How Long to Smoke 20 LB Brisket?

Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Smoking a hulking 20-pound brisket is like orchestrating a culinary symphony. I’ve embarked on this flavorful journey through the haze of fragrant wood smoke. 

So, let’s demystify the art of smoking and delve into the time, technique, and triumph of taming this grand cut of meat.

How Long to Smoke 20 LB Brisket?

The clock is ticking, but patience is the key. Smoking a hefty 20-pound brisket requires dedication and precision. 

On average, plan for around 1 to 1.5 hours of smoking time per pound of meat. So, for your magnificent 20-pounder, expect a marathon smoke time of about 20 to 30 hours.

Is 20 Pound Brisket Too Big?

Big dreams often lead to big appetites, and a 20-pound brisket can certainly satisfy a crowd. 

However, its size also demands more time, attention, and a roomy smoker. If you’re up for the challenge, this brisket behemoth can yield delicious rewards.

How To Prepare a Brisket?

First things first – the prep work. Before the smoky magic unfolds, make sure to:

  1. Rinse and pat dry the brisket.
  2. Apply a flavorful dry rub or marinade.
  3. Let it rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors meld.

Should You Cook Brisket With Fat Side Up or Down?

Here’s the meaty debate. Placing the fat side up allows it to baste the meat as it melts, leading to a potentially juicier result. 

Going fat side down can help protect the meat from the direct heat. It’s a matter of personal preference, so go with your gut – or taste buds.

How to Tell When Smoked Brisket Is Done?

Person Slicing Brisket

It’s the moment of truth. To determine if your 20-pound brisket is done, aim for an internal temperature of around 195 to 203°F (90 to 95°C). 

But remember, don’t just rely on the thermometer; look for that tantalizing tenderness when you insert a probe or fork.

How to Trim Brisket?

Trimming a brisket isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, but a little effort goes a long way. Remove excessive fat, silver skin, and any uneven edges. 

Leaving about 1/4 inch of fat can contribute to flavor and moisture during smoking.

Tips for Smoking Brisket

Navigate the smoky seas like a pro with these tips:

  • Maintain a consistent smoker temperature between 225 to 250°F (107 to 121°C).
  • Use wood chunks or chips for that essential smoky flavor.
  • Consider wrapping the brisket in butcher paper or foil during the smoke to prevent drying out.
  • Let the smoked brisket rest for at least an hour before slicing.

Can a Smoked Brisket Be Frozen?

Absolutely! If you find yourself with leftover smoked brisket, freezing is a great option. 

Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then seal it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw it gently in the fridge when ready to enjoy the smoky goodness again.

How Much Brisket per Person?

The math of meat matters. Generally, you can estimate about 1/2 pound of cooked brisket per person [1]. 

For your 20-pounder, that’s enough to feed a party of around 40 guests. Of course, appetites vary, so adjust accordingly.


As the aroma of slow-cooked triumph fills the air, mastering the marathon of smoking a 20-pound brisket unveils a delicious narrative. 

From the dance of flavors to the patient tending of the smoker’s fire, this journey is a testament to the rewards of time and technique. In the balance of temperatures, the selection of wood, and the anticipation of that perfect tenderness, we find the heart of this smoky symphony. 

So, fellow culinary explorers embrace the smoke, savor the process, and relish in a perfectly smoked brisket’s tender, smoky embrace – a true masterpiece of patience and flavor.


Lauren Beck
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