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

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One thing I would like to clear up is the 1 to 1.5 hour rule ??? It's not my RULE nor anybody else.
It's always been a guideline. I have heard all my life when people are talking about smoking they say
"I go by the 1 to 1.5 hour rule" A FIGURE OF SPEECH that's it A GUIDELINE
I wanted everyone especially the Newbies to have as much understanding of how and why and about meat. I sure didn't mean to step on anyone's toes .
Like the Heading said I did a lot of research talked to a lot of people and my over 50 years now of smoking experience .

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Thanks, sure didn't want to confuse anyone !!

Glad I came across this post as it may kind of answer a question I was having.

I smoked a small joint of brisket at the weekend , around 4lb, indirect on a gas grill and have also tried one indirect on a coal grill. Both times they have come out dry and tough.

I had this on at around 10:30 and removed it from the grill when it hit 180f roughly at 18:00 and let it rest for 1 hour, temp was kept steadt between 230-250.
The meat was well cooked through but there wasn't much juice in the meat and it wasn't totally dry but was definitely more like a well done roast and slightly tough. I'm wondering if the size of this joint may need to be cooked for less time? or if it still needs to hit that 200f mark?


Now this was a rolled brisket joint which is whats easier to get in the UK from super markets. Do I need to maybe look for a joint that has more fat content and maybe flatten it out from being a rolled joint?

Thoughts anyone?

I usually smoke at around 225 - 250 I know some of your cuts of meat look a little different than ours. I always smoke whole packers 12 to 14 lbs. I look for as much marbling as I can find with a good fat cap which I trim to 1/4 inch. Looking at your pics that is a pretty lean piece of meat.
You might find a few pics of U S briskets and show your butcher. If that is all you can get, I would try smoking it for several hours, then wrapping it in butcher paper or foil.
Sometimes you just get a bad piece of meat that's tough or dries out. I have had that happen to me.
Picked out a nice well marbled one, smoked it the way I always do and it was tough. I chopped it and made sandwiches.
Maybe some of the Brits will jump in and give you their thoughts

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Very much appreciate the time you took to write this out, certainly will help a meeting guy like myself as I would have stuck the the 1.5/ pound. Sorry if I missed it, but would you still estimate at the 1.5/ pound and then adjust time roughly based on thickness, or do you have an hour per inch thick timeline you generally use?
I’ve got one hitting the smoker for the first time next weekend and can’t wait!
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Sounds like a good plan. Just remember the 1 -1.5 hour is an estimate. Check your Brisket's IT
around 205 +- Tooth pick test (I Use a skewer ) Slides in and out with no resistance.

Be waiting to hear how it turns out, I'm guessing great!! Ain't rocket science, just a hunk of meat
You get a few under your belt you will be telling everyone how east it is.

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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

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.

This new guy can't thank you enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Glad it helped, Briskets aren't hard, just let them do their thing.
And the more you cook the easier it seems, until it's just second nature.

Always around (most of the time) so it you have any questions I'll be glad to share what I know.

Thanks Gary---It is very hard--especially trying with a WSM in high winds in the 40's temperature wise-AT LEAST I learned today--Don't use a water pan-What a stall!
Great info, thanks. I'm very new and relying on my thermometer. I've noticed sometimes with pork shoulders they can just stall at a temp for 3-4 hours. Is this normal?
Wind and Rain are tough, it's a struggle sometimes to maintain a steady temp.

Water Pans aren't a bad thing , sometimes a little moisture is a good thing.
It's gunna stall and then it will continue to climb, Just part of the process.
I HAVE NEVER paid any attention to the stall, in fact I never even started using an Instant read
Temp gauge till about 10 years ago. I have a Maverick Digital Read that I've used Twice in 5 years.
My problem was I kept watching the Temp, Naah not for me. I just like going about my business, throwing a split on about every 30 -40 min and adjusting my damper If Needed and never even give what I'm smoking a thought. I have cooked for over 50 years and Know my smoker so it's pretty routine for me. Now in saying that when I feel it's getting close I start check, Feel, Toothpick test, and looks.
Y'all hang in there you'll get there. Just Remember SMOKING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
If it all work and stresses ,You might want to look for another Hobby.
Are you gunna make Mistakes and not Have the Perfect Cook Absolutely !!
I have a Bust every once in a while as long as I have been cooking, It Happens

Good Look and Keep on Smoking
Y'all hang in there you'll get there. Just Remember SMOKING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
If it's all work and stress ,You might want to look for another Hobby.
And you gunna make Mistakes and not Have the Perfect Cook Absolutely !!
I have a Bust every once in a while as long as I have been cooking, It Happens

Gary--I need to frame this and put it on my wall. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write that. Time and help from folks on here--it'll work!
this is an excellent article. ?My first brisket I did by weight and time, came out Sahara desert dry. Then I read about to go by meat temp not time. the next one came out amazing . I use foil, the butcher paper i felt took away some of the juices from the brisket., But I think the main thing is let it cook, its up to the piece of meat to how long it cooks. But again this is a must read article, thanks for your time to write it.
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Thank you Love to help

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