How Long Do You Smoke a Brisket Per Pound?

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You’ve probably owned a smoker for a while. You’ve mastered the basics, you’ve learned some tricks, and you’re a confident user – now you’ve decided to push those skills. And what better way to go than with a chunk of delicious brisket?

Brisket is a beast of a meat. It doesn’t take well to amateur cooks, and prefers the touch of those with experience. It’s also not one for experimentation. A smoked brisket is a recipe that’s been tried and tested to reach perfection. If you want to give it a go, then be prepared to bring your A-game.

But once you’ve nailed it, it’s so worth the effort. Smoked brisket is tender and juicy, with that smokiness infused throughout. Done right, and you’re sure to impress everyone. The most important thing is to cook the brisket low and slow – roughly 1 hour of smoking for every pound.

How Long to Smoke a Brisket Per Pound

If you want to smoke a brisket, then be prepared for a long day. It takes a while for that smoky goodness to work its way through all the fibers, and it’s not a process that can be pushed. But as they say: good things come to those who wait. And smoked brisket is a very good thing.

As a simple, general rule, a brisket needs to be smoked for 1 hour per pound. However, in reality, it’s not that simple. Some briskets may only need 30 minutes per pound, while others might take up to 2 hours per pound. How long your specific brisket needs to smoke per pound depends on a range of factors.

First, the temperature of the smoker itself. Aim for a consistent temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and it should be an hour per pound of brisket. If the temperature is lower than that, you want to factor in more time. Try and keep the temperature as consistent as possible, for the best flavor.

The brisket itself plays a fairly major part. No two briskets are the same, even if they might be a similar weight. A particularly thick brisket will take longer to cook than one that’s longer and thinner. The fat content makes a difference as well. Fat can insulate the meat, cooking it quicker.

Also, you may just be smoking a half brisket – either the point or the flat.  This would make a difference in how much time to smoke brisket per pound.

Factor in the ambient temperature of the day. If it’s a particularly cold or windy day, it’s likely that the brisket will take longer to cook. A warm day will bring the brisket to room temperature quicker, so it heats through faster.

It helps to know your smoker. If you know that it maintains a temperature, then you can assume the brisket will cook quicker. However, if you’ve had trouble with the heat dropping, then consider that in the timings.

Although 1 hour per pound is the general rule, what’s most important is the internal temperature of the meat itself. The ideal temperature for brisket is 203 degrees Fahrenheit, but anywhere between 195 and 215 is okay.

You’ll notice the temperature rises fairly quickly at the end. When you think the brisket is nearly done, check every 15 minutes. Always use a meat thermometer, as brisket forms a “bark” when smoked, which can turn dark.

The bark will often give the appearance of a finished brisket, when the inside temperature tells a different story.

How To Speed Up Smoking Brisket?

The best way to smoke a brisket is the low and slow method. It consistently delivers fantastic results, locking in moisture, flavor, and that important smokiness. However, we don’t all have a whole day to dedicate to brisket smoking, and hungry guests might not appreciate the perfect smoke if it’s delaying their dinner.

An easy way to speed things up is to increase the temperature with the hot and fast method. However, this is a risky method. Too high a temperature, and the brisket will simply dry out, before the smoke has a chance to infuse.

Another option is to wrap the brisket, although this is slightly controversial amongst smoked brisket devotees. Wrapping traps the heat in, resulting in a faster cook. Butcher paper is the best option, but aluminum foil works as well.

For the best of both worlds, only wrap for the final few hours. When the temperature of the brisket has reached roughly 170 degrees, wrap carefully, and avoid disturbing the bark.

Keep the lid on as much as possible when smoking brisket, especially if you want to speed things up.  Tempting as it may bee to peek, when the lid is up all the heat is getting out, and the brisket isn’t cooking. Only check when it’s absolutely necessary. Remember, smoking a brisket can take up to 16 hours, and you can’t watch it all the time.

Before You Start

As well as needing a long time to smoke, it also takes a while to prepare the brisket. Brisket needs to be trimmed. It’s best to do this when the brisket is cold, as everything cuts away easier.

You want to cut away the hard fat that won’t be rendered by the cooking process. Remove any areas that are too fatty, but leave enough that the meat won’t dry out. Finish by cutting away any thin pieces of brisket, that will cook fast and burn.

Finally, use a rub, but don’t go overboard. You want the meat flavors to shine through.

For a quicker smoke, bring the brisket to room temperature before starting.

Resting Time

Once the brisket has reached a temperature of 203 degrees, the process still isn’t over. Resting is an incredibly important step, and not to be skipped. Leave the brisket to rest for at least an hour, so the juices can redistribute across the meat.

Final Thoughts

Brisket takes roughly 1 hour per pound to smoke at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Most importantly, be sure it’s reached an internal temperature of around 203 degrees.

It may seem intimidatingly difficult at first, but smoking brisket is about experience. As you get used to it, you’ll learn all the tricks you need for the perfect flavor, every time.