How To Tell When Smoked Brisket Is Done (4 Simple Ways)

If you own a smoker, beef brisket is one of the best things to smoke! 

Briskets are amazing for any type of occasion, as t’s easier to feed and please a whole crowd with it! Plus leftover briskets can be used in mac n cheese, tacos, and even chili.

Briskets can be tender, juicy, and have a smoky flavor when cooked properly. Nobody enjoys dry and chewy meat, so you need to be careful when cooking brisket.

Briskets are also an expensive cut of meat and overcooking it will be a pricey mistake. So let’s find the correct cooking process for pitmaster worthy brisket

Getting Brisket Juicy and Tender

The brisket contains a high amount of muscle fibers and connective tissue. For the piece of meat to get tender, the muscles and connective tissues needs time to break down. This can take a long time. Sometimes you might also run into the stall, this is when the brisket stop or only slowly increases temperature from 140°F due to evaporation.

In this article, we will show you how to tell if brisket is done and how to get tender meat.

Here are four different ways to check the brisket for doneness.

1. The Brisket Fork Test.

This is a very simple way to check if your brisket is done.

Simply run your fork through the brisket and if it slides through the meat easily, it is ready. Otherwise, leave the brisket in the smoker for longer, and make sure you let it rest in a cooler.

You can also do this with a knife.

2. By Checking The Internal Temperature.

Checking the internal temperature of the brisket is said to be a sure-fire way to check for doneness.

There are many arguments on what the proper temperature for cooking briskets is. The preferred temperature range is between 195 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature can be checked with an instant-read thermometer or a meat thermometer.

To get an accurate measurement of the temperature, you should probe the brisket, the thickest part of the flat.

3. By Poking The Brisket With A Toothpick.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer available, you can use a toothpick to check for doneness.

Simply push the toothpick at the center of the brisket

The toothpick should be able to slide in and out of the meat easily. If there is no resistance, the meat is done. 

You can also run a probe thermometer through the center of the brisket. If there is no resistance and it runs through smoothly, the brisket is done.

4. The Feel Test.

The feel test is one of the easiest ways to tell if your brisket is done. It involves putting your hands under the cooked meat and lifting it. If it feels wobbly and like a piece of gelatine, it is done.

Make sure you wear gloves to avoid getting your hands burnt.

Once you have checked for doneness, wrap the brisket with foil or butcher paper. Afterward, let the brisket rest for a couple of hours and it’s ready to eat. Allowing the brisket to rest will tenderize the meat.

My 6 Hot Tips for Pitmaster Worthy Brisket

Now that you know how to tell if your brisket is done, here are a few tips to help you prepare tender and juicy brisket.

1. Season the meat: The salt will help the brisket retain moisture, as well as help, develop a delicious bark on your brisket.

2. Choose the right cut: Not all brisket cuts are the same. The different cuts of brisket are the packer brisket, the flat cut, and the point cut.

3. Trim the brisket fat: The brisket meat is generously marbled, but the excess fat on the brisket needs to be trimmed

If the entire fat cap is left on the brisket, seasonings or smoke will not be able to penetrate it. However you should leave some fat on the brisket to retain moisture.

4. Choose the right cooking method: There are different ways to cook brisket.

These methods include braising, cooking in a smoker, using a dutch oven or a slow cooker.

5. Pull Your Brisket on Temperature Not Time

The cook time depends on the size of the brisket. Basically, the bigger the brisket, the longer the cooking time. To cook the perfect brisket, set the smoker to about 225 degrees for 8 to 10 hours. 

6. Pair it With The Right Wine

A rich red meat like brisket goes well with red wine, I recommend going for a Malbec or shiraz

You don’t need to be one of those professional pitmasters to master the art of brisket.

The tips above will help you get tender meat and check for doneness easily.

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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