Beef brisket and a backyard smoker. We're talking everyone's favorite smoked brisket recipe. Coated with a brown sugar based rub and smoked low and slow, I'm going to show you step-by-step how to smoke a brisket and get past the stall.
Smoker recipes are amazing and this smoked brisket is no exception. Brisket is our all time favorite meat to smoke and let me tell you, this smoked beef brisket recipe is amazing. It's an expensive cut of meat but is totally worth the expense.
Brisket was the first meat I ever smoked. And I had great success because my father and grandfather shared their methods with me. To ensure you have the best success, let's dive into how to smoke brisket like a pro!
Why This Recipe Works
1. This smoked brisket recipe is covered with a flavorful rub that has a hint of sweet, salt, and spice.
2. I'm going to show you how to successfully get past the stall which will result in a juicy and tender meat every time.
3. Smoking brisket tends to intimidate a lot of people but with my recipe, methods, and expert tips, you'll learns the ins and out on how to make the best brisket recipe!
Where To Buy Brisket And How To Prepare It
Brisket is the toughest cut of meat from the cow, so how you prepare the meat both before, during, and after you smoke it is important. And the grade of meat also matters. If you do it right, your meat will turn out tender, juicy, and full of flavor...every time.
This recipe is ideal for when you want to smoke a Texas brisket, which is the entire packer cut. A Texas brisket is between 8-12 pounds and has both the point and flat sections still intact. While this recipe also works well for both a point and flat, I typically use the point when I want to make Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends.
Where you buy your meat also matters. I prefer buying from my local butcher because I know where they get their meat and their quality is great and way better than at your local grocery store. I recommend buying a prime grade brisket because it has the highest fat content with amazing marbling. It's pricey, but so worth it.
Brisket will either come with the fat already trimmed or with a lot of fat. Sometimes I ask the butcher to trim the fat off for me, but sometimes I opt to trim it off myself. If you're trimming off the fat yourself, leave about a ¼ of an inch of fat. The slim and fatty layer really helps add moisture and flavor.
Ingredients You'll Need
How you season the brisket is really important. You can go simple with just a few spice ingredients or you can really pack on the flavor. While there are many rub options available, I love the mixture of a brown sugar rub with a hint of salt and spice. Here's the ingredients I use for my brisket rub.
Using a light brown sugar in my base sets this rub up for success. I don't recommend using a dark brown sugar because the molasses in it makes it too sweet.
My flavor mix is a combination of garlic powder, smoked paprika, seasoning salt, course ground black pepper, dried oregano, onion powder, and cumin. Because this is a smoker recipe, I'm using smoked paprika. There is a difference between Paprika and Smoked Paprika and it makes all the taste difference in the world. You can read all about the difference between Smoked paprika and paprika here.
While you can use ground black pepper, I highly recommend using a coarse ground black pepper. Not only does it contribute to the texture of the rub, it brings out so much flavor when mixed with the other ingredients in this rub.
Expert Tips For Preparing the Smoker
You can smoke a brisket using any type of smoker. Here are the things you need to know to prep your smoker, regardless if you're using a pellet, electric, gas, or charcoal smoker.
When using a propane gas smoker, I prefer to use wood chunks instead of wood chips. Mainly because the chunks produce more smoke and tend to last longer than wood chips. My favorite wood chunks to use for smoking a brisket are a combination of hickory and apple wood.
In regard to soaking wood, there is a ridiculous amount of controversy around this topic pointing to "the science behind it" but let's talk real life experience here. I've been smoking meat for years and I have a published cookbook on How To Smoke Meat and my perspective on the topic is this. When I do long smokes, like with this one or with a Boston butt, I soak my wood. I've found that when doing long smokes, the wood burns a bit longer. And more importantly, I've found that using wood chunks that have been soaked for several hours or overnight helps eliminate any bitterness that might result from too much smoke and over-smoking. The smoke does not initially billow as with dry chunks. Try it for yourself and YOU be the judge, regardless of what the "science" and "smoking experts" say.
When it comes to wrapping wood, again, there are a lot of opinions and thoughts about wrapping the wood in aluminum foil when smoking. You can read more about the method of wrapping wood but this is what I do when making this smoked brisket recipe. Because this is a long smoke and I want to control the heat and temperature, I wrap the wood and poke little holes in the foil. By doing this, the wood chunks will last longer and they won't crumble to ash halfway through the smoking process.
To save yourself some time when cleaning up, wrap the water tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil and drop in about 2-3 Tablespoons of liquid smoke into the water. The liquid smoke helps provide that deep smoke taste.
Brisket Smoke Time and Temperature
A lot of people ask me what temperature to smoke brisket. You want to preheat the smoker before placing the meat on the racks. The smoker needs to heat up to 225°F and it needs to get smokey.
For the brisket smoke time, you should estimate about 90 minutes of smoking time per pound. A 10-pound brisket smoked between 225°F-250°F should take about 12-15 hours to smoke. I prefer mine smoked to an internal temperature of 195°F.
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
Start by seasoning the meat with the dry rub for 12-24 hours before starting the smoking process. Place the meat in a large dish, cover with plastic wrap, and let it marinate in the refrigerator.
Expert Tip: Sometimes, I opt to baste with a little bit of BBQ sauce before placing it on the smoker. This is optional. Smoking it in just the rub is just as delicious.
