How Long to Smoke Corned Beef to Perfection

Smoked corned beef brisket is a delicious way to put a flavorful spin on a classic St. Patrick’s Day dish. Getting that perfect balance of smoky flavor and tender meat depends on nailing the smoking time. So how long should you actually smoke corned beef?

The smoking time can range quite a bit depending on the size of your brisket and temperature used. This guide covers everything you need to know about timing to master smoking corned beef brisket.

What is Corned Beef?

Corned beef starts with a brisket that has been cured in a salt brine solution, also known as the corning process. This curing gives the meat its signature salty flavor and pink color.

Uncooked corned beef brisket can be purchased pre-cured. You can also cure a brisket yourself at home over 3-10 days depending on the recipe.

After curing, the brisket is ready to be cooked. Traditional preparation is boiling, but smoking is a fantastic way to infuse delicious flavor.

Benefits of Smoking Corned Beef

There are several advantages to smoking corned beef rather than boiling:

  • Infuses smoky, savory flavors into the meat.
  • Dries out the exterior for a crusty bark.
  • Requires little monitoring once on the smoker.
  • Allows fat to render for added moisture and tenderness.

Choose your favorite smoking wood like hickory, cherry, or apple depending on if you want a milder or stronger smoke profile.

Smoker Temperature for Corned Beef

The temperature you choose determines how quickly the brisket will cook:

  • 225°F – 250°F – Lower, slower smoking for maximum smoke exposure over 10-12 hours.

  • 275°F – 325°F – Hotter smoking cuts the time down to 4-8 hours depending on size.

  • 350°F+ – Quicker smoking if time is limited. Less total smoke flavor.

Ideally, start at a lower temp (225°F-250°F) for an hour or two to infuse smoke. Then increase to 275°F-325°F to finish cooking while still getting flavor.

Maintain a consistent temperature as much as possible throughout for even cooking.

How Long Does Smoking Take?

The total smoking time depends on two key factors:

1. Size of the Brisket

  • A 3 lb brisket takes about 4-5 hours.

  • A full packer (12-16 lbs) takes 8-10 hours.

2. Smoker Temperature

  • At 225°F expect 10-12 hours.

  • At 250°F plan for 8-10 hours.

  • At 275°F allow 6-8 hours.

  • At 325°F the time will be 4-6 hours.

For example, a 3 lb brisket smoked at 275°F will finish in about 4 hours. But a full packer smoked at just 225°F may need 12 hours or more.

How to Tell When It’s Done

Cook corned beef to an internal temperature of 200°F-210°F for the best texture. Use a meat thermometer to monitor doneness.

Signs your corned beef is done:

  • Internal temp reaches 200°F+

  • Meat has visibly shrunk and tightened

  • Fat has rendered and meat tears easily

  • Bark has formed on the exterior

The brisket should feel very tender but still hold together when sliced. If undercooked, it will seem dense and rubbery.

Serving Smoked Corned Beef

Once smoked, tent the corned beef in foil and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes before slicing. This helps retain moisture.

Slice across the grain in thin slices. Serve with traditional sides like cabbage, potatoes, carrots and rye bread.

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours and enjoy on sandwiches and in hash for days to come!

Tips for Perfectly Smoked Corned Beef

Follow these tips for the best results when smoking corned beef brisket:

  • Use a meat injector to add extra moisture and flavor if desired.

  • Wrap in foil at the stall phase (160°F-170°F) to power through if short on time.

  • Spritz with apple cider vinegar or broth if the outside seems dry during smoking.

  • Let rest adequately before slicing to allow juices to reabsorb.

  • Slice against the grain across the flat for the most tender pieces.

  • Save the fatty point end for burning the ends of leftover slices.

Recipes for Smoked Corned Beef Brisket

The Classic

  • 12-16 lb corned beef brisket
  • 1⁄4 cup peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spice

Smoke at 250°F for 8-10 hours until internal temp reaches 200°F.

Beer and Mustard

  • 3-5 lb corned beef brisket
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1⁄4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Simmer in liquid 1 hour. Smoke at 275°F until 200°F internal temp.

Sweet and Spicy

  • 3-4 lb corned beef brisket
  • 1⁄2 cup apricot preserves
  • 3 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worchestershire

Smoke at 300°F until internal temp reaches 205°F.

Master the Art of Smoked Corned Beef

With the proper temperature control and monitoring, you can achieve tender, flavorful smoked corned beef brisket every time.

Adjust cook times as needed based on the size of your brisket and your individual smoker. Served alongside all the fixings, homemade smoked corned beef is truly something special.

How 2 Smoke Corned Beef Brisket Like a Professional (Flavor Overload)


Can you smoke a store bought corned beef?

Look for a corned beef brisket that is square in shape and is of a consistent thickness so it will smoke evenly. For store-bought corned beef, the flat cut is leaner than the point cut; make sure it’s not previously cooked.

How long to cook 3 lb corned beef?

For a two to three-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. For a three to five-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. STOVE: Place brisket fat-side up in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring the water to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer, allowing about 1 hour per pound.

What temperature does corned beef fall apart?

Bring to full pressure and cook 15 additional minutes then release pressure and remove the lid. The corned beef and vegetables should all be fork tender . Internal temperature should be at least 160°F for food safety; for optimal tenderness, cook to an internal temperature of 190°F.

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