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Discover what temp to smoke brisket for the best results. Learn the pros and cons between slow-and-low and hot-and-fast.

Thermometer on PK Grill showing 100F degrees.

Determining the right temperature to smoke a brisket primarily depends on the grade of brisket you’re cooking and the amount of time you have for the cooking process.

What is the low and slow method?

The low and slow method is when you smoke a brisket at a lower temperature, usually around 225F degrees.

Some cooks like to go even lower than that to really impart the smoke flavor and to break down the beef brisket’s connective tissue.

It’s important that you don’t set your grill temp too low. For food safety, the meat needs to reach 140F degrees internal temperature within the first two hours.

Pros of Low and Slow

  • Provides enhanced smoke flavor
  • Breaks down collagen and connective tissue slowly
  • Reduces evaporation, creating juicier briskets
  • Great for choice and prime grade briskets

Cons of Low and Slow

  • Takes several hours
  • Stall stage lasts longer

What is the hot and fast method?

The hot and fast method is extremely popular on the competition circuit because most pitmasters are cooking really high-quality briskets and they’re looking to save time.

The hot and fast method involves smoking brisket at a high temp of 300F degrees and higher.

When cooking hot and fast, the Texas crutch is imperative. This is where you wrap the brisket in butcher paper, aluminum foil or an aluminum pan to retain moisture and reduce evaporation.

Pros of Hot and Fast

  • Speeds up cook time tremendously
  • Creates a great bark
  • Renders fat well in highly-marbled point muscles

Cons of Hot and Fast

  • Works best with high-grade briskets like wagyu
  • Less smoke flavor

When to choose low and slow vs hot and fast

When smoking a prime-grade packer brisket, I almost always follow the low and slow method, especially if I’m using a pellet grill.

For barbecue competitions, I always cook hot and fast on my Hunsaker Drum Smoker. I use wagyu brisket and separate the point from the flat. I start the cook at 350F degrees or higher to form a bark.

Then, I follow the Texas crutch and adjust the grill to 300F until the smoked beef brisket reaches my desired internal temp.

How to measure your grill’s temperature

Many grills come with a built-in thermometer that tell you what the ambient temperature of the grill is, but it’s always a good idea to supplement that thermometer for better accuracy.

For pellet grills, simply set the grill temperature and depending on the quality of your grill, the heat should stay pretty steady.

For kettle-style charcoal grills or the PK Grill, you’ll create an indirect heat zone. The built-in thermometer will give you an average of the grill’s internal temperature, which includes both the direct and indirect zones.

For better accuracy, use an external thermometer and attach the probe to the grill grate near the brisket.

With drum or ceramic cookers, the built-in thermometers are pretty accurate, but you can also use an external thermometer just to be sure.

For offset smokers, the heat can vary dramatically depending on if you’re on the top rack or closer to the smoke box or exhaust.

  • 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.
  • Thermoworks Dot: This is the least expensive of the bunch. It comes with one probe. You will need to purchase the grate clip separately.

More FAQs about Brisket

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and top 10 category finishes. I’m an expert grill reviewer for BBQ Guys, and I have appeared on the Food Network and Ninja Woodfire Grill infomercials. I established this website in 2015 to share my BBQ tips and recipes.

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