Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

Depending on the temperature you set your water bath to and the amount of time you leave the meat in it, you can achieve a wide range of textures in the finished brisket.

At 135°F / 57°C, brisket will never achieve the fall-apart texture of a traditionally barbecued brisket. Instead, it will soften while still retaining its structure. At 12 hours it's still quite tough. At 24, it it as tender as a New York strip steak. At 36 hours, it's even more tender, and by 72 hours, you'll have brisket that you can cut with a spoon, while still giving you a meaty bite and juicy texture.

At 145°F / 63°C, the meat will just barely start to separate into a traditional brisket grain, but it will be a little dryer than at 135°F / 57ºC. This is sort of a temperature dead zone for me: too cool to significantly break down muscle fibers to the point that they shred like traditional brisket, but hot enough that the meat will dry out as it cooks. 

The fall-apart texture of brisket at 155°F / 68ºC for 36 hours. At 155°F / 68°C, we get much better results than at 145°F / 63ºC. Yes, the brisket will expel a lot of moisture as it cooks, but what it loses in water it gains in tenderness and moisture in the form of more connective tissue breaking down and fat rendering. For me, 155°F / 68ºC for between 24 and 36 hours is ideal.

Recommended Sous Vide Barbecue Brisket Temperatures

135°F / 57ºC for 36 to 72 hours - firm and meaty, like a tender steak

155°F / 68ºC for 24 to 36 hours - extra moist with traditional texture