With debates such as pork shoulder vs. pork butt, brisket fat side up or down, and pork shoulder fat side up or down, it is no wonder people have begun debating brisket smoking temperatures too. One of the biggest debates in the BBQ world is whether to smoke brisket at 250°F or 225°F.
Some people allege that brisket should only be smoked at 250°F, while others urge you to smoke it at 225°F. But which temperature reigns supreme?
Before we answer that question, we must consider a few factors when it comes to smoking brisket.
Cooking brisket involves more than placing it in your propane smoker.
You must consider factors such as weight and temperature before you head to the store to purchase your brisket.
It’s best to determine the approximate weight of the brisket before you start cooking it.
The cooking time will depend on the size of the meat, so knowing this information will give you a solid timeline.
Typically, whole packer briskets weigh 12-14 pounds. The flat which is more accessible ranges from 6-10 pounds. In contrast, the point ranges from 5-7 pounds.
You must also keep in mind whole packer briskets are sold untrimmed. This means you will have to trim the brisket, but make sure you leave 1/4-inch of the fat cap to give the brisket some flavor.
The brisket will weigh a bit less if you trim the fat away.
Although knowing the weight will give you a general cooking time, it is not set in stone.
Every brisket will cook differently, making it that much harder to discern whether the brisket is cooked.
For this reason, the internal temperature is the best way to tell if the brisket has finished cooking.
After a few hours have passed, monitor your brisket. If you have a probe smoker thermometer, insert it into the meat before placing it into your electric smoker.
In contrast, if you are using an infrared thermometer, do not open the smoker door or dome more than once every hour.
Heat will be released every time you open the smoker’s door. The heat loss will affect the smoker’s ambient temperature, but it will also lengthen the cooking time.
Brisket is finished cooking once it has a temperature that ranges between 180°F-200°F.
Ideally, you should remove the brisket from the smoker once it has a temperature of 195°F since it will continue to rise to 200°F once it is removed from the heat.
Smoking Brisket at 250 vs. 225
Some BBQ experts have so much faith in the temperature they smoke brisket at that no other temperature is acceptable to smoke brisket at.
This temperature can range between 225°F and 250°F.
In contrast, some people do not have all day to sit around waiting for brisket to be done. So, they heat their smokers up to sky-high temperatures to cook their brisket faster.
Let’s examine both temperatures before making deciding which one is best for smoking brisket.
Is 250°F Degrees the Ideal Temperature for Smoked Brisket?
Some BBQ experts swear that the ideal temperature for smoking brisket is 250°F. They look at this temperature as the sweet spot.
This temperature will cook faster than if it were smoked at a lower temperature. However, the brisket will still have time to break down and yield a tender cut of meat.
250°F is also a perfect temperature for melting fat. Once the brisket’s fat cap renders, a succulent layer of seasoned fat will be left behind.
If you were to cook the brisket at a lower temperature, the fat would still melt, but the fat cap will not have the same decadent texture.
On average, it will take about 1.5 hours per pound when smoking brisket at 250°F.
So, if you are smoking a 12-pound brisket at 250°F, it would take 18 hours.
Is 225°F Degrees The Ideal Temperature for Smoked Brisket?
To determine whether or not smoking brisket at 225°F is best, we must go beyond the standard smoking guidelines.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need blazing hot flames to get the job done.
When you smoke brisket at a lower temperature, you are going to get the best results.
The low, consistent pace will create an even and uniform flavor throughout the meat.
Just like low temperatures are better for smoking pork butt, low temperatures are better for smoking brisket.
Briskets are carved from the pectoral muscles, which hold more than half of the steer’s weight as it moves around. Therefore, brisket has a lot of collagen and tough tissues and needs a longer time for the fibers to soften and tenderize.
If you smoke the brisket at higher temperatures, the risk of drying out the brisket and ruining the meat increases.
The brisket may stiffen or seize up before you carve and get your first taste of meat.
Unless you are a seasoned brisket expert, it is best to stick with a temperature of 225°F.
Smoking it at this temperature will ensure the brisket remains moist and delicious.
On average, the equation for smoking brisket at 225°F is 1.5-2 hours for every pound.
For example, if you are a 10-pound brisket, it would take 15-20 hours to cook.
Nevertheless, this equation is only a general guideline. If you have worked with brisket for a long time, you can experiment with different temperatures as long as it is not extreme.
In addition to this, make sure you have a thermometer handy to remove the brisket as soon as it reaches the recommended temperature.
Some people do not mind cooking brisket at higher temperatures, while others do not. While I understand the idea behind both, these temperatures are nothing more than extremes.
Ultimately whether you smoke your brisket at 250F° or 225°F is up to you since you are the one consuming the brisket.
The amazing thing about brisket is that you can experiment with different temperatures until you find the one that suits your tastes.
Happy brisket smoking!
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.