How Long To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound For Best Results

How long should I cook my brisket before serving it? Is there a certain time frame or temperature range that makes it juicier?

How Long To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound For Best Results

Briskets are a type of beef roast that has become a favorite at holiday meals across America. The key to cooking a perfect brisket is knowing how much time to allow it to cook.

If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll want to check the internal temperature every hour until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius).

There are two main types of brisket cuts: flat and point. Flat brisket is cut from the bottom of the shoulder and is usually served whole.

Point brisket comes from the top of the shoulder and is sliced into individual ribs. Both cuts are cooked differently, so it’s important to choose the right one for your meal.

If you’re looking for a recipe with an easy prep-ahead option, try a Slow Cooker Beef Barbecue Brisket. It takes only about five hours in the slow cooker to make a delicious pot of brisket.

The best way to get the most out of your brisket is by using a meat thermometer.

A good rule of thumb is to wait until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) before removing it from the oven. You can also use a digital probe thermometer if you prefer.

How Long Should I Smoke A Brisket Per Pound?

The best way to determine how long you should smoke a brisket per pound is by using an instant-read thermometer. You want to have an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C) when done. 

If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can use the following guidelines:

• If the brisket has been marinated overnight, it will take around 18 hours to reach this temp.

• For a 1-hour dry rub, cook for 12 hours.

• For a wet rub, cook for 9 hours.

• For an hour soak, cook for 7 hours.

• For one day soak, cook for 5 hours.

• For 3 days soak, cook for 2 hours.

• For 5 days soak, cook for 1 hour.

But the preparation style isn’t the only thing that affects cook time. How long you smoke your brisket will depend on several things, the biggest two will be the temperature of the smoker and the weight and size of the brisket. 

Generally, smoking it at 225F, the rule of thumb is 1.5 – 2 hours per pound. So say if your brisket weighs 3 pounds, you should aim to cook it for around 6 hours. 

At 250F the rule changes to 1.5 hours per pound. 

At 330F it should be 30-45 minutes per pound.

The higher the temperature the quicker the meat cooks. But you don’t want to smoke your brisket at too high a temp or you risk burning it.

When cooking brisket, the slower you can go the better. Slow cooking releases more flavor and makes the meat tender and juicy.

You can also add wood chips to your smoker to give off extra smoke flavor. This will help keep your brisket moist as well.

What Temperature Should My Smoker Be Set At?

How Long To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound For Best Results

When setting up your smoker, you need to figure out what temperature you want to set it at. There are three different ways to do this:

1. Use a meat thermometer.

2. Use a digital probe thermometer.

3. Use the “smoke gauge” method.

Using A Meat Thermometer

A meat thermometer is the easiest way to know exactly how hot your smoker is. Just place it inside the cavity of your brisket and leave it alone.

Once you’ve reached the desired internal temperature, remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice it and serve!

Using A Digital Probe Thermometer

A digital probe thermometer is another great tool for knowing exactly how hot your smoker is. Simply insert the probe into the center of the brisket and set the dial to “high.”

The display will show you the exact temperature of the brisket.

Smoking Gauge Method

This method involves placing a metal rod inside the cavity of the brisket. As the meat heats up, the rod expands causing the air pressure to rise.

This causes the lid of the smoker to open slightly which allows some smoke to escape. When the meat reaches the desired temperature, the rod shrinks back down and closes the lid again.

This process continues until the meat reaches its final temperature.

Brisket Tips

How Much Wood Should I Add To My Smoker?

Adding wood chips to your smoker will give off additional smoke flavor. It’s recommended that you start with about 20% of the total amount of charcoal in your grill.

This means that you’ll only need half the amount of wood chips that you would normally use.

Once you’ve added all of the charcoal, light it according to the instructions provided with your smoker. Then, once the fire is lit, add the remaining 20% of the charcoal and the same amount of wood chips.

After lighting the charcoal, wait 15 minutes before adding any wood chips so they burn evenly throughout the entire pit.

How Often Should I Check On My Smoked Brisket?

