How Long To Smoke A Brisket?

How Long To Smoke A Brisket?

Smoking a brisket is a common way to cook this cut of beef and they really need a long smoking time. There are many different variations of brisket and they come from different areas in the USA with each one having its own unique flavor profile. Some people like their brisket with a lot of bark (beef dry rub) while some like it is moist with very little or no sauce on top when serving.

Whatever your preference, when you smoke a brisket for several hours over indirect heat, not only does it make for some amazing eats but also gives you ample time to tend the fire and add more fuel as needed. This is an important part of making sure that your brisket comes out juicy and tender every time. In this article, we will discuss how long you should smoke your brisket.

How Long To Smoke A Brisket

What is a brisket?

A brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a beef animal. It is typically a tough piece of meat with a lot of cartilage, fat, and connective tissues running through it. Because of this, it needs to be cooked for a long time at low heat in order to break down these tissues and make them tender.

Types of Briskets:

There are two main types that we will be talking about in this article which include the packer cut and flat cut. The whole point of smoking a brisket is to cook it low and slow over indirect heat until the internal temperature gets close to 200 degrees. The problem with cooking such an item for many hours over indirect heat is it can easily dry out or become tough depending on what type of brisket you choose before putting it on your smoker.

A packer brisket is what most people think of when they hear the term “brisket” but it really isn’t a cut of meat. Instead, it comes from the part of the cow where all cuts meet and that is called the plate or chest section. Typically, this item weighs between 8 to 12 pounds for an untrimmed one and tapers down to about 4 to 6 pounds after cooking due to shrinkage. This particular piece also has more marbling (fat running through it), which helps make it extremely tender when cooked properly. The downside with using this type however is you will need about 1/2 pound per person as far as weight goes depending on how much fat there is throughout the meat itself.

A flat-cut brisket is what you would get if you were to separate the fat from the packer cut and also remove most of the excess weight from it. This particular cut comes from an area in which there isn’t a lot of marbling and can range anywhere between 3 and 9 pounds with about 1/2 pound per person being the average amount needed for serving. The upside with this type is that it doesn’t have as much shrinkage as a packer but still provides enough bark (rub) on top to give it some flavor. Many competition BBQ cooks use this item when smoking meat because they trim off all visible fat before placing it on their smoker, giving them more room in both their chamber and their allotted time frame.

How does smoking a brisket work?

In order to smoke a brisket properly, you need indirect heat as your source so that you have evenly cooked meat throughout. In other words, instead of cooking directly above coals or wood as is the case with most grilled meats, here the idea is to cook “low and slow”. You want to create smoke that cooks the surface slowly while also avoiding it becoming dry. For this reason, you need to keep your heat source on one side of the smoker or grill while placing the meat on the other side.

The brisket has a thick “fat cap” which helps insulate it while cooking but also prevents some of that smoke from penetrating into the heart of this cut of meat. This is why you will want to remove any excess fat cap prior to placing your brisket in your smoker or grill. You want to leave about 1/4 inch behind so that there are still enough oils inside for basting purposes later down the road.

The temperature range for smoking depends on what someone prefers but most cooks go anywhere between 225 and 275 degrees F when looking at average times needed. If you want a “smoke ring” which is that pinkish-red color on the outer edge, then you should add wood chips at about 3 to 4 PM and keep adding every hour after this time period. There are some people who prefer using only smoke but if you want tender briskets throughout, then adding wood helps with giving it a more robust flavor.

How long to smoke a brisket?

Let’s now talk about how long you should actually be cooking them until they’re ready to serve. It’s best to go by internal temperature over time so here are some guidelines that you can follow:

– 190 – 195 degrees Fahrenheit: Although most barbecue enthusiasts would tell you that around 200-205 is the sweet spot for beef brisket, it really matter as long as your meat reaches an internal temperature of 190-195 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the beef will be super tender and moist so all you need to do is just shred them apart before serving them to your guests.

– 205 – 210 degrees Fahrenheit: This time around it’s recommended that you cook your brisket until its internal temperature reaches 205-210 for juicier and more delicious results. The only problem that you might encounter here is if you choose not to wrap your meat with foil at this point because it can get dry pretty fast if the heat isn’t managed properly.

