In order to figure out when to pull a brisket off the smoker, there are a variety of questions that people tend to ask.
They are noted down below, but for reference – you essentially want to pull your brisket off the cooker right at around 200 degrees internal.
That is the objective measure by which you can can know when your brisket is done cooking.
The second most important factor in this equation is how long you let it rest.
I’ve gone through many briskets that have probed properly at 200 degrees internal, but were sliced way too soon and it ruined the whole thing.
With that being said, I like to rest my briskets as long as I can tolerate it.
That means the briskets I smoke are rested for over 12 hours.
WHEN TO PULL BRISKET – GETTING STARTED:
When to pull brisket off smoker?
This is a highly debated topic, but I’ll give you a simple answer:
Pull the Brisket off at 200 degrees fahrenheit.
That is the first thing you should be considering when you pull a brisket off the smoker.
That’s really all it takes to know when to pull a brisket off the smoker.
Of course, you can get into meat thermometer placement, whether or not you should wrap the brisket, how to pull the brisket off the smoker, etc.
But from a simplicity sake, just stick your thermometer in one of the more thicker parts of the meat and pull it at 200 degrees.
Can I pull brisket at 190?
Every meat is different, sure.
However, in general – every brisket I have gone to the trouble of smoking and pulling off before it ever reaches 200 degrees internal simply came out way too tough and undercooked.
Pulling brisket at 190 degrees internal is one of the worst mistakes you can make when smoking a brisket.
I remember cooking this amazing looking brisket several years ago when I was first starting my barbecue career.
It looked like it was cooked all the way through, but my patience was wearing thin and I just decided to try and pull the brisket at around 190 degrees.
The brisket came out awful and way too tough to even eat.
Moral of the story – just make sure to pull your brisket at 200 degrees internal as a rough estimate as to when it should be ready and you will for the most part be good to go.
Does brisket get more tender the longer you cook it?
Actually, yes it does!
Obviously you don’t want to overcook a brisket – that can certainly happen – but the most important quality of smoking a brisket is to cook it all the way through.
That basically means to cook it just at around 200 degrees internal like mentioned above, and to take a toothpick – or some other sharp elongated device – and to start probing around the piece of meat.
This will check to test whether or not your brisket is probe tender.
Probing the meat all around as you cook it longer will ensure that all of the collagen has rendered down.
This is why you always hear people go off and on about how the brisket should ‘probe like a stick of butter’.
There’s a whole science behind this process.
The longer the brisket has to cook all of the heavily compacted collagen inside, the better.
When you think about it, a brisket is just a GIANT muscle.
This muscle has all kinds of connective tissue that is VERY tough to cut through, let alone to try and eat!
That’s why it becomes somewhat counter-intuitive to cook a brisket, or really any traditional piece of barbecue for that matter, all the way past roughly 200 degrees internal.
Do You Let brisket rest in foil?
You certainly could!
Personally, I find it best to rest a smoked brisket that’s hot off the smoker in either an ice cooler or the oven.
These are better ways to ensure that no heat will escape quickly.
Furthermore, if you were to just transfer your foil wrapped brisket onto another surface, you run the risk of the internal temp increasing way above what you wanted.
Basically, letting a brisket rest in foil can serve to preserve the brisket’s internal temperature – but you run the risk of having it overcook way to quickly then losing all of the heat. Kind of a weird combo.
By placing it in an ice cooler or an oven, you get the best of both worlds.
The temperature usually does not increase – meaning no risk of over cooking it – and the brisket will gradually come down in temps.
It won’t come down way to quickly.
Can I pull a brisket at 200?
This is what we’ve all been waiting for… YES!
If you haven’t noticed, i’ve been mentioning that you definitely will want to smoke your brisket all the way to 200 degrees internal before pulling it.
Not only do you want to pull a brisket at 200, but you also are going to want to start to begin resting the thing.
That’s one of the single most important qualities of a smoked brisket.
LET YOUR BRISKET REST AFTER YOU PULL IT!
I have gone through many many many briskets where I frankly just cut into them WAY too soon and the end product was just very lackluster.
One day, I smoked and pulled my brisket at 200 degrees internal and decided to let it rest for over 12 hours in an ice cooler.
When it was finally sliced, the brisket was one of the most juicy briskets I had ever smoked.
Ever since then, that has lead me – the BBQ DROPOUT – to understand just how important it really is to properly pull and rest a freshly smoked brisket.