While smoking your brisket, check on it every hour or two to make sure the temperature hasn’t dropped below 200 degrees F.

If it has, replenish the coals and adjust the heat accordingly. You may even have to turn the heat up a bit.

If you’re using a gas smoker, simply follow these steps when checking on your smoked brisket:

Open the top vent completely.

Turn the control knob to the highest position.

Wait 5 minutes.

Close the top vent completely. Turn the control knob to the lowest position.

Wait 5 more minutes.

Repeat Steps 4 & 5 if necessary.

How Can I Make Sure That My Smoked Briskets Are Done?

The best way to tell whether your brisket is done is by slicing it. If the slices look dry, then it needs to be cooked longer. However, if the slices appear juicy and tender, then it’s time to take them off the smoker.

You can also test the brisket by pressing firmly against the side of the cavity. If it feels firm, then it’s ready.

If you don’t want to take any chances, you should simply check the internal temperature of your brisket with a thermometer. If it reads between 160 and 165 F, you’re good to go!

Can I Cook More Than One Brisket In A Single Pit?

Yes! You can cook multiple briskets in one pit. Just remember to keep an eye on each one as they will continue cooking after being removed from the smoker.

How Do I Remove My Brisket From The Smoker?

Remove the brisket from the pit by lifting it out carefully with tongs.

Slice the brisket across the grain and serve immediately.

Slicing Your Brisket Across The Grain

Cutting your brisket across the grain helps prevent the meat from drying out during the long cooking process.

To cut your brisket across the grains, first trim off excess fat. Next, lay the brisket flat on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the brisket horizontally in between the ribs.

Repeat this step until you reach the end of the rib bones.

How To Trim Fat Off Beef Brisket

Trimming off excess fat is important because it prevents the meat from drying out while it cooks.

First, remove the membrane covering the surface of the brisket. This is usually located at the bottom of the brisket near the spine.

Then, use a sharp paring knife to remove the fat that covers the underside of the brisket.

How To Cook A Whole Brisket In A Slow Cooker

How Long To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound For Best Results

Slow cooker recipes are great for beginners who want to learn how to smoke their own beef brisket. The slow cooker allows you to set the temperature to low overnight, which results in perfectly moist and flavorful brisket.

Start by removing the brisket from its packaging. Place the brisket inside a large roasting bag and tie it closed securely.

Next, place the bag into a slow cooker insert. Add enough water to cover the brisket by 1 inch. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on high for 8 hours.

Once the brisket has finished cooking, unwrap it. Slice the brisket across the grain and serve.

How To Cut Up A Brisket Before Smoking It

Before you start smoking your brisket, you’ll need to prepare it. First, remove the membrane covering its surface. Then, cut the brisket into serving-sized pieces.

Place the brisket on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to score the brisket every ½ inch or so.

Place the brisket back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before placing it on the smoker.

Smoking Tips

When smoking your brisket, there are a few things that you need to know before you start. First off, make sure that your smoker is preheated to at least 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

This will help keep the meat moist during the smoking process. The second thing you need to do is ensure that the meat is not sitting directly on top of hot coals. 

Instead, place the brisket on a rack set inside of the smoker so that the entire surface area is exposed to the indirect heat.

Once you have placed the brisket on the rack, be sure to leave plenty of space between the meat and the sides of the grill. Lastly, you need to remember to check the temperature every 15 minutes and adjust accordingly.

Brisket Cooking Method

Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C)

Place brisket on a rack set over a baking sheet; cover loosely with foil. Roast 1½–2 hours per pound (500g) plus 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue roasting 15–30 minutes longer, until internal temperature reaches 140°F (60°C). Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove any excess fat and place in a pan over medium heat.

Add some salt and pepper.

When hot add some garlic powder and onion powder.

Once the onions start to brown add some liquid smoke.

After 5 mins turn down the heat to low and let simmer for another 5 mins.

Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan.

Let sit for 30 mins then remove the lid and stir.

Let cool completely then transfer to the fridge overnight.

Serve hot.

