how long to cook beef brisket in smoker

For a 12- to 14-pound brisket, allow anywhere from 9 to 12 hours in the smoker. Here, you’ll first smoke the brisket for 6 to 8 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Then, you’ll wrap the brisket in unwaxed butcher’s paper and return it to the smoker for 3 to 4 hours, until it reaches 203°F.

Brisket is the holy grail of BBQ, and getting it right is a huge notch in your pitmaster belt. While there are many ways to flavor a brisket, cooking it properly doesn’t leave quite as much room for experimentation or error. Brisket is a muscular, tough cut of meat, so low and slow is the way to go when learning how to cook a brisket. When prepared correctly on a Traeger, a smoked brisket is tender, juicy, and irresistible.

How Long to Smoke a Brisket

I wish I could tell you an exact time that smoking will take, but alas, that’s kind of the beauty of BBQ. It’s done when it is done.

For the initial smoke phase, I plan about 8 hours at 225 degrees F for my 12-13 pound briskets to reach 165 degrees F. However, your brisket will enter a phase in between 145 degrees F and 165 degrees F where the liquid evaporating from the surface of the brisket will cool it while your grill is trying to cook it. This is called the stall, and the time frame is different during this phase for every brisket I’ve ever cooked. This is where a good internal thermometer comes in.

The second phase (once it’s wrapped in butcher paper), can take anywhere from 5-8 hours. I usually plan an extra 2 hours for each of my brisket cooks because if it is done early, I can always set it in a cooler and allow it to rest for a while. If it is done late my husband gets hangry.

Bottom line: plan for anywhere from 12-18 hours to fully cook your brisket (this includes the initial smoke to 165 degrees and the wrapped smoke to get your meat up to 202 degrees Fahrenheit).

Tips for the Best Smoked Beef Brisket

Check out these pro tips to give you the upper hand when smoking your brisket:

  • Mix your spices in advance. Mix your salt, pepper, and garlic in an old spice shaker container. Shake the spices out at about 2 feet above your brisket while seasoning. This will create a nice even layer of salt, pepper, and garlic across the entire surface of your brisket.
  • Either side up cooks just fine! Many people argue whether you should cook your brisket with the fat side up or down when smoking. Guess what? I did two briskets, one up and one down. There was no difference in final product. Place it on there however you prefer!
  • Don’t forget to rest! Resting your brisket is extremely important. I recommend resting your brisket for at least one hour. You can just leave it in the butcher paper and set it on a cutting board or baking sheet. If you need to rest your brisket for more than an hour, that is no problem! Simply wrap it in a towel (one you don’t mind sacrificing for tasty brisket) and set it in an insulated cooler. I’ve held briskets this way for up to 6 hours and they come out hot and perfect every time!

How to Tell When Smoked Brisket Is Done

Our most recommended product for determining if your brisket is done is by using the wireless meat thermometer, the MEATER probe. This handy device will prevent you from overcooking or undercooking your brisket because of its dual sensors and MEATER app where you can monitor your meat from the comfort of your couch.

To know if your smoked brisket is done, simply insert your probe. The probe should insert into the cut like it would in room temperature butter which usually happens between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the flat. In addition to the temperature, the probe should insert into the meat as easily a it would butter. If it does not, give the meat a bit more time despite the temperature reading.

Smoked brisket gets its signature bark because of the Maillard reaction which is known for explaining how seared meat gets its signature look and taste. When you sear meat at high temperatures, the natural sugars in the meat caramelize within minutes. The same thing happens at low temperatures over time when you smoke brisket or any kind of meat.

Simply put, the natural sugars in the meat form a crust underneath your spice rub. Only some elements of the rub itself (like salt) will penetrate the surface of the meat and take some of the flavor with it.

The majority of the rub will remain on the surface and infuse with the layers forming there. When the spices and caramelizing layers come in contact with the smoke, the bark begins to turn a very dark color.

For a 12- to 14-pound brisket, allow anywhere from 9 to 12 hours in the smoker. Here, you’ll first smoke the brisket for 6 to 8 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Then, you’ll wrap the brisket in unwaxed butcher’s paper and return it to the smoker for 3 to 4 hours, until it reaches 203°F.

FAQ

How long do you smoke a brisket at 225 for?

A: You can usually figure about 1.5 hours per pound at 225 degrees for brisket, pork shoulder and other larger pieces of meat. Several things can affect this time such as actual meat thickness, wind, temperature and how often you open the door of the smoker.

What is the 3 2 1 rule for brisket?

Try the 3-2-1 rule for brisket! This popular smoking method requires you to smoke the brisket at 225°F for 3 hours, wrap it in foil and continue cooking for 2 hours, then unwrap it and cook it uncovered for 1 hour before serving.

How long does it take to cook a brisket smoking?

Our general rule of thumb is to plan on between 30 and 60 minutes per pound when learning how to cook a brisket. For example, a 16-pound brisket cooked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit will take between 10 and 12 hours. The entire process from trimming, injection, seasoning, and cooking will take between 18 and 20 hours.

How often do you flip a brisket when smoking?

Some pitmasters recommend flipping the brisket once during the smoking process to promote an even bark and tenderness throughout the meat. However, others prefer not to flip it at all to maintain the crust that forms on the surface.

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