View Full Version : Brisket:Using Temp vs Feel

11-07-2015, 02:33 PM
Hi All,

This is a combination of looking for help and just general curiosity on knowing when to pull a brisket. I've seen lots of people swear by 198-203 degrees while others say just go by feel. Since reading the temp is free, I've been pulling on feel and reading the temp after the fact.

On my last 4 briskets, it hasn't felt soft until 208-210 degrees. Even though the temps have been high, 2 of them still had some resistance on the pull test. And they didn't seem super moist. I finally cooked till i was sure there was no resistance but at this point, it was starting to fall apart a little. Temp was 212 degrees but i honestly felt resistance up to that point.

Which brings me to my last brisket...I decided Im going to try pulling at 205 degrees. This time it was definitely undercooked. (I checked with two thermapens and the GMG's internal meat probe to make sure it wasn't my temp reading).

Im definitely doing something wrong but I don't get how guys like Malcom Reed can always pull at 198 and get good results. None of my recent stuff has come close to that temp. (meat quality shouldn't be an issue since i've only been using choice, prime or RD superior angus...make sure they all bend as well) Thanks for any insight

11-07-2015, 02:58 PM
I use temp as I guide as to when I should start checking. But, yesterday my brisket had been going for 17 hours (@250 deg) and was only at 196 deg. It was close, but at 2am, I was done! I wrapped it with towels and placed in a styrofoam shipping container. It "rested" for another 5 hours. At that point it was only down to 140 deg. It was almost fall apart tender. I'm sure the long rest that kept the temps up probably helped. I wrapped it when it was about 170 deg, to keep it from drying out.

BTW, this was my first full brisket.

11-07-2015, 03:03 PM
Meat temp is irrelevant!! All briskets are different and and cook temp will affect it to. When the thickest part of the flat probes like sticking a Butter knife in a jar of Peanut Butter it's done.


11-07-2015, 03:52 PM
I'm with BluDawg, don't read the temperature on your thermometer, just use it as your probe...

Okie Sawbones
11-07-2015, 03:54 PM
I'm sorta with Bludawg. I use a Maverick, just like I am doing now, and am watching football -- OSU vs. TCU. My pit temp is 273, and my meat temp is 166, after sitting in the stall for 2.5 hours. I'll keep watching football until the meat hits 195, then I'll go probe it. If it isn't right, then I'll simply cook some more. Check again in 20-30 minutes. Probe, repeat scenario until it probes tender. I've had brisket vary from 196 to 208 degrees at the probe tender point. It doesn't take all that long from the probe tender point until you start drying out a brisket. Relax, enjoy, it isn't rocket science. It is a game of patience.

11-07-2015, 04:01 PM
One thing that folks seem to forget about is the pit temp. Cooking at lower temps allows more time to render the fat and connective tissue so the brisket will be tender at a lower IT. At higher temps the brisket isn't in that rendering zone as long so the finish temp will be higher. That, and the fact that every brisket is different is why most of us ignore the internal temp.

Okie Sawbones
11-07-2015, 05:11 PM
Probed at 195 -- still firm. Just now probed at 200 -- still firm. A patience game. Keep watching football. How about those OSU Cowboys!

11-07-2015, 05:55 PM
Thanks for the tips...I'm onboard with just using the probe test. I think i just need to make a few good ones to get a good idea what moist and tender feels like vs falling apart tender.

Interesting note on the pit temp though. I have been cooking closer to 270 recently and I wonder if that's the main reason why my IT have been getting north of 200. I haven't done 225 since I got a pellet pooper (seems more stable above 250) so maybe it's time for me to give that a shot again.

11-07-2015, 06:13 PM
Ronelle explained it beautifully. Guys finishing at 195-203ish just got done warming their brisket for 18+ hours at 225. The faster/hotter you cook, the higher your IT when it's "done". I've had hot and fast briskets finish anywhere from 208 to 218.. Grade of meat will also factor in.. Select grade seems to finish higher than prime. As everyone else is saying, you're just better off poking it with a sharp stick. I don't even turn on my thermo anymore. Just use it for the pointy end.

11-07-2015, 06:30 PM
I set a range on my Maverick to measure BBQ temp and it will beep if it goes above or below that. Since I use charcoal for fuel and the minion method on my WSM there's not a ton of babysitting on my part which allows me to get some sleep. Meat is a lot like wood. Not every piece of wood burns exactly the same, just like every cow is just a little different. I check the IT with my probe because I'm curious but will 100% go by feel on when to pull it. It's done when it's done.

Okie Sawbones
11-07-2015, 06:41 PM
205 came and went. Loosing up now but still not there. :pop2:

11-07-2015, 06:42 PM
If you want to get the "feel" then probe the point a couple times. When the thickest part of the flat feels like that then it's done. Long rests help too.

Okie Sawbones
11-07-2015, 07:34 PM
Took to 208 degrees to probe tender. Still juicy. Tender.

11-07-2015, 09:13 PM
Can't remember where I learned it, but years ago someone told me a simple rule that has served me well over the years.

Use time to give you an idea of how long it should take to get to a certain temperature.
Then use temperature to give you an idea of when the meat should be getting tender.
Then finally use a probe to tell you when the meat really is tender enough to pull.

Doug Crann
11-07-2015, 09:47 PM
Meat temp is irrelevant!! All briskets are different and and cook temp will affect it to. When the thickest part of the flat probes like sticking a Butter knife in a jar of Peanut Butter it's done.


Butter knife in a jar of peanut butter. Some folks have told me a warm knife in a tub or room temperature Country Crock..... the latter would no doubt be an easier "push" correct? Or am I mistaken....the warm knife scenario applies to something different, like a pork butt?

Diesel Dave
11-08-2015, 06:15 AM
Done is when it probes like a knife through room temp butter. Your brisket will be done perfectly.
When it is probing close to that tender, you'll have to check it every 20 minutes or so. They finish quickly and you don't want to cook it too long.

Pork butts without a bone will be the same. With bone in, they're done when the bone wiggles out freely with no resistance.

As to your rest time, once you pull it off the smoker, let it rest/steam out on the counter for 20 minutes or so. This will let the temp drop so you're not still "cooking it" any farther. Wrap it up and let it rest from there for a minimum of 2 hours in my experience is best. Longer is better, but 2 hours is the minimum I use