How Long to Cook Brisket at 250°?

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How Long To Cook A Brisket At 250°With a 13-pound brisket, you can feed a lot of people, making it a favorite among family gatherings and any occasion where people congregate. But how exactly do you cook such a big piece of meat? Here, we share everything you need to know about cooking this tough cut of meat along with a step-by-step guide on how long to cook brisket at 250° F so you can get the best results. 

The Right Temperature for Brisket

While there are plenty of methods for making the perfect brisket, many experts believe that there are 3 main temperatures you can use when smoking brisket, which is how we’ll be cooking our briskets today. You can choose either 225°, 250°, or 275° Fahrenheit, where 225° is considered to be a lower temperature while 250° and 275° are higher temperatures. However, this guide will strictly smoke the brisket at 250° F. 

Cooking Time for Brisket at 250° 

The general rule of thumb when cooking brisket is to set an amount of time between 30 to 40 minutes for every pound of meat you have. While some people swear by the 225° temperature for great results, this method of slow cooking can take as long as 1 to 1.25 hours per pound, which means that you can get the same flavorful and tender brisket for half the time at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This is something you need to keep in mind whether you’re serving brisket for the first time or the 50th time.

Choosing the Best Brisket for Smoking   

Before anything else, you need to look for the right cut of brisket and the right grade of beef. First, make sure that you use a whole brisket rather than just the flat muscle that you will usually see in stores. This is because the brisket flat is only one-half of the brisket and contains the leanest part of the meat. 

Using a full packer brisket is the best option to take if you want a flavorful and juicy brisket that will deliver excellent and consistent results. However, you also need to remember that there are different grades of meat for you to choose from, including Choice, Select, and Prime grade. If you have money to splurge, you may want to look into Wagyu brisket which is even better but both Prime and Wagyu will have plenty of marbling which translates to a better taste and texture when cooking at 250°F. 

We don’t recommend smoking with the Select or Choice cuts because they contain less marbling throughout the brisket. Fortunately, you can easily get your hands on some Prime brisket from your local grocery store or at Costco. You can also get them from butcher shops, but they are more expensive. 

Getting Your Brisket Ready for the Smoker 

Now it’s time to learn the anatomy of your brisket; below are the 3 important parts you need to know about regarding your brisket. 

The Flat and Point 

When we say flat, we mean the side with the meat or what many people refer to as the lean meat of a brisket. There won’t be much marbling here compared to the point side and is easily recognizable from the point side of the brisket since it’s much flatter and thinner. The brisket point will curve up over the opposite side and will be rich in fat deposits which makes this side much juicier. 

A good rule of thumb when trimming the meat side of a brisket is to remove everything white (fat) until you see pure, red beef. Once you’ve eliminated all the silver skin from the top or flat portion of your meat, move on to fat trimming. 

The Fat Cap Side

If you’re unsure what trimming a brisket means, just remember that it’s simply getting rid of the excess fat located on the fat side and a small chunk of silver skin on the other side which will help the dry rub stick to the beef. The best way to do this is to put the whole brisket inside your freezer for around 30 to 45 minutes. Doing this will help make the trimming much easier since the fat can get slippery when at room temperature.  

There are 2 ways to trim the fat cap but how you do so will depend on the kind of grill or smoker you have and where its heat source comes from. If you have a pellet grill, the heat will likely come from under your brisket, so don’t trim the fat cap too much. This is a great way of smoking brisket since it will keep your meat protected from the heat produced below; this will keep your brisket juicy and won’t dry it out.  

Another way of trimming the fat is by leaving ¼” of the fat on this side, which is how experts trim their briskets when smoking fat side up. If you plan to smoke with an offset smoker where the heat source is far from the brisket, then this is a good option if you want to smoke at a low temperature. An advantage to this method is that the fat will drip down the brisket as it cooks, giving it natural basting. 

Making the Best Brisket Rubs

Now we’ll move on to the brisket rub — you may have used all kinds of dry rubs and you may even have a favorite barbecue sauce but you don’t need anything too fancy to get the most out of your beef brisket. Here are just a few things you can use to ensure that you produce a good brisket:

  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper

Some people also use Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke to create an interesting flavor profile but the kind of rub or sauce you use is totally up to your personal preference. However, we’ve found that the simple combination of black pepper, kosher salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in equal parts produces the most flavorful and juicy meat. Unfortunately, people who are new to the brisket game will often make the mistake of covering their entire brisket. 

