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How Long to Cook a Brisket or The Misconception of the 1 to 1.5 hour rule - Page 2

post #21 of 71

Very interesting! How fun that you shared! Cheers! - Leah

post #22 of 71
Thread Starter 

Thanks Leah !!




post #23 of 71
Originally Posted by hickorybutt View Post

Good stuff Gary.


The thickness rule makes a lot of sense.  I smoked a 12lb. brisket over Memorial Day around 260-270 degrees that took 15 hours to finish.  I cooked another 12lb. last week for the 4th and it finished in 11.5 hours.  The J4 brisket I did was longer and thinner.  As a result, it finished 6 hours before meal time and I had to let it rest in the cooler the entire time.  And it continued to cook in the cooler and was over-done to the point that it just pulled apart rather than sliced.  It certainly was tender, and I'd rather it be tender and juicy than dry, but it was just pulled brisket instead of sliced.  I pulled the brisket out of the smoker at 203 degrees.  In hind sight, I likely should have pulled maybe 193-195 knowing that it would have plenty of time resting in the cooler and it might not have been so "over done".


Now that I have some better insight, both on experience as well as your input, I'll start considering thickness along with weight when trying to gauge how long a brisket will take to cook.


Thanks again.



Interesting, I did a 13 lber starting around 200º , had to cut in two but it was done in 9 1/2 hours.

post #24 of 71
That is great info. That should help a lot of people. Great job Gary. thumbsup.gif
post #25 of 71
Thread Starter 

Thanks 5oclock



post #26 of 71
Originally Posted by gary s View Post

How Long to Cook Brisket




Misconception of the 1 to 1.5 hours per pound rule



This is not just my opinion, but facts gathered from various sources. One has Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University, Texas A &M Agrilife Research & Animal Science, Texas A & M Rosenthal Meats Center and Teach Meat Science, Department of Animal Science, and TAMU BBQ group.   

Also, my observations of forty years of smoking.


I am not trying to step on anyone’s toe’s or create a problem, just trying to help first time smokers in their  journey to smoking a great brisket




In general thickness is a better predictor than weight.


Imagine you had one 20” long, 10” wide,  3” thick brisket. Weighs 20 lbs, and takes 30 hours to cook. But now imagine you cut in half, and separated it by an eighth of an inch. Would it take 30 hours to cook, or 15 hrs now that each half weighs 10 lbs? In fact, the cooking time only depends on the brisket thickness, not its weight. A 30” long or a 10” long brisket that is the same thickness takes the same amount of time to cook.


Similarly, a 6” diameter pork but that is 12” long cooks in the same time a 6” diameter 18” long butt.


So if you typically cook a 12lb brisket in 12 hours, and you bought an 18 pounder but really it is just longer and about as thick after trimming, the cooking time might only jump from 12 to 13 hours.....


Another example, Say you are grilling steaks, you have two pieces of meat, both weigh one pound but one is an inch thick and the other is two inches thick, you are cooking both to medium rare, they both weigh a pound, but which one will get to medium rare the quickest.


That is why so many people new to smoking have their briskest turn out dry, tough, over or under cooked, because they are going strictly by time. After you have cooked several briskets and are familiar with your smoker it is a lot easier to judge when your brisket is done. A thermometer is a valuable tool. Check your brisket at different intervals and when you think it is getting close.


Also Smoking temperature is one of the key factors, people smoke anywhere from 200° to 300° so how can your cooking time be based on weight, simply put it can’t.  The one hour per pound rule is a good starting point, but don’t base your entire cook on weight alone.



So to summarize, when picking a brisket take note of the size differences a 16 pound brisket is going to be bigger all around, a little thicker, wider and longer than a 12 pounder, so take that into consideration when choosing and smoking a brisket. I wouldn’t automatically add 6 more hours for the 18 pounder, but look at how much thicker it actually is and use your good judgment.


I know smoking a brisket for the first time seems complicated for some, but keep it simple watch your temp and keep an eye on your brisket and you will be fine. I guess it’s easy for me to say since I’ve been smoking for over 40 years.

There is so much information available at your finger tips, that wasn’t there when I started. I had a lot of trial and errors; ask a lot of questions at different BBQ joints and friends who smoked. I also kept a notebook which I would refer to until I got comfortable enough not to need it any more. When I switched to a reverse flow (which I use now) it took a few smokes to get to know my new smoker and figure out the adjustments. I have smoked so much on it I know when to check it to add wood or more charcoal, how much to start with and how quickly it comes up to temp.


No two briskets are exactly the same, let’s say for example you estimate 1 to 1.5 hours per pound.  A 12 pound brisket can be done in 12 hours during one smoke and the same size brisket takes 18 hours the next time. Why?  There are many factors that contribute to the difference; type and breed, diet, age of the animal, amount of exercise, feed, etc.  All these determine the density of the muscle and the amount of fat marbling.  Type of equipment, experience level, temperature, and weather all play a part in how long it will take.


Good briskets take time, but the time varies so how do you know when it’s done ?

There are several methods you can use. One way especially for the beginner is use a thermometer. (Most briskets that are dry and tough were not cooked long enough)


Most briskets will be done around 190° to 205°. Now if you buy” Choice grade” it can be tender and juicy around 180° to 185°.