– 230+ degrees Fahrenheit: Since brisket can easily overcook, it’s important that you check up on your meat every now and then to ensure that they don’t accidentally become dry. Once you reach an internal temperature of around 200-210 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap each piece with aluminum foil so that all the moisture will stay inside while preventing the beef from getting dry at the same time.

How Long To Smoke A Brisket

How to smoke a brisket?

Buying a brisket

When it comes to buying a brisket, you need to keep in mind that not all of them come from the same side of the cow. Here are a few things to look for:

– Color: when looking at briskets, you always want to make sure they are red in color and not brown. This is because if it looks brownish in color then the meat has been exposed to too much oxygen and will result in a less tender process; just like beef jerky. Always try and pick out a piece that has an even tint throughout the entire cut instead of one that has brown spots throughout. 

– Texture: You should look for a brisket that feels soft but firm. While looking at the grain direction, the tissue should resemble what you would see on your palm when making a fist….smooth/shiny appearance about 2/3 down with hair peeking up from time to time…this again is indicative of good marbling throughout the piece. 

– Fat: when looking at briskets, you want to go with one that has thin lines of fat inside this cut, not thick ones. Also, be sure to look at the bottom side of the meat and make sure there is no excess fat; if there is then use a sharp knife to trim away any major pockets.

Preparing a brisket:

The best way to prepare for smoking briskets is to make sure you trim off any excess fat, silver skin (connective tissue), and use a good beef dry rub on it; which can be bought at your local grocery store or homemade. The one downside with the packer cut is that it has more fat throughout due to marbling but this can easily be removed by simply cutting away all visible white areas. Make sure you place whatever brisket you choose in a pan while preparing it because if there are any areas that have a lot of connective tissue, driftwood….etc then you will want to pour hot water over the area(s) in question before adding your dry rub. This will make it easier for you to cut or pull that piece away; then simply discard it.

Types of Smokers

For smoking briskets, it’s best to use either a smoker or grill that has an offset chamber. This is because if you are using wood chips then the only way you will be able to smoke your meat properly is if there are some materials separating the heat source from your meat itself. The reason for this is so that you can keep their temperature at a reasonable distance away from the fire so that the cooking process doesn’t become too volatile.

You don’t want any of those flames coming in contact with your meat but instead what happens is when they do, they only kiss the surface with just enough flavor to create that color and crust on most meats. You’ll see how easy it becomes to simply cook with charcoal, gas grills, or even propane smokers after trying out offset chambers for your first time.

Using wood chips

The best wood chips to use for a brisket are the ones that have a strong essence and don’t dissipate too quickly when in direct contact with surface heat. Here are some examples of what you should look for:

– Pecan: The pecan is known across the world as being one of the “meatiest” smelling flavors out there. It’s very similar in composition to hickory but it has this molasses-like quality to it when smelled up close, making it an exceptional choice when smoking beef. When using this type of wood, just be sure that you don’t go overboard, or else your meat will end up tasting more like toast than anything else. 

– Maple: This type of wood usually adds a very mild, sweet flavor when used for grilling. It has a very similar effect when paired with beef so it’s best to use this in moderation if you want something that isn’t too overbearing in taste. 

– Oak: This is another one of those strong woods that can take your brisket from being just good to being mind-blowing. That’s because the oak gives off flavors of vanilla and earthy tones which go well with beef…just be sure not to burn them down too much otherwise you’ll end up leaving some bitter flavors on the surface of your meat.

Using rubs

When cooking a brisket, you want to make sure that there is some sort of rub applied on the surface of your meat. This is because if you don’t use one then the only flavors coming off this cut will be from the smoke itself; which can get pretty boring after a while. It’s best to go with a mixture that both complements and enhances the flavor of what you’re smoking.

– Traditional: The traditional mix usually contains salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and granulated garlic…just enough to give it a subtle kick while letting its natural aroma come through without overpowering other ingredients in this rub. 

– Sweet: If you want something milder sweeter then this is probably going to be your best choice. It usually contains a mixture of sugar, garlic powder, paprika, and salt…just enough to keep the meat moist without losing the flavor of what you’re cooking.

– Savory: If sweet is not your thing then you’ll probably end up going with something that’s more on the savory side of things. This usually contains six different types of pepper as well as onion and garlic powders to give it a mouthwatering taste that will make everyone want some even after they’re full from eating it.

