We all know that smoking meat is not an exact science. But when it comes to smoking beef brisket, there are some guidelines that you can follow to ensure success. Here’s a look at how long to smoke a 10 lb brisket at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ll also go into detail on different weights of brisket alongside different cooking temperatures and even provide a handy-dandy chart you can use as a reference.
Remember that any guidance here, or anywhere else really, is just that – guidance. You have to get in there and try it out. Just remember to monitor the internal temperature of the brisket, regardless of any tables or guidance that tell you the cook should take “this long”.
Why does brisket have to smoke so long?
The short answer is that cooking at a low temperature allows the fats in the meat to break down or render, giving us that tender and tasty bite we all want.
The longer answer is that brisket, in and of itself, is not a great cut of meat. It’s tough, it has a lot of fat and a lot of connecting tissues. The brisket is the pectoral muscle of the animal and, as such, is needed to support a lot of weight and heavy movement. As a result, it’s tough!
We cook brisket “low and slow” for so long to give the collagens, fats, etc inside the meat ample time to break down into tender and juicy parts of the overall meat. The internal temperature of the brisket while smoking will raise slowly, ensuring the brisket stays juicy.
Cooking brisket too fast means these won’t have time to break down sufficiently so you end up with meat that may taste great, but won’t be as tender as you like.
How long to smoke brisket per pound at 225?
The standard advice for smoking brisket at 225 (F) is that it’ll take 90-120 minutes per pound of trimmed brisket. So at the upper range, you are looking at about 20 hours to smoke a 10-pound brisket. This should get you to a point where the brisket has an internal temp of about 195 degrees (F).
Are there other factors to consider?
Yep. This is part of why there is a range (90-120 minutes/pound) rather than a definitive answer.
- Was the brisket fresh out of the fridge when you put it in the smoker? Or did you let it come up to room temperature first? You should let it come up to room temperature for a variety of reasons, but even putting it on the smoker cold isn’t going to elongate the overall cooking time by much.
- External temperature, humidity, and even the wind can also affect the cooking time. Monitoring the smoke from your smoker’s chimney helps to ensure the consistency and quality of the heat in the smoker.
- The consistency of your smoker’s temperature is a major factor. Does it swing wildly or does it stay consistent at 225? I smoke on my pellet smoker as much as my upright Oklahoma Joes and I have to say I’m sold on the convenience of the steady temperature the pellet smoker offers.
- How much meat is in the smoker? Is the brisket the only thing or are there other items in there?
- How often are you opening the door? “If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin'”. You should be using a meat thermometer so there’s little reason to open the door during the cook. Every time you do, you lower the temperature and stretch out the cook time.
- Are you spritizing or spraying your brisket while it’s cooking? If so, you’ll be opening the smoker a lot, so this will affect the consistency of your temp. We recommend not spritzing your brisket.
- Will you wrap the brisket in butcher paper or tin foil during the stall? Wrapping brisket at around an internal temperature of 165 degrees (F) will shorten the cook time and is recommended by many. It’s referred to as the “Texas Crutch”.
Managing all of the above perfectly will not shorten the cook time appreciably, with the exception of wrapping the brisket. The cook time is the cook time and will be unavoidably based on the weight of the meat you are cooking, and the temperature of the smoker.
How about cranking up the temperature?
Well, yep, that will shorten the cook time. This is where the table below will come in handy. Across the top are the smoker temperatures and down the left-hand side is the weight of the trimmed brisket. Cross-reference the smoker’s temperature and the weight of the beef to get an approximation of how long you can expect to take to smoke the brisket.
Also, as a quick summary, some general times to cook brisket per pound based on the temperature of the smoker:
- Smoker temp = 225 degrees (f) will take about 90-120 minutes per pound of brisket
- Smoker temp = 250 degrees (f) will take about 60-90 minutes per pound of brisket
- Smoker temp = 300 degrees (f) will take about 30-45 minutes per pound of brisket
- Smoker temp = 350 degrees (f) will take about 25 minutes per pound of brisket
- Smoker temp = 500 degrees (f) will take about 18 minutes per pound of brisket
Handy reference chart for brisket smoking times based on weight and temperature
Here’s a better graphic of the table above – feel free to download it and nail it to your fridge! 🙂
Reading down the left side, you’ll see various sizes, or weights, of brisket ranging from 6 pounds to 16 pounds.
Across the top, you’ll see the various temperatures you may be smoking at.
How long at various temperatures
So cross-referencing the weight and the temperature will show you how long you can expect the beef brisket to take to get to the desired internal temperature of 195 (or so).
Given the above table:
- How long to smoke a 10 lb brisket at 225? About 20 hours
- How long does it take a 6-pound brisket to smoke at 250 degrees (F)? About 9 hours
- How long does it take a 12-pound brisket to smoke at 225 degrees (F)? About 24 hours
- How long does it take a 10-pound brisket to smoke at 250 degrees (F)? About 15 hours
- How long does it take a 14-pound brisket to smoke at 300 degrees (F)? About 10.5 hours
- How long does it take a 16-pound brisket to smoke at 500 degrees (F)? About 5 hours.
You can also use the table to work with odd sizes of briskets as well.
How long to smoke a 3.5 lb brisket at 225 degrees? Cut that 6 lb brisket time in about half. So you can smoke a 3.5 lb brisket at 225 degrees in about 6 hours or so.
…or for different temperatures. Can you cook brisket at lower temperatures? You can but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. But if you want to smoke brisket at, say, 180 degrees, use the chart above and just fudge the numbers.
Keep in mind, these are generalizations and a lot of factors come into play. This does not mean to say you can put a 12-pound brisket on at 250 and come back in 18 hours and it’s ready to pull out of the smoker.
It’s more of a planning tool you can use as a reference to know when you should start cooking.
- Friends and family coming over at 4 pm tomorrow and you have a 14-pound brisket to cook? You probably want to think about throwing it on the smoker the day before (depending on the temperature you’ll be smoking at).
- Got a 10-pound brisket and you forgot to start it the night before, you may want to elect the “hot-and-fast” method and cook it at 350, or maybe even 500 so it’ll be ready when folks show up and are hungry. Just know that you are likely sacrificing tenderness with this approach.
- …you get the idea.
A few thoughts about smoking other types of meat
Brisket is the end-all, be-all of the smoking world. Get a brisket right, and it’s something to be proud of, and you’ll look forward to doing it again. So will your friends and family. But there are other meats to smoke so don’t limit yourself.
- Smoked pork
- Smoked turkey
- Smoked liver (yep, you read that right!)
- Smoked prime rib (one of my personal favorites)
And, of course, check this article for a list of good, cheap meats to smoke.
As you can see, the cooking time for a beef brisket depends on multiple factors such as weight, temperature, and even external conditions. However, with the right knowledge of these variables and using the table above as a reference point, you can make an educated guess on how long it will take to smoke your brisket perfectly. Remember that although cranking up the temperature may decrease cook times significantly, this approach could sacrifice tenderness in exchange for speed. So use your own judgment when selecting which method to go with! All in all, smoking a delicious beef brisket is not only enjoyable but also rewarding – so don’t forget to savor the flavor at the end!