Most Smoke Brisket Recipes Include A Dose Of Controversy
As with anything barbecue, there is controversy surrounding brisket. Pitmasters disagree on several major scores:
Beef is graded based on the age of the animal and the amount of fat marbling. Click here for more about beef grades. The more marbling the better because fat makes the meat taste more tender, flavorful, and juicy. USDA Select, USDA Choice, USDA Prime, and Wagyu are the most common grades, from lowest to highest. Choice or Prime are my favorite grades.
Wagyu is well marbled and will be more juicy, so if you can find it, and afford it, go for it. Most of the top competition teams are now using prime or Wagyu. But it is very expensive. And grade alone will not guarantee that the meat will be tender. Brisket is just an ornery piece of meat, and if you want it tender, youve got to work. Tasty is easy. Tender is not.
Lets get this straight: the thick fat cap does not penetrate the meat when it melts. I discuss this myth here. Some cooks like to leave the entire fat cap on the meat as insulation, trimming what remains before serving. This helps moderate the heat during cooking. Others trim most of it off before cooking, leaving a layer of 1/8 to 1/4 , reasoning that if you leave the fat cap on, spices and seasoning will never penetrate to the meat, and then the seasoning is wasted when you trim off the fat at the table.
Fat cap up or down, on or off?
The negatives of the crutch
When is it done?
Types Of Wood For Smoking A Brisket
We almost always use mesquite for smoking a brisket. We like it because the beef can stand up to its unique, robust flavor. Mesquite is a popular type of wood for Texas style brisket.
Hickory, apple, cherry, post oak, and pecan are also good choices for smoking brisket. It depends on the availability of the wood and personal preference.
Trimming The Brisket Fat Cap
When you flip the brisket over, youll notice a very thick cap of fat on the bottom. Shave this off, so that its only about 1/4-inch thick.
Dont try trimming the fat layer all off at once. Work in stages. If you find that youre starting to cut into the meat, just remove your knife. Press the fat back onto the brisket and adjust your knife, so youre not as close.
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What To Do With Brisket Leftovers
If you do have leftovers from this Texas style smoked brisket recipe that you will not be able to scarf down in a few days, mix the leftovers with a bit of barbecue sauce or the jus from the Texas Crutch , and freeze everything in zipper bags or vacuum bags. The sauce helps prevents freezer burn. Pop a bag in the microwave and youve got a great emergency meal for two.
Leftovers from my smoked brisket recipe are best reheated in the microwave a small amount at a time. But it will be a bit drier and tougher than the first day, so bring it back to life with a splash of water, apple juice, Texas Crutch jus, or barbecue sauce. The best method is in the microwave, second best is to heat it slowly in a pot with the lid on.
Here are some other ideas for leftover brisket:
Tips For Grilling A Perfect Brisket
The trick to a great brisket is low and slow cooking. This will ensure that you have a tender, succulent piece of meat on your hands. But dont go too low, or the fat wont render correctly, and the brisket wont caramelize properly.
And its essential to let it relax for at least 30 minutes after cooking so the juices can redistribute. If youre using a Dyna Glo charcoal grill, try maintaining a consistent temperature by adding new coals as needed. And finally, use a thermometer to make sure your brisket is cooked perfectly every time.
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How Long Does It Take To Smoke A Brisket
It takes around 10-12 hours for a beef brisket to cook thoroughly. But since the actual smoking time is only about 1.5 hours per pound, you can multiply that by three to get your total cooking time of around 30-36 hours. And when you use a charcoal grill, you can expect that to be around 12-14 hours.
Smoked Beef Brisket Internal Temps
There are two main temperature goals that youre looking for:
- Wrap Temp: 160-165F degrees
- Finish Temp: 200-205F degrees
When the brisket reaches 160-165F degrees, youll notice that the temperature will stop increasing as quickly. This is called the brisket stall.
At this point, water is evaporating from the brisket. The evaporation process takes precedence over the cooking, so the meat temperature wont rise as quickly.
As long as youre loving the color of your bark it should be a dark mahogany then, you can use the Texas crutch to break through the stall.
