How Many Hours Per Pound To Smoke A Brisket?

Dreaming of beef brisket? Then you’ve got to make smoked brisket!

Those delightful smokey flavors and that melt-in-your-mouth meat are just pure heaven.

But how many hours per pound do you need to smoke a brisket?

barbecue beef brisket sliced and on top of a cutting board.
Photo by bhofack2.

The good news is it takes less time than you may think!

Generally, that will be between 1.5 and two hours per pound, depending on the temperature you use. So, if you have a smaller brisket, you can have it ready relatively quickly.

However, the bigger the brisket, the more time you’ll need to plan on for cooking it thoroughly. 

How Long Do You Need To Smoke A Brisket Per Pound?

The cooking time for smoked brisket will go by the pound of brisket that you have.

As a rule of thumb, you might want to let your whole brisket come to room temperature first before you begin this cooking process. 

This slow method of cooking will ensure the most delicious brisket. Generally, the temperature most people will use is 225°F.

However, your cooking time will need to be adjusted to the weight of your brisket. 

Slicing beef brisket next to a barbecue grill.
Photo by Paulzhuk.

1.5 lb Brisket

In the chance that you find a cut of meat of this small size, it will take a couple of hours to turn into smoked brisket. After 1.5 hours, though, you should check it to make sure it hasn’t been overdone. 

2 lb Brisket

You’ll get better fat content with a 2 lb brisket, which will give you more tender results. At this weight, you can expect to spend three to 3.5 hours smoking your brisket. 

3 lb Brisket

A three-pound brisket cut from the pointed end will cook for closer to four hours in your smoker. If it’s the flat end, it will be more like five hours.

4 lb Brisket

The greater the weight of the brisket, the longer you’ll need to smoke it.

A 4 lb brisket needs roughly six hours in your smoker. For any size, it’s always wise to check on it and look at the internal temperature of the meat, which should be 195°F, the ideal temperature.

Don’t forget that brisket, like other meats, can increase in internal temperature even after you’ve removed it from the heat. 

Beef brisket sliced and on a bun. There is barbecue sauce dripping off the side and some coleslaw and french fries in the background.
Photo by bhofack2.

5 lb Brisket

With a brisket trimmed to 5 lbs., you will want to have it spend seven to eight hours in the smoker. Again, make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook and dry out.

10 lb Brisket

Following the logic of 90 minutes of time in the smoker per pound, a 10-pound brisket will be tender and juicy in about 15 hours. Always go with the texture and internal temperature, though, so it’s tender and delicious. 

15 lb Brisket

If you are serving a big brisket for a family barbecue or gathering, you will want to plan ahead to start, or it will never be ready on time.

You can count on about 18 hours at minimum, though it may be up to 24 hours.

A whole brisket takes even longer, so if you haven’t planned ahead and need it faster, you can cut the point and the flat and then smoke each one separately for a shorter smoking time.

Beef brisket on a plate with barbecue sauce. There are some baked beans on the plate, along with coleslaw. The brisket is on a patriotic plate covered with red stars.
Photo by Terivirbickis

How Many Hours Will I Spend Smoking My Brisket?

It mostly comes down to the weight of your brisket and the temperature. They say the best brisket is smoked at 225°F for one and a half to two hours per pound. 

You will also need to plan on allowing your brisket to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before you even think of serving it.

This allows it to remain juicy with tender meat, and hence, why you should never overcook it on the smoker as that internal temperature reaches its optimum point. 

Certain Factors Can Alter Your Smoking Time for Brisket

While the cooking temperature and smoking techniques are important for smoking a brisket, there are other things that could change the amount of time needed to fully cook your brisket.

As discussed, the weight and size of the brisket are one of the biggest factors you’ll need to consider.

Always do the math first and calculate your approximate cooking time by the pound. The larger and thicker the flat cut of your brisket is, the longer it will take per pound in your smoker, so keep that in mind too.

The way you prepare your brisket can additionally affect the cooking time.

If you have set it out to room temperature, this will shorten how much time it needs to be in the smoker.

Barbecue smoker. There is smoke coming out of the black smoker.
Photo by psgt_123.

Cook It A Little Faster

Want to hurry things along and use a faster method?

Wrapped brisket in aluminum foil can shorten how long it needs to cook while keeping the texture and flavor intact. You won’t wind up with a dry brisket with this method.

Your electric smoker, pellet grill, and any type of smoker all work differently and have different requirements for the amount of heat needed to properly smoke your brisket.

Electric smokers will usually be more consistent in temperature.

However, any smoker can lose its heat if you keep it open. For best results, be sure to close the door of the smoker to trap the heat inside while the brisket cooks.

The Grade Of Meat

Each brisket you smoke will always be unique because of its thickness and fat content. Even the grade of the meat matters.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the grade, the more tender and faster cooking it will be. The marbling and the fats are the secret to quicker cooking and more delicious beef brisket. 

Weather Can Play A Role

The weather may play a role too. If it’s windy and humid, you may need to adjust to these factors.

All in all, by knowing the weight of your brisket, you can approximate how long it takes to smoke it per pound and get delicious results. 

If this is your first time smoking brisket, I know it will turn out great, and you will have a tender brisket with a delicious smoke flavor.

So head on down to the grocery store, pick out your meat, and get started.

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