Tips & Tricks

To ensure tenderness, always cook your brisket to 145°F (63°C), which will take approximately 3½ hours.

You can substitute regular paprika for smoked paprika. Just be sure to adjust the amount accordingly.  

Brisket Recipe Ideas

There are many ways to prepare brisket, but here are some ideas to get you started.

Original Brisket Recipe

This is the easiest brisket recipe ever! This is a quick and simple method for making a moist and flavorful brisket. The secret ingredient is beer! Beer adds moisture, flavor, and helps keep the meat juicy.


1/4 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 pounds (1.8kg) beef brisket

1/2 cup (120ml) dark beer

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup (80ml) apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup (60ml) Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup finely crushed corn chips


In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons of each of the herbs. Rub mixture all over the brisket.

Place brisket in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Pour beer over brisket, turning to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours.

Heat oven to 300º F (150º C). In a Dutch oven or another heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add brisket and sear until well browned, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer brisket to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño to drippings in the pan and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. 

Stir in remaining herbs and spices. Return brisket to the pan, along with enough water to just barely cover the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and braise brisket until fork-tender, about 2 hours. Skim fat as needed.

Transfer brisket to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while preparing gravy. Strain cooking juices into a measuring cup and reserve. Using two forks, shred brisket into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones.

In a large saucepan whisk together reserved cooking juices, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses, mustard, honey, chili powder, and smoked paprika.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve gravy alongside shredded brisket. Garnish with corn chips.

Bacon-Wrapped Brisket

How Long To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound For Best Results

This recipe features a bacon-wrapped brisket that was cooked on a rotisserie-style smoker. It also includes a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that pairs perfectly with the smoky flavor of the brisket.


1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F (165˚C). Place the brisket on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and roast for 6 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature.

2. While the brisket is cooling, combine all ingredients except the BBQ sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour half of the mixture into a resealable plastic bag and add the brisket. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

3. After 24 hours, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and pour the remaining barbecue sauce over the top. Wrap the brisket tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil and return to the fridge. Allow the brisket to sit for another 24 hours.

4. When ready to serve, unwrap the brisket and discard the foil. Slice the brisket against the grain and serve immediately with the BBQ sauce.

Brisket Tacos

These tacos are made using a slow cooker so they can be prepared ahead of time and then served right out of the crockpot! The combination of flavors makes this taco filling perfect for any occasion.


1 lb. beef brisket

2 cups salsa verde

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

4 flour tortillas


Place brisket in a 3-quart slow cooker. Mix salsa verde, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Spread one tablespoon of salsa verde mixture over each tortilla. Top with 1/2 cup brisket and roll-up. Secure with toothpicks.

Place rolled tacos seam side down in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour remaining salsa verde mixture over top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Final Thoughts

Brisket is a delicious meal. In the south, it’s a staple. Do you want to make friends with your neighbor? Invite them over for a brisket.

Do you want your 4th of July barbecue to be remembered? Make a brisket. Ran over your cousin’s dog and now it walks with a limp? Apology brisket. 

There’s a brisket for every occasion. And when you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve given some great brisket recipe ideas. But don’t just take our word for it. Try these recipes yourself and let us know what you think. 

Remember, when smoking a brisket, the rule of thumb is that the higher the temperature the quicker it cooks.

At 225 F, brisket cooks for around 1.5-2 hours per pound, at 250F 1.5 hours, and at 300F it’s 30-45 minutes per pound.

But as rigid as these rules seem, there’s always an element of heart to cooking. You should use your own judgment to tell when your brisket is cooked. 

If you feel like your judgment might be lacking then there are always thermometers and gauges to help. These help by giving you a visual indication of how far along the meat has progressed.

A good rule of thumb is if you see smoke coming off the meat, it’s done. If not, keep checking until you do.

But remember, even though you may have a digital thermometer or a fancy smoker, nothing beats a good old fashioned cutting into the meat to see what it looks like. 

We hope this article helped you figure out how long to smoke your brisket for, and gave you loads of information on making your brisket the tenderest and juiciest out there. 

John Rinder
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