How Long to Smoke a 2 Pound Brisket (& Easy Recipe)

By Autumn Ellenson

Welcome. You’re here, and I salute you. Why? You’re planning to cook up the creme de la creme of all meats – the beef brisket. That’s right, the juicy brisket that scores of people wait hours in line to taste in Texas. But no, you’re making it in the comfort of your own home.

But maybe this is your first time and you need a step-by-step guide for the entire process. Or a refresher course!

Then you came to the right place. By the end of reading this, you’ll be ready to deliver to your taste buds the best brisket on the block. The whole town too, why not?

How Do I Cook a 2 lb Brisket?

For the best results, the most reliable approach is to cook that bad boy “low and slow.” As in, at a low temperature for a long time.

And whether you’re cooking a pound of brisket or a 10 lb brisket, 14 lb brisket, or 15 lb brisket, the cooking process is largely the same. You would think smoking a 16-pound brisket would be much more complicated when slow cooking, but actually, cooking a tender small brisket requires more of a watchful eye.

Larger pieces of meat have a far longer total cook time. So, the good news is that a 2 lb brisket takes less time overall, but the journey to perfect brisket is also less forgiving.

Ideal Internal Temp = 203 Degrees F

Once the internal temperature reaches 203 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the brisket, it is ready to be removed from heat. Rise above that temperature, however, and you’ll find yourself sinking your teeth into dry brisket (which won’t stay dry for long, thanks to your tears).

To sum up, when dealing with a small piece of meat such as 2 pounds, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t overcook by monitoring the internal temperature of the meat like a hawk. A hawk that can handle a digital thermometer.

What’s the Best Way to Cook Brisket?

low and slow written on plate

The other important factor when cooking a brisket is the method. The best way is to smoke brisket. How else would you get that smoke flavor with that beautiful black crust around it?

And don’t just take it from me. Listen to the “pitmasters,” the term given to the most skilled in the art of brisket. Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, Texas always uses a smoker as the heat source.

What Type of Smoker is Best for Cooking Brisket?

Whatever can fit your entire brisket and has the capability to burn wood should work just fine. This even includes smoking brisket on a grill or pellet grill, which burns wood pellets automatically to keep consistent temperatures for your convenience.

(If you don’t have a smoker and don’t want to buy one, scroll down for other ways to smoke brisket.)

If you’re in the market for a smoker, go with a high-rated electric smoker. Being able to check the cooking temperature without opening the smoker door will result in slightly less cooking time. Why? Every time the door opens, the smoke (and heat) escapes. Then the door is closed and the burning wood has to catch up again.

It’s worth noting that since you’re only cooking only a 2-pound cut of meat, you won’t be losing plenty of time overall by opening a smoker’s door sometimes. But let’s say next time you might try cooking a whole brisket? An electric smoker will give you peace of mind that your meat isn’t smoking at a higher temperature than you anticipate.

How Long to Smoke a 2 Pound Brisket?

cook times based on cook temp

The length of time depends on your smoker temperature. When smoking at 250 degrees, allow 1 hour of cook time for every 1 pound of brisket. A 2-pound brisket only takes around 2 hours in the smoker.

How Long Do You Smoke a 2 lb Brisket at 225?

If your smoker temperature is set to 225 degrees, the general rule of thumb is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for every 1 pound until ready. So a 2-pound brisket will take between 3 and 4 hours.

The pitmasters do advise that the longer a brisket cooks in the smoker, the better. So unless you’re in a rush, choosing 225 degrees over a higher temperature of 250 will result in a more tender brisket.

How Long Do You Smoke a 2 lb Brisket at 200?

At 200 degrees, brisket cooks around 2 to 2 1/4 hours per pound. So a 2-pound brisket takes between 4 and 4 1/2 hours in the smoker. This isn’t too long because 2 pounds isn’t much brisket, but imagine if you’re cooking a whole packer brisket at 16 pounds at this temperature…

It would take between 32 and 36 hours in the smoker! Who wants to wait almost 2 days to eat?

200-degree cook temp is ideal for a small brisket.

Since a brisket overcooks once the internal temp exceeds 203 degrees, technically it’s ideal to smoke your 2-pound brisket at this lower 200-degree temperature. After all, smoking lower and slower results in the best flavor. Still, you’ll want to plan ahead since 200 degrees will take a lot more time compared to 250 degrees.

That’s why the pitmasters generally choose to smoke at 250 degrees since they’re selling a whole lot of brisket commercially. Since you’re only dealing with 2 pounds though, what’s the rush?

Therefore, 200 degrees is actually the ideal smoker temperature for you if you allow yourself the time.

Can You Overcook Brisket in Smoker at 200 Degrees?

slightly dry brisket on plate
photo by bonchan from Getty Images

Surprisingly, you can. Because when it comes to cooking beef, the heat trapped inside the meat can actually rise by 10 degrees AFTER being removed from the heat. So, it’s best to take the brisket out when its internal temperature is in the 190-195 degree range.

Once the meat thermometer reads 200 degrees, it will likely rise to 210 degrees after you remove it from the smoker. Granted, this isn’t a big deal and your brisket will still be super tasty. But, ideally, you want the temperature to cap out at 203 and not rise above.

What does this mean?

