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.