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Smoking succulent meats is not a “quick” process. It takes time to thoroughly break down all of the connective and fatty tissues in the meat.
So, what you don’t usually think about is, “what if it cooks too quickly?”
Many variables contribute to a brisket finishing considerably sooner than expected, such as hot weather, defective equipment, or a smoke heat set too high.
We will discuss not only why a brisket may finish early, but also recommended temps and strategies straight from the pros.
What Causes Briskets Temperature to Rise Too Quickly?
Although there is no “off season” for smoking meats, the summer months are ideal for grilling and smoking. However, with summertime comes hotter weather, which affect the rate at which your smoker cooks meat.
The hotter the weather outside, the more you’ll have to adjust the ambient smoke heat to keep the conditions inside the smoker from becoming too hot and overcooking the brisket.
Trimmed and Untrimmed Brisket
When smoking, the larger the fat cap on a brisket, the more moisture it will create. The more moisture that is produced, the longer it will take to cook the brisket.
A leaner brisket will cook considerably faster if you smoke it.
How Quickly Should a Brisket Smoke?
The size of the cut, the amount of fat, and sometimes even the smoker you use, all have an impact on how quickly the internal temperature of a brisket rises.
Brisket should be smoked at 225 degrees(F). The brisket will take around an hour and a half to two hours per pound of meat at this temperature.
This means that a 5-pound brisket will take about 10 to 12 hours to smoke completely, and reach an internal temperature of 200-205 degrees(F)
However, if you want to save time, raise the temperature to 250 degrees(F). This will allow the meat to smoke somewhat faster without compromising the quality of the brisket.
At 250, the brisket should smoke at an hour and a half per pound.
How Quickly Does Brisket Reach 165 Degrees(F)?
A brisket takes about 5 ½ hours to reach 165 degrees(F). The brisket will most likely reach a temperature plateau, or stall, at this stage.
It could take hours for it to climb from 165 depending on the severity of the stall. While the brisket is entirely safe to eat at this temperature, for the best results, it should be smoked to 200 degrees(F).
Is 300 Degrees(F) Too Hot to Smoke Brisket?
As previously claimed, the ideal smoke temperature ranges from 225 to 250 degrees(F). At 300 degrees Fahrenheit, you risk over-smoking or drying out the meat, therefore this is not recommended, but is still an acceptable temp.
The entire purpose of smoking is to use “low and slow” temps. If the heat is too high, the fibers may not be broken down completely, affecting the finished outcome.
However, if you are short on time, increasing the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit will significantly speed things up. It will smoke the brisket in as little as 30 to 45 minutes per pound of beef.
This means that a 5-pound brisket will only take about 2 ½ hours to smoke completely (compared to 10 hours at 225).
When Should Brisket be Pulled from The Smoker?
Brisket should be pulled at a temperature of 195-200 degrees (F) after resting for at least an hour. The brisket should be juicy and melty at this temperature, ideal for shredding and making pulled pork.
Pro tip: When smoking brisket, plan for “carry-over cooking.” This refers to how brisket (and other smoked/grilled meats) will retain heat in the thickest sections of the meat and continue to rise in internal temperature, even after being removed from the smoker.
Carry-over cooking can raise the internal temperature by up to 10 degrees(F). So, if your ideal temperature is 200, pull it at 190 and let it climb while resting.
What To Do If Your Brisket Finishes Early
If your brisket is creeping up to 195-200 degrees (F) much faster than expected, you have several options for keeping it warm before serving.
Make sure to keep it wrapped in foil or paper to keep the heat in. If you didn’t wrap the brisket while it smoked, do so right away.
Wrap the brisket with a towel to add further insulation (make sure to keep the meat in its foil wrap in addition to the towel).
If you need to preserve the brisket for longer than 2 hours, place it in a warm oven or a cooler lined with towels. This allows you to keep it for an additional 4 hours without diminishing its quality, or risking food safety standards.
(If you’re using a cooler, “pre-heat” it by pouring and emptying boiling water into it.)
A brisket cooking faster than expected is nothing to be concerned about. There are several things you may do to keep it safe before serving and enjoying it.
• The recommended temperature range for smoking brisket is 225-250 degrees(F). Although 300 degrees(F) is acceptable and produces speedier outcomes, it is not advised.
• Adjust the ambient smoke heat depending to how hot it is around the smoker, as this will affect how quickly the meat cooks.