Brisket Internal Temp: A Temperature Guide to the Perfect Brisket

Brisket can be one of the toughest cuts of meat to master.

However, with a little practice, you can whip up a perfectly smoked brisket.

The perfect smoked brisket should be juicy and tender in the middle and smoky and crispy outside.

While many factors contribute to great beef brisket, having the right internal temperature is vital.

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

When to Pull the Smoked Brisket Off the Smoker

The perfect internal temperature for smoked brisket is 204°F

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 and wrapping it and placing it in a cooler until it reaches target temperatures.

It’s best to use a leave-in instant thermometer probe so that you can watch the internal temperature without pulling it on and off the grill.

How Long Does It Take For Brisket to Reach 204°F?

Depending on the size, the cooking time for brisket can take up to 18 hours to smoke a brisket at 225°F to 250°F

That’s because it takes time to break down the connective tissue into juicy gelatin.

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

By raising the cooking temperature between 300°F to 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 a slow-cooked beef brisket.

Also, the advantage of slow cooking helps 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 250°F.

Although it may take all day and night to cook at 225°F, the result is a juicy brisket that we all know and love.

However, once you understand the fundamentals of smoking brisket, it’s possible to cook it at higher temperatures.

How to Wrap a Brisket 

If you encounter the brisket stall or just want 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 crispy. 

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 nice smoky flavor.

Tips of Smoking the Perfect Brisket 

There are many elements to making the perfect brisket. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to cooking up 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 long cooking process can be quite a challenge. Some electric smokers require using a water pan to retain moisture.

However, the best way to retain and add moisture to the smoked brisket is to spritz the meat. This entails using a spray bottle and a form of liquid to prevent the meat from drying out.

Consider spraying the brisket with water, apple cider vinegar, beef stock, or apple juice onto the meat.

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 consists of a 1:1 ratio between ground black pepper and kosher salt. Ensure you add a binder like mustard to your brisket 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 with 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!


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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