Smoked Brisket

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Smoked Brisket is the most popular smoked meat dish in north America and for good reason! Smoked Brisket is a mouthwatering dish that is tender, juicy, and full of flavor. 

smoked brisket
smoked brisket

The smoky flavor in smoked brisket is achieved by using the low and slow method on the smoker over several hours. When done correctly, smoked brisket is an utterly delicious dish that will excite any BBQ lover.

Smoked Brisket

Beef Brisket is a fantastic cut of meat that comes from the pectoral area of the cow and is comprised of the point and flat. The point is a thicker, marbled section ideal for slow cooking methods like smoking or braising. The flat is a leaner meat section with a layer of fat on top, called the fat cap.

When cooked properly, both the point and the flat have a fantastic flavor that is unlike any other cut of meat. Whether you’re enjoying a brisket sandwich at your favorite BBQ joint or smoking your own at home, you will surely be impressed by this delicious cut of meat.

BBQ Brisket

If you’re looking for the best-smoked brisket recipe, look no further! This Texas-style smoked brisket recipe produces perfectly tender and juicy brisket that is packed with flavor.

Smoked beef brisket is a classic dish that is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a backyard BBQ, a game day party, or a sit-down family meal, this recipe is incredibly versatile for any event, with any side dish pairings.

Smoked Brisket isn’t just delicious though, it’s also relatively easy to prepare (once you get over the long cooking time).

This recipe will show you how to create a perfect, mouth-watering, and tender smoked brisket that your guests will drool over. The length of time it takes to smoke this delicious meat is definitely worth it for the incredible taste you’ll experience.


Buying Brisket

Smoked brisket is a classic Texas BBQ staple. Flavourful and tender, smoked brisket is the perfect addition to any backyard cookout. But with so many options to choose from, how do you pick the best brisket? Here are a few tips to help you select the perfect brisket for your next cookout!

Whole Packer Brisket

We recommend buying a whole brisket from a local butcher. A whole packer brisket includes the point and the flat muscle, and yes, it’s a lot of meat!

A bigger piece of meat will retain more moisture, producing a moist and tender finished product. If you buy just the flat muscle or the pointer muscle, you might risk losing some of this desirable moisture.

Highest Meat Grade

When buying your brisket, pay close attention to the meat grade. The best briskets will be labeled USDA Choice, USDA Prime, or Certified Angus Beef. Try to avoid Select grades or unlabeled briskets.

High-quality beef will be rich in marbled fat which helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful as it cooks. A brisket that is too lean will tend to dry out and become tough.

Typically, prime beef brisket will have more fat marbling, creating a juicier and more tender brisket. But don’t be afraid to ask your butcher or grocer for some advice! They can help you select a brisket that is perfect for your needs.

Brisket Size

Brisket is typically a very large piece of meat, especially if you opt for a full-packer brisket. You might be wondering how much brisket to buy for your dinner party.

A general rule of thumb is to aim for half a pound of brisket per person. For example, a 4-pound brisket should comfortably feed a party of 8 people.

However, if you’re spending nearly a full day cooking your brisket, it might be worthwhile to cook enough brisket for a few days of leftovers! Leftover brisket is just as good as freshly smoked brisket and can be added to various dishes to burst a smoky flavor.


Trimming Brisket

The key to smoked brisket is in the trimming. While many people think that all of the fat, including the entire fat cap, should be trimmed off, this is actually not the case.

The brisket fat is what provides flavor and moisture to the meat. It also creates a barrier around the meat, preventing it from drying out during the smoking process. However, removing any thick pieces of fat is recommended, as these can cause the brisket to become tough when smoked.

For the best-trimmed brisket, we recommend you trim excess fat but leave a thin fat layer from the fat cap.


Marinating Brisket

A smoked brisket is a thing of beauty. The perfect blend of juicy, tender meat and crispy, flavourful bark is enough to make any BBQ lover drool. However, achieving this level of perfection takes more than just throwing a piece of meat on the smoker. It takes careful preparation, including the right marinade and seasoning!

You can season brisket any way you want to. You can use a pre-made brisket rub, your favorite spice rub, or experiment and make your own flavorful rub using brown sugar, chili powder, onion powder, and any other seasonings you love. The options are endless!

