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How long do I need to smoke a brisket? (Explained)

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How long do I need to smoke a brisket?

If you want to know how long you need to be smoking a brisket for then just know that you want to smoke one until it reaches an internal temperature of around 200°F, and once it probes tender with zero resistance whatsoever.

In practice, this means that you should most probably be smoking a brisket from anywhere between 10 to 12 hours. This of course is obviously depending on how hot you cook it and how large the brisket actually is because those factors can definitely play a part in how long you need to smoke a brisket for.

Can you smoke a brisket too long

A lot of Pitmasters may not know exactly how long in a particular brisket will take to smoke thoroughly. This is not only common but very prevalent among new Pitmasters, especially. In other words, you can definitely overcook a brisket by cooking it past 200 to 205°F. 

Anything past 205°F will certainly make any piece of meat, let alone a brisket become way overcooked. All of the connective tissue inside the meat well effectively dry out and not produce anything worth eating.

What this looks like in practice as well, is anything over 12 hours or so I would say is way over cooked and is something that should be looked into not to do. Briskets aren’t really that special, meaning that they are just huge hunks of meat, that need to be cooked to just the right temperature and feel, and they don’t need to be smoked for excessive periods of time.

How long do you smoke a 4.5 lb brisket

Briskets come in all sorts of sizes and weights. Most commonly, depending on whether or not you are smoking a brisket flat, a brisket point, or a whole packer style brisket, the weight can average anywhere from 4 to over 20 pounds. That is a significant variance. 

Specifically, if you happen to be smoking a 4 1/2 pound brisket, just know that that is most likely what is known as a brisket flat. Brisket flats that weight in at about 4 1/2 pounds take anywhere from 4 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours to cook thoroughly. 

This obviously depends on how hot and fast or how low and slow you decide to cook it, which is why it’s important to know the different styles of cooking brisket to begin with. Hot and fast cooking styles can decrease the cook time per pound by about half compared to a low and slow style cook. 

This is very significant as well, because if you were to smoke a brisket only weighing in at about 4 1/2 pounds in a hot and fast style scenario, then you can be done with the entire thing within just a couple of hours compared to over 4 1/2 hours.

Time is something you really don’t get back in life, so I’m always a big proponent of cooking any type of meat hot and fast because the after product is really the same as a low and slow style cook. It’s really a no-brainer.

How long do you smoke a brisket at 225?

Smoking a brisket of any size, grade, or weight, at around 225°F is known as a low and slow styled cook. On average, it can take any piece of meat, particularly barbecue and brisket, to fully cook through at a rate of 1 pound per hour of cook time. That means, if you have a 10 pound brisket and you decide to smoke it at about 225°F, you can expect to just sit around and tend to the fire for over 10 hours.

Is it better to smoke brisket at 225 or 250?

Since brisket tends to cook through a lot quicker at higher temperatures, it may be common to ask whether or not you should actually be smoking one at 225°F, or cook it at a slightly higher temperature range such as 250°F. If you want a hotter and faster cook for your brisket, then definitely cook it at 250°F. 

There really is no difference in the after product in the brisket itself between cooking one at 225°F or 250°F, outside of how fast you can get to finishing the actual brisket. So, in my opinion it is always best practice to smoke a brisket at higher temperature ranges because you save quite a bit of time in the process.

How long should I smoke an 8 pound brisket?

Let’s say that you actually have a brisket weighing in at about 8 pounds. This is most likely a very small whole Packer style brisket. But if you happen to have a large point or a large flat style cut of brisket that weighs in at that amount, this advice is very much similar no matter what type you have.

If you’re wondering how long you should smoke an 8 pound brisket, look at how hot you are cooking it at.

If you’re smoking it at lower temperature ranges of around 225°F or 250°F, just know that it’ll take about eight hours to cook it all the way through.

If you cook it at temperatures anywhere from 300°F or more, then you can actually expect the brisket to be done in about half that time, specifically about four hours or so. As you can see, cooking briskets of any size or weight will significantly reduce cook times if you cook them at higher temperatures.

How long will it take to smoke a 12 lb brisket?

Likewise, if you have a 12 pound brisket at hand, you can expect a cook time around 12 to 6 hours depending on how hot or how low and slow you decide to cook it at.

For low and slow cooks, lean more on the 12 hour mark to took it all the way through. For hot and fast cooks, lean more on the six hour mark to completely finish the brisket and expect to pull it out of the smoker.

Final thoughts 

At the end of the day, you need to understand how long you’re going to be smoking any kind of brisket. You can expect for a brisket to weight anywhere from only about 4 1/2 pounds all the way up to over 20 pounds.

The main determining factor of how long you need to smoke a brisket is really how hot and fast or how low and slow you cook it at. For a low and slow cooks, expect about one hour per pound of cook time and for hot and fast cooks, expect a cook time for about half the amount, so expect about 2 pounds per one hour of cook time.