How Long to Cook Brisket Or Misconception of the 1 to 1.5 hours per pound rule

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gary s

Gone but not forgotten. RIP
Original poster
OTBS Member
It has been a long time since I posted this, we have a lot of
Newbies and Folks Confused and Scared of Briskets
This should help and useful

How Long to Cook Brisket
Or

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 or Prime 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 or that had, but you need to pay attention to the basics and you will have great brisket.

Brisket Texas Style

This is how I Smoke my Briskets

I usually buy my briskets at Sam’s; so far they have been very consistent in quality.
I try to find a “Choice” grade full packer with not too much fat and pliable, but not limp or stiff and around 12 pounds or so.

I do not inject or rub the day or night before. Not saying it is wrong, I just don’t do it.

The morning I am going to smoke (early) I get my brisket out of the fridge while I am getting my smoker fired up.

Take the brisket out of the Cryovac rinse it off and trim the fat cap down to about a ¼ inch.

Rub it down with olive oil and coat it with Course ground black pepper and salt, that’s it. (I have my

S & P already mixed in a shaker
) Once my smoker is running at 225° I put it on. (Note: I will let my smoker get to 250° - 275° at first, so by the time I get the brisket on and the door closed it drops down to the 225° I’m looking for) I use a combination of charcoal and wood, hickory, pecan or oak, mainly because that’s what is available. I use Charcoal to get things going then add splits.

I let it smoke for about 6 hours, or until I am happy with the bark, then pull it and wrap in butcher pape. (I do spritz a few times prior to wrapping) either with just plain apple juice or 50/50 apple juice and apple cider vinegar, then back on the smoker till done usually another 6 plus hours. I then take it off wrap in a couple old towels and stick it in a warm cooler for an hour or so. (Before I wrap in the towels, I do unwrap the butcher paper a bit and take a look to make sure I am happy).

Pull it out, unwrap and slice. I always have a great bark and smoke ring, moist and tender. I like butcher paper because it will hold in some moisture and let it form a very good bark.

I did foil in the past, up until about 6 or 7 years ago and switched to BP. Sometimes I don’t wrap at all, but found I prefer the BP method.

I have used different rubs, injected and tried lots of different techniques over the years, but have settled on this one because my wife, kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors and me all like the flavor and texture. To me it brings out that real brisket/meat flavor. I am not saying this is the right or only way, just a very good way.

Gary

Great write up Gary ! Very informative. I'm going to bookmark this just so when I see the question "how long for X lb brisket" I'll know right where to send them. This should help a lot of people doing there first brisket and a lot of others having trouble getting them cooked properly.

Nicely done Gary, this should really help the brisket virgins out allot.

Point for sure
Chris

Great Post on Brisket Timing, Gary!!
I've said many times. when it comes to Prime Rib, forget the hours per pound thing. It also goes by Thickness.
Such as a 5 pound Prime rib 6" Thick X 8" Wide X 7" long takes about 4 1/2 hours to cook
@ 230°, but that doesn't mean a 10 pound Prime Rib that is 6" Thick, X 8" Wide, X 14" long would take 9 hours to cook @ the same 230°.
When in fact that 10 pounder would probably only take about 5 to 5 1/2 hours. The slight difference being mainly the early part of the cook, fighting the massive hunk of Cold meat being introduced to your Smoker.

Bear

Last edited:
However the hours per pound are a lot closer with Butts than Prime Rib, because:
A 10 pound Butt is generally a lot thicker than a 5 pound Butt, which would keep the hours per pound very similar.
But then a 15 pound Prime Rib is very often the same Thickness as a 5 pound Prime Rib.

So if you're going to make a guess as to how many hours, going by weight, do it on a Pork Butt.

Bear

Great write-up! I did a couple of briskets in the past that came out OK, not great, but good, I did them on my Pro 100. Now I've got my SQ36 offset and when I think of doing a brisket I realize I most likely won't want to stay awake tending the fire for what it takes, no kid anymore. So if you are wrapping in butcher paper there's no more smoke penetration, which means it wouldn't be any different finishing the brisket in a 225º oven as opposed to on the smoker. My question: after wrapping does the meat go into the oven fat side down or up? I'd think up so the fat can cook thru the meat. RAY

I am trying to help anyone who has never or starting to cook their first Brisket's
Everybody has their own method. I have heard over and over and over about the 1.5 hour rule. Use it as a guesstimate figuring when to put it on and it will be ready. Like I said at the start of the Post, it's not just me but also a lot of very smart people .
This will help anyone understand about size and thickness , so they can get comfortable smoking briskets.