Foil vs. Peach Paper: Foil is easier to come by and does a great job at locking in moisture, but people enjoy using peach paper because it allows some moisture to escape, preserving the beautiful bark you created.
You want to keep that thermometer in the meat, because this next temp is the most important part.
Continue cooking the brisket, until your meat temperature reaches 200-205F degrees. Some competition diehards swear by 203F degrees, to be exact. For an 11-pound brisket, this can take another 3 hours.
The best way to test the doneness of your brisket is to pierce the probe into the meat in multiple spots. If it glides in like butter with little resistance, its ready.
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How To Smoke A Moist Juicy Brisket
Several steps in this smoking process will lead to a moist, juicy brisket.
- The higher the grade of brisket you choose, the juicier your brisket will be
- Inject your brisket with broth or phosphates to help tenderize the meat
- Place a pan of water on the grill if you live in a dry climate
- Spritz the brisket throughout the cook to aid moisture
- Once the meat reaches the stall, wrap it to lock in moisture
- Allow your brisket to rest after the cook so the juices redistribute into the meat
I live in the desert at a fairly low altitude, so I always place a disposable pan of water in my grill while Im smoking a brisket. This creates steam in the smoker.
I also spritz the brisket throughout the cook with apple cider vinegar. This not only helps to create a flavorful bark, but it also introduces additional moisture in the grill.
What Is A Packer Brisket
Technically, the full brisket primal cut includes two muscles: the point and the flat.
The point is the thickest part and its the fattier, more flavorful end of the brisket. Its where burnt ends come from which by the way are not burnt theyre just covered with smoked on rub that gives them a burnt appearance.
Comparatively, the flat is the less fatty portion of the brisket that lays on top of the point. Its where your traditional brisket slices come from.
When shopping for beef brisket at the grocery store or butcher, you may notice a a variety of sizes to choose from.
A whole packer brisket is the full primal with both the flat and point still connected. These can weigh anywhere from about 10 pounds to 24 pounds.
Its also common to see just the flat sold by itself. These will weigh anywhere from about 4 to 15 pounds.
Its much less common to find just the brisket point sold by itself. When I do see these, I grab a few, because theyre the best part of the brisket.
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Factors That Can Effect The Best Final Brisket Temperature
The goal of 200-205F degrees works for most people cooking choice or prime briskets at average altitudes.
If however, you are cooking a highly marbled brisket like a Snake River Farms gold, I recommend increasing that final temp to 207-214F degrees.
If you dont allow the internal fat to completely render, your bites can end up a little chewy, especially in the point.
Another factor that impacts the final temp is your altitude. If you live at a higher altitude, your brisket will not only cook faster, but your final temp will be lower.
Brisket On A Pellet Grill
If you do not have a Traeger or own another brand of pellet grill, then we also have a guide for you. When smoking meat, this pellet grill brisket recipe has always given me the ideal results.
The rub adds color to the brisket and also seasons it beautifully. The advantage of cooking brisket on a pellet grill is that you get that smoky flavor from the pellets smoke.
Since pellet grills do not require too much attention when smoking, you can just fill up your pellet hopper and then check the grill once every hour or so until the brisket is completely cooked.
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Better Than Sex Brisket Recipe
Since I originally created this recipe back in 2013, Brisket has tremendously risen in popularity and for good reason, when done the right way, it is DELICIOUS! But lets not kid ourselves, it takes work. There is a reason that BBQ is called LOW and SLOW. But if youre willing to put in the work for a slow smoked brisket, it is worth the end result- smoky, succulent, TENDER hunks of meat that melt in your mouth.
Let me give a bit of history of Brisket before you jump into making your own. In this case, lets recap what, where and how brisket came to be, ie: BRISKET FOR BEGINNERS. If you already know all this, go ahead and scroll down to the recipe. But if you dont, heres some info you can drop when you are sharing delicious smoked brisket with your friends!
Place Your Smoker Box Under The Grill Gate
Finally, when you’ve religiously followed all of the directions in the recipe , place your soaked smoker chips into the smoker box , and place the smoker box under the grill grate .
