How Long to Cook a Brisket at 250 (Per Pound)

By Matt Richmond

Did you know Elvis Presley’s song “Love Me Tender” was written from the point of view of a delicious brisket? Okay, that’s not true whatsoever but know what is true? There’s nothing like turning a raw tough cut of meat into a tender, juicy brisket.

But what’s the best way to cook this delectable piece of meat? How long do you cook a brisket at 250 degrees? I’m going to answer that in more in this guide.

What is the Best Cooking Method for Brisket?

The best cooking method for brisket is the low and slow technique. In regards to tenderness, patiently cooking brisket is more important than what cooking appliance you use. You can still achieve a juicy tender brisket…

Maybe your opinion is informed by the long-time favorite Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. If so, you would probably say a heat smoker yields the best results in cooking beef brisket. This way, every bite of the whole brisket contains that smoke flavor.

Hard to argue with that.

But not to worry if you don’t own a smoker. You can still get good results and a tender brisket from cooking it in the following ways:

  • a covered roasting pan in the oven
  • a charcoal grill by wrapping the meat in aluminum foil
  • a slow cooker if working with a small piece like a 3-pound brisket.

Whichever your cooking process, pitmasters like those at Franklin’s recommend leaving plenty of time for the total cook. Slow cooking at low heat (known as the “low and slow” technique) gives you more control in hitting the brisket’s ideal temperature.

Once the internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the brisket, you’ll get the best flavor.

How Long to Cook a Brisket at 250 per Pound

brisket 1 hour per 1 pound at 250 degrees

At 250 degrees Fahrenheit, plan to cook brisket for 1 hour for every 1 pound of meat. However, the actual cook time should be dependent on the internal temp. The ideal internal temperature is 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

This 1:1 cook time for brisket is true for smoking, baking, or whatever method you use where you control the temperature. Thankfully, 1:1 makes for easy math but let’s give a quick example for a 6 pound brisket…

How Long Do You Cook a 6 Pound Brisket at 250?

Remember, when cooking a brisket at 250, the general rule of thumb is that one pound of meat equals one hour of cook time. So 6 hours should be enough time for a 6-pound brisket to reach the ideal internal temp of 190 to 200 degrees.

Again, the same principle applies to any size of the cut. You can determine how long it takes to cook larger pieces of meat like a 12-pound brisket or even a 16-pound brisket by multiplying one hour by the number of pounds that goes through the door of the smoker.

Simply put, the cook time at 250 is the number of pounds.

Even if not using the smoker, the same timing applies. Just place the brisket in a large roasting pan to put in the oven at 250.

A full packer brisket typically weighs an average of about 14 pounds, and here’s your options on how to cook a 14 pound brisket.

How Long Do You Rest a Brisket?

brisket with ZZZ in thought bubble

Once the internal temp reaches around 190 to 200 degrees, remove it from heat and let it rest for about an hour, until the temperature falls to the 145 ˚F. This resting period is so the juices in the meat redistribute.

While this is the last thing you do in the process, one of the most important steps to ensure the most tender, best brisket is to let the brisket rest. So give it some space, people!

Is It Better to Smoke Brisket at 225 or 250?

According to the pros, it’s actually ideal that brisket cooks at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is 250 considered the best temperature? While this is a relatively low temperature, it’s not so low that the cooking time will be unreasonably long.

Higher temperatures such as 300 degrees, require a shorter amount of time but increase your chance of drying out the meat. And no thanks to chewy meat.

Therefore, 250 degrees F is the happy medium between juicy tenderness and reasonable cook time.

Is 225 Too Low for Brisket?

brisket 1.5 hours per 1 pound at 225 degrees

Most agree that the added time it takes to cook brisket at 225 is not worth the small potential of it being more tender. It could take more than a day to cook it! Let me break it down for you…

At 225 degrees, the brisket will smoke or bake in the oven for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for every pound. So cooking a standard 14 lb brisket could take upwards of 28 hours until the internal brisket temperature reaches the ideal number.

That approximate timeline may simply take too long for the average hungry eater. Who wants to wait until the entire next day to eat? Therefore, smokers generally aim for 250 degrees when dealing with a big portion.

Cooking a pound of brisket or a piece on the much smaller side? Have at it.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a 10 lb Brisket at 225 Degrees?

Taking into account the 1 1/2 to 2 hour per pound marker, a 10-pound brisket could take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours. Again, the real marker is reaching an internal temp of 190-200˚F for maximum tenderness.

Cook Time vs. Temp

cook time vs internal temp

How accurate is cook timing? Glad you asked, because to be honest, it’s impossible to give an exact time for the brisket to cook. There are a number of factors that can sway the cooking time to take longer or shorter.

For one, if your smoker temperature fluctuates, it can throw off your entire process. Your best bet is to invest in equipment with temperature control, meaning it specializes in maintaining the right temperature.

But let’s say you are using a traditional wood smoker or cooking method lacking any electronic elements. You won’t as accurately measure cooking temperature and your equipment won’t be adjusting the temperature accordingly automatically.

So how do you ensure you reach the correct internal temp of the brisket without a reliable set temperature? Check often using a meat thermometer, making sure to measure by sticking it in the thickest part of the meat. But when you do, keep in mind that every time you check the temperature, you’re letting heat out, and that affects the cook time as well.

Go by internal temperature above all else! Cook time is a gauge, not an actual timer!

But just remember, the benefit of smoking or baking brisket at lower temperatures means that the overall process is more forgiving. Unless you really neglect it, it’s hard to overcook it. And if you do overcook it? No biggie. That’s what barbecue sauce is for.

But when figuring out cooking time, you can’t just look at the time the brisket sits in the smoker or grill or oven. Go by internal temperature above all else! Cook time is a gauge, not an actual timer!

How to Cook Brisket Faster Without Raising the Temp

sliced brisket on cutting board
photo by VeselovaElana from Getty Images

Is it possible to cook brisket faster without raising the temp of the smoker or oven? To a degree, yes. But these steps will increase your prep time. It’s all totally worth it though…

Bring it to Room Temp Before Cooking

First, let’s talk about buying the meat. Try to choose a piece of meat with USDA Choice grade at a minimum. Buy USDA Prime if you can. A good rule of thumb is to pick the cut of brisket with the most consistent white fatty marbling.

Then when getting ready to cook, bring the raw brisket to room temperature. All this takes is to take it out of your fridge and let it sit on your counter for an hour before exposing it to heat.

Trim the Excess Fat

It also helps to trim the excess fat off the raw brisket using a cutting board. The less fat surrounds the meat, the less time it takes to cook. So if you have a particularly fatty cut, trim some of that extra fat off the outer layer, leaving about a quarter of an inch layer of fat.

This way you won’t be sacrificing any of that buttery flavor that comes with cooking with fat. If you buy your meat from a butcher shop, sometimes they will trim the fat properly for you if you ask in advance.

When cooking, position the brisket fat side facing the heat source. The fat will help cook the meat and tenderize it.

And if you’re cooking a particularly large cut, you’re going to want to wrap the brisket in wax-free pink butcher paper at around the 6-hour mark in the smoker, leaving it there for the remainder of the cook.

That’s Brisket, Baby.

Hey, you’re already doing something right knowing to cook a brisket at 250 degrees in the first place! And because of this, I really wish we were friends so I could raid your leftover brisket.