Gary

Also In regard to the 1.5 hour rule, I posted this pretty recently. I smoked two Briskets almost identical in size, marbling and fat cap, Cooked on the same smoker, same time. One was ready in 12 hours the other in 16 just sayin

Gary

Great write-up! I did a couple of briskets in the past that came out OK, not great, but good, I did them on my Pro 100. Now I've got my SQ36 offset and when I think of doing a brisket I realize I most likely won't want to stay awake tending the fire for what it takes, no kid anymore. So if you are wrapping in butcher paper there's no more smoke penetration, which means it wouldn't be any different finishing the brisket in a 225º oven as opposed to on the smoker. My question: after wrapping does the meat go into the oven fat side down or up? I'd think up so the fat can cook thru the meat. RAY

That's a question best answered by Gary---My Goto Brisket Guy!!

Bear

Excellent write up Gary. Personally my consistency with success started with thermometers. For us weekend warriors I think they are critical.

Time is more a Guesstimate than a estimate, it's all up to IT as to when it's done. That's why when having company it's always good to get a early start, so they won't be sitting around for 4-5 hours sucking down all your booze. I still got a question out there on this thread. RAY

MileHighSmokerGirl
Great write-up! I did a couple of briskets in the past that came out OK, not great, but good, I did them on my Pro 100. Now I've got my SQ36 offset and when I think of doing a brisket I realize I most likely won't want to stay awake tending the fire for what it takes, no kid anymore. So if you are wrapping in butcher paper there's no more smoke penetration, which means it wouldn't be any different finishing the brisket in a 225º oven as opposed to on the smoker. My question: after wrapping does the meat go into the oven fat side down or up? I'd think up so the fat can cook thru the meat. RAY

Another matter of preference , I have always smoked fat side up

Gary

That's why I'm trying to un-complicate things, to make brisket smoking easy, easy

Gary

Last edited:
Thanks for that Gary! I'm gonna do a briskey soon on my offset, wrap it and finish it in the oven. Not only will I be able to get some sleep, I won't be spending money on splits. I figure my TP-20 will wake me up when it gets to a IT of 199º. RAY

Be sure and Post it with lots of Pics

Gary

Great post Gary! Outta make it a sticky

sawhorseray
Be sure and Post it with lots of Pics Gary

You bet, always do. I've got a Chucky going in the sous vide pot right now, should be ready in a couple of days. RAY

Excellent write up Gary. Personally my consistency with success started with thermometers. For us weekend warriors I think they are critical.

LOL---I'd be totally lost without my Maverick 732 !!!

Bear

jcam222
It has been a long time since I posted this, we have a lot of
Newbies and Folks Confused and Scared of Briskets
This should help and useful

How Long to Cook Brisket
Or

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 or Prime 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 or that had, but you need to pay attention to the basics and you will have great brisket.

Brisket Texas Style

This is how I Smoke my Briskets

I usually buy my briskets at Sam’s; so far they have been very consistent in quality.
I try to find a “Choice” grade full packer with not too much fat and pliable, but not limp or stiff and around 12 pounds or so.

I do not inject or rub the day or night before. Not saying it is wrong, I just don’t do it.

The morning I am going to smoke (early) I get my brisket out of the fridge while I am getting my smoker fired up.

Take the brisket out of the Cryovac rinse it off and trim the fat cap down to about a ¼ inch.

Rub it down with olive oil and coat it with Course ground black pepper and salt, that’s it. (I have my

S & P already mixed in a shaker
) Once my smoker is running at 225° I put it on. (Note: I will let my smoker get to 250° - 275° at first, so by the time I get the brisket on and the door closed it drops down to the 225° I’m looking for) I use a combination of charcoal and wood, hickory, pecan or oak, mainly because that’s what is available. I use Charcoal to get things going then add splits.

I let it smoke for about 6 hours, or until I am happy with the bark, then pull it and wrap in butcher pape. (I do spritz a few times prior to wrapping) either with just plain apple juice or 50/50 apple juice and apple cider vinegar, then back on the smoker till done usually another 6 plus hours. I then take it off wrap in a couple old towels and stick it in a warm cooler for an hour or so. (Before I wrap in the towels, I do unwrap the butcher paper a bit and take a look to make sure I am happy).

Pull it out, unwrap and slice. I always have a great bark and smoke ring, moist and tender. I like butcher paper because it will hold in some moisture and let it form a very good bark.

I did foil in the past, up until about 6 or 7 years ago and switched to BP. Sometimes I don’t wrap at all, but found I prefer the BP method.

I have used different rubs, injected and tried lots of different techniques over the years, but have settled on this one because my wife, kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors and me all like the flavor and texture. To me it brings out that real brisket/meat flavor. I am not saying this is the right or only way, just a very good way.

Gary
Excellent write-up, Gary. Both my son and nephew are just getting into smoking and I’ve warned them about cooking strictly by time and temp, which is advice they received somewhere. I’m sending them the link to your topic.

Jwales23
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