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Jul 19, 2011 07:18 PM

Smoking Brisket Question

I'm smoking my first brisket tomorrow. I've already made my first mistake: I bought a brisket cut in half, weighing in at 3.1 lbs. I understand that they cut it half, side-by-side, rather than top-bottom. Regardless, I'm stuck with it now and can't unring that bell.

I realize the general rule is that I'll smoke about 1.5 hours per pound. However, I'm suspicious that this formula is inapplicable, considering I bought a half brisket

Question 1: Approximately, how long will this take me to hit 160?

Question 2: I'm going to use the Texas Crutch (I realize this will offend some purists, but it's my first). Approximately, how much additional time will it take me to get it to 190?

Any tips?

Thank you for your time,


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  1. I have yet to smoke a beef brisket (on my list this summer) but one thing I find really useful when cooking is a digital meat thermometer. Stick it in the thickest part of the meat, run the cord out side of the BBQ and plug it into the digital base. Then watch the temperature click higher and higher. You will always know how hot the meat is and know when to pull it off the grill.

    What is key for smoking is that you don't have to open the lid to check the temperature. Unlike with an instant read or a dial thermometer where you have to open the lid constantly the digital display will tell you exactly how the meat is doing.

    Also unlike an instant read you are not constantly poking holes in the meat causing the juice to run out. The single hole usually sears around the metal probe so you don't lose any juice.

    They can be purchased cheaply at your local housewares, BBQ or home reno stores from 10$ up to 80. I have a fancy one that tells me the temperature of the BBQ as well as the meat and calculates the time remaining so I know when to start my sides.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kooper

      Thanks. I will buy one. If I do use the Texas Crutch, can I still use the thermometer?

      Again, thank you.

      1. re: Kooper

        Could you tell me the name of that fancy probe? I like that it tells you temp of BBQ and meat.

        1. re: King of Northern Blvd

          That thermometer advice was pure gold. My brisket was awesome, and I don't even know what I'm doing yet.

      2. First and foremost you should be using a digital thermometer to monitor you temperatures. Different briskets will cook differently even at the same weight. Give yourself more time than you think you need. Wrapping the brisket in foil may help speed the cooking time. You could also use the Smoky Okie method which starts the brisket off on a hot grill to char the outside. This will also decrease the time to completion and has gotten excellent reviews. BBQ champ Myron Mixon uses a high and fast technique for brisket over the low and slow method and has won many times for his brisket.

        3 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          I've used Mixon's fast technique for my last 4 briskets. Did the 4th one yesterday, actually. I've done probably 200 briskets the standard way. Those 4 have all been in my top 20 best briskets. The only step I changed is that instead of wrapping the brisket in foil for that last bit of smoking time, I put it naked in the smoker. With Mixon's exact method, no bark forms. With my tweak, a relatively decent bark forms. I've seen no difference in juiciness or tenderness as a result of this change. I do wrap it in foil for resting in an ice chest afterwards.

          1. re: achtungpv

            Do you then pull it at 190 and let it rest in foil at that point? For how long?

          2. re: scubadoo97

            I had not heard of this method. Thank you. I will research it more.

          3. I have only done a few briskets, all rubbed, some with nitrite for a few days. All of them tough and dry from the smoker, typically 9 hours low and slow, until today, when I finally mastered the beast with the hot/fast method.

            Today I rubbed a 4 lb half brisket with seasoned salt and pepper, then seared it over mesquite coals in a Weber kettle.

            It was then offset and covered for a half hour to absorb the smoke.

            I wrapped it in double foil and offset it with the cover on, the temperature reaching 400 F, for 3 hours until the meat reached 195 F.

            After resting, this brisket was tender, juicy and firm, not stringy. Good bark and crust. Definitely do this again!