Learn how to smoke a brisket. We admit there is not one BEST way, but you can read here for our best tips and tricks!
Ben purchased a smoker this year and we've loved getting to know it better through many delicious smoked food like pork, brisket, salmon, potatoes, ham, etc. etc. Our favorite is a Texas style brisket. Ben put together these simple instructions on how to smoke a great brisket.
We really like things to be easy, so this is the simplest recipe for making a great smoked brisket. We also prefer a Texas style brisket which means it's got a lot of peppery bark to the outer sides. Use Ben's tips below as a guide and then make it your own!
🧾 Grocery List
There is not much you need to make a great brisket. We'll usually only use salt and pepper for the seasoning and let the flavor of the meat shine through, but we've also tried a few store-bought rubs.
Gather these ingredients:
- Whole beef brisket (12 to 15 lb)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Purchase a whole brisket, preferably 12-14lbs. To get more bang for your buck, buy it at Sam’s Club or Costco. If you're going to try a store-bought rub, Ben recommends Meat Church's Holy Cow BBQ Rub.
Click here for full recipe ingredients and instructions.
💬 Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to smoke a brisket?
Size matters. A larger brisket will take longer to smoke than a smaller brisket. For a 12 to 14 lb brisket, it will take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours.
Should you let the dry rub brisket chill overnight?
For optimal flavor, let the brisket chill overnight in the fridge after seasoning. If you do not have time, just let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes before sticking it on the grill.
What should be the internal temperature?
The brisket needs to reach an internal temperature of 204°F for this recipe, but anywhere from 195°F to 205°F will be fine. Keep in mind the internal temp continues to rise up to 10 degrees after you remove it from the grill.
Why is my brisket tough?
Brisket gets more tender the longer it cooks, so if it is tough you need to cook it longer. Have a tough brisket? Check out this article for a brilliant way to save a tough brisket.
Should I smoke the brisket fat side up or down?
Cook brisket fat side down since it serves as a shield from the heat source.
🥩 Tips for Trimming Meat
- Trim some of the fat so the brisket doesn't taste fatty, but don't trim too much or it will taste dry. We like to leave about 1/4-inch.
- It's easiest to trim the brisket when cold, so start right when you remove it from the fridge.
- Use your sharpest knife. Do NOT attempt using a dull knife.
🔪 Equipment to Smoke a Brisket
Foil vs butcher paper: We use heavy-duty aluminum foil, but purists tend to use butcher paper to generate more bark. Aluminum foil is more forgiving, so it's best to use foil during your first few attempts at smoking brisket.
Brisket is one of the trickiest types of meat to smoke, so to avoid wasting an expensive piece of meat, invest in a couple of WIFI enabled meat thermometers. You can stick two or three into the meat from different angles to ensure doneness. We recommend splurging on this one and then a couple cheap ones. It's good to have a back up in case one breaks last minute!
🍽 What to Serve with Smoked Brisket
How to Smoke a Brisket
- 12 lb whole beef brisket
- generous amount kosher salt and black pepper
- Trim the fat from the meat, leaving about a quarter of an inch of fat on the bottom.
- Mix a generous amount of ground pepper and kosher salt in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle the brisket. Use your hands to massage it into all sides of the meat.
- Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you don’t have the time, you can always let the meat sit for 30 or so minutes after adding the rub before sticking it on the grill.
- Preheat the smoker to 225℉ and then stick the brisket on the grates, fat side down. Let it cook until the brisket's internal temperature reaches 160℉. It can take 5 to 7 hours.*
- Carefully remove brisket from the smoker and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- With the smoker still at 225°F, place the brisket back on the smoker, fat side down. Let cook until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 204℉. Be patient. This is the most difficult part of the process, so don’t give up. It tends to take an additional 3-5 hours.
- Once the brisket reaches 204℉, remove it from the grill and let it sit for 30-45 mins before unwrapping.***
- Slice the meat against the grain with a sharp knife. Eat up!
- *I like to use a few WIFI temperature probes and then double-check it manually with another one.
- **The purists use butcher paper to generate more bark. But, aluminum foil is more forgiving. It’s probably wise to use foil the first few attempts.
- ***You can always place the wrapped cooked brisket in a cooler to retain the temperature if you need more time before serving.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only based on a 12 lb brisket with 8 oz. servings and expecting some leftover -- because everyone needs a little leftover brisket!