How Long to Smoke a Brisket? Time, Process & Tips | Complete Insights

As a beginner, the most sweating question for you is how long it takes to smoke a brisket (Estimated Time). No matter you are using an electric smoker or a traditional offset smoker, no gauge can tell you the exact timing. So it totally depends on your experience and expert advice. And that’s why we are here for you, to provide a good insight into smoking briskets.


Before everything else, I will tell you the tools you need for smoking brisket:

What would you need for smoking brisket?

  • Smoker

It is up to you whether you want an offset smoker or a vertical smoker. Both will work perfectly if they can hold a steady temperature of 225f.

  • Chef knife

To clear all the fats off of brisket, you need a sharp chef knife. This knife will work for slicing the pieces too.

  • Meat probe or thermometer

Many smokers come with thermometers or meat probes. But it is a good practice to get a nice and accurate thermometer.

  • Foil paper or butcher paper

For the Texas-style smoked brisket, you will need butcher paper or foil paper.

  • Cutting board

Before putting brisket in the smoker, you will need a large cutting board to clean off all the fats, etc. Moreover, this cutting board will also work for putting ready brisket and slicing off.

How to smoke a brisket?

Putting the brisket for smoking is not rocket science. It’s just that it needs time to get tenderness and juicy flavor. Below are the steps for smoking brisket.

  • Select brisket

Before smoking brisket, you must consider how long it takes to smoke a brisket per pound. Then, you can go ahead and select whatever weight of the brisket is accordingly. One more thing that you can consider half a pound of brisket for each individual. Furthermore, the meat quality depends on the flavor, such as the prime meat, with a good layer of fat, which implies a more rich taste.

  • Trimming the brisket

It’s totally up to you whether you trim the brisket or not. Well, the topmost smokehouse does trim the brisket as it contributes to how the smoked brisket will turn out. So I prefer you to spend a good time trimming the brisket nicely. Below I’m attaching a video tutorial that will show tips and tricks for perfect trimming of the brisket.

  • Season the brisket

If you are up for a Texas-style brisket, use only coarse salt and black pepper for seasoning. Moreover, if you want to do a little bit of trick, add garlic and ginger powder in the seasoning. This will not take away the taste of the brisket but will add more to it.

  • Prepare the smoke

This is the trickiest part of the smoking brisket. Many factors work to make for the perfect smoking brisket. First of all, the smoker’s steady and consistent temperature is a must for the perfect end result; then, how long does it take to smoke a brisket. Besides this, you must add some good flavor to the woods. All in all, it does not depend on whether you are using offset or vertical smokers; it’s the smoke quality and temperature consistency.

  • Wrapping

Once you smoke brisket in an electric smoker or charcoal smoker, its wrapping is the most important thing. In the long run, this wrapping will count for the juicy and tenderness of the brisket. Foil papers are in the game for long, but I will recommend going for the butcher paper. For the better bark and crisp, go for the peach butcher paper.

Wrap the brisket in butcher paper or foil paper and leave it at 225f. Now the question is, how long to smoke a brisket at 225 degrees? So go for smoking it until the meat probe shows 205 f. But when inserting the probe, double-check whether it’s in meat or fat. Besides that, you must insert the probe in the thickest part of the brisket.

  • Resting

Resting the brisket for a while will spread the juice and tender evenly across the brisket. So don’t haste to serve the brisket. Keep it at rest for a while before serving.

  • Slicing

The slicing might seem simple but here, too, are many factors working. First, you might want to go with cutting against the grain, but when you split them and slice each section, it leaves the slices with no bark on many pieces. So for the perfect cutting technique, I’m providing a video tutorial for perfect slicing.

Related: How to smoke brisket on a pellet grill?

How long does it take to smoke a brisket?

Like I said earlier, there is no pre-defined measure of the smoking time for brisket, as many factors work in smoking. Even the same size of brisket varies in cooking time. The brisket speaks for itself when ready.

Though a rule of thumb is that you must consider 30-60 minutes per pound of brisket. That being said, if you ask how to smoke a 3 lb. brisket, then I will say that it can take 2-3 hours of smoking. Besides that, the smoker’s temperature will also haste or slow the process as 300f will cook faster than 200f.

Moreover, smoking comes with two phases smoking first when you season and put it in the smoker and second when you wrap it in foil paper or butcher paper. For the first phase, plan up to 8 hours of smoke at 225 degrees preheated smoker. That goes for 12-13 pounds of briskets. And once your brisket reaches 150f to 160f, the evaporation will cool down the meat temperature for slow cooking. This process is known as a stall. Besides that, every brisket’s stall is different, and it’s impossible to tell the exact timeframe. But the only equipment that comes in handy is the thermometer.

