Skip to Content

How long to smoke brisket until it’s tender? (Explained!)

We strive to provide you with authoritative, trustworthy, and expert advice. In doing so, the staff at performs extensive research, editing, and fact checking to every post on this webiste. If you feel that this article can improve, please feel free to reach us at

Before continuing this article, I wanted to let you know that I have a YouTube channel where I showcase all sorts of video content related to BBQ. Subscribing would mean a lot to me, and I very much appreicate all the support!

How long to smoke brisket until tender

Knowing when to smoke a brisket until tender is very important, as that allows you to produce amazing quality barbecue. 

You will want to pull your brisket off the smoker once it reaches about 200°F in internal temperature. That is the stage in the cooking process where the collagen within the barbecue renders down, making it very moist and juicy!

On average, it really depends on how much the brisket weighs.

It should take about 1 pound per hour to fully cook through if you were cooking at a lower temperature, otherwise It should take about 2 pounds per hour to fully cook through, assuming you are cooking at hotter temperatures of course.

What makes a brisket tender

What makes a brisket nice and tender is the collagen inside of the meat rendering down.

By having the connective tissue breakdown, The Brisket becomes incredibly juicy and moist. 

This is probably the most optimal thing about BBQ, because you can get really cheap cuts of meat that are other wise inedible, and turn them into something magnificent.

Length of time it takes until the brisket is tender

Once you have started the smoker and are either cooking it at a range between 225°F to 300°F, you can expect about 1 pound to 2 pounds per hour of cook time. 

Depending on the overall weight of your brisket, that translates into about 10 to 20 hours worth of total smoking for your barbecue. 

Always take that into account as you plan ahead, especially as you begin to serve for larger groups of people. You don’t want them to be disappointed.

Does brisket get more tender the longer you smoke it?

Contrary to what a lot of people think of cooking meat, BBQ and brisket in particular, actually get very tender the more you cook them. 

That being said you don’t want to cook them too much because then you will certainly over cook the meat if it goes past 205°F in internal temperature. 

Up until that point though, keep cooking your meat until you can grab a toothpick and slide it in and out like it’s going into a stick of butter.

What temp does brisket get tender?

The temperature that a brisket of any size or grade gets tender, is right at about 200°F. 

That is the scientific measure by which the collagen within the meat itself begin to render down and make the brisket overall very tender and juicy.

What you’ll want to do is basically just grab a toothpick or slide your meat probe in and out all throughout the meat and test for resistance.

That is the probe test, and is actually even more indicative of a done brisket then just going off of temperature alone.

Does brisket get tough before it gets tender?

One of the hallmark traits of brisket or really any piece of BBQ, is that they are cheap cuts of meat that no one wants unless they have been cooked thoroughly enough. 

That means that they are otherwise not able to be eaten because of their very tough nature. 

There is usually a lot of connected tissue that makes it very tough to eat unless it has been cooked to about 200°F and internal temperature. 

So, brisket is basically always tough up until that temperature range. Once it gets there, enjoy because it’s a fantastic cut of meat to be eating.

Final thoughts 

On average, most briskets weigh about 10 to 20 pounds in weight.

That means assuming you are cooking it at normal temperatures, you can expect to cook a brisket anywhere from about 10 to 20 hours. 

This basically translates to about 1 to 2 pounds per hour of cook time.