Make sure that you spread your rub evenly over your meat to ensure there’s plenty of surface area for the smoke to penetrate; this also allows for a great bark to form.  

Preparing Your Barbecue Smoker

Before we get closer to smoking our perfectly seasoned brisket, it’s time to prepare the smoker. Because we’ll be working at a temperature of 250°F, a water pan is absolutely necessary. These will come in a wide range of shapes and sizes; you can use a dedicated pan or a disposable one. Water pans can be a great way to control the temperature since the humidity inside your smoker can help to distribute heat evenly. 

As such, it doesn’t matter what kind of smoker you have or the kind of brand it is since the water pan can always keep the ambient temperature inside your smoker close to 250°F. Moreover, your brisket will need humidity to ensure the creation of bark and to help the smoke flavor cling onto and penetrate your meat. If you’re used to watching a brisket over a long period of time, then you’ll be happy to know that this faster cooking process will drastically cut down your cook time.   

Just remember to position your water pan over to the side of the brisket rather than right under it which may steam the bark off. 

Smoking Your Brisket at 250°F

Now it’s time to get your grill on! If you’ve followed all the simple steps above and your smoker has reached 250°F, you can place your brisket inside the smoker. Whether you put it fat side up or down is your choice but we recommend placing it fat side down if you’re using a pellet smoker or fat side up if you have an offset smoker while the firebox is away from your brisket. When you’re done, place your meat thermometer inside the thickest part of the brisket and keep your smoker closed. 

You’ll want to keep your smoker at a consistent temperature for as long as possible; this will help the smoke deeply penetrate the brisket, infusing it with the smoke flavor you love. 

Smoked Brisket Recipe 

Now that you understand the ins and outs of this process, below is a quick and easy recipe that summarizes everything you need to know for juicy, tasty, and tender brisket. 

Ingredients

  • 1 whole brisket (13 lbs.)
  • ½ cup barbecue rub or your favorite BBQ sauce

Equipment 

  • Pink butcher paper
  • Towels
  • Water pan
  • Meat thermometer
  • Wood pellets or chips

Instructions

  1. Place your water pan into the smoker
  2. Preheat your smoker to 250°F 
  3. Put your still-wrapped brisket inside the freezer for 30 minutes to help it stiffen while making it easier to trim
  4. Pull the brisket out of your freezer and remove its wrapping then trim the fat cap up to ¼ inch — you can also do more trimming if you want
  5. Using paper towels, pat off any excess moisture from the brisket
  6. Make sure to sprinkle an even amount of dry rub throughout the brisket. However, don’t completely cover your brisket, and allow some pink to come through
  7. Place your brisket inside your smoker
  8. Insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the meat 
  9. Smoke your brisket for the next 3 hours without opening your smoker. 
  10. Spritz your meat every 30 to 40 minutes using apple cider vinegar
  11. Continue smoking your brisket until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170°F. Double wrap your brisket with butcher paper
  12. Insert your probe again inside the thickest part of your brisket
  13. Once the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 195°F to 197°F, take it out of the smoker and double wrap it again with towels. 
  14. Place it inside an insulated cooler or inside a 170°F oven for a minimum of 2 hours
  15. Unwrap your brisket, slice it up, and serve  

Resting Your Brisket 

If you’re unsure of how to rest your brisket, simply place it inside an insulated cooler while probing with a meat thermometer and observing its internal temperature. Doing this will allow you to monitor the temperature inside as it rests — this is when the connective tissue will break down over the next few hours. As soon as the brisket is finished, keep it inside the wrapping and then double-wrap it with your towels.   

Any kind of towel will do, but be sure to place your scrumptious brisket into an insulated cooler for 4 hours. You can then rest your brisket for an hour and you can start slicing it but giving it extra time will result in even more succulent and tender meat. During this time, the connective tissue inside the meat will continue to break down while fat keeps rendering and spreads back into the brisket evenly.  

Possible Side Dishes 

There are many side dishes that will pair well with briskets, so once you slice it up, make sure that you make one or two of these options. 

  • Potato salad
  • Green beans
  • Black bean and corn salad
  • Mac and cheese

How Long to Cook Brisket at 250° F?

And there you have it, a perfectly smoked brisket in half the time without having to do much or use any fancy ingredients. With this recipe, all you need are a few basic ingredients and the right cut of beef. Finally, to ensure that you get perfectly cooked meat, just make sure that you watch for the right temperature both inside and outside your brisket.

 

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