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At what temp is brisket done? Learn the key ranges from a champion pitmaster; plus how to use color and feel to check for doneness.
While our brisket tips guide includes an estimate on how long it takes to smoke brisket, temperature is more important than time.
Temperature is more important than time
When smoking a brisket, it’s more important to focus on the color and temperature than it is to focus on the time.
If you simply add your brisket to the smoker and set a timer and then move onto the next step without checking the temperature or bark formation, your results may not be as enjoyable.
Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temp of your meat throughout the cook instead of a timer. This will tell you when it’s time to move onto the next step.
Smoked Beef Brisket Internal Temps
There are a couple main internal temperatures for brisket that you’re looking for:
- Wrap Temp: 160-165F degrees
- Choice/Prime Grade Finish Temp: 200-205F degrees
- Wagyu Finish Temp: 207-214F degrees
Smoking brisket is an art. These are general estimates and will vary, depending on your altitude and the grade of brisket that your cooking. That’s why color and feel are also indicators that your brisket is ready.
When the brisket reaches a temperature range of 160-165F degrees, you’ll notice that the temperature will stop increasing as quickly. This is the brisket stall.
At this point, water is evaporating from the brisket. The evaporation process takes precedence over the cooking, so the meat temperature won’t rise as quickly.
This is where the color comes in. You want the outer surface of the brisket to have a dark mahogany bark. Usually, this is around 160-165F degrees, but it can be higher or lower.
When the bark looks sexy, you can use the Texas crutch to break through the stall. This is when you wrap the brisket tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil for the remainder of the cooking process.
Continue cooking the brisket in the wrap. If you’re cooking a choice or prime-grade brisket, it’s usually ready when the temperature reaches 200-205F degrees.
If you are cooking a highly marbled brisket like a Snake River Farms gold, I recommend increasing that final temp to 207-214F degrees so the fat renders completely.
PRO TIP: The best way to test the doneness of your brisket is to go by feel. Pierce the probe into the meat in multiple spots. If it glides in like butter with little resistance, it's ready.
Why does the brisket temp vary so much
You may find when you probe the brisket that the temperature has a 5-degree range, depending on where you stick the thermometer. Don’t worry. That’s normal.
The edges will likely cook faster, so they’ll be at higher temps. Also, if your probe hits a fat pocket, that will temp higher.
The point part of the brisket will show a higher temp than the flat, because it’s fattier.
This is why feel is so important. When the probe glides in, the brisket is done smoking. If there is resistance in one area, let it ride another 15-20 minutes and test again.
What happens if you overcook a brisket
The good news is, if you overcook a brisket, it’s not totally ruined.
When a brisket is cooked perfectly, you’ll get beautiful brisket slices that hold their shape.
If you overcook a brisket, the meat will be so tender it will fall apart and shred. If you really overcook a brisket, it will definitely dry out.
To salvage an overcooked brisket, shred it and mix in some beef consume. This will add moisture and help bring it back to life.
- Thermoworks Smoke: This thermometer comes with two channels or four, so you can monitor your grill temperature with one probe and the meat temp with the others. It also includes a portable receiver, so you can see the temperatures when you step away from your grill.
- Thermoworks Signal: This comes with four probes and connects to your phone, so you can monitor temperatures remotely.
- Thermoworks Square Dot: Includes two probes and one grate clip. No remote capabilities.
- Thermapen One: This is one of the most important tools every pitmaster should have. Not only does it register the internal temperature in one second, it also allows you to feel the texture of the meat as it glides in.