February 9

How Smoke a Brisket … The Masters Course


Let us show you how to smoke a brisket. Smoking a brisket is easy and this delicious cut of meat will pay big dividends at you next outdoor feast.

Like all great recipes the key to smoking a great beef brisket is to follow a few important steps from start to finish. Brisket requires long, slow cooking.

While none of the steps are particularly hard it’s important to follow each one to ensure you turn out the best brisket possible.

So if you are ready to knock their socks off at the next barbecue read on. 

Selecting and Prepping a Beef Brisket

  Choosing a great Brisket:

 A lot of knowing how to smoke a brisket is knowing how to buy a brisket.

 Briskets are usually divided into two parts, the flat and the point. You want one that’s undivided and not trimmed. This is known as a “Packer’ s Cut”. A packers cut has a layer of fat on top and a fat strip running through the middle. The fat layer on top is important, it keeps the meat moist while it is smoking. The fat layer should be 1/3 – 1/4 inch thick.

Don’t go for size. You are looking for a nice 8 to 10 pound brisket. A piece of meat this size likely came from a medium sized younger cow. The brisket comes from the chest of the cow, think pectorals. So naturally this cut can be a little tough. Be a little selective and minimize the toughness.

Find a brisket that is a little “flexible” or “pliable.” When you hold the brisket in your hand it should flop over the edges of your hand and have a slight natural bend to it.


 Prep The Brisket:

Remove the brisket from it’s packaging and let it drain in the sink for about 10 minutes. Before the brisket goes in the smoker it should be rinsed in lukewarm water. Pat it dry with paper towels.

Now, sparingly trim the fat so it’s about one-half inch thick to three quarters of an inch thick all over. Then score the fat down to the meat in one-inch squares.

Tips to help plan cooking times.

If you are going to marinade start at least 12 hours before you smoke.
If you are going to use a rub apply at least 30 minutes to an hour before you smoke.

Seasoning a Brisket … Spices and Smoke

 After prepping the brisket it’s time to think about spicing it. You can marinate the brisket with one of our Brisket Marinade Recipes. Or rub it down with one of our spicy Brisket Dry Rub Recipes . Or do our favorite and do both.

Marinating a Brisket

Marinating a brisket is simple. Use plastic containers to mix and store marinade, metal seems to change the flavor. Once you have the marinade prepared store it in the refrigerator in a plastic or glass container.

Pour it over the brisket. Most briskets should marinade at least four hours, some prefer to marinade overnight. Just remember that with a very spicy marinade the heat transferred to the meat increases with marinating time. I turn the brisket over every couple hours to ensure the meat is totally infused.

When its time to smoke the brisket let drain the excess marinade from the brisket. Some recipes have you save the marinade to use as a basting sauce. Some chefs use the leftover marinade in the water pan of their smoker.

See our Brisket Marinade Recipes for ideas.

Brisket Dry Rub

A dry rub is a great way to season a brisket and can really compliment a tasty marinade. Drain the brisket and place in large pan. For a 8 to 10 pound brisket plan on using about a half to one full cup of dry rub.

Sprinkle and rub the spice mix onto the brisket. Make sure and work it into the scored fat layer. Wrap the seasoned brisket in plastic wrap. If you plan marinating leave it wrapped about 8 hours before you marinade. If you don’t marinade keep the wrapped brisket in the refrigerator overnight. overnight.

Some folks keep the brisket in the fridge for a couple days. This is known as “resting” the meat. It’s not required, however many of the finest smoker chefs swear by it.

See our Brisket Dry Rub Recipes for ideas.

Flavoring with Wood

Most brisket aficionados stick to hardwoods for smoking. Oak and hickory are popular choices. Feel free to experiment with other types of wood. However, if you are new to brisket smoking stick with oak or hickory.

How to smoke a Brisket

Briskets need to be cooked low and slow in order to reach the peak of flavor and tenderness. Slow cooking for 1 1/2 hours per pound is a pretty good timetable for cooking a brisket at 225F. That’s just a rule of thumb, it could take more or less time.

Use your favorite Meat Smokers, however if possible use a water pan in the smoker to prevent the brisket from drying. If you can’t find a spot for a water pan wrap it in foil after five hours to keep it from drying out.

  1. As you build bring the brisket out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  2. Place the brisket on the smoker fat side up. Smoke for at least 5 hours in the smoker, some folks finish off the cooking in the oven, wrapping the brisket in foil, once the smoke flavor is laid down. Purists won’t do it, but it sure turns out a tender and juicy cut of meat.

  3. When the brisket temperature reaches about 195 inside its time to check it for done ness. At this point it should be fork tender, meaning it’s ready to eat. Remove from the smoker and let it sit for about 45 minutes so the juices flow back through the meat.

A good Brisket Mopping Sauces adds flavor and moisture to the meat. Whip up a batch and baste the brisket every hour or so as it smokes. And nothing beats a little homemade barbecue sauce on the side when you dig into your brisket feast.

Make sure you cut the brisket against the grain of the meat, it will be a lot more tender when sliced that way. And don’t drench the meat in barbecue sauce, keep the sauce on the side.

Now that you know how to smoke a brisket try it and enjoy.

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