Where to Probe Brisket? (with Pictures!)

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
November 23, 2022

When smoking brisket, people tend to use internal temperatures to identify different parts of the cook, like the stall.

However, when probing the meat for internal temperatures, you'll soon discover that the point side tends to read higher and even finish faster than the flat.

When probing brisket, you should probe near where these two muscles meet - this occurs at the thickest point of the flat muscle.

Probing the Flat

On any brisket, the flat will take the longest to finish or to reach tenderness. It's a tight grained muscle and contains far less fat than the point.

Here's an example of probing near the flat burnt ends:

probing near brisket flat

So as we can see, the temperature near the flat burnt ends is 167F.

However, if we move up towards the thickest part of the flat:

probing the thickest part of the flat

We can see the temperature is 174F, meaning we're near the tail end of the stall.

Pictured below is also me probing the point - the internal temperature was 184F.

Meaning, on the same brisket probed in three different places, at the same time, we have three different temperatures.

To help visualize:

  • Brisket Flat: 167F
  • Thickest Part of the Flat: 174F
  • Brisket Point: 184F

The biggest reason we're looking at the thickest part of the flat is because it's the middle ground between the point (which finishes fast) and the brisket flat (which finishes slow).

Through wrapping of the brisket, carry over cooking will naturally occur, causing the flat and point to finish at around the same temperature - usually in the 200-210F range.

However, this can't be restated enough:

Brisket is considered "done" based on probe tenderness (more on that below).

Probing the Point

The point muscle of the brisket will always finish faster than the flat.

Here's an example of probing the point during the same time frame as the photos above:

probing the point muscle

If you're someone who relies on temperature to determine when to wrap your brisket or when to foil boat, you're likely wrapping too early.

Most people tend to wait for the brisket to stall - which usually occurs around 150 - 160F.

If you were to probe the point and it read 160F, we now know the flat could be as low as 143F. In my above example, the difference between the flat and the point was a 17F difference. Even if you probed in the thickest part of the flat, it could still only be 150F.

At that point the flat is still pushing out tons of moisture and surface evaporation (the stall) is still occurring.

A lot of people are told to wrap during the stall - which I think is bad practice.

If surface evaporation is still occurring and you wrap during it, you miss out on creating a markedly better bark.

Rather, you should wait near the tail end of the stall so that the maillard reaction of amino acids and reducing sugars can occur and you can improve your bark.

While I don't tend to use temperature for wrapping purposes, my suggestion is to wait until at least 170F - I personally tend to wrap when the probe is reading 175-180F in the thickest part of the flat.

Probing for Tenderness

I think probe tenderness is is something that's more important than probing for internal temperature. Towards the end of the cook, you should be using your probe to glide through all parts of the brisket.

The most common adage is that the probe should feel like it's sliding through soft butter.

I know that's really hard to understand so I recorded a quick video of me probing for tenderness in the brisket above.

I also know it's hard to convey what I mean by "through soft butter" so I quite literally dropped - and I mean entirely let go of my probe to slide through the brisket.

As you can see, it even punctured a hole in my foil boat and I had to add another layer of aluminum foil.

It proves my point though - you want the probe to slide through like that, with no resistance.

Note: If most of the brisket is probe tender but still has spots with a slight tightness, you can usually resolve these with an extended rest/hold overnight.

For instance, the brisket in this article felt a bit tight near the flat (you can actually see me prod it a few times) so I opted to put it right into my electric smoker at 145F for an overnight rest - this way carry over cooking continues to happen.

However, if all spots of the brisket felt probe tender, you should rest for at least 2 hours until the brisket reaches slicing temperatures like 160F. From there you can slice or continue to hold overnight at 145F.

This brisket the next day:

gelatinized brisket

Final Thoughts

If you're someone who relies on internal temperature, always ensure you're taking readings from the same location.

As I've attempted to show above, the brisket will finish at different speeds simply due to the fact that the muscles are inherently different.

If you're probing for when to wrap, probe in the thickest part of the flat and avoid pockets of rendered fat.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

BarbequeFAQ.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon(.com, .co.uk, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram