How to Smoke a Beef Brisket

Smoked Beef Brisket

A beef brisket can be a challenge to smoke, but quite a delight to master and enjoy. Here are some basic instructions to help you smoke a tender and delicious brisket in a barbecue smoker, even on your first try.

Shopping List

  • Choose a brisket between 7–11 pounds. The best brisket to smoke is one that’s fresh and the highest quality possible and hasn’t been frozen. You can freeze it after purchase, if needed.
  • Spices for brisket rub.
  • Wood and charcoal.

Make the Brisket Rub

Remember, keep it simple. One of the most popular and easiest rubs is a 50/50 blend of kosher salt and course black pepper. Remember the idea is to compliment the beef flavor of the meat. If you must, the addition of cumin, paprika, garlic powder or chili powder is ok. Just keep it simple.

Fire Up the Smoker

Use either charcoal or wood, or a combination of both. The more wood you use the more smoke you will have and the harder it will be to keep your meat light. Get your smoker running at 225–250 degrees F. You will want to maintain this temperature throughout the entire smoke.

Prepare the Brisket for the Smoker

If your brisket was frozen, thaw it and remove it from any wrapping.

The fat cap should be around 1/4″ thick. The fat cap will help tenderize the meat during the smoke, but if it’s too thick, trim the fat down to let more smoke penetrate into the meat on that side. Liberally apply your rub all over the brisket and rub it into the meat.

Smoke the Brisket

Now you are ready to smoke your brisket. The smoker is up to temperature and your brisket is rubbed down and ready to go.

Place the brisket on your smoker grate and close it up for the long smoke.

Once the internal temperature reaches 165–170 degrees, the meat starts to get tender. Leave the brisket in the smoke for 4 hours, and then wrap the entire brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper for 3–4 hours. This little trick is a big help in getting the meat tender, especially for beginners.

The brisket is done when your probe thermometer easily slides into the meat and the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F.

Remove and Enjoy

Once the brisket is done, put the brisket in an insulated ice chest lined with towels aluminum foil. Close it for a couple hours or until you are ready to eat. The meat will hold its heat for hours in the chest, and the brisket will become even more tender.

Use a sharp knife to slice the brisket against the grain rather than along the grain. Slice pieces that are about the width of a pencil.

Smoked brisket is delicious with any of your favorite side dishes. Serve your family and friends with a meal like this and they will be back for more!

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