Where to probe brisket?

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northernerscansmoketoo

Newbie
Original poster
Feb 24, 2021
11
6
I was just wondering where people temperature probe their briskets? I'll sometimes run two, one in the point and one in the flat, but do you prefer to run them into the front and back of the brisket? Do you prefer to come in from the sides? Are there people who prefer putting them in at an angle from the top? I wanted to hear some peoples' thoughts.

Just for some background I am fairly new to smoking meat. I inherited a Brinkman Offset smoker from my grandparents during Summer 2020 that had been collecting rust in their driveway. It's not huge (probably 30" to 36") and I typically use some combo of charcoal, sticks, or chunks in there.

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
 
Thickest part of the flat.
Straight in from the side is my preference, but if I do two probes I'll put one in from the top.
The thickest part of the flat is also where I probe for tenderness.
Remember, probe tender over internal temp for knowing whether your brisket is ready.

There are two camps on what qualifies as probe tender.
The first is like a knife through room temperature butter.
The second is like a knife through creamy peanut butter.
I've come to the conclusion that creamy peanut butter is better, it's smooth with light resistance.
Same to have less problems with overdone edges wanting to crumble.
 
Last edited:
Thanks for sharing!

I've only done 3 briskets so far and because of that I still am developing that "feel" and "probe tenderness" that everyone talks about. Because of that I still am insistent on using probes just to keep track of where the brisket temp is at. As I cook more briskets I definitely plan on relying on that "feel" a lot more as I get more experience.
 
7NG7H.jpg
If I use stick-and-stay cable thermometer I put it right about here, away from the seam in a thick area of the flat. I don't stick it until hour 5 or so. For instant temp probing I'll check 3 or 4 places. Same with tenderness probing (which I think is way more important) and I pay attention to the feel going and coming out. If the meat gods cooperate, I can cook a brisket with pretty limber slices.
MaMvXbO.jpg
 
I try to avoid poking too many holes in a 200 degree brisket because that stuff that flows out of the hole is called flavor.
One can also use the "wiggle" test by picking up the whole brisket and gently shaking it, it should flop around like jello.
If it does, pull it, rest it, eat it.
After you pull it, you can test the temp just for grins.
Remember, different briskets on different days will go soft as butter at different temps.
 
I try to avoid poking too many holes in a 200 degree brisket because that stuff that flows out of the hole is called flavor.
Yep. My instant read thermometers have interchangeable probes, the fine one is good for temping a burger from the side, or even getting a temp on a shrimp. Once the big meats are tender, I will switch to the fine probe. It leaves a very tiny hole, and has a 2 or 3 second response time. I still trust my ice pick as much as a thermometer.
rk6FXJm.jpg
 
Yep. My instant read thermometers have interchangeable probes, the fine one is good for temping a burger from the side, or even getting a temp on a shrimp. Once the big meats are tender, I will switch to the fine probe. It leaves a very tiny hole, and has a 2 or 3 second response time. I still trust my ice pick as much as a thermometer.
View attachment 488259
I hope that is for meat not people! LOL
 
I was just wondering where people temperature probe their briskets? I'll sometimes run two, one in the point and one in the flat, but do you prefer to run them into the front and back of the brisket? Do you prefer to come in from the sides? Are there people who prefer putting them in at an angle from the top? I wanted to hear some peoples' thoughts.

Just for some background I am fairly new to smoking meat. I inherited a Brinkman Offset smoker from my grandparents during Summer 2020 that had been collecting rust in their driveway. It's not huge (probably 30" to 36") and I typically use some combo of charcoal, sticks, or chunks in there.

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Hi there and welcome!
It looks like you are getting some great feedback here.

I aim for the thickest yet center most part of the flat muscle. The point muscle is almost pointless in probing in my opinion. The point will come out fine where the flat is the problem child.

I use 3 probes aiming for the same spot I mention and usually only 1 of them nails it... hence using 3 probes.

Here is a post where I put 5 probes into a brisket flat and you see drastically different numbers in some cases and only 1 reading the true lowest temp. It's crazy!
(sneak peak)
KYSsBbE.jpg

I do mostly Choice cut briskets and I dont even bother checking for tenderness until the lowest probe reads 200F. With Prime cut briskets I check at 198F as they get tender at lower temps in my experience.
I use a wooden bamboo skewer and stab all over. If it's not tender all over I go a couple more degrees and try again and repeat until it is tender like stabbing butter.

I smoke unwrapped the whole time at 275F smoker temp. My briskets come out AMAZING!

I hope this info helps, especially my post showing how difficult it is to get proper probe placement in a brisket :)
 
View attachment 488251
If I use stick-and-stay cable thermometer I put it right about here, away from the seam in a thick area of the flat. I don't stick it until hour 5 or so. For instant temp probing I'll check 3 or 4 places. Same with tenderness probing (which I think is way more important) and I pay attention to the feel going and coming out. If the meat gods cooperate, I can cook a brisket with pretty limber slices.
View attachment 488252
Thanks for the visuals! That brisket looks like it came out great. Looks like the meat gods were happy that day haha
 
Yep. My instant read thermometers have interchangeable probes, the fine one is good for temping a burger from the side, or even getting a temp on a shrimp. Once the big meats are tender, I will switch to the fine probe. It leaves a very tiny hole, and has a 2 or 3 second response time. I still trust my ice pick as much as a thermometer.
View attachment 488259
Do you might me asking what model probe that is? It looks like a thermoworks and I have a couple of their stick and stay thermometers. I have an off brand insta-read I got off amazon and I'm looking to upgrade.
 
Do you might me asking what model probe that is? It looks like a thermoworks and I have a couple of their stick and stay thermometers. I have an off brand insta-read I got off amazon and I'm looking to upgrade.
It is a Thermoworks brand and it's called the Mini-TC. I have two of these and the reasons I like them are:
1. The brain and the probe(s) are purchased separately, and there are a number of different styles of probe that will fit.
2. I suppose you could break the probe, but let's say you stepped on the brain... you keep the probe and just buy a new brain.
3. You can use either hand and still read the temperature, plus there is a "hold" button.
4. I bought the 'needle' probe thinking it would be good for only a few things, but I use it 80% of the time because it's so fast. I have not overcooked chicken breast, fish, shrimp or scallops since buying these. (On chicken breast I use the 7-log-10 reduction time/temp chart, so I pull white meat at 156° and hold 1-minute)
5. It's not waterproof, but very resistant and cleans easily
6. The needle probe can actually temp eggs, like scrambled or basted eggs. I cook scrambled eggs to 145° and plate them and they finish cooking in about a minute. On sunny or basted eggs I like the yolk slightly thick, and the needle is so fine only a drop or two comes out when probing the yolk in the skillet, and by the time they are plated, they are perfect for me.
vhLDacA.jpg
 
How do you know which one is going to be the one that nails it?

Well I use 3 aiming for the best assumed sweet spot (thickest yet center most part of the flat muscle).
I go with the lowest reading one.
Finally, the probes never tell you when it is done. They only tell you when to check for tenderness and to keep checking.
I firmly believe this is why so many people experience a tender brisket with Internal Temps (IT) from 198F to 212F.
Yeah the meat cut or quality or just the cow itself can affect this but I really think placement is the biggest issue. Remember, it's all bout being done when tender :)
 
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