Trimmed and seasoned brisket? Check
Preheated smoker? Check
Left enough time for the brisket to smoke before your dinner plans? …
*Ehem* – I said, have you left enough time for the brisket to smoke before your dinner plans?
Don’t get yourself into this situation. Plan ahead.
Here’s why 250°F is a prime smoking temperature for brisket, how long it’s actually going to take to smoke your brisket at 250°F, plus some well-seasoned expert tips.
Alright alright alright, what’s all this talk about smoking brisket?
*Several dads from Texas emerge from the bushes*.
Of course, all jokes aside, if you ask anyone who knows smoking brisket like the back of their hand, they’ll tell you that the absolute sweet spot for smoking brisket is between 225-275°F.
Hence why 250°F is a prime target smoking temperature for brisket.
These traditional low and slow smoking temperatures of 250°F are perfectly suited to a fatty cut like brisket.
The lower temps and longer cooking times allow all the fat to effectively melt and the connective tissue to break down and become oh-so-tender and juicy.
Of course, it’s because of these low temperatures that things can take quite a while to cook too!
How Long To Smoke Brisket At 250°F?
The most common question ever asked in the world of barbecue: time and temp?
When smoking a brisket at 250°F you can expect it to take about an hour per pound of raw weight.
Although, it can vary on the overall size and shape of your brisket, as well as if you’re spritzing your brisket or not, and when you’re wrapping your brisket.
Plus, even if you’re following a rough time guide, you should always be sure your brisket is probing like butter before considering it to be done. This usually occurs around the 195-205°F internal temp mark.
Note: The only exception to this time guide is when you’re smoking small briskets under 5 lbs, as they tend to take on and retain heat more easily.
When To Wrap A Brisket When Cooking at 250°F?
So, by now I can imagine everything is going smoothly. Your brisket internal temperature is gradually increasing hour after hour.
But, as we all know, most of the time it will reach a stage where the rapid evaporative cooling of the brisket prevents the internal temperature from continuing to rise. A.K.A the stall.
Now, although it’s possible for a brisket to push straight through the stall, most of the time it will hit it at about 155-165°F internal temperature.
Instinctually, you might be tempted to wrap your brisket at this point. However, you should only wrap your brisket AFTER you’re satisfied with the bark formation.
When you wrap your brisket it will halt the bark formation process, prevent further smoke from being absorbed into the meat, and will lock in all the remaining moisture.
Once you’re happy with the bark formation and color of your brisket, you can safely wrap it up in good-quality butcher paper.
How To Tell When Your Brisket Is Done
A lot of barbecue newbies are too reliant on smoking meat to a specific internal temperature.
Sure, you can use internal temperatures as a guide to see how things are going. But, you should always rely on the probe test to determine whether your smoked brisket is done or not.
Although brisket is technically safe to consume from 145°F, you’ll want to bring it up to at least 195-205°F and make sure it’s probing like butter before you consider it to be done.
Simply use a thermometer or probe and poke a few times into the thickest parts of the brisket. If you are met with no resistance, then you know your brisket is done!
Other Expert Brisket Tips
From my experience smoking literally hundreds of brisket (I know, that’s a scary amount), here are some insider tips you can use NOW to up your barbecue game:
- It’s always best to completely thaw your brisket first.
- Don’t overseason your brisket.
- Get used to trimming your brisket, it’s key to the bark formation process.
- When cooking for a large group, be sure you prepare at least half a pound of brisket per person in raw weight.
- Hickory, oak, mesquite, or cherry woods all work beautifully
- Learn from your mistakes – they are bound to happen!
I personally smoke my briskets at 250°F, finding it to be the perfect balance within the 225-275°F sweet spot (except for small briskets which i smoke at 225°F).
Normally smoking brisket at 250°F takes roughly 1 hour per pound to reach 195-205°F and my desired tenderness.
Only wrap your brisket after you’re satisfied with the bark, as it’s not going to get any better after it’s wrapped!
Don’t pull your brisket off once it hits your target temp. Instead, be sure to test it’s doneness by making sure it probes like butter.
Remember, there’s no hurry. If you’re second guessing it’s doneness, chances are it can use a little more time in the smoker!