Brisket Internal Temp: A Guide to Brisket Target Temp

Brisket can be one of the toughest cuts of meat to master but with a little practice, you can whip up a perfectly smoked brisket. You just need to know what target temp you should you be aiming for before pulling your brisket from the smoker.

The perfect smoked brisket should be smoky, juicy and tender in the middle and have a caramelized outer with crispy bark. While many factors contribute to great beef brisket, having the right brisket internal temperature is vital.

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

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

The target temp for brisket is 204°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 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 275°F. That’s because it takes time to break down the connective tissue into juicy gelatine.

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 275°F.

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 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 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.

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

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 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 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!


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 Temp: A Guide to Brisket Target Temp”

  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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