Using marinades

When it comes to getting that strong flavor on your meats then there’s no better way of doing it than through the use of marinades. You’ll usually want to go with something that isn’t too overbearing in taste so that the flavors of the beef will come through without having to fight any other ingredients on its way out. Here are some examples of what you should look for:

– Worcestershire sauce: This is by far one of the most widely used marinades when it comes to cooking beef because not only does it infuse this meat with some flavorful essences, but it also tenderizes it at the same time. Luckily, all you need is just enough of this ingredient on your meat before throwing them into an oven or smoker so try mixing up 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and some salt/pepper to taste. 

– Teriyaki: Although this might sound like a Japanese take on beef that’s actually just an American thing. It usually contains soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, vinegar, brown sugar, and pepper…just enough to have your meat infused with some savory notes without being too overbearing in taste.

– BBQ sauce: This is perhaps the most popular option whenever people talk about marinading something before throwing it into an oven or smoker; but only if you’re using the right ingredients such as ketchup (which gives off that tomato-ey flavor), Worcestershire sauce (same reason as the previous point), cider vinegar, and garlic powder. Don’t forget to add some honey in there because it rounds up this mixture quite nicely while giving your meat just the right amount of sweetness.

Smoking a brisket:

Being arguably the most popular cut of beef in the United States it should come as no surprise that a lot of people are interested in smoking a brisket. However, don’t let its simplicity fool you because once you try doing so without being guided by experience then there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with either something delicious or burnt to a crisp…depending on how much patience you have when it comes to dealing with this kind of cooking process. Here is a step-by-step guide to smoking your first brisket:

1) Prepare your ingredients and equipment. The only thing that would probably be considered essential when it comes to this recipe is going to be patience considering that this will take an estimated 8 hours just to get to a point where it can be consumed. Of course, you’ll also have to have the following ingredients on hand: – Brisket – 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.

– 3 tablespoons chili powder (mild) 

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin 

– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

– 1 teaspoon garlic powder 

– 1 teaspoon onion powder

– 12 ounces beer (lager or pilsner) 

As far as the equipment goes then you might want to consider having a smoker and charcoal for this to work correctly without burning everything in sight. If you don’t have this kind of set up then I suggest getting an oven instead because it will still produce similar results albeit not as flavorful due to the fact that it’s not being done over an open flame.

2) Apply your rub to the brisket. Before even thinking about seasoning this cut of beef then you should know that there are two ways to do so: wet and dry rubs. For a dry rub, simply mix together all of the ingredients in this list into a bowl before coating each side thoroughly with the resulting mixture. Meanwhile, if you want something juicier then one option would be to mix everything listed above for this recipe in another bowl which is what you’ll have to do when using a wet rub instead. The only exception here would be beer since you won’t actually need much of it…maybe enough just to cover the entire brisket itself while letting everything else mix together as it is.

3) Smoke the brisket. After firing up your smoker then you should allow the temperature to reach somewhere between 200 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit before placing the beef inside, fat-side up first. Then, make sure that your preferred cooking method for this cut of meat is low and slow (i.e., around 200 degrees and 12 hours or more). Afterward, make sure that the entire thing has had enough time to cook properly by inserting a toothpick into the center after checking that this was done with ease. If it’s clean then you’re good to go! Otherwise, just let it cook some more.

4) Prepare yourself for consumption. Now comes the part where you can finally enjoy your creation minus the long wait that it took to get to this point. Just keep in mind that there are two different ways of doing so depending on whether or not you want the fat part of the brisket to melt against your tongue with ease or if you just can’t stand dealing with all of these juices while eating. Either way, enjoy!

Tips for smoking the perfect brisket: 

Here are some tips for making sure that your brisket turns out to be what you were hoping it would be: 

– If you have an oven capable of maintaining low temperatures then this is a good option for those who don’t want to bother with all of the fuss involved with having to maintain an open flame. Just keep in mind that there’s no magic number when it comes to how many degrees should be maintained by your smoker because every individual unit will have its own quirks even though they’re built similarly. 

– For both wet and dry rubs, make sure that each surface has been properly coated before sticking it into the smoker since this will ensure maximum flavor infusion. Keep in mind that the only part of the meat which needs to touch these liquids is the outside. 

– Beef brisket will also be incredibly tender once it’s done cooking so makes sure to use a fork instead of a knife while cutting into it which should make for an easier time when trying to enjoy some slices. 

