How Long To Smoke A 20lb Brisket

How Long To Smoke A 20lb Brisket? Full Guide (Updated)

Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by Shari Mason

Brisket smoking is an artform that requires a keen interest in the complexities of flavor and patience. I vividly remember my initial try at smoking a hefty 20-pound brisket, my enthusiasm was tangible. It is crucial to be patient and keep the temperature low.

For a hefty piece like that, it’s not just about the weight but ensuring every inch is perfectly tender and flavorful. So how long should you smoke a 20lb brisket?

Strap in for a long, rewarding ride if you’re gearing up to smoke one. It’s a culinary adventure that’s well worth the wait.

How Long Do You Smoke A 20lb Brisket?

smoked brisket

While estimating the smoking time for a 20lb brisket [1] largely depends on variables like temperature, smoker type, and weather, a general guideline is about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at a smoking temperature of 225°F to 250°F. 

A 20lb brisket translates to roughly 20 to 30 hours. However, remember that the critical factor isn’t solely the time but relatively the brisket’s internal temperature. 

“If there hadn’t been women, we’d still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat because we made civilization to impress our girlfriends.”

– Orson Welles, American Actor

Aim for an internal temperature of around 195°F (90°C) for optimal tenderness. Remember, the journey of monitoring and maintaining that perfect temperature leads to a mouthwatering outcome.

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Why Does Size Matter?

The size of the brisket is a significant determinant of smoking time due to the relationship between weight and tenderness. 

A more significant cut, such as a 20lb brisket, requires more time to allow the heat to penetrate its thickness and break down tough connective tissues. 

As the brisket smokes, the collagen [2] within the meat gradually converts to gelatin, resulting in that sought-after tender texture. 

Understanding this dynamic is crucial because it guides the patience needed for a lengthy smoking process that ensures the meat’s transformation from chewy to melt-in-your-mouth succulence.

What’s the Ideal Smoking Temperature For A 20lb Brisket?

The ideal smoking temperature for a 20lb brisket lies within the range of 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C).

This temperature sweet spot offers a slow and controlled cooking environment, allowing the meat’s fibers to break down, gradually resulting in tender and flavorful results. 

The lower end of the range ensures that the meat absorbs the smoky essence over an extended period, while the upper-end balances cooking efficiency without sacrificing the brisket’s succulence. 

Maintaining this temperature range throughout the smoking process is crucial for achieving that coveted balance between smokiness and tenderness in your 20lb brisket.

What About the Stall?

slicing juicy smoked brisket

The phenomenon known as “the stall” is a natural part of the smoking process when dealing with a 20lb brisket or any size cut. 

During this phase, the brisket’s internal temperature can plateau or even decrease for a few hours, typically around 150°F to 160°F (65°C to 71°C). 

This stall occurs as the meat releases moisture, which then evaporates, causing a cooling effect.

It might seem like progress has halted, but it’s an essential phase where the brisket undergoes internal transformations. 

“Smoking a 20lb brisket is like orchestrating a symphony of flavors and time. Just as a conductor meticulously guides musicians, your mastery of timing transforms meat into melody, revealing a harmonious balance between patience and palate.”

– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

Patience is critical during the stall – resist the urge to increase the temperature drastically, as it’s part of the magic that ultimately contributes to the meat’s tenderness and flavor.

Should I Plan for Extra Time?

While estimating cooking time is helpful, factors like smoker performance, ambient temperature, and the specific characteristics of the brisket can influence the actual duration. 

Allowing a buffer of a few hours beyond your estimated time ensures you’re not rushed and have room for unexpected variations. 

This way, you can confidently navigate the intricacies of the smoking process and present a perfectly smoked 20lb brisket that’s tender, flavorful, and a true masterpiece.


u003cstrongu003eIs 20-pound brisket too big?u003c/strongu003e

A 20-pound brisket can be considered quite substantial for smoking, especially for those new to the process. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIts size requires careful attention to temperature control and a longer cooking duration to achieve the desired tenderness. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eWhile it’s not necessarily u0022too big,u0022 it does demand more experience and patience to ensure even cooking and optimal results.

u003cstrongu003eHow long do you smoke brisket per kg?u003c/strongu003e

As a rough guideline, smoking a brisket at a temperature of 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C) might take around 2 hours per kilogram. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHowever, remember that internal temperature matters more than time – aim for an internal temperature of about 195°F (90°C) for tender brisket. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAlways use a reliable meat thermometer to monitor doneness, as it ensures a mouthwatering outcome regardless of weight.

Key Takeaways

A 20lb brisket is a sizable canvas for flavor and technique in the smoking world. The question of how long to smoke it encapsulates the science and art of barbecuing. 

Considering size, temperature, and patience, a general guideline suggests around 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at 225°F to 250°F, resulting in a roughly 20 to 30-hour journey. 

Yet, the true essence lies not solely in hours but in the mastery of temperature control, understanding the stall, and the savory anticipation of reaching that ideal internal temperature of 195°F (90°C). 

Smoking a 20lb brisket is more than just a culinary endeavor; it’s a symphony of taste and time, resulting in a tender, smoky masterpiece worth every moment.


Shari Mason

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