You still need to open the smoker from time to time to check the meat’s progress with the thermometer. The benefit of 200 degrees is that the cooking process goes slow enough that you really have to neglect checking for a while to miss that perfect window of 190 to 195 degrees.

How Long Do You Smoke a 2.3 lb Brisket?

When you’re at the grocery store, typically you’re not going to find a cut of brisket that is exactly 2 pounds. For whatever reason, 2.3 pounds is quite common. At 200 degrees and using the same formula of smoking between 2 and 2 1/4 hours per pound, expect around 4 hours 36 minutes to 5 hours 10 minutes.

No shame in busting out the ol’ calculator to figure out this estimate for whatever size brisket you bought!

But remember, the actual cook time comes down to the internal temperature of the brisket. Take it out when it reaches 190-195 degrees F.

How Do I Shop for the Best Brisket?

raw brisket with fatty marbling
photo by Ilia Nesolenyi from Getty Images

If you’re shopping for a whole brisket, you may notice that it’s made up of two parts – the point and the flat.

The point cut, also known as the “deckle,” is the fatty part of the brisket. A fair amount of excess fat is essential to your brisket having that signature juicy, tender taste. You need that layer of fat on the sides of the brisket to tenderize those tough fibers of the connective tissue.

The other section of the brisket is called the “flat” because of its shape. The flat sections is typically a leaner cut because the deckle is removed.

Fatty marbling = juicy, tender brisket

When at the grocery store or local butcher, you may notice different classes of brisket at different price points. USDA Prime, the most expensive kind of cut, typically has more of this fatty marbling than the less expensive USDA Choice. Some stores don’t have Prime, so try to buy the Choice grade at a minimum.

You’ll want to choose a cut of brisket with the most consistent white fatty marbling throughout it. It’s the fatty marbling within the cut that gives meat such as brisket and pork shoulder that special flavor.

What Do I Need to Smoke Brisket?

knife and cutting board

The last thing you want to deal with is running to the store to buy one of these things after you already started smoking! Here’s what you need in advance of smoking your 2 lb brisket.

1 – A sharp knife for trimming the thick layer of fat, known as a “boning knife”

PRO TIP – If you buy your brisket from the butcher and request in advance, they may trim it for you.

If trimming it yourself, first cut off any large amount of fat you wouldn’t eat after it’s cooked anyway. There’s a fat layer about 1 inch thick called the fat cap, so trim it down to about a quarter of an inch. This much fat is enough to give the meat flavor during the smoking process.

If your small brisket has a tough filmy layer known as the silver skin, trim that off too. It may be thin, but it serves as a barrier between the smoke and the meat.

2 – Cutting board

3 – Meat Thermometer

4 – Wood chips or wood pellets depending on the needs of your smoker

Since the burning of the wood is what cooks the brisket, the kind of wood you choose will inform the resulting smoke flavor. There are a number of popular wood choices, such as hickory, white oak, mesquite, maple, cherry, and more.

But which one to choose? The best wood for you depends on your personal preference. Consider your favorite BBQ sauce. If you love mesquite flavor, try smoking with that wood.

Can I Smoke a 2 Pound Brisket Without a Smoker?

Yes, with the right equipment. Even a regular grill can be used to smoke brisket if you buy a smoker box. You also can’t have the grill’s flames directly hit the meat, but rather the smoker box to burn the wood and create a consistent flow of smoke.

If you’re using a grill, click here to learn how to use a grill to smoke brisket. If you have a smoker, continue reading…

How to Smoke a 2 Pound Brisket (Step-by-Step)

sliced 2 pound brisket on tray
photo by Clay Hayner from Getty Images

Now that you have everything you need to start smoking, here’s the easy guide to smoking your 2-pound brisket.

Step 1: Bring Up to Room Temp

Take your brisket out of the fridge an hour before placing in the smoker to allow it to come up to room temperature. This will save you overall cook time.

Step 2: Trim & Season

While you’re waiting, trim the excess fat from the brisket (any fat that’s more than 1/4″ thick).

Season the brisket with kosher salt and black pepper. It’s so tasty it doesn’t necessarily need dry rub, but seasoning also doesn’t hurt.

Step 3: Preheat Smoker

Preheat the smoker to your chosen temperature of 200 or 225.

Step 4: Start Smoking & Monitoring

Place the brisket in the smoker fat side facing down once fully preheated. Now that you have your estimated cook time (see above), start checking the brisket’s temperature with your thermometer about 3/4 of the way into the process. Do this by sticking the thermometer into the thickest part and measuring the middle.

Remember: Approximate cook time of 4 to 4.5 hours at 200 degrees F -OR- 3 to 4 hours at 225 degrees F

Step 5: Remove Brisket at Perfect Internal Temp

Once the meat thermometer reads between 190 and 195 degrees F, remove the brisket and wrap it in plastic wrap.

Step 6: Let it Rest

Let the brisket rest for about 1 hour in a climate-controlled place (like an empty ice chest) or until it comes down to about 145 degrees. Here’s more info on How Long to Rest Brisket & Why You Should.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Oh yeah. Eat up! Enjoy. Ignore the neighbors eying you jealously because they can smell it. Consider next time trying to smoke a bigger cut of meat so you can invite them next time.

Related Articles