– Finally, never rush through cooking something like beef brisket because doing this will only make things worse in the end by drying everything out and ruining the meat altogether.

What sides go well with a beef brisket?

Other than a beer, there are plenty of sides that pair well with this cut of meat. For example, you can have: 

– White rice is another one of those things which makes the meal more delicious even if it isn’t as good for you as other options on this list. This goes well with just about anything so make sure to keep some in stock!

– Mashed potatoes are yet another classic complement to beef brisket which have been passed down from generation to generation ever since people first started attempting to cook these types of meats. Even though it may not be an “authentic” pairing still think about giving it a shot because you might just fall in love all over again.

– Green beans and any other type of vegetable imaginable will go well with this dish too since the only thing which it really needs to stand out is the beef itself. If anything else, just keep in mind that you want to eat healthy while doing so so don’t be afraid to get creative!

– Of course, don’t forget about the ever-popular barbecue sauce as well since this is a tasty way of making everything taste better even though it might contain a lot of sugar. However, if you want to eat something a bit lighter then you can always opt for vinegar or mustard instead which will still provide that necessary zest without going overboard.

– Finally, stones are also something else that goes well with beef brisket so be sure to think about having some around just in case!

What drinks pair well with beef brisket?

On top of all of those sides and ingredients, there’s one more thing which you’ll need after the meal is done cooking: drinks! For example: 

– Beer has been paired with barbecued meats since the beginning of time due to its ability to refresh your palate after taking a few bites from your meal. Plus, it goes well even with things like beef brisket so if you’re worried about what drink will accompany this dish then look no further than beer! 

– Bourbon is another great beverage that makes an excellent pairing for this cut of meat. It also goes well with just about anything else that you can imagine so don’t be afraid to experiment! 

– If you want something which tastes better than any of those options above then wine may be your best option. This is especially true with white wine which will go fantastic with beef brisket because it’s not as strong as red or pink varieties. 

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that barbecuing can be a long process so be sure to have some drinks ready by the time you finish cooking. This way, not only will it make your life easier but you’ll also have something delicious to drink while eating which makes for a fantastic experience all around!

Good smoked brisket recipes:

Simple smoked beef brisket


– One 2.5-pound beef brisket 

– 1 tablespoon of your favorite spice rub (we recommend garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper) 

– 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

– Olive oil for rubbing the meat with 

Directions are simple too since all you have to do is apply some olive oil on top of the beef brisket then use this mixture to coat everything evenly before cooking it using indirect heat. To see how everything turns out be sure to check back in an hour or two (depending on how good you are at controlling the temperature). Just remember not to overcook because doing so will dry out your even more! Finally, use a meat thermometer to check that it’s properly cooked throughout before taking it off the grill. This is an easy recipe which anyone can follow so try giving it a shot if you want to make something special for your family!

New Southern Living Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe


– One 3-pound beef brisket 

– 1 cup of cider vinegar 

– 1/2 cup water 

– 1 tablespoon salt 

– 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper 

This specific recipe takes about 12 hours to complete so be sure to plan ahead just in case! After mixing all of the ingredients together then marinating the beef overnight, place it on top of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place directly onto a grill (with coals on one side) to cook. After flipping the meat over periodically you’re all set! This way, you can put it on at night and wake up to find that your beef brisket is ready alongside some of the most delicious barbequed potatoes that you’ve had in a while.

Finally, it’s time to enjoy your meal so sit back, relax, and let everyone get their fill since this dish will serve 6-8 people with ease! If you want even more beef brisket recipes then be sure to check out our website or simply do an online search for tons of great results which are bound to help you create something special for family members who will definitely love tasty flavors!

Safety precautions to take when smoking a brisket with a smoker?

– Be sure to keep a spray bottle full of water (to put out any flames in case you start a fire)

– When smoking the meat make sure that it’s not directly over the coals otherwise, you run the risk of drying it out

– Every time you add more coals you want to wait about 20 minutes before replenishing them again. This is because putting on too much coal at once will result in an uneven cooking process since some parts will burn while others won’t

– Since this recipe will take so long we highly recommend using a fish probe thermometer in order to ensure that your beef brisket gets done and stays tender throughout the entire cooking process. If not, then stick tongs in order to flip the meat and place it back on the grill for even cooking

– When placing the beef brisket onto your grill make sure that it’s in a pan so that you can catch any grease which drips from it. This will help prevent flare-ups from starting when hot grease comes into contact with coals or lit cigarettes

– Be sure to check if all parts of your smoker are at a constant temperature in order not to burn anything while smoking beef brisket


FAQs about smoking a brisket?

