Quick Overview: How To Smoke Brisket
Prepping the meat:
- Trim excess fat and any other layers of fat from meat.
- Make a beef rub by mixing kosher salt, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, bbq sauce, garlic powder, and olive oil.
- Transfer beef rub to a spray bottle, and add more olive oil if needed.
- Coat the meat with the brisket rub.
- Wrap the brisket and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Smoking the meat:
- Preheat wood pellet smoker.
- Smoke your pellet grill for 15 minutes at 225º F.
- Place brisket on the grill grate fat side down for 6-7 hours until the brisket reaches the internal temps of 160º F.
- Remove the brisket and wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or pink butcher paper.
- Place the brisket on the grill grates again for 3-4 hours until internal temperatures hit 225º F.
- Rest the meat and use the spray bottle on the meat for extra flavor.
- Slice against the grain and devour.
People love the summer because the days become warmer, but I love it because it’s the season to bring out pellet smokers and pellet grills for all things brisket. I’m going to talk about nailing a delicious smoked beef brisket recipe in this detailed guide, so let’s get right into it, folks!
1. What Is Beef Brisket? – Everything You Need To Know
Brisket requires 6-20 hours to cook, so you want to make sure that the marinade and choice of cut brisket you pick are perfect. Before we get into a detailed step-by-step guide on trimming the meat, let me clarify a very common question about corned beef and packer briskets. Well, they are not the same!
Corned beef is cured in a brine solution of salt, brown sugar, spices, and sometimes beef broth. The brine solution helps the beef preserve its bright red color. Brisket on the other hand is an unprocessed cut of meat that comes from the front trunk of a cow.
How To Pick Beef Brisket
Beef brisket weighs 15-17 pounds and is butchered, and preserved. Briskets cook as one large roast. It is best to pick a brisket that has a good amount of marbled fat, as this makes the beef tender, breaks down its fat quickly, and cooks evenly.Prep Time: 1-2 hours
Cooking Time: 10-12 hours
Rest Time: 1 hour
2. How To Trim Beef Brisket
Before you can smoke the brisket, you need to trim the meat tightly so it can cook evenly on the grill grates of your wood pellet smoker. Low and slow is the way to go.
- The night before you cook, rinse the meat. Choose a butcher or boning knife for the trimming process.
- Place the brisket flat on the cutting board where you’re exposed to the layers of fat.
- Put your apron on before you start trimming past three stubborn and slippery types of fat from your meat. (Leather-like fat, Waxy or dense fat, soft/delicate fat).
- Trim the fat using the shallow technique – Make incisions less than an inch.
- At a parallel angle, hold the layers of fat and trim with the other. This way you can roll the excess fat cleanly from the flat side towards the point side.
- When trimming the fat cap, make sure you’re not puncturing the meat.
- Seasoning the meat before it goes under the smoker will never penetrate the marinade more than ¼ inch. So, make sure you trim the meat tightly.
3. The Importance Of Marinating Your Brisket
The taste of your smoked brisket is determined by the wood used in the wood pellet or pellet smoker, and the marinade or the brisket rub. There are plenty of rub recipes out there, but here’s a quick favorite of mine that will give your meat the ultimate smoking flavor.
Texas Style Smoked Brisket Marinade
- In a bowl, add kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, texas style bbq sauce, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Give it a good mix.
- Use a spatula to apply the marinade all over the meat.
- Use the leftover marinade and add it to a spray bottle to use after the smoked meats are dehydrated on the outside from in a pellet grill.
- Once your meat is wrapped in butcher paper or simple pink butcher paper, refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
4. How To Smoke Beef Brisket – Detailed Guide
Choosing The Wood
To make an easy smoked brisket, it is important to choose the right wood chunks. Hickory is the best choice of wood. Milder woods like oak balance the flavors, whereas woods like apple, cherry, and maple wood sweeten the flavor profile. If you want to cook brisket with a nutty and spicy flavor, you can choose pecan wood.
- Once you’ve chosen the wood chunks, preheat your wood pellet smoker.
- Smoke your pellet grill for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperatures are at 225º F.
- Place your brisket on the grill grate fat side down for 6-7 hours or until the brisket reaches the internal temps of 160º F.
- Remove the brisket from the grill grate and wrap it in a double layer of aluminum foil or pink butcher paper.
- Once the meat is wrapped in butcher paper, place the meat on the grill grates once again.
- This time, you want to smoke brisket low and slow, for about 3-4 hours or until internal temperatures reach 225º F.
- Once you’ve rested the meat for an hour on a large cutting board, it’s time to bring out your favorite carving, boning, or slicing knife.
- Separate the meat while using your knife against the grain at a crosswise angle. This helps you cut through the tough muscle fibers and makes your meat more chewable.
- The point and flat have muscle fibers that go in different directions. So, cut the brisket flat, dividing it from the point.
- If you haven’t trimmed the brisket tightly, now is the time to make any adjustments such as removing silver skin.
- Remove the overcooked BBQ tips of the meat.
- Start slicing from the smoked brisket flat towards the point and cut in equal parts, lengthwise.
- Lastly, slice against the grain and devour!
- It is recommended to keep fat caps on the meat for the marinade to penetrate properly.
5. Best Internal Temperature For Smoking Brisket
Firstly, your pellet grill should always stay humid. You can place a drip pan in your smoker to retain the smoking flavor since humidity slows down the evaporation of moisture and increases the rate of fat rendering, as well as collagen breakdown. Drip pans also prevent the meat from overcooking.
When the internal temperatures reach 160º F, it’s time to pull your brisket off the smoker as it should be cooked halfway through. It should take 6-7 hours to reach this temperature. You must then wrap the meat in pink butcher paper or a double layer of aluminum foil.
Wrapping your brisket helps you control its appearance, preventing it from charring too much on the outside. At this stage, you must also make sure that the water has evaporated before you move to the last step.
For the last step of your cooking, use a meat thermometer. When the internal temps reach 225º F, the meat thermometer should sound an alarm. It should take an additional 3-4 hours to reach this temperature.
6. Best Temperature To Cut Brisket
Since the rest time suggested for 15-17 pound briskets is 1 hour, it can be difficult to determine the doneness, especially if you’re working with smaller or larger pieces of meat.
The way to nail briskets is by going low and slow, so you just need to wait for the resting brisket to have an internal temperature anywhere between 250º F to 275º F. This is because brisket is a tougher cut than other parts of the cow, so it's best to use a meat thermometer before slicing against the grain!
7. How To Slice Brisket After Smoking It
- Use a thin slicing knife, preferably one with serrations along the blade and a large yet sturdy cutting board. (Teak wood is the best material since it doesn’t absorb any moisture from meats).
- Separate the meat while using the slicing against the grain at a crosswise angle. This will help you cut through tough tissues and muscle fiber and make it more chewable.
- Cut the brisket flat and divide it from the point.
- Remove any silver skin or overcooked bits of the brisket, these are usually overdone BBQ tips that can be served as burnt ends.
- Now, start slicing from the smoked brisket flat and move towards the brisket point.
- Once you reach the point, cut lengthwise.
- Cut the flat against the grain at a crosswise angle.
- Pre-slice and serve, and preserve the leftover brisket for another meal.
- When cutting lengthwise at the meat’s point, cut into equal parts so you don’t end up with tiny slices that cut halfway through.
8. How To Choose Brisket Slicing Knives – A Quick Overview
There are a few things you should take note of before choosing a brisket slicing or carving knife. Here’s a quick overview.
A slicing and carving knife has a longer and thinner blade than a typical chef’s knife. This is so you can glide and slice against the grain of brisket meat flawlessly. Stainless steel and carbon steel knives are the most common materials out there for knives and make it easy to cut brisket. They are robust and durable.
Pitmasters and home chefs opt for blades that are 8 to 14 inches long as the slicing motion becomes smoother and you get a tremendous grip, too. For large roasts and tough meats, you need a sturdy slicing knife that gives you thin slices.
Today, you would notice that many carving knives have handles made with durable Pakkawood, stainless steel, or plastic resin. These handles are designed to give you the perfect grip trimming the fat cap from briskets.
9. Dalstrong Recommended Brisket Knives
Looking for a brisket knife that is the embodiment of function meeting form? Well, Dalstrong always has you covered.
This carving knife and fork set from the Gladiator series help you devour any smoked brisket recipe. Made with German ThyssenKrupp steel that is hardened at 56+ Rockwell, this set is low in maintenance and cleans easily. Sounds perfect, right? Well, here’s more on it.
- The perfect size for slicing large briskets.
- Satin finish blade for a sleek appearance at your pellet grill or cooker.
- Hand-sharpened to 14-16º degrees on each side for a precise brisket slice.
- If you rarely smoke briskets, this set may not be essential for you.
- If you prefer a carving knife and fork set with a stainless steel handle, I suggest this one from the Crusader Series.
Brisket knives from the infamous Phantom series are ingenious and versatile – Just how we like them. This slicing and carving knife is mercilessly sharp and designed with corrosion-resistant traits and flexibility. This slicing and carving knife makes a powerful statement while resting on the cutting board beside your cooker.
- The blade has high amounts of chromium for a stain-resistant body.
- A powerful tool that is low in maintenance.
- It is carefully engineered and designed with ice-tempered and high-carbon Japanese AUS-8 steel at 58+ Rockwell.
- If you’re only getting your grip around slicing and carving knives, a 10” inch blade would work better for you.
- It has a rounded tip which could be an inconvenience if you’re on the lookout for a narrow tip.
- Ergonomic handle for comfortable grip and dexterity.
- Triple-riveted for maximal durability.
- Low in maintenance and has a stain-resistant and wide blade
- The full tang gives you excellent knuckle clearance.
- The price may not be justifiable if you’re not big on briskets, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t regret it.
- The blade length may be slightly short if your brisket weighs more than 15 pounds, so check out this 10" version from the same series instead.
This ‘extra-long’ slicing and carving knife makes slicing brisket look like a walk in the park. It has a traditional narrow tip, allowing you to cut brisket into long and thin slices. Featuring Dalstrong’s Tsunami Rose blade pattern, it is a knife you want to have in your kitchen. Brownie points for this knife as it can slice smoked turkey, too!
- Rust and corrosion-resistant cladding to make your slicing and carving knife last longer.
- Military-grade G10 handle for the durability of a lifetime.
- This set of knives has an 8-12º degree angle on each side.
- Intimidating blade length for the novice.
- The blade pattern and Damascus steel might not be everyone's cup of tea. You might want to check the rest on this list.
This Spanish meat and ham slicer is the perfect hybrid for the toughest meats. This knife makes smoking brisket in your backyard super easy! This slicer is made with ultra-premium high-carbon Japanese stainless steel and 67 layers of Damascus cladding. Crazy, right?
- Military-grade G10 handle for durability and longevity.
- Ultra-sharp blade for edge retention.
- Hardened at 62+ Rockwell.
- Could be out of budget for some folks.
- If you want to opt for a more traditional route, this slicer may not be the one for you. But, might I suggest a cleaver knife instead.
Who said only dreams should be larger than life? If you’re smoking briskets in your backyard, you need a large cutting board to rest and slice the meat, too! The deep juice grooves make life easier as well since you don’t have to constantly wipe down the cutting board with a paper towel.
- This Colossal Teak board makes the perfect cutting board for smoked turkey and brisket meat.
- Boards with juice grooves are quite expensive, but at Dalstrong, we offer you premium quality cookware essentials at a budget-friendly price.
- If you’re not big on briskets or roasting large pieces of meat, a large cutting board may not be an essential kitchen tool for you.
- Large cutting boards will need regular care and oiling. So, if you’re on a time constraint, it may not work for you. But, I suggest the smaller Teak Cutting Board, instead.
10. Frequently Asked Questions
How long does brisket take to smoke?
Brisket is supposed to smoke for 3-4 hours to reach an internal temperature of 160º F, and an additional 6-7 hours wrapped in butcher paper until the internal temps reach 225º F.
How long do you smoke a brisket at 225?
You should smoke brisket in pink butcher paper for 3-4 hours until the internal temps reach 225º F. When they do, take the meat off the pellet grill.
How to smoke a brisket step by step?
Preheat your wood pellet smoker and smoke it for 15 minutes at 225º F. Then, place the brisket on the grill grate for 6-7 hours or until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160º F. Remove the brisket and wrap it in a double layer of aluminum foil or pink butcher paper, and place it on the grill grate of the smoker again. Smoke for another 3-4 hours until internal temperatures reach 225º F.
How do you smoke a brisket so it is tender?
If you want your smoked brisket to be super tender, let it smoke on the grill grates until the internal temperatures reach 250º F. You can keep track of the temperature with a digital thermometer or a meat thermometer. Using apple or cherry wood chunks also helps tenderize the meat over time.