When the smoker is preheated and ready to go, put the brisket on the smoker fat side down. Go ahead and put the electric meat thermometer in the meat so you can keep up with the internal temperature. Expert Tip: For the most convenience, use a wireless meat thermometer so you don't have to worry about wires everywhere and shortages in the wires. Insert the meat thermometer into the side and into the thickest center part of the brisket.
Now sit back, relax, or multi-task because you need to let it smoke low and slow. Make sure you are monitoring the internal smoker temperature and keep it between 225-250°F, never letting it get above 250°F.
Have you ever heard of the 165°F brisket stall? Well, if you haven't experienced it, it's frustrating. Brisket is not a cheap cut of meat to begin with and having it sit there at 165°F when you want it medium-well to well done is not a great experience. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret my dad taught me for how to effectively get past this stall. And this is an old school southern method but it works wonders.
- When you get to the point where your meat has about 2 to 3 hours left to smoke (it should be somewhere around 165°F) what you want to do is pull the meat out of the smoker and double wrap it with heavy duty aluminum foil. This will help maintain the internal heat and help get past the stall. Wrap it tight. The tighter the better.
- Insert the meat thermometer back into the brisket, place it back in the smoker, and continue to let it smoke until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 185°F.
- From there, remove it from the smoker leaving it wrapped in the aluminum foil.
- Take the meat still wrapped in aluminum foil and wrap it again in a large beach towel.
- Place the wrapped brisket in a large empty cooler, close the lid, and let it rest for 2 hours. This process really helps make the meat juicy and more tender.
- After the 2 hours have passed, you are ready to cut into your brisket ensuring you slice against the grain.
While you shouldn't solely judge the success of your smoked brisket based on the smoke ring, it's always rewarding to see one. Take a look at the smoke ring below. This is what you want to see.
People believe that the smoke ring proves you have done a good job by properly smoking the meat in a "low and slow" manner. But there is SO much more that goes into getting a good smoke ring.
More Smoker Recipes
If you're looking for more smoker recipes, check out some of my other popular creations. My Applewood Smoked Chicken is hands down my most popular smoker recipe in my collection. It's easy to smoke (a beginner level recipe) and it tastes beyond amazing!
Some good smoker side dish recipes that pairs well with this brisket are my Garlic and Herb Smoked Potatoes and these Smoked Cherry Tomatoes with Basil and Goat Cheese. These Smoker Baked Beans also pair really well with any smoked meat.
Follow Recipes Worth Repeating for more amazing recipes!
For The Brisket
- 10 lb brisket
For The Brisket Rub
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon seasoning salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Place the brisket in a large glass dish.
- Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl.
- Cover the brisket with the spice rub ensuring you firmly press the rub into the brisket. Expert Tip: You want to ensure you are pressing the rub into the meat with a little bit of force so the rub can start to seep into the meat. Cover the Pyrex dish with either aluminum foil or saran wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
- Soak the wood chunks for at least 1 hour before smoking. Wrap the wood chunks in aluminum foil. Once the wood chunks are wrapped, place them in the tray in the smoker. Expert Tip: For the reasoning behind why I use this method, check out the details in the post.
- Prepare the water tray by wrapping it with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Expert Tip: Drop in about 2-3 Tablespoons of liquid smoke into the water tray for an added smoke flavor.
- Prepare the smoker and preheat it to 225°F. Once preheated, put the brisket on the smoker racks, placing it fat side down.
- Insert an electric meat thermometer in the side of the thickest part of the center of the meat and close the smoker.
- Let it smoke low and slow, never letting the internal smoker temperature get above 250°F.
- When you get to the point where your meat has about 2 to 3 hours left to smoke (it should be somewhere around 165°F) what you want to do is pull the brisket out of the smoker and double wrap it with heavy duty aluminum foil. This will help maintain the internal heat and help get past the stall. Wrap it tight. The tighter the better.
- Insert the meat thermometer back into the brisket, place it back in the smoker, and continue to let it smoke until your meat reaches an internal temperature of 185°F.
- From there, remove the meat from the smoker leaving it wrapped in the aluminum foil.
- Take the meat still wrapped in aluminum foil and wrap it again in a large beach towel.
- Place the wrapped brisket in a large empty cooler, close the lid, and let it rest for 2 hours. This process really helps make the brisket juicy and more tender.
- After the 2 hours have passed, you are ready to cut into your brisket. Ensure you slice against the grain and then serve.
- I recommend buying your meat from a local butcher because I know where they get their meat and their quality is great and way better than at your local grocery store. I recommend buying a prime grade cut of meat because it has the highest fat content with amazing marbling. It's pricey, but so worth it.
- Brisket will either come with the fat already trimmed or with a lot of fat. If you're trimming off the fat yourself, leave about a ¼ of an inch of fat on. The slim and fatty layer really helps add moisture and flavor to your brisket.
- When using a propane gas smoker to smoke a brisket, I prefer to use wood chunks instead of wood chips. Mainly because the chunks produce more smoke and tend to last longer than wood chips. My favorite wood chunks to use for smoking a brisket are a combination of hickory and apple wood.
- For tips on whether or not to soak the wood and wrapping the wood, see the details in my article.
- Sometimes, I opt to baste the brisket with a little bit of BBQ sauce before placing it on the smoker. This is optional. Smoking it in just the rub is just as delicious.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in November 2015, but was re-published with updated step-by-step instructions, pictures, and tips in June 2021.