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What Is the Best Cooking Temperature for Brisket?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The best cooking temperature for brisket depends on the method that is being used to cook it and the desired doneness of the meat afterward. When using a barbeque or similar cooking method, it is typically best for someone to cook brisket at about 225°F (about 107°C) to 250°F (about 121°C). In an oven, in which temperature control may be greater, a temperature range of about 250°F (about 121°C) to 300°F (about 149°C) should be effective, though someone with more time might consider cooking the meat at 225°F (about 107°C). The internal temperature for brisket should come to about 180°F (about 82°C) to 190°F (about 88°C) for ideal tenderness.

A brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the side of a cow toward the chest or front legs. This cut includes muscle that is used a great deal, making it inherently tough but flavorful. Much of the toughness of brisket comes from connective tissue within the meat, which is largely made up of collagen. In order for the meat to become tender, the collagen needs to break down into gelatin, which allows the connective tissue to soften and makes the brisket tender.

The minimum temperature at which collagen begins to break down, which affects the lowest possible cooking temperature for brisket, is about 140°F (60°C). Cooking brisket at this temperature would be incredibly time-consuming, however, and likely to not result in a well-formed crust, regardless of how the internal meat cooks. This is why a minimum temperature for cooking brisket is usually around 225°F (about 107°C), which is fairly low heat for cooking beef.

Low heat allows the meat to cook slowly, which results in an excellent outer crust without burning or the meat becoming dry. The best temperature for brisket cooked on a grill is around 225°F (about 107°C) to 250°F (about 121°C), though cooking on a grill or in a smoker can be done as low as about 210°F (about 99°C). In an oven, the temperature can be set higher, to around 250°F (about 121°C) or 300°F (about 149°C). A lower temperature in an oven, around 225°F (about 107°C), may produce better results, but also takes quite a bit longer.

Someone using a moderate temperature for brisket, around 250°F (about 121°C), should expect the meat to cook at a rate of about one hour per pound. Lower temperatures, such as 225°F (about 107°C), can take around an hour and a half per pound, which can make the cooking process quite a bit lengthier. The ideal internal temperature for brisket is between 180°F (about 82°C) and 190°F (about 88°C). At this temperature the collagen has rendered down and the meat is tender, without overcooking that can result in dry brisket.

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Discussion Comments
By anon990401 — On Apr 19, 2015

The writer of this article is mistaken when he claims that the best internal temperature to cook your brisket to is 180 to 190. You want to get the brisket to roughly 200. If you separate the flat from the point, take the flat to 200 and the point to about 210.

By Lostnfound — On May 03, 2014

I've never tried smoking brisket. We just don't eat it that much. My father-in-law has a smoker and I may try to do one for Christmas or something.

I'll have to look around for good recipes for cooking a brisket in a smoker. I think you have to put a rub or something on it. I'll ask my buddy who owns a barbecue stand. Maybe he will have some ideas.

By Grivusangel — On May 02, 2014

And this is why I use a slow cooker for brisket. I don't have it very often, but a slow cooker produces reliable results. I'm not exactly sure what temperature my slow cooker reaches on low, but I know that it takes eight or 10 hours for a brisket to get nice and tender.

There's a reason you see all the TV cooks smoking brisket for hours and others. If you don't, it's like whitleather. Yuck.

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