How Long to Smoke a Brisket Per Pound? The Secret to Perfect Brisket

how long to smoke a brisket per pound

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Smoking a brisket is a time-consuming process, but if done right, it is one of the most rewarding things. To achieve tender, juicy, and flavorful meat, you need to know how long to smoke a brisket, depending on its size, thickness, and fat content. If you know the basics, you can avoid a dried-out brisket. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long to smoke a brisket per pound?
  • What are the factors that affect smoking time?
  • Tips and tricks for before serving
  • And much more!

How long to smoke a brisket per pound?

smoked brisket

When smoking a brisket, you typically need to aim for a low cooking process to achieve that moist and tender meat. Temperature is one of the most important factors to consider when smoking a brisket. The most common ones are 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The brisket smoke time per pound can vary depending on your choice. Generally, smoking time will be between one and two hours.

How long to smoke a brisket per pound at 225 F?

You can expect a smoking time of 1-2 hours per pound at this temperature. This smoking time varies, depending on factors such as the thickness of the meat, the type of smoker you have, and others. The exact way to know when your brisket is ready is to check the internal temperature, which should be between 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long to smoke a brisket per pound at 250 F?

sliced brisket

Smoking at 250F will allow you to smoke your brisket in a shorter time. At this temperature, expect around 1-1.25 hours per pound. Again, this is a general guideline; the thickness, smoker time, and other factors will have an impact on the smoking time, so for the best results, use a meat thermometer. Although your brisket will be ready faster at this temperature, it is important to know that smoking a brisket is a slow and steady process, so you need to be patient to achieve the best results.

Related >> Brisket Smoking 101

Brisket smoking time per weight

Depending on the weight of the brisket, here are some general guidelines to know what to expect when smoking at 225:

How long to smoke a 3 lb brisket?

If you love the taste of a juicy smoked brisket but don’t have much time for the long smoking process, a smaller 3lb brisket could be a great option. With such a small-sized brisket, you can expect a smoking time of 3.5 to 5 hours.

How long to smoke a 4 lb brisket?

A brisket of this size would take around 4.5 to 6 hours to smoke. For the best results, be sure to have a meat thermometer around to check for doneness.

How long to smoke a 5 lb brisket?

When it comes to smaller-size briskets, it is important not to dry out the meat, so you should keep an eye on it. You can expect a smoking time of 5 to 7.5 hours, but always consider other factors affecting this time range.

How long to smoke a 10 lb brisket?

If you have a 10lb brisket, expect a smoking time of 12-15 hours. Be prepared that it will need time to become tender and moist, so patience is key. Remember that this is just an estimation because, based on thickness, your brisket could be ready in less time.

How long to smoke a 12 lb brisket?

Choosing a 12lb brisket for smoking means you are ready to invest time and patience in the process. You can expect a smoking time of 12 to 18 hours at this weight. There are tricks to shorten the process, such as wrapping the brisket, but remember that it can affect the texture of the meat.

How long to smoke a 15 lb brisket?

When it comes to a larger-sized brisket, such as a 15lb, the smoking process could take 18 to 23 hours. You should also use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. After the 18-hour mark, you should check it regularly to ensure you are not overcooking and possibly drying it out.

How long to smoke a 17 lb brisket?

Such a big-sized brisket will take a long time to smoke. Here you can expect 25.5 hours to reach the desired internal temperature. While the size and thickness affect the smoking time, brisket is a tough cut of meat, and the connective tissue needs to be broken down, and for that, a slow cooking process is required.

Factors that affect smoking time

As I said before, different factors can affect smoking time. After all, you are wondering: how long to smoke a brisket per pound. So let’s take a closer look at those factors.

The size and thickness of the brisket

brisket with smoke ring

Now, obviously, a larger and thicker cut will take longer to smoke than a smaller-sized brisket. Be prepared that if you choose a large brisket cut, it will take a long time to smoke. Also, thickness plays a huge role in smoking time. If you have two briskets with the same weight but different thicknesses, the thicker one will take more time to smoke.

Smoking temperature

Smoking temperature plays a huge role in smoking time. Two of the most popular smoking temperatures are 225 and 250F. The most popular is 225 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you need a somewhat faster smoking time, 250F could be an option. As I mentioned, at 225, you should expect a smoking time of around 1-2 hours; more specifically, 1.5 to 2 hours would be a better estimate. At 250F, on the other hand, you can expect around 1-1.25 hours.