However, if you want to make a true Texas-style smoked brisket, you’ll need coarse black pepper and kosher salt.

A few of our favorite dry rubs for a smoked brisket recipe are the Simple Brisket Rub, Sweet Brown Sugar Rub, and the Espresso Brisket Rub.


How Long To Smoke Brisket (Brisket Smoke Time)

You might wonder, how long does it take to smoke a brisket? Well, the brisket smoke time depends almost entirely on the size of the brisket!

As a general rule of thumb, we say that the brisket smoke time should average 60 minutes for every pound of brisket. This rule is applied when you’re smoking brisket at 250 degrees f.

Recommended Brisket Smoke Time

  • Up to 10 lb. brisket: smoke for 8 to 10 hours
  • 10 to 12 lb. brisket: smoke for 10 – 12 hours
  • 12 to 16 lb. brisket: smoke for 12 – 14 hours
  • 16 to 20 lb. brisket: smoke for 14 – 16 hours

Wrapping Brisket

Wrapping brisket for the second half of the smoke time is known as the “Texas Crutch”, and for a true Texas-Style smoked brisket, it is an imperative step.

Once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees f, please remove it from the smoker and wrap the brisket. Wrapping your brisket is important for locking in moisture and making it as delicious as possible.

The reason we wrap the brisket once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees f, is because this is when the brisket enters what we call “the stall”.

The Stall is the period of time where the heat from the smoker liquifies the pockets of fat in the brisket and consequently cools the meat. During this period of time, you might not see a steady increase in internal temp.

The Stall typically happens around 165 degrees f, and that is why we wrap the brisket at this temperature!

Different Types of Brisket Wraps

Here are different types of wraps you can use when wrapping your brisket.

  • Peach Butcher Paper Wrap. This is the most highly recommended wrapping material because it allows some smoke to pass through. Butcher Paper may take a little more practice to use, but the effort does not go unnoticed!
  • Aluminum Foil Wrap. Another great option, though not as breathable. Measure two arm-length pieces of aluminum foil and place both pieces on top of each other. Now wrap the brisket up tightly.
  • Parchment Paper. A breathable alternative to aluminum foil and can withstand high temperatures. It allows you to speed up the cooking process while keeping your brisket moist and tender.

For more information, check out our Ultimate Guide To Wrapping Brisket


Monitoring Your Smoked Brisket Internal Temperature

Monitoring the brisket temperature is an important part of the smoking brisket process. When smoking any meat, it’s more important to rely on internal temperature than it is to rely on time. So ditch the timer and get your hands on a high-quality meat thermometer!

When smoking a brisket, it’s important to ensure your smoker stays at a steady temperature throughout the entire cook. If you are constantly opening your smoker lid to check the internal temperature of your meat, your smoker temperature will unavoidably fluctuate.

This is why a leave-in meat thermometer is the absolute best option when smoking brisket! We recommend the MEATER Plus Smart Meat Thermometer because of its long-range, wireless operation and easy-to-navigate app that allows you to track your meat’s internal temp. without opening the smoker!

Having a wireless, leave-in meat thermometer is especially helpful when monitoring the temperature of your wrapped brisket!


Slicing Brisket

Now for the finisher, getting that smoked brisket sliced! The brisket should rest for at least an hour before beginning the slicing.

When slicing brisket, the most important thing to remember is to slice against the grain. However, if you’ve chosen to smoke a whole-packer brisket, you’ll notice that each of the two parts of the brisket (the point and the flat) has different grain directions!

Typically, traditional Texas BBQ joints will split the brisket down the middle, cutting along the fat layer that separates both sections. They will then turn the point section 90 degrees and slice it that way while slicing the flat area the opposite way. It ensures that each section is cut against its grain.

Sliced brisket won’t always be perfect, but if you’ve managed to smoke a tender brisket, the slicing won’t matter too much. And don’t forget to admire that gorgeous smoke ring you’ve created!


How to Smoke a Brisket

Alright, are you ready to start cooking brisket? Follow this smoked beef brisket recipe to cook brisket like a pro! We’re confident you’ll achieve the perfect brisket every time!

Step 1 – Preheat Your Smoker

The best brisket recipes are done in the smoker, so let’s get that smoker preheated!

