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Should I smoke brisket at 225 or 250? (Explained)

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Brisket smoking can be a tricky endeavor at times. Brisket has a lot of fatty and connective tissues that must be completely broken down.

However, because this might take a long time, a low enough heat must be used to avoid overcooking or drying out the meat while still cooking and breaking down all of the brisket’s fibers.

There are two standard temperatures to utilize for this, 225 and 250 degrees(F)

Is one better than the other?

The truth is that the difference can be rather minor. Whichever one you choose; it will smoke the brisket at roughly the same rate.

How Quickly Does Brisket Smoke?

Before you begin, keep in mind that there are several elements that influence how quickly a brisket cooks aside from the heat used. The quantity of fat, the size of the cut, and whether or not the brisket is wrapped all contribute to the cooking time.

Brisket will cook in around 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound of meat when the ambient smoke heat is adjusted to 225 degrees(F).

At 250 degrees(F), this time is reduced to about 1 to 1 ½ hours per pound of meat.

So, regardless of which of these temperatures you choose, a 10-pound brisket, for example, will take roughly 16-19 hours to properly cook.

Are There Other Temperatures to Smoke Brisket?

Although it is not recommended, bringing the smoke temperature up to 275–300 degrees(F) would drastically reduce the time brisket needs to cook. It takes just around 30-45 minutes per pound of meat to fully smoke at this temperature.

That same 10-pound brisket that used to take 19-20 hours will now take only 5 to 6 hours. However, raising the cooking temperature increases the likelihood that the meat will become dry, tough, and overcooked.

What Temperature Do You Pull Brisket?

Brisket should be cooked to an internal temperature of between 200 and 205 degrees(F). All of the tissues have had enough time to completely breakdown and emulsify into the meat at this temperature.

These juices will be redistributed into the brisket while it rests, giving it a remarkably melty and succulent texture as well as rich, satiating flavors from the rendered fats.

However, due to a phenomenon known as “carry-over cooking,” it may be good to pull your brisket a little before it hits 200 degrees.

This word refers to when meat continues to cook somewhat after being removed from the heat source.

After cooking, meat maintains a considerable amount of heat in its thickest areas. This remaining heat continues to travel inward, elevating the interior temperature slightly.

Carry-over cooking can boost the interior temperature by up to 10 degrees(F).

As a result, it’s best to pull your meat when it’s just below your target temperature, allowing it to rise to your target temperature as it rests.

Is 250 The Better Temperature for Brisket?

While the variances can be minor, most smokers believe that 250 degrees(F) is the best temperature.

It’s hot enough to fully render the fat and create a delectable layer of rich marbling with thick and crispy bark, but not so hot that it overcooks.

Keep in mind that your smoker must be consistent. The fact that it is set to 250 does not guarantee that it will remain there.

The temperature inside the smoker is affected by a number of factors, including the quantity of fat on the brisket and the weather outside.

For example, if it’s a really hot day, you’ll almost certainly need to lower the smoke heat to compensate for the additional heat around the smoker.

Should Brisket Be Wrapped?

Wrapping brisket is a common method among most pitmasters.

When wrapped, the juices are retained securely with the brisket, keeping them warm and reducing the effects of “evaporative cooling,” which induces temperature stalling.

Stalls often occur between 150 and 165 degrees(F). Brisket is usually wrapped once it reaches 150.

Butcher paper and aluminium foil are the two most commonly used wrapping materials.

  • Butcher paper is preferred by most experienced smokers. It gives you greater control over how the brisket smokes.

Despite the fact that butcher paper does not seal as well as foil, you can still get a crisper texture in the bark and help the pork skin crackle without becoming soggy. Furthermore, the paper absorbs some of the oil and grease from the meat, generating a layer of moisture that conducts heat and may slightly speed up the cooking process.

  • For beginners, foil wraps are ideal. It’s a lot easier to use, and creates a much tighter seal around the brisket, allowing the pooling juices to hold a lot more heat.

This tighter seal, though, might be a double-edged sword. Because the liquids are kept much more securely, the brisket can often become mushy, potentially affecting the quality of the bark.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, no matter which of these temps you choose, your brisket will turn out delicious.

While 250 will cook your brisket slightly faster, both temperatures are low enough to thoroughly break down all of the components of a brisket without drying out the meat.

Experiment with various temps to see what works best for you. We hope this material is useful to you as you pursue your dream of becoming a pitmaster.

Happy smoking!