There will be times when you’re in the mood for smoked brisket, but you just can’t make the time commitment that’s typically required. Is there any way around the “low and slow” rule?
Let’s take a look at the “hot and fast” method of smoking brisket at 325 to determine how it might affect the quality of your brisket.
Smoking Brisket at 325
When you smoke brisket at a higher-than-usual temperature, you need to position the fat cap toward the heat source to prevent scorching. It’s also a good idea to wrap the meat in foil partway through the smoking process. At this temperature, a 12-to-14 pound whole packer brisket should be done in 6 to 7 hours.
Why It Matters
Brisket fares best when it’s allowed to cook for many hours at a low temperature. Temperatures of 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit are preferable. That’s because the meat contains a lot of collagen and intramuscular fat, which needs time to break down.
This cut is taken from an area of the steer that gets a lot of exercise. This toughens up the muscle fibers, so the meat will be difficult to chew if it’s not cooked properly.
The “low and slow” process will give the collagen the time it needs to break down and moisturize the brisket. A lot of the fat will render out as well, though you’ll probably need to trim some of it off before adding the brisket to the smoker.
What You Need To Know About Smoking Brisket at 325
Smoking brisket at 325 degrees Fahrenheit is often referred to as the “hot and fast” method. If you’re a grilling aficionado, you already know that 325 degrees isn’t really all that hot. For brisket, however, it’s as high as you want to go.
What you need to remember is that collagen will break down when it hits 160 degrees, and that it will continue to break down until it reaches the 180-degree mark. That’s true even if the smoker is set to a higher temperature.
This means that you can smoke brisket at 325 degrees—you’ll just need to take certain precautions. The process will be faster than if you’d set the temperature to 225, but you can’t just put it on the smoker and forget it.
Fat Side Down
The first thing you need to remember is that the brisket is more likely to scorch when the temp is this high. This is true especially of the side that’s closest to the heat.
So when you smoke brisket hot and fast, you should make sure the fat cap is pointed toward the heat source. For most smokers, that means positioning the brisket with the fat side facing down.
This is a good rule of thumb to follow whenever you’re making smoked brisket. However, in this case, it’s critical to the success of your barbecue.
While we’re on the subject of fat, it’s better to leave more of the fat cap intact than you would if you were smoking the meat low and slow. Feel free to remove the “nose” that divides the point and flat, but there’s no need to trim the fat cap as close as 1/4 inch.
Beating The Stall
You also need to remember that the brisket will still be prone to the stall, even when it’s cooked at a higher temperature.
The stall occurs when the natural moisture in the meat is forced out toward the surface. At this point, the expelled liquid causes what’s known as evaporative cooling. That means the cooling effects of the moisture will begin to combat the heat of the smoker.
When the stall occurs, the brisket’s temperature will hold steady for a while—sometimes for several hours. This usually happens at the 150-160 degree mark, but brisket has been known to stall at other temperatures. It may even stall more than once during the smoke.
When you’re smoking the brisket at 325, you should be sure to wrap the meat after the bark has had a chance to develop. This will help to preserve moisture while continuing to speed the process along.
We usually recommend using butcher paper to wrap brisket. For the hot and fast method, though, it’s better to use heavy-duty aluminum foil. You want the environment inside the wrapper to be hot and steamy so that the collagen has a chance to break down quickly.
Once the brisket has been on the smoker for at least 3 hours, check the temperature often. When it hits 160 degrees, now is the time to enlist the foil wrapper. We’ve provided more detailed instructions in the Hot and Fast Brisket Recipe, below.
Do A Probe Test
As a general rule, you should pull brisket from the smoker when it hits the 195-200 degree mark. When you smoke it hot and fast, though, it might not have achieved the proper tenderness at that temperature.
Insert the thermometer probe, a skewer, or a fork into the thickest portion of the flat end. If it meets with any resistance, you should leave the meat on the smoker for a while longer. When the probe slides in and out effortlessly, then the brisket is done.
Hot And Fast Brisket Recipe
- 1 whole packer brisket (12-14 pounds)
- Spice rub of your choice (about 3/4 cup)*
- Yellow mustard for binder (about 1/2 cup)
*If you’d like, you can use a simple “Dalmatian blend” of salt and pepper for the rub. Use a ratio of roughly 1 part kosher salt to 1 part freshly ground black pepper.
1. Trim the brisket, if desired, taking care to leave a bit more of the fat intact than you normally would.
2. Slather the brisket with mustard, then add the spice rub, pressing down gently so that the seasonings stick to the meat.
3. Preheat the smoker to 325 degrees.
4. When the smoker is hot enough, set the brisket on the cooking grate with the fat cap facing the heat source. Close the lid.
5. Let the brisket cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees and the bark has had a chance to solidify. This should take about 4 hours.
6. Remove the meat from the smoker and set aside.
7. Set out 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, each one measuring about the length of your arm.
8. If desired, drizzle about 3 ounces of apple cider vinegar, apple juice, beer, cider, or beef stock on the top foil layer.
9. Wrap the brisket in the first layer of foil, taking care to trap the liquid inside. Use the second sheet of foil to secure the brisket inside a double layer.
10. Return the brisket to the smoker, this time with the fat side facing up.
11. Continue to smoke the meat until the internal temp registers 200-203 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer, about 2-3 hours longer. The probe should slide in and out of the brisket flat with no resistance.
12. Pull the brisket from the smoker and set it aside to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving the meat.
When you’re short on time, the “hot and fast” technique can be a lifesaver.
Since we prefer to smoke the brisket without the wrapper whenever possible, it’s not our preferred method. That said, with the proper precautions in place, it can yield great results.