Preheat your smoker to 225ºF/107ºC and prepare wood chips or chunks. We recommend hickory or oak wood chunks to give your beef brisket a deep smoky flavor.

If you’re using a charcoal smoker, ensure enough lump charcoal to last the entire cook time. You can add a few flavored wood chips to your charcoal for an extra flavor boost.


Step 2 – Trim The Brisket

Trimming and preparing a brisket can be an art, but it takes some practice. Use a sharp knife on a cutting board and trim off as much fat and silver skin as possible.

Keep around 1/4 of an inch of fat from the fat cap to provide slight insulation on the meat, resulting in a tender and moist finished product.


Step 3 – Check The Brisket

Preparation of the brisket is so essential, we’ve dedicated a step to ensure it’s perfect before starting with the seasoning. Take extra time to check the whole beef brisket again, ensuring that all excess fat or meat flaps have been removed and the joint is ready for cooking.


Step 4 – Season The Brisket

For a true Texas-Style smoked brisket, all you’ll need for seasoning is ground pepper and kosher salt. We recommend adding a touch of garlic powder for an extra hit of flavor.

Combine ground pepper, salt, and garlic powder in a small bowl or a shaker, and rub on the brisket generously. Ensure the entire brisket is seasoned thoroughly.


Step 5 – First Smoke

Place the brisket on the smoker, with the point side down. This part of the joint is quite thick, so it can handle being on more direct heat for longer. You may choose to place a drip pan under your brisket to catch all the drippings.

The initial smoke to 165 degrees f takes the longest because we use a low and slow smoking method. For a 12-13 pound brisket, this portion of the cooking time can take around 8 hours.

Aim for a steady temperature and a steady flow of thin blue smoke for this first smoke.


Step 6 – Remove & Wrap

After around 8 hours of cooking, or when the meat’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees f, remove from the smoker and wrap the brisket tightly in butcher paper.

When you wrap brisket, you want to ensure that it is completely enclosed to keep in the juices and moisture within the meat, resulting in a tender and juicy texture.


Step 7 – Second Smoke

After you’ve wrapped the brisket, place it back in the smoker to continue cooking. This part of the process can take between 3 – 8 hours, depending on the exact size of the brisket.

It’s important to keep checking the internal temperature as you reach 10 hours of total cooking to ensure you don’t overcook the meat. Overcooking brisket can result in tough, dry meat rather than the juicy and succulent ideal texture we aim for.


Step 8 – Remove From The Smoker

When the brisket temperature reaches 202ºF/94ºC, your brisket is done. Be sure to check the temperature in the thickest part of the meat, away from any fat pockets.

Remove from the smoker and place brisket on a large cutting board to rest.


Step 9 – Allow Brisket To Rest

Once the brisket has been removed from the heat, allow the brisket to rest inside the foil or butcher paper for an hour.

Letting your brisket rest allows the meat to settle and the juices to disperse whilst the meat cools throughout. The foil will ensure the meat still stays warm enough for eating, so you don’t need to worry about eating cold meat!


Step 10 – Slice & Serve

Slice the brisket joint against the grain into 1/2-inch thin slices. If you like BBQ sauce, serve it on the side. Serve the slices alongside your chosen side dishes.


Smoked Beef Brisket Tips & Tricks

Here are a few tips for making the best-smoked brisket.

Don’t Skip The Rest

Letting your smoked beef brisket rest might be the most important step in the recipe! After your brisket cooks, let it rest for at least an hour. Resting your meat allows it to redistribute the moisture, resulting in a juicy and tender finished product.

Place In Cooler If Done Early

Timing your brisket is no easy task, but it’s better to have your huge brisket finished early than hours too late. To play it safe, give yourself another 2 hours to smoke your prime brisket. If, and when, it finishes smoking early, you can place it in a cooler to stay warm. Any cooler will do, take the ice-cold drinks out first!

Fat Side Up

This tip is controversial among professional pitmasters and their competition brisket. However, we believe that cooking your brisket with the fat cap side up is the best way to do it. The fat on the top side will penetrate and drip into the beef brisket as it melts, creating a juicier finished product.


