Brisket 

If you encounter the brisket stall or just want to keep your meat from drying out, wrapping the smoked brisket in butcher paper or foil is the way to go.

This retains moisture, heat, and smoky flavor while reducing bitterness. Avoid wrapping the brisket too early since that would prevent the bark from turning forming. 

Many barbecue aficionados prefer pink butcher paper. That’s because it’s unwaxed, unbleached, food-grade, and heavy-duty. This allows the smoke and heat to penetrate to give the meat a smoky flavor.

Tips for Smoking the Perfect Brisket 

Making the perfect brisket involves many elements. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to cooking a tasty piece of brisket. 

Brisket Subsitutues

Can’t afford brisket? The price for this cut is skyrocketing. You can also use one of these substitutes for brisket: tri-tip, pork shoulder, or beef roast.

Pick The Right Wood for Brisket

The type of wood you use will affect the end flavor. For brisket, we suggest using mesquite or hickory wood chips. These are both strong flavors that brisket can handle.

Spritz the Smoked Brisket 

Keeping the brisket moist throughout the cooking process can be challenging.

However, the best way to retain and add moisture to the brisket is to use a brisket spray. This entails using a spray bottle and a liquid to prevent the meat from drying out. Make sure you don’t spritz in the first 60 minutes, which allows the crust to form, then spritz every 45 minutes.

I like using water, apple cider vinegar, beef stock, or apple juice in a spritz. You can dilute it so that the flavor isn’t too strong.

Use a Dry Rub

Using the right brisket rub ensures the brisket is beautifully complemented. Whether it’s the brisket flat or point, the rub helps to enhance the flavor profiles.

A traditional brisket rub comprises ground black pepper and kosher salt in a 1:1 ratio. Ensure you add mustard, which is a good binder for smoking meat. Then, coat the entire surface of the brisket with about 3/4 to 1 cup of the seasoning rub.

Whether you’re a backyard barbecue or a professional pitmaster, the ultimate goal is to cook delicious meat. There are many ways to make the perfect smoked brisket.

By the end, you’re left with a rich, dark mahogany crunchy texture, soft, tender meat in the center, and a smoky flavor oozing out. 

One of the best ways to ensure your brisket is smoked perfectly is to ensure the optimal internal temperature. Follow the guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to creating a masterpiece! 

Smoke On!


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.

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1 thought on “Brisket Internal Temperature: A Guide to Brisket Target Temperature”

  1. In his book, Aaron Franklin recommends smoking brisket at 275°. He says while some can opt to cook as low as 225°, he prefers cooking at 275° for speed of cook and bark development.

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