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How long is too long to smoke a brisket? (Explained)

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How long is too long to smoke a brisket

If you’re wondering how long is too long to be smoking a brisket, then you should know the average cook time it takes to fully smoke a brisket, how long a typical brisket will take overall, how many hours that translates to, and then what the longest possible cook time a brisket can be put on the smoker for.

For starters, you don’t want to smoke brisket passed an internal temperature range of 200 to 205°F. Anything past that, and you will absolutely overcook your brisket because the collagen within the meat will be rendered down way too much, leaving your barbecue dry and crumbly.

Let’s take a quick look at what the average time is to smoke a brisket.

Average Time For Brisket

The average time to smoke any type of brisket, is derived strictly from the weight of your packer brisket and the temperature at which you happen to be smoking at.

There are two temperature ranges that many seem to follow. The first of which is hot and fast. The second of which, is low and slow. 

For hot and fast temperature variances, expect about 2 pounds per hour of cook time, and for low and slow, expect about 1 pound per hour of cook time.

That means that at around 300° or more in ambient temperature, you can expect to have any size of brisket to be fully cooked through at that respective ratio.

Let’s also take a quick look at how long a typical brisket would take using these average cook times per pound.

How long is a typical brisket cook?

If you’re wondering how long a typical brisket will take to fully cook through and are also worried about if you’re smoking them too long, then just rely strictly on the average cook times in accordance with how hot you happen to be smoking the brisket at. 

Let’s take an average size brisket about 10 pounds. Let’s also take an estimation and calculate how long it would take to cook through assuming both a low and slow and hot and fast cook.

For a 10 pound brisket smoked hot and fast, you should probably expect about five hours of total cook time. That’s using the 2 pound per hour mark to fully render down all the collagen inside of the meat.

Using the same pound of brisket, let’s cook it low and slow. You should expect roughly a 10 or more hour cook to fully cook it through. In other words, it takes about twice as long as hot and fast.

Let’s now look specifically how many hours a typical brisket should be smoked to ensure that you don’t smoke it too much.

How many hours for brisket

If you’re wondering how many hours the typical brisket will take, then you should also look at how much it weighs and how hot you are cooking it at. Using the same estimations as above, you really have two options available. One hour per pound or two hours per pound. 

For a 10 pound brisket, that would most likely take 10 hours For a low and slow cook. Likewise, hot and fast cooks will cook the same brisket at half that time, at around 5 hours or so. 

As you can see, it is quite beneficial in terms of time, to begin smoking a brisket at hot and fast temperature ranges. 

But just know that if you do you happen to do low and slow, you shouldn’t really be worrying about how long the brisket can take smoke for. Briskets are huge chunks of meat that need quite extensive amounts of cooking. 

So don’t worry about how long the brisket is on there, outside of the internal temperature for your brisket.

What’s the longest you can smoke a brisket

The longest you can smoke a brisket for is really dependent on how much it weighs and how hot you are cooking it at. Also, one of the most important things in any brisket cook to begin with is really the finishing temp that you pull it at. 

That will determine whether or not you held the brisket long enough. You should be pulling your brisket only once it reaches 200°F. You can also test the overall doneness by using a toothpick and sliding in and out of the meat to test for resistance. 

Make sure to press around all parts of the brisket to ensure the most accurate measurement. 

That just means that the collagen and connective tissue inside of the brisket have completely rendered down, making the brisket fully edible.

Final Thoughts

You shouldn’t really be worrying about whether or not you’re smoking a brisket for too long. Rather, use the hot and fast and low and slow pound per hour estimations as pure guidelines to follow. 

What you really want to pay attention to, is the internal temperature. Only pull the brisket off once it reaches 200°F, or it is probe tender all throughout.