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Learn how long to smoke brisket, factoring in variables like brisket weight, grill temp, whether your wrap, altitude and weather.
One of the most googled brisket questions is, “How long does it take to smoke a brisket?”
How brisket weight effects cook time
One of the most obvious factors when it comes to cook time is the size of the meat.
Smaller 10-12-pound briskets will cook faster than larger 18-20-pound briskets. You can follow some of the adjustments listed below to speed up the cooking process.
How grill temperature effects cook time
Next to the size of the brisket, the grill temperature plays a key role in how long it will take a brisket to cook.
Think about a pot of pasta. If you place uncooked noodles in a pot of simmering water, it will take longer for them to cook compared to a pot of boiling water.
The same is true for a brisket. If the temperature is lower, it will take longer to finish compared to if the temperature is higher.
Read the advantages and disadvantages of cooking slow and low compared to hot and fast.
How long to smoke brisket at 225 degrees
Smoking brisket at 225F degrees is considered slow and low.
A brisket that weighs 11 pounds before it is trimmed that is smoked at 225F degrees takes around 11 hours. That includes 6 hours before the wrap, 3 hours wrapped and a 2-hour rest.
As the size of the brisket increases, the time per pound can shift to about 1 1/2 hours per pound.
How long to smoke brisket at 250 degrees
Smoking a brisket at 250F degrees will take 45 minutes to 1 hour per pound. The smaller the brisket, the faster it will take. The larger the brisket, the longer.
How long to smoke brisket at 275 degrees
Brisket smoked at 275F degrees will take about 35-45 minutes per pound.
When you smoke brisket at 275F degrees, you’re starting to reach the hot and fast brisket method.
This reduces cook time dramatically, but there are a few things to consider.
When cooking hot and fast, I always separate the flat from the point because I want the point to cook and render longer than the flat. If the flat cooks too long, it can dry out.
I also wrap my brisket in aluminum pan with lots of liquid, because the internal moisture of the meat is going to evaporate faster when cooked at higher temperatures.
How long to smoke brisket at 300 degrees
A beef brisket smoked at 300F degrees will take about 30 minutes per pound to cook. This includes the smoke, wrap and resting stages.
How long to smoke brisket at 325 degrees
This is my sweet spot for hot and fast briskets. When I separate the point and flat and smoke a brisket at 325F degrees, it generally takes 20-25 minutes per pound.
For a brisket that weighs 16 pounds before it’s trimmed, this includes 3 hours on the smoke, 2 hours in the wrap and 1 hour to rest.
PRO TIP: Grill temperature can vary your cook time dramatically. A 16-pound brisket cooked at 225F degrees can take 20 hours; whereas the same brisket cooked at 325F degrees can be done in 6 hours.
How altitude and weather effect cook time
While the above times are good estimates, other factors like altitude and weather can also impact cook time.
Meat cooks slower at higher elevations because as altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases and the boiling point of water decreases.
This means that the natural moisture will evaporate from your brisket earlier, which could cause it to dry out. Read my full article on barbecuing at high altitudes to learn how to adjust for this.
Weather is another important factor.
If it’s cold or raining, your grills could have a hard time maintaining a steady internal temperature. There are special grill blankets you can buy to help insulate your grill.
Wind can also cause grill temp fluctuations because if too much oxygen blows into the intake, it will overfeed the fire, causing it to be hotter.
You can adjust for this by using a grill temp controller like a Thermoworks Billows. Or, use a reliable grill like a Hunsaker Drum Smoker. The air intake is on the bottom, so wind doesn’t usually impact it.
The Thermoworks TimeStack has four timer features. Each timer can be set for a specific time and count down.
You can also hit start and use each timer like a stopwatch and count up.
I always use the stopwatch feature when barbecuing. This way, I can write down the weight of the brisket, the grill temperature and the weather.
Once the brisket reaches it’s different cook phases, I can make note of the time for future cooks.
This is a great way to hone in cook times based on your personal grill and altitude.