After this phase, the second phase is wrapping in foil paper or butcher paper. It can further take 5-8 hours. Moreover, it is necessary to put the smoked brisket to rest as it evenly spread the tenderness during the phase. So add extra 2 hours for that. In a nutshell, you should consider 14-18 hours of smoking brisket from the initial smoke phase of 165f to the wrapped smoke phase to reach meat temperature to 202f.

How long to smoke a brisket flat?

The brisket flat is somewhat leaner and evenly cut up, that spread the heat uniformly. The benefit of this thinness of brisket flat is that it cooks much better than the whole brisket does. You will cook a flat in the timeframe that it needs to cook some baby back ribs, based on the brisket flats’ size. And since they are simpler to cook and smaller, sweating yourself out can steam multiple flats together despite sweating yourself out.

Related: 8 Steps to Smoke on a Gas Grill

How long and how to smoke a brisket on a charcoal grill?

The charcoal smokers ask for heat maintenance from time to time during the use. As for the brisket smoking, you need to stabilize temperature during the phase, so you must add wood chunks or charcoal every hour for stable temperature. And once your temperature is set to 225f, keep regulating it with the vents. And when the temperature drops to 150f, use the foil paper wrapping and bring the temperature to 225f again. By now, you know how long to cook a beef brisket; that is, you must consider 30-60 mins for each pound. But if you are up for flat smoking, then check the inner temperature of the meat. If the meat temperature is 190f, it is good to go.

How to tell when the brisket is ready to serve?

The best way to tell that is by inserting probes. While looking at the brisket, you might think that it’s ready while it will not. By inserting the probe, if it tells you the temperature is 190-206 f, you can remove it and rest for an hour or two.

Moreover, there are many smart smokers too available like Traeger’s grills and smokers. These smokers come with wireless probe and mobile applications that guide you regarding cooking and smoking. If you ask how long to smoke a brisket on a Traeger, then it’s the app will tell you better.

Another method to check is that put the fork in the brisket, and if it twists easily, it means the brisket is ready with all its juicy and tender flavor.

How to smoke brisket in less time?

As smoking briskets ask for the slow and low cooking for that tender and juicy meat. But if you want it to be done quickly, you must maintain temperature at 250 to 270f. Now the question is how long to smoke a brisket at 275 or 250f.  If you cut the brisket flat of 1-inch thickness, you can cook it in an hour at 275f.

Tips for perfect brisket smoking

Now I will provide some tips to elevate your smoking fun.

  • Season overnight

For the brisket to absorb all the flavors you must season or marinate overnight. If not so make sure to marinate for 2-4 hours or so at least.

  • Fat side up

There is a great debate about whether you should put the fat side up or down. I will recommend you to keep the fat side up as it melts the fat and then evenly spread across the brisket. Moreover, many individuals claim that it does not matter whether you keep it upside or down.

  • Resting

It is a must rest the brisket once smoked properly. Just leave it on the cutting board with butcher paper on. If you keep it rest for an hour. If you are up for more than an hour, wrap it in the towel and put it in the cooler. This way, the brisket will stay warm and tender even after long hours.

A little fun with brisket

To add more fun to smoking brisket, I’m telling you some variations you can try:

  • Seasoning

For Texas-style smoking, you can use kosher salt and black pepper. But if you want the seasoning ot stick to the brisket, you can try some sauces for marinating. The mustard sauce is one of the best seasoning binders that creates perfect bark and tender meat.

  • Wrapping options

During the stall, you can go for different wrapping options like butcher paper or foil paper. Both have their own perks. The butcher paper makes for the hard bark crust but somewhat less juicy. On the other hand, foil paper makes for softer bark but with more juicy tenderness. So try different variations and find your favorite.

  • Temperature

You can play with the temperature for smoking brisket. Many of you like it slow and low, but if you want to haste the process, you can set the temperature to 275f to minimize cooking duration. Though there is no fixed time for the smoking brisket, it’s your temperature gauge that keeps you updated with meat cook time.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning to smoke the whole brisket, it is not trivial. But if you are up for the flat brisket, then you can do so. If you are new to smoking brisket you must go for the flat brisket as they can cook quickly and are easy to take care of. Besides, if you mess up for the first time, it will not cause more money loss.

In this guide, we discussed all the smoking brisket’s ins and outs besides telling about how long to smoke a brisket. Now you can get your hands on some brisket and go for slow and low cooking this summer. I wish you great summer smoking!

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