Brisket - how low can you go?

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Alright so my 2nd & 3rd brisket went on together. One on top (slightly lower temperature) and one on bottom rack.
TempTimeDurations HoursNotes
27510AM.5 Accident. It was supposed to be at 200.
20010:30AM3.5just until both briskets were over 130 degrees. Pasteurization temperature. Bottom one was closer to 140.
160 + Super Smoker setting2:00PM16Spritz with apple cider vinegar every 2 hours, both briskets reached 140+ degrees by end of this period.
1956:00AM6Wrapped in oven. Some time taken to wrap.
RestNoon3Ate at party...probably needed more time to rest or maybe was the bottom one. It was moist but not as moist as the following one.
Rest3:00PM3.5While at the party the other brisket continued to rest until around 6:30 in warm ice chest.
End Time6:30PM
Totals26 hours cook & 6.5 hours rest

So my conclusions from this. I'm going to try the following adjustment on my next cook.
  1. Start at 225 and stay there until the brisket is 130+which is sufficient for pasteurizing the meat. Try to fit both briskets on top row for maximum smoke.
  2. Super smoke (160) for 4 additional hours (try to embed more smoke flavor than the first one, but not take as long as this one).
  3. No spritzing, I liked the look and texture of the bark on the first brisket I posted pictures of more.
  4. Then continue smoking at 195 until a total of 14 hours is reached.
  5. Wrap with tallow and cook in oven for additional 8 hours at 195 for a total of 22 hours.
  6. Rest until internal temperature drops to ~145 or maybe about 4 hours in cooler.
Smoke vs Food Safety. Baseline facts:
  1. Steaks/roasts/chops need to be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 according to FDA (
    1. Speaking about safety, not tenderness
  2. Starting a brisket off at lower temperatures will cause the brisket to remain below "safe" temperatures for a longer time, maybe too long.
  3. Z Grills says the smoke setting hovers between 158 and 194 and can only be used for an hour before cooking at a higher temperature. (

Assumptions some of which are wrong I think but what I'm gathering from research:
  1. Originally I thought the concern about bacteria multiplying was only a concern for the outside part of the meat, but I'm getting the impression now that the bacteria can multiply in meat below 140 even if outside of meat is at 140 due to outside temperature of the brisket inside the low cooking pit. In other words, having the pit above 140 is not enough to protect the meat if the meat takes too long to rise in temperature?
  2. Finishing the cook in wrapping paper will be important for tenderness?
  3. Fat won't properly render if it is not cooked at least part of the time at higher temperatures?
So I'm trying to sort through all these assertions from different videos, FDA, manufacturer to find out how to maximize smoke.

Possible approaches:
  1. Ignore manufacturer and put on super-smoke setting and let it fluctuate between 158 and 194 for maybe 8 hours or so, then wrap, increase temp and cook to 200 internal temperature.
  2. Super smoke for just 1 hour, then set to 195 and cook about 6 hours, wrap and continue cooking until it's about 200 internal temp
  3. Super smoke for 1 hour, then cook at 195 until it reaches 145 internal temp, then reduce pit back to super-smoker setting for a number of hours to maximize smoke, then wrap, then cook for several more hours.
A couple of questions I'm asking:
  1. Will fat fully/completely render if the roast is cooked at 190 the whole time or will the rendering be incomplete no matter how long you cook it?
  2. Will the roast ever reach a temperature ABOVE the actual temperature of the pit, for instance if I smoke at 195 the whole time will the meat ever reach 200?
  3. Which of the above 3 approaches would you recommend for maximum smoke while not taking too much safety risk?
I did mine at 225 to 235 degrees. But I never lower than that. It was my friend who taught me how to cooked it and what degrees.
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Mainly because I'm smoking on a pellet grill and would like to maximize the smoke flavor. While the one I did yesterday was very juicy, very good and had a beautiful smoke ring, it could have used a little more smoke flavor. I want to achieve full "stick burner" flavor so on a pellet grill I think lower and slower will be the trick.
You can try all you want, won’t happen. Just the reality
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Reactions: heislord5
You can try all you want, won’t happen. Just the reality
I'm putting foil in my vents (to block them) and wood chips (in foil) on top of my fire deflector plate. We'll see how it goes but I feel like it will be a step forward. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.