Beef needs to rest after it is cooked so the juices can redistribute before cutting. A brisket should rest at least 30 minutes and up to 2 to 4 hours in a warm ice chest.


Using the 1 to 1.5 hour rule and your brisket is around 12 pounds, a cooking time of between 12 and 18 hours depending on the above mentioned factors. A lot of cooks use the toothpick test, when the toothpick slides in like butter with no resistance its ready. Another method mostly by experienced cooks and have a lot of briskets under their belts, is looks and feel, a good bark and kind of soft and pliable. 


I am hoping this helps and not confuses anyone, Smoking a brisket is not rocket science but you need to pay attention to the basics and you will have great brisket.

No confusion. very well said. This helps a lot.

post #27 of 71
Thread Starter 

Thank you glad it helped



post #28 of 71

Nice post , Gary , :points:


Way to go...

post #29 of 71

Thank you for the information. I still am not sure about getting a good bark.  I am about to do my first and for sanity sake I am starting off with about 5 pounds of brisket.  My plan is to olive oil and then rub it about 45 minutes before it goes on the smoker (MES 30")  which I planned on setting at 250.  Based on what I am learning I should smoke for about 5 hours but based on the brisket starting checking tenderness around 3.4 to 4 hour mark. With this small of brisket and I am still going to get a good bark, because I dont want to over cook it.


I had not but now plan on using a cooler for at least an hour after removing from the smoker.


Should I plan on a butcher paper wrap with this size of brisket?



post #30 of 71

J, If max bark is the goal, smoke till tender with no foil or paper, rest on the counter 30 minutes loosely tented with foil if at all and enjoy. Any time you wrap a hunk of meat the steam generated with in the wrap softens the bark. Paper has less of an impact because it is does not seal as well as foil. Any time in a cooler will soften the bark regardless of paper or foil. Coolers are to Hold the meat hot because it is ready and the rest of the meal or guests are not. There is no magic that happens in a cooler. In fact a perfectly cooked Brisket will get mushy because the contained heat  and steam continues to cook the meat just as if you left it in the smoker another hour or so. Good luck...JJ

post #31 of 71
Thread Starter 

Be sure and let us know how it turns out. I may take you several briskets to get them just the way you want. 



post #32 of 71

The brisket turned out not as I anticipated. Although my boys like it, I was disappointed. I just smoked the flat. It turned out dry and not as tender as I was expecting. I started with a small piece of meat which was 2 pounds of flat. I set the smoker at 250 and temp checked the meat every hour. After four hours the thickest portion was still only around 160 however the edges were around the 190 mark. I took it off let it sit in foil and pan for about thirty minutes. I apparently left a chunk of fat when I cut the point off and I am thinking that is what caused some of my problems as that was also the area I was checking the temps. Ideas?

post #33 of 71
In reading the forums it seems like people have problems smoking flats. The flats by me are "over trimmed" when compared to the full packers that I get. The issue is likley an overtrimmed flat.

Try to get a full packer that you have to trim yourself. Freeze part of it if you cannot smoke/finish the whole thing. Watch Franklin's youtube video on trimming a brisket.
post #34 of 71

Biggest issue is at an IT of 165 a Flat is still only slightly more tender than Shoe Leather. Additionally the collagen connective tissue did not break down adding some juiciness. Collagen does not begin to break down until the IT hits 160°F, then it needs Time. With brisket the needed time usually coincides with every inch of the meat getting to 195, but it may go tender earlier 185 or take longer 205-215. IT is a Guideline to lead you to the point you start testing for tenderness. It don't matter if the temp is 165, 195, or 210, if the therm probe doesn't slide in like that meat is a stick of soft butter...That meat is not done! You jumped the gun...JJ

post #35 of 71
Thanks for the info, I also just learned about the plateau and figure that was part of it, impatient is what I was.
post #36 of 71

Thanks Gary, GREAT post!


Hamapton, VA

post #37 of 71

Thanks for the info.  I have been smoking rib's, pork, deer, wild hog and have great results.  I have never been able to do a good brisket.  After reading all the post, I know why.  I was making some basic mistakes.    I'm new to using my elect smoker and I'm smoking a brisket for the Cowboys game tomorrow.  Yea I'm a Texan and Cowboys fans.. So the slow and low will start tonight.  Going to follow Gary's suggestions and I will post how it turns out..  Thanks for all the info

post #38 of 71
Thread Starter 

" Go Cowboys"    You need any help or have any questions just ask,  Just allow PLENTY of time for your brisket. If it does get done early It will hold nicely 



post #39 of 71
I need to show this to the wife, perhaps seeing the "thickness, not length" matters in writing she will comprehend it. Every time we cook steaks she tells me that I can put them on together because hers is short. She likes things done to the far end of shoe leather...tired of telling her the same thing every time we have steaks lol...

Thanks Gary
post #40 of 71
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by inkjunkie View Post

I need to show this to the wife, perhaps seeing the "thickness, not length" matters in writing she will comprehend it. Every time we cook steaks she tells me that I can put them on together because hers is short. She likes things done to the far end of shoe leather...tired of telling her the same thing every time we have steaks lol...

Thanks Gary


Yeah, My wife started out a well done person, finally got her to Medium I'm a rare to med. rare guy  I like thick she likes thin so works out pretty well 



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