What To Serve With The Best Smoked Brisket Recipe

Slice your brisket on a large cutting board in thin slices so that your guests can choose which pieces they want. Keep all barbecue sauce on the side, as it’s not really necessary!

We recommend serving your smoked beef brisket with a few sides like Smoked Asparagus, mashed potatoes, or even Smoked Mac & Cheese.

If you’re looking for the perfect drink to serve with your brisket, we recommend heading to the best breweries in your area to pick up some locally brewed beer for your backyard event.


smoked brisket

Smoked Brisket Recipe

The trick for achieving the most tender and succulent smoked brisket is to cook it for a long period of time over low heat in the smoker. Preparing your brisket with the right seasonings and trimming it to perfect also ensures a finished product with maximum flavor that you and your guests will love.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 11 hrs
Resting Time 30 mins
Total Time 12 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 15

Ingredients
  

  • Whole brisket (12-14lbs)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your smoker to 225ºF/107ºC.
  • Trim as much fat and silver skin as you can off the top of the brisket joint and trim the bottom of the joint, leaving 1/4 inch of fat.
  • Check the whole brisket joint to ensure all fat or excess meat flaps have been removed.
  • Prepare seasonings in a mixing bowl and cover the brisket joint generously.
  • Place the brisket joint on the smoker, with the point-end side over the direct heat.
  • After 8 hours, or when the brisket reaches 165 degrees F, remove it from the heat and wrap it in foil or butcher's paper.
  • Place the brisket joint back on the smoker, with the seam-end side over the direct heat.
  • When the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 202ºF/94ºC, remove the joint from the smoker.
  • Allow the brisket to rest in the foil for a further 30 minutes.
  • Slice against the grain & serve.
Keyword brisket

Smoked Brisket FAQs


What Is Brisket?

Beef brisket is a cut of meat that comes from the pectoral section of the cow behind the upper part of the front legs. It’s made up of two different muscles: the flat and the point.


What Is The Brisket Flat?

A brisket flat contains two muscles and is considered the leanest section of this meat. It can be cooked on a smoker or even on a plain tray.


What Is The Brisket Point?

Unlike the flat, a brisket point is the fattiest section of a brisket. It is also referred to as the deckle, and it is often given the first cut.


Is Brisket Beef or Pork?

Brisket comes from both beef and pork. However, the most common brisket is beef brisket. Beef brisket comes from a cow’s chest/breast area while pork brisket comes from the pork shoulder.


What is the purpose of a Brisket Spritz?

Some pitmasters fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or beef broth/beef stock and spray their brisket while it’s smoking. By keeping the exterior moist, the meat will attract more smoke, leading to a heavier smoke flavor.


How often to spritz brisket

You should spritz your brisket with water, apple juice or hot sauce every 30 minutes to an hour after it has been cooking for 2-3 hours. This will help keep the meat moist and stop any burning from occurring

What Is The Best Wood For Smoking Brisket?

You can use a range of different woods when smoking a brisket. We recommend hickory or oak, though other great options include apple, maple, or cherry.


Do You Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?

This tip is controversial among professional pitmasters and their competition brisket. However, we believe that cooking your brisket with the fat cap side up is the best way to do it. The fat on the top side will penetrate and drip into the beef brisket as it melts, creating a juicier finished product.


How long to rest brisket

It would be best if you rested a whole beef brisket for a minimum of 2 hours up to a maximum of 24 hours. It is a good idea to rest your brisket in your oven at the lowest setting (anywhere between 155ºF – 175ºF)


How to rest a brisket

You can rest a brisket in many different ways, but the most tried and true way to rest a brisket is to place it (still wrapped) in your oven at 155ºF – 170ºF. This is the most consistent way to both rest your brisket and ensures it doesn’t get below the serving temperature of 145ºF


What Are The Best Meals To Make With Leftover Brisket?

There are so many options to be creative with your leftover brisket. Some of our favorites include brisket mac & cheese, brisket bacon & cheddar soup, and brisket & bacon pizza. Leftover chopped brisket is delicious on almost any meal; give it a try!


How long to smoke a brisket per pound

As a general rule of thumb, we say that you should smoke your brisket for 60 minutes for every pound of brisket. This rule is applied when you’re smoking brisket at 250ºF.