What happened to your brisket when you smoke your brisket for too long? 

In this case, your brisket will become dried out and lose any of its tenderness which you love so much. If the heat is too high then it might even start to char which can ruin the quality of your meal.

What does overcooked brisket look like?

Overdone brisket seems burnt, almost brittle looking with a very dark exterior. The meat inside will also be dry and hard to eat. Keep in mind that overcooking can leave your beef brisket tasting burned even though it’s not necessarily charred.

How do you keep the heat from drying out your brisket when smoking? 

If you want to make sure that your beef stays tender then set up “indirect heat” by placing coals on both sides of a grill but putting a pan of water underneath where the meat will sit. This way, the drippings won’t burn since they will fall into the water reservoir which is below the coals themselves. Remember to check on your coals every once in a while and always use the thermometer that comes with the smoker.

What causes a brisket to stall? 

A brisket can stall due to a number of reasons including not enough coals, meat that is too cold, poor airflow through the smoker, or simply because it’s overcooked. You want to avoid all of these things in order to ensure that your beef brisket stays tender while cooking so try your best to stay on top of things by carefully maintaining the temperature at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do you know when your brisket is done smoking?

A good way to tell if your beef brisket is ready to eat is by checking the internal temperature (190 degrees Fahrenheit) and also testing its tenderness with a fork. If all parts of the beef brisket are at this stage, then you can go ahead and plate up some fresh veggies in order to bring out the full flavor of what really makes this meal great: smoked meat!

How much rub do you put on a brisket? 

Each brisket will need about a tablespoon of seasoning in order to make sure that the beef takes on all those wonderful flavors. In addition, you can mix together salt and pepper with any other spices which you prefer such as red pepper flakes or whatever else might compliment your meal! Just remember to mix well so that the rub is consistent across each piece of meat.

What can I do if my brisket looks over smoked?

If your brisket has become visibly overcooked then don’t fret! Put it into some aluminum foil along with barbecue sauce and let it steam for another hour after removing from heat. If you’re worried about the taste then try coating it with more sauce before putting it back on or simply soak up as much of the sauce as you can with some paper towels.

Do you spray brisket?

While this might work for other types of meat such as chicken, beef brisket is much too dry and fatty to be sprayed with oil or water; adding moisture only takes away from the many flavors which you want to absorb into the beef. It’s best to keep it simple by following a set recipe or using your own ideas if you prefer so that you can experience the true taste without any other added ingredients which might overwhelm what really makes a good piece of smoked meat great!

How do you store brisket for later use?

For best results, store the brisket in an airtight container with paper towels lining the inside to soak up any juices which might have come loose. After this, store it right into the refrigerator and try to wait as long as possible before cooking it again. This will help preserve the moisture while keeping the beef safe from bacteria entering through any openings which are left open due to juice seeping out during storage.

Is there a way to reheat brisket without drying it out?

There are several different methods for reheating your smoked beef brisket depending on how you originally cooked it! If you know that you overcooked then simply cover your meat and place some extra sauce or water on top of it so that it absorbs while warming up. If you think that the brisket is only cold then you can simply warm it up in a pan without any other added ingredients. Just remember to wait until the meat has reached its correct cooked temperature before serving!

How do I reheat brisket?

When it comes down to actually reheating your beef brisket, there are a number of different ways to go about doing so depending on what type of smoker or oven you used during cooking. For example, if you slow-cooked your brisket and don’t feel like heating up the entire oven for just one piece of meat then consider using a pot that has been warmed up on top of the stove; this way, your beef will retain all those wonderful flavors and the small cooking space should evenly distribute heat so that you don’t overcook other parts.


Smoking a brisket is an art and can take a lot of time in order to get right. While this may mean hours of standing over the smoker with little else to do, it’s well worth it when you’re done cooking your meat! Remember that brisket has many different factors which determine how long it takes such as size, fat content, and oven temperature. 

As long as you use a recipe or follow some guidelines then you should be set on smoking a delicious piece of beef brisket without any problems and will only have to watch out so that it doesn’t overcook.


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