Meat quality and fat content

You can’t tell the exact smoking time of a specific weight of brisket because more factors need to be considered. The quality of the meat, marbling, and fat content are other factors as well. If you have a brisket with too much fat, trim it before smoking. Generally, ¼ to ½ inch thick fat should be ideal for smoking. If you leave too much fat on the brisket, it will take longer to smoke, which is undesired.

The type of smoker

smoking in an offset smoker

Different types of smokers are on the market, and depending on the model, it can have a different smoking process. You can expect a longer smoking process if you have an older smoker and the temperature fluctuates. In contrast, keeping a consistent temperature will be much easier if you have an electric or gas smoker.

Weather and outdoor temperature

If it’s too hot or cold outside, it can cause fluctuations in the temperature of your smoker. In such cases, make sure to check the temperature and try to keep it consistent. Also, if it’s a windy day, try not to open the lid as often, as it can mess with the smoker’s temperature. Besides the outside temperature, the humidity level also plays an important role when considering smoking time.

Read more >> What part of the cow is brisket?

What to avoid?

Frequently opening the lid. You may be tempted to check the doneness of the brisket or just to see how it looks. However, checking for doneness too frequently, especially after just a few hours, can cause temperature swings, making it even longer to smoke the brisket. Try to maintain a constant temperature and only test for internal temperature towards the final hours of smoking.

Do you need to wrap the brisket?

Okay, so now that we know how long to smoke a brisket per pound, do you need to wrap the brisket? This mainly depends on personal preferences, but wrapping the brisket is a good idea if you have a larger brisket and want to fasten the smoking process.

What are the benefits of wrapping brisket?

What wrapping does is retains moisture, which results in juicier meat, plus it helps speed up the smoking process. While some prefer wrapping, others like to avoid it because it can ruin a crispy bark, meaning it can become softer. I’ve tried both methods and as I’m a huge fan of meats, I can say that I love both variants. Consider all these factors, and you’ll be able to decide whether you need to wrap your brisket.

wrapped brisket

I believe that if you want to smoke a brisket properly, you need time and patience, but if you really need to fasten the process, increasing the temperature (even above 250F) and wrapping the meat will ensure a shorter smoking time.

Tips and tricks before serving

Use a meat thermometer: You probably know this, but the most reliable way of telling when the brisket is done is by using a meat thermometer. I wouldn’t even start the process without one.

Let the brisket rest: Congratulations, you have a juicy and tender smoked brisket! Do you slice it right away? Absolutely not! You waited for so long, and now you want to enjoy the taste of that masterpiece. For the best results, you need to let the meat rest. The resting time will vary based on its size, but at least 30 minutes for smaller cuts and 2 hours for larger ones. Letting the meat rest is important to let those juices redistribute in the meat. Cutting it too early will cause these juices to run out onto the cutting board. This will cause the meat to become drier and less flavorful.

slicing brisket against the grain

Slice against the grain: When the brisket is finally done, and after you let it rest, you can slice it, but make sure to slice against the grain.

Faq

Are 20 hours too long to smoke a brisket?

  • Smoking time depends on size, thickness, smoking temperature, fat content, type of smoker, outdoor temperature, and humidity level. If you have a larger-sized brisket, 20 hours is not long.

When should I wrap my brisket?

  • You should wait until a nice bark forms on the meat. Also, when the internal temperature seems to plateau the so-called “stall,” you should then wrap the brisket. Make sure not to wrap it too soon.

What is the best temp to smoke a brisket?

  • The best temp to smoke a brisket is between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the best smoking temperatures because the brisket needs a slow cooking process to become tender and moist. Some pitmasters prefer higher temperatures just to shorten the long process of smoking.

Can you smoke a brisket in 6 hours?

  • Smoking a brisket in 6 hours is possible if it’s a smaller cut. This means you can smoke a 3-4 lb brisket in this time frame. However, if you have larger pieces of brisket, you can’t smoke them in 6 hours.

Do you have to wrap a brisket?

  • Often called the “Texas Crutch” technique used by many pitmasters to speed up the smoking process and cook a more tender and flavorful brisket. Wrapping can soften the bark, so whether you choose to wrap the brisket is up to you.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is no definite answer to how long to smoke a brisket per pound because other factors can affect smoking time. If you want a faster cooking process, you can go for a smaller brisket, increase the temp and wrap the brisket. These time estimates are reasonable starting points you can use whenever you smoke a brisket for your guests and family. I hope this guide helped you understand everything you need to know to smoke that perfect brisket, no matter what size it is.

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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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