Put the grill grate back on, set it on high heat and close the grill. Once you start seeing smoke coming out , you are ready to transition to low / medium-low heat and throw that sucker on the grill!
I hope these tips help and I’d appreciate you chiming in with comments in the comments section with any additional insight you might have, criticism of my suggested techniques, or recipe suggestions!
I recommend checking out Steven Raichlen’s recipe for Millionaire Brisket.
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Simple Delicious Brisket Rub
If you know the basics of smoking or grilling a brisket and just need to know how to improve the seasonings you use, this guide will help you give that brisket a beautiful overall flavor.
A small brisket on a gas grill can work depending on the size but if you have a large brisket, then it is best to follow this guide and cook it on a charcoal grill.
Do not worry as you still get to see how to cook the brisket with this guide if you are a beginner. The seasoning is a mix of black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and brown sugar.
The recipe still uses mustard to allow the seasonings to stick to the brisket. Not seasonings add texture and flavor and create a great color on the outside of the brisket.
Beef Brisket On The Grill
I love leaving some fats on my brisket or any cut of meat that I cook, and the fats help make the finish juicy and that is what the guide shows you by leaving a layer of the fat cap on the brisket.
You can also do a small beef brisket on a gas grill with this recipe but the flavors will be better with charcoal.
Like most recipes, this guide also uses mustard to allow the seasoning to stick to the meat.
The simple mix of garlic powder, salt, and pepper preserves the flavor of the brisket as well.
The guide teaches you how to make two-zone cooking on your grill. This is to ensure that the brisket does not get too much heat and will cook slowly until the meat tenderizes.
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Brisket On A Kamado Grill
While there are a lot of recipes you can choose to guide you with how to cook brisket, there are also many different types of grills to cook on, including Kamado grills like the BGE and Kamado Joe.
This guide is perfect for cooking the brisket into a tender piece of meat as Kamado grills retain a lot of heat. That means that even if you are going to cook for a long time, you do not need too much fuel.
You will be able to grill brisket on charcoal easily if you use a Kamado grill.
This guide is perfect for beginners as it teaches you how to set the grill properly, stabilize the temperature, trim the fat from the brisket, season the brisket, and of course, how to cook it properly.
How To Choose A Brisket
The recipes recommends keeping the flat cap on. In most cases, Ive always recommended removing it, but Aaron argues that this will help keep the brisket warm. Because the cooking time on this is so much longer than other barbecue brisket recipes, Im happy to go along with him here.
It doesnt stop there though. Aaron recommends cooking the entire thing, which also means leaving the point and flat intact and connected.
So when you choose your whole brisket, you want both flat and point together. This is often referred to as a packer brisket. Doing this will also give you much more control over exactly what you trim later.
Keep an eye out for marbling. This is the streams of fat and connective tissues that we see running through the flesh of red meat. Its an indicator of good meat for smoking because as its cooked low and slow it will begin to melt away, leaving us with beautifully moist and rich flavors.
Also keep an eye out for a thick flat. This will allow the leaner parts of the beef underneath it to cook at the same rate as the rest of the beef.
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Brisket With Burnt Ends
This guide uses a hot sauce on the brisket to add color and flavor to the meat. If you think that you cannot handle that, it is best to get your favorite rub instead.
The sauce also acts as a marinade so this marinated brisket on the grill is tender.
Injecting the brisket with the seasonings means getting the flavors deeper into the meat. That is why this guide teaches you how to trim the brisket properly to inject the seasoning in the right places.
Using a rub is also essential when cooking a brisket to get a crust that is crunchy and full of flavor. Place the brisket on the grill fat side up or down, it does not make that big difference.
Prep The Beef Brisket For Smoking
- Start with a brisket in the 5-pound range, which is just the right size to fit on the grill. Use a sharp knife to trim the excess fat from the brisket, leaving a ¼-inch thick fat cap. Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.
- Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub onto the brisket on all sides.
- If you have time, wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the brisket immediately is ok, but sitting in the fridge for several hours allows the flavorful rub to penetrate the meat.
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Why I Dont Usually Do This
The Process For Making Wagyu Brisket
Ive included a detailed account of making this dish in the video and recